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My guest today is Nicky Wilks.
We go deep talking about:
- Making an intentional choice to be a present father
- Taking full responsibility for your life
- Doing “soul work” to create space to become a man and father
- Using the pressure cooker of doing hard things to grow and acquire wisdom
- What young men need, and multiple actionable steps on how to provide it in modern society
- The role of fathers and elders in our children’s lives
- Initiatory rites of passage for men and boys, and
- Nicky’s organization Journeymen and the amazing work they’re doing
For the past 15 years, Nicky has served thousands through transformational workshops, classes, courses, and events. Since 2016 he has led the efforts of Journeymen Institute, a nonprofit org reconnecting boys and young men to heart and soul through nature-based rites of passage, mentorship, and authentic leadership training.
As a coach, trainer, educator, facilitator, guide, and mentor, from grade-school classrooms to university auditoriums, on stage, in stadiums, and far into the wild expanse of the deep wilderness, his work is limited only by our courage to explore the uncharted territory beyond our current awareness. He currently resides on Vashon Island, WA along with his three children and beloved wife.
Find Nicky online at:
Curt Storring 0:00
Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. I am talking to Nicky Wilks today and man, this one just felt good for the soul. I hope you think the same. Nicky and I go deep talking about making an intentional choice to be a present father, taking full responsibility for your life, doing solo work to create space to become a man and father, using the pressure cooker of doing hard things to grow and acquire Wisdom, what young men need and multiple actionable steps on how to provide it in a modern society. The role of fathers and elders in our children's lives initiatory rites of passage for men and boys and Nicky's organization, journeymen and the amazing work they are doing. For the past 15 years, Nicky has served 1000s through transformational workshops, classes, courses and events. Since 2016. He has led the efforts of journeymen Institute, a nonprofit organization reconnecting boys and young men to heart and soul through nature based rites of passage, mentorship and authentic leadership training. As a coach, trainer, educator, facilitator, guide and mentor from grade school classrooms to university auditoriums onstage in stadiums and far into the wild expanse of the deep wilderness. His work is limited only by our courage to explore the uncharted territory beyond our current awareness. He currently resides on Vashon Island, Washington, along with his three children and beloved wife, you can find Nicky online at journeymen.us That's journeymen.us. Or on Instagram at Nicky Wilks. Men. I love this conversation. Like I said it felt good on the soul. This is incredibly important work. And I'm actually excited for this because I've had multiple people that reach out to me who are raising sons, and they're wondering, what else do they need outside of me as a parent? Where can they go to find this? And what does it look like? How do I provide that for them? This actually is a very actionable conversation. And there's a lot that Nicky shares that speaks directly to you parents who are raising young boys. I'm excited to get into this. I hope you are too let me know what you think by leaving a review. Send me a message on Instagram or drop me an email Curt at Dad dot work. Let's get into it with Nicky Wilks.
Nicky, thank you very much for joining me today, I'm pumped to have met you and chatted for about an hour the other day and was just really excited that you're able to jump on here as the leader of journeymen. And this is something that, like I said to you just a minute ago is extremely important and timely right now because I've had people asking me, What do young men need, and we're going to get there. But I'm so excited to have another father join me, especially one who shares being a young father like myself. And so I would love to jump into your fatherhood journey just right off the bat, what did it look like when you became a father? And maybe walk us through how becoming a father has led to where you are today?
