“Testing & Challenging in the Outdoors” in the Process of Initiation

There are some things that words cannot teach. Reading something is not the same as living it, or learning it. By reading something in a book, you may be fooled into thinking ‘I know that’. And so fail to take the journey or have the experiences that actually get you there. … For thousands of years, these secrets had to be earned, by passing through physical ordeals, fasting, vigils, or deeds of courage.  Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist & Author) from his most recent book, “The New Manhood”

It’s one thing to be told you have what it takes. It’s another thing altogether to discover that you do, through some trial brought up in an adventure. … It reveals to you what you are made of and writes the lesson on your heart. For masculine initiation is not a spectator sport. It is something that must be entered into.”  John Eldredge (Author) from his book “The Way of the Wild Heart”

My last blog entry emphasized the importance of “Training and Instruction in the Process of Initiation.” It’s true… it’s essential… but just as importantly, a boy, a young man, and even a mature-age man, also needs to be tested and challenged in the outdoors… in adventure.

The late French Author and Nobel Prize winner, Andre Gide, expressed this truth…It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” How many men today truly know themselves… truly know deep within their innermost beings that they are in fact real men… that they have what it takes to come through in any given situation that requires them to, e.g. fighting for the hearts of their wives and or children, or fighting for a cause greater than themselves? Too few in my experience. Why? Because too few today risk being tested and challenged. Too few have experienced a genuine process of initiation.

I love the words of Steve Biddulph I quoted earlier…There are some things that words cannot teach. Reading something is not the same as living it, or learning it. By reading something in a book, you may be fooled into thinking ‘I know that’. And so fail to take the journey or have the experiences that actually get you there.“ How true is that of most people today. We read books, we watch instruction videos, we attend conferences and seminars, and whilst many of those things may be helpful, they can only assist us in taking part of the journey.


An ancient Chinese proverb reveals the same truth…
“I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” We need to understand this. We need to experience things that take us out of our comfort zones… to be in situations that we cannot control, allowing ourselves to be unsettled… so that our deepest fears are revealed, faced, and overcome. We as men need to be initiated as men. Our families and our world need us to be initiated as men… to engage in the process of initiation, which should always include testing and challenging, the outdoors, and adventure.

I invite you to share some of the lessons you’ve learnt through adventure, and in the outdoors, here. And what are some of the ways that you’ve been tested and challenged in the past?

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