Nicky Wilks 3:00
Thanks, Curt. Um, you know, I'm smiling pretty big right now. Because the truth is, it looks pretty ugly. When it all started. And you know, thankfully, at this point, eight years later, or I guess nine years when we look at pregnancy and conception, I've grown more comfortable telling the the ugly parts of my story that but also the real parts that I think folks need to hear and get comfortable with. Especially dads to be and new fathers and folks who are kind of still sitting in the in the murkiness. But I was terrified. Like I, I can honestly say, up to that point in my life, I was 24, when we learned we're pregnant. I had never faced that much fear and uncertainty in my life. And my trauma response at the time was just to run away. And so the metaphor I gave, it's just like the full ostrich head in the sand, just boom, like, just I'm going to numb out. And my coping strategies were like substance use. So at the time, I was partying, a lot drinking, going out with friends, doing the festival route in Southern California. And it was pretty easy for me to check out because I had so much stimulation around me. So I was surrounding myself with kind of this post college vibe and really trying to escape the the hard truth that I was needing to level up but I was approaching an initiatory experience. And for me, like I was fortunate enough to have a woman in in the dynamic with me, my wife, now Caitlin, who even at 19 had this like deep feminine wisdom about her capacity and her desire to be a mother one day and despite the inconvenience for her of being, you know, early in her college undergraduate experience She was really just open with herself and with me and sitting with the question of like, Can I do this? Could I, could I bring this child into the world in a good way? And, you know, the truth is, at first that pissed me off. Like I really wanted, I really wanted her to kind of, like, put pressure on me and like, make it this thing like, Oh, she's forcing me into this, but she did it. Like she was just like, you know, you can be a part of this or not, you could, you could join me in this parenthood journey, but I don't need you. I'd love for you to be involved. But you don't get to be halfway. And like the anger and rage I felt at that invitation because it put the onus of responsibility on to me 100%. And I got to choose. And so no longer could I potentially float through life with the story that I was forced into something. But I had 100% responsibility. So I give an immense amount of credit to my wife for holding that space for herself for standing her ground. And also giving me giving me that, that critical moment to choose my path in this. And it wasn't immediate, but it was actually through doing pregnancy classes together, where I decided to be her birth coach, where I started to really buy in and do the inner work needed to eventually show up as a father.
Curt Storring 6:32
Wow, that's such immense wisdom from her at such a young age. And what a gift set to get. Like, I love that you shared how angry you were this like being smacked in the face with responsibility when it's like, no, I don't want this go away. So why didn't you want it? Like, what? What was it? You're just too comfortable? Partying, like there was unresolved trauma, like what was it in your life that you're just like, hell no.
Nicky Wilks 6:54
Yeah. Well, this comes up a lot in mythology, which I love, too. But there can't be two boys in the dynamic. So in order for there to be another child in the picture, like I eventually had to grow up, right. So I was like, the wounded kid, like, What do you mean like pouting? Like, this is my fun, like, how dare you? And you know, at the time, I wasn't aware that that was happening. But now I can look back and look at the psychological kind of construct of it and be like, Yeah, I was the Wounded Child. And I was pouting. And I was pissed off that my rollercoaster ride was coming to an end, I wanted my turn to last longer. And you know, even even at 24, like, I look back on that part of my life, like I was really a big boy in a man's body. Like, I did not have my sense of grounded self yet. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know how to answer the question, Who am I? And because of that, I think I was I was mad, like, I was really mad that my ride was coming to an end, because that realization that, well, if there's a child in this dynamic, someone's got to be the parent, and in my case, be the man. So that was kind of the rude awakening.
Curt Storring 8:03
Wow. And was that the start of your journey? To where you are today? Did you sort of dive right in at that point? Or what did what did that look like in becoming the man you are today? Yeah,
Nicky Wilks 8:14
I love that question. I think a lot of it had been seated before, you know, I was raised. I was raised for I live now in Vashon. Island, near Seattle, in Washington state, a real strong community vibe here where, you know, folks know you well, it's not really possible to be anonymous. And so there were seeds, I think, planted earlier in my life. But I want to say that fatherhood was the biggest catalyst for me, rapidly changing and stepping into a different level of maturity and just wholeness for myself. It also came at a time when I was really excited about kind of this field of biohacking and like tweaking my body and mind for performance. And I was playing around with everything from like, I mean, this is when like Tim Ferriss was for writing his books, and like, I think Dave Asprey had just come up with Bulletproof Coffee. So I'm, I'm like the first one of my friends putting butter in my coffee and like telling them how awesome it is. We do. Yeah. And it was fun, right? I'm like, I'm like in this process of looking at like the physical body and my mental performance, but I was totally ungrounded in a spiritual or soul level, and fatherhood. For me, it was like the ripping off the band aid of soul work of like, okay, there's this whole other realm of human development that I have not even touched yet. And I had done a lot of the other stuff like working on that physical level and the mental level, but I hadn't even opened the box that was the soul work yet. And so in, in all of those aspects. Father had presented that opening for me 100%
Curt Storring 9:57
So you decide to be involved, you have been doing this work on yourself, mentally and physically. What did you do to start the soul work and I love that you call it that because we also say that in my men's group, and this is really soul work, you know, men's work, whatever it goes deeper than that. And so what were the first sort of steps that brought you along to be doing that work?
Nicky Wilks 10:22
Yeah. So I had a friend I met in college. And he, his name is Daniel. He came back from a tour in like southern South and Central America. And he had done a bunch of shamanic work, plant medicine ceremonies. And when he came back, he invited a couple of us like friends to a house he wanted to share about his experience. So I drove out to like Joshua Tree National Park, it's like kind of a quintessential, sacred journey place in southern California, a lot of people got there to work with different medicinal plants and have shamanic experiences. So we go to this house, and like even just driving up to this house, like you get the vibe that it's out of, like a movie, like it just felt like a witch's den, it was awesome. But at the same time, I had this, this sense of like, woowoo shit happens here. That's kind of the download that I got. And we get in the house. And it's just like quite a few folks that I know quite a few that I don't. And eventually, Daniel starts sharing these stories from, you know, working with Shamans in the jungle and doing this wild plant medicine work. And at the time, I had no context for this, like I had done psychedelics I had done kind of party substance use, but never anything really sacred held in a container with, you know, lineage of shamanic practice. And I was so curious, and more than anything, like I could just see that this person had changed fundamentally like the person that I knew, from college age to now like, and all I could tell was that there's something that I need, they're, like, whatever happened in that transition, like that is something that I'm longing for, like deeply, and I don't even know what it is. So through that invitation, I eventually, I was eventually invited to work with some shamanic practitioners, some plant medicine related, but others, just in other modalities, things like drumming, and body work and somatic healing, a lot of nature connection, which is a big part of my work now of just fasting, like in the wilderness, and the, the medicinal aspects of that. And for me, that was really my, that was my portal into my own soul work, getting getting to go really deep into my personal identity and my formative ideas of who I am as a person, and eventually getting close to my vision for myself, the vision for my future, but also my world. And it was actually through one of my early shamanic experiences where I had a vision of our child, our firstborn, Maverick. And it repeated in my head, like 30 or 40 times in a row, like it was like a loop. And the image was this toddler, he was polite to maybe like one and a half, two in the image. And he's just as toddlers do kind of wobbling his way towards me with like, long blonde hair. And, you know, at the time, we didn't even know it was a boy, like, we had no ultrasound data at the time, it was just, we were pregnant. And it was early. And that vision was like a catalyst for me to connect with the experience, I got to see the future that was coming to us. Through that experience. And the whole rest of that journey. I was just crying, like tears, were just streaming down my face, I was just crying, processing that image, and also accepting at the same time, accepting the reality that I was stepping into. And that was, to this day, hands down one of the most beautiful things that's ever happened to me.
Curt Storring 14:03
Yeah, that's amazing. And I imagine that it wasn't all sort of sunshine and sunshine and roses moving forward. You know, you you had this experience, you see the future, you start to do the work to become more grounded and and know who you are, and find your soul and open your soul. But what was it like for you when he was born? Was it something that came easy to you to be a father? Did you still reject it was he was your son triggering to you? Because when I when my son was born, I think I was 23 Almost 24 And then I did not have any sort of like Soul experiences before he was born. I just, I was still the baby, the big kid in the relationship. And so it pissed me off. And I would get angry and I would like yell and I just be mean to him and my wife. And it was terrible. So what was it like for you? You know, you start doing this work then he's born Was it easy?
Nicky Wilks 15:01
Yeah, no, it was an easy I and you know, in my in my rites of passage work, I sometimes joke about this, but it's actually not a joke in the in the realm of its importance, but the real work is integrating the experience and division. I mean, anybody can go out and have a liminal threshold experience, right? This in our society is kind of built around it. I mean, you can do anything that will blow your mind and have this otherworldly experience. You just got to pay for it or dedicate the time. But what happens when you go home? Right? Like what happens when you're not in that experience anymore? Are you actually changing? Are you actually fundamentally shifted as a person? And so for me, like coming out of these experiences, and then facing the reality of like, oh, shit, like, what do I actually do with this wisdom now is the hardest part of the work 100%. For me, I think the some of the biggest challenges were related to my relationship dynamic with Caitlyn, I was really afraid of commitment at the time, if you couldn't tell from the previous part of my story, commitment was a big challenge for me at that point. And so I was hesitant to commit to like, just a simple relationship with her. And a lot of that had to do with, you know, we're both really young and didn't plan on this. And that sense of like, FOMO, at the time, as an immature man was like, what else is out there? Like? How many other people do I still have feelings for and who have I not even met yet? And for her, like, what are the chances that were really designed and ideally matched for one another. So I was like, real hesitant to commit 100% in that dynamic, and that made it really hard. It made it hard for her, I think most of all, I was definitely committed at that point to parenting and doing that together and being in good relations around our relationship with our son. But I didn't have that, that sense of buy in yet for our dynamic, and that was really hard, really hard to navigate really hard. For her to hold my again, it's kind of that sense of being halfway in, like, I'm sort of in over this area, but I'm not over there. But there was also a big piece that that shifted that for us too. And I think it was, was like three months after he was born. Caitlin was like, she was like a sophomore in college, she was like your second year. And she had always wanted to study abroad. She was like, I want to go to a different country and have an international experience before I graduate. It's really important to me. And now we have this child, right? Like this is really a typical, this is not your typical, like, Hey, I'm going to go study abroad for a semester, go somewhere. And I was also really uncomfortable with the thought of being away like her being away with our son and just not being involved. And eventually, we found an opportunity to go down to Costa Rica and I had some work lined up that I could do down there. It was actually related to medicinal work and kind of shamanic practices at the time. And I was supporting on the business side of things, and really helping to develop a more holistic retreat experience around that. And we ended up moving to Costa Rica when he was still an infant. And we lived there for just under a year. And that experience, at first felt like we were playing house, like I actually think about because again, like I'm still on the like little kid mindset. So it felt like we're playing house together, we're like, going through the motions, kind of unconsciously around how we think we're supposed to live together. But we also don't have like any family around us to help. We're really we were like pretty isolated, she didn't speak Spanish, I was like half fluent. And so I laughed, because like, in a way, like so much of what we were doing was was just like what we thought we were supposed to do together. And in a way like pretending to be married. And in this kind of house dynamic was fascinating. It also brought out a lot of shadow. That part you said about like getting angry at random, stupid things. I have the best example of that, that I can think of which was the house we're living in. I'm like sitting on the floor with our son. And we're playing blocks. And he's, I don't know, seven, eight months old. He can barely like, you know, stack a block at all. And I've built this tower. Right and I'm like, showing him the tower and and then he just like swipes it and just knocks the whole thing down just like really intentionally, but also as an infant does, like it's pretty harmless. And I was like so upset. totally rattled and triggered. And Caitlyn like I was like beverage. Why would you do that? You know, like, arguing with him and Kaitlyn could hear it from the other room and
it's just like, Are you seriously triggered about I'm knocking your blocks over like, you listen to yourself right now. And I was really grateful for that reflection. Because outside of that I didn't have a lot of other mirrors for myself around behavior at the time. But that that experience was, I describe it like a pressure cooker. Like we went through our own relationship initiation in that 10 months, and addressed so much, because we didn't have an escape from it. We didn't have other friends, we could go hang out with, we didn't even have most other people that spoke the same language that we did. So it really put that, that pressure on us to be like, Okay, we're gonna resolve as much as we can, during this experience, because we're, we're in it. And when we came out of that experience, there was like a real shared vision for our life together. I still had a lot of baggage around marriage that I had to work through. But for the most part, I want to say by the time we left Costa Rica, we were we were dancing together in life for the first time.
Curt Storring 20:59
Wow, that is so beautiful. And I love that you guys went through that, and I had almost the exact same experience. sort of generally, yeah, maybe not the exact same time of life. But when we moved to Thailand, we spent about two years traveling Thailand, Eastern Europe, back to Thailand. And it was exactly what you say is this pressure cooker where you can't get out of it, you're stuck there, you don't have any support. And we like to say that we learned 20 years of parenting marriage and self development work in two years, just because like we had to be in the shit every single second of the day. And so I don't know what the common denominator is of people doing that in it working, because we saw a number of relationships, you know, implode while they were over there. But I think at least for my personality, and it sounds like for years, being forced into those situations with your back up against the wall is one of the best things you can do. And that's why I like to tell guys and dad's like, you got to do hardship, you have to purposely do hardship in your life to give you that stress. Because it was it's transformational for me. And it sounds like for you as well. And one of the things that I have a question about is how have you approached growing together? Because that's what my wife and I have been working on for the last almost 10 years of marriage now is we we bonded, we like to say our traumas bonded, you know, I needed something, she needed something. And it was a very big struggle, but it was like fiery and chaotic. And somehow or another, we have grown in the same direction. And now it's better than I could have ever imagined. So how have you seen that play out in your relationship? How have you made sure to grow together? Or was it just happenstance?
Nicky Wilks 22:42
I love that question. Yeah, marriage came recently for us. We just got married a couple months ago. So we waited amazing. Yeah, we waited almost eight years until, until getting married, I guess nine until since we met. And part of that was my own trauma. Like it marriage in my life was a pretty unsafe sacred institution. Like it didn't have a lot of meaning. And so I had to heal a lot of my own experience with it. But I think part of the way we grew together was not not forcing it to like advance up the relationship escalator until we were 100%. Short. And a lot of that, like a lot of that I think comes from my personality, like I I'm a very countercultural person, when I when I sense that there's an expectation of me that isn't authentic, I will fight that tooth and nail. And a lot of that for marriage was was feeling pressure from society and other family members and being like, you know, the more this pushes on me, the less I'm down, so shut up and stop, you know, stop putting that on me. What else is I want to say? The prospect of growing together kind of came through a mantra. We we went through a phase of consensual non monogamy where we were exploring relationships with other folks at different times. And that is a trial by fire if I could just say if any relationship can can persist either in a monogamous state or in its non monogamous state after experimenting through that. That is a hell of a stress test. And it brings up everything from our insecurities, our sense of commitment issues, trust, how well we can communicate when we're feeling triggered. All of those things right abandonment, right really big one for I think for a lot of women especially. And so for us like to go through that and then to sit with the underlying question of what do we need in our relationship, no matter what the no matter what the container design is, and this mantra came through, and the mantra was simple it was bring it in. And the mantra to bring it in was like, you know, shits gonna come up in our life like we're gonna we're gonna have feelings for somebody at some point. We're gonna be like, Whoa, I was there and I I have met this person to bring it in as to say, great after that experience, I'm going to come to you as my person, and immediately, like, bring this to you and say, like, Hey, I had this feeling or experience, and you're my person. And so I'm choosing to bring that to you. And whatever we do with that is up to us. But that's my default is to bring it in. And it's an energetic piece as well. Right? It's subtle. But, you know, both of us have our own modalities and kind of spiritual practices. Underneath it all, is this sense of is our energy fundamentally directed toward our own individual and partner development? Or are we out there leaking our energy with other people and other projects, and essentially not bringing that gift inward? And that I think is the cornerstone for us is to remember that mantra, and then, you know, when when things rock the boat, just remembering that simple piece, bring it in? Great. I'm gonna bring this to my person. And we're going to do this together.
Curt Storring 25:59
Wow, I have so many questions about this and communication relationship. And I don't want to miss out on the fatherhood side of the story. So you were in Costa Rica, you come back? Yep. Where are you at this point? I'd like to get in, obviously to journeyman and rites of passage and whatnot. But could you give us a sense of your development as a father? Was there this continued sort of anger at little things? When did that stop? What does it look like today? Who are you today as a father, I guess, and what were the points along the way from coming back from Costa Rica?
Nicky Wilks 26:36
Yeah, great. The. So when we landed back in the US, we were in SoCal, we were living with her family at the time. And I jumped back into a comfortable profession for me, which was coaching. I was a college athlete and played lacrosse for most of my life. And I needed work. I was doing some business consulting stuff on the side, but I needed like in person human work to keep me feeling alive. And I'd love coaching youth. So I started coaching again. And because I'm going through all this rapid transformation myself, I started introducing, like, I want to say pretty radical concepts and modalities to my lacrosse team. And these things are like doing guided mindfulness meditations before games, right. So I have everyone like laying on the field. And I'm walking them through a visualization of the whole game, imagining when the whistle blows, right, imagine that first goal scored. And even like, eye gazing, right, like having team boys like sit across from each other, and like, look at each other in the eyes for a minute and process that with each other and be like, this is your teammate, like you got to trust each other, like what comes up when you have to look into each other's eyes. And as fun was, as it was to play with and kind of have these experiences, I realized that was kind of the seed for a lot of the stuff that we were going to build into our journeymen work, even though that was still just kind of a vision on the side. Turns out our team was like, incredibly successful like these guys were. So they were high performance on the field. I had parents calling me being like, I don't know what you're doing. But it's amazing. So, you know, like, my, my, my kids stopped drinking soda. And now he wants me to make him green tea in the morning. I'm, I'm confused and, and stoked. And like, a lot of that feedback was kind of coming through so. So from that part, you know, a lot of that informed my father had practices as Maverick got older, I like to say this to new dads too. Like, early on, in our experience, I think so much of our physical and practical connection to baby comes through supporting mom, or the mother. And it's not to say we can't have like a deep soul and emotional relationship with with our child. But they're hardwired to get their needs met from mom for a long time. And as much as we can hold them and just create that good connection and get body time skin to skin so good. And as time goes on their bandwidth to connect with us just keeps going up and up. Like I think for dads it just keeps getting better and better. And at the same time. I think a lot of postpartum depression and the struggle for mothers is realizing that like over time, that can get harder and harder I think for moms is as they're realizing that their young one is not needing them as much. And they're sitting with that question of like, well, what is my role now. But over time, like I just felt my channel opening with Maverick and the activities we could do together and strap a moment back in an ergo and go hiking like I was all about staying engaged and doing activities together and just regular time. So we had our rituals. I want to say early in life going to the park was a huge one for us. We'd go to the library and just spend time together he'd sit on my lap and we listen to and tell stories. I don't think the anger dynamic really became or stayed with me in a default but Thankfully, I think because I was, I was really on on a path of my own transformation. And I had mentors and people in my life that I could process my shit with and do my work outside of that it wasn't spilling over into my father role nearly as much as it was, as we were leading up to pregnancy.
Curt Storring 30:22
Yeah, that is a very important point that I continually try to get across to all fathers, which is, if you want to become a better father, which a lot of guys come to me looking to do, you have to start with yourself. That's just it's, it's non negotiable, you cannot become a better father without becoming a better man. And what I just heard from that, was that you were doing your work along the way. As you were growing as a father, you were also like, figuring your shit out, healing, growing, whatever it was, and the, the gasoline on the fire was you were doing it with other men in community in groups. So that is just, I want to sort of put a point on that for anyone listening like, you want to become a better father, get your own shit together do with other men? And where were you doing it with other men? Like what kind of mentors or men's groups or whatever were you involved with at the time? Yeah.
Nicky Wilks 31:14
In SoCal, he didn't have a regular men's group, I had had a really solid crew of friends and folks who were engaged in, in their own healing and holding process. But at the time, honestly, like my biggest mentors, were coming from books and podcasts, like I was crushing content and actually doing the work on myself. So like waking up and having a morning ritual routine between six and 7am. And, and reading and journaling, and then integrating breathwork and just doing my stuff. And a lot of that was because that's what I could do. And I also didn't have connections to like regular men circles just yet. I did join a martial art studio. And that was a big piece for me, is Hung Gar, Southern Style kung fu. And my experience having a seafood like having a, someone that I really looked up to in a craft who could weave the physical and the spiritual component into a practice for me, like, I just, I needed to be a student, and I'd forgotten how much I loved being in learning mode and being humbled as shit. Like, I come in, like, I'm fit physically, you know, like, feeling all confident. And I think one of the first questions I asked my sifu was like, Could I just go into the advanced class instead? Like, I have a very limited, limited, limited martial arts experience. And he like, looks at me, and he's like, no, no, you're gonna, you're going to start in the beginner like, okay, and I was like, Fine, you know, and then I get into, like, the first week of class, and I'm just getting rocked, you know, like, I can't even sit in horse stands, like, for longer than a minute, my legs are shaking, and I'm just like, god dammit, I thought I was gonna be better at this. So, at the time, that was that was a really important community. For me to go there regularly. A couple times a week, I was in there training and also feeling that connection between a really deeply spiritual practice and a physical challenge for myself. That was not easy. And that really put me in a beginner's mode and beginner's mindset. Every time I showed up. Eventually, I found men's work. And, but that wasn't until we relocated a couple years after being in SoCal. I think, I think we were there a little over a year, my wife decided she wanted to become a midwife. And the school she wanted to attend was up here in the Pacific Northwest, pretty close to where I grew up. And we set off we built a yurt in the forest, and lived there for four years while she finished her master's degree. And it was really when we returned up here to the northwest that I got connected to, I want to say like traditional forms of men's work, stuff like MKP group of called illumine, which I'm a really big fan of that's grounded in spiritual work by Richard Rohr. And also nature based rites of passage, a few different organizations and lineages up here that really became my MySpace of apprenticeship first stepping into initiation work and rites of passage for youth.
Curt Storring 34:21
I want to talk to you after this about yours. Yeah, thoughts about that recently. Totally amazing to hear. That's what you're, that's what you're doing. Thank you for sharing all that and going just like, you know, straight up vulnerable about your path to fatherhood. Because I think it's so important for other guys just to see themselves reflected from other men and listening to the stories this is why one of the reasons I love men's group is you go like, Oh, I'm not so special anymore. And we all have unique experiences, but hearing someone
Nicky Wilks 34:49
else tell me that I'm not special. A lot of trigger warning.
Curt Storring 34:54
Yeah, we got to stop the podcast, right? Yeah, man, like I see so much of myself in you and your story is even like martial arts like it took me until this year to start doing like jujitsu, for example, because I just wanted to be humbled. And I wanted to test you know, the limits of my body in my mind. And that's a fantastic thing for all men to do. morning rituals, all those kinds of things resonate so much with me, and hearing just your story. And like how you chose every step of the way to be involved, is inspiring as hell. So thank you. And I want to now move on to I want to start the whole sort of journeymen conversation and rites of passage conversation with this question that I had from a mother who is raising her son without a father in his life. And she asked me what a young man needs, I think she said her son was nine or 10 years old. But what do young men need? Like what mentorship in male leadership? Do you see young men really needing whether that's from a father figure or not? And I'd love eventually to differentiate between what a father and a mentor can give that one and the other can't give each other. But what would you say a young man needs?
Nicky Wilks 36:06
Young man needs a village. Put simply, and it's a tall order. And some people listening might be like, What the hell does that mean? But I want to go into that a bit. So much of what I've learned in the past decade, especially, but really five years of running journeymen is, you know, if we are doing anything for our children that is going to address what modern society is failing to do for them. It is creating a village around them of mentors and peers, and youngers and elders, and folks outside of the parent scope, who are just simply committed to being in relationship with them for who they are. And, sadly, it's incredibly void right now, in so many facets of our culture. And I'm not even just talking about like COVID, even before the pandemic stuff happened. I mean, we didn't really have a village dynamic we haven't for a long time. So what does that mean? It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on parents to be everything to their kids. And I think we saw that like get lit on fire in the pandemic, when folks were locked up together. And they were like, Oh, my God, I have so many unmet needs, and I'm projecting all of that onto the people around me. For people with kids, it was like, it was like that pressure cooker. Right, but not by choice. And that was a huge, you know, trauma zone flare up for so many people. And, and elements of the village just to break it down. Like in the village concept, right? There are key people, mentors and other adults in the lives of young people who don't have an agenda. Like as parents, whether we like it or not, like we totally have an agenda with our kids like we are very attached to their well being and their success. So much of our identity is wrapped up in how well they do at school or on the sports field or whether they get a job or they move back when they're a young adult and the shame that parents experience when their 23 year old still lives in their basement. Like those are real. And so what does that mean for a young person? Well, whether it's explicit or not, they feel the pressure, they feel the pressure of someone else's agenda put on them. And in a village, there are uncles and aunties and grandpas and grandmas, and just other people who are simply down to be in relationship with these young people and help them steward their gifts. Right. This is a big philosophy of as a journeyman and something that I hold dear to my heart, that every young person, every human is born with an innate gift for the world. And it is only through the delicate, tending and nurturing and witnessing by other people that that gift can eventually be claimed by a person, and only after it is fully claimed, can eventually be shared with other people. And so it is the job of the village in a sense to see those gifts to recognize, celebrate them and eventually tend to them so they can be shared in support of the village. Right. The gift is not just for the person, that gift is for the other, it's for the world, it's for the village as well. So it's like this beautiful symbiotic relationship that gets to take place. And, and and, you know, I think that's what young men need more than ever every young person needs it. But I think young men especially right now or in boys are feeling this added pressure of the erosion of patriarchal structures. They're feeling the pressure, like a lot of men are are getting called out for screwing up as they should be. And they're feeling the sense of like, Oh, God, like, if I'm not even allowed to be a man or I don't want to be a man, as I'm seeing it. I want to say, highlighted in the culture, then what the hell am I supposed to be? And that is a space of a lot of uncertainty that a lot of young boys and men are feeling right now. And I I say Without every day, I mean, it's a it's a lot to hold for them and to feel like they don't know what their authentic self is. But they're also scared in a huge way that their authentic way of being their authentic way of being in the world isn't safe and isn't going to be accepted by other people. And that's a tough spot.
Curt Storring 40:21
Yeah, getting a sense of what they're going through internally, I think is a huge part of parenting and seeing things from their point of view of being empathetic. And I talked about this a lot, being empathetic, especially with younger kids. But as they start to interact with the world, understanding what they see their role is, is probably incredibly challenging. But also, it sounds to be vital for being able to show up as a parent and give them what they need. And my question about the village is, how do we do this today, like, we don't have a village and I talked about this with my wife all the time, like, we're not supposed to do everything, I can be, you know, teacher, if I want to homeschool I can be you know, Dad, I can lend an ear, I can do all these things. I can't be kids. So I don't want to take them out of sort of the kid, part of schooling and on and friendship and stuff like that. But I also shouldn't be teacher and all these other domains, they need something else. So assuming that we can't all go live in here to the forest, which, by the way, is sort of my dream, I want to I want to create this life, you know, a village, I really would love to create a village, that's one of my visions. But how do we do this today in the modern culture?
Nicky Wilks 41:27
Yeah, love that question. Here's the simple thing. You know, if people listening are willing, I would encourage you to like, sit down, or even right now, on paper, or just in your mind, imagine five adults that you trust, hopefully you have five, five people you would trust to be around your kids who are not your direct family members, or maybe they are your family members, but there's a lot of baggage there. So if you can get five that aren't your immediate family members, and make a specific ask of them to just be like, Hey, would you be down to spend 30 to 60 minutes with my kid every week or every other week, like not this like transactional babysitter kind of role, but just like, take him to the park, I don't know, like, they could even just go over to your house and like chill with you and do the dishes. But that is a fundamentally uncommon thing to do today, as strange as it is just other adults casually spending time with other people's kids. But it has tremendous effects. One is it demonstrates to your child that the world and adults are fundamentally safe, that they can trust other people that they don't only have to get their safety and security needs met from their parents. On the other adult side, they learn especially if they're not parents, yet, they get like a crash course in kid development. And I think about I got to be an uncle before I became a father. And I am so glad that I had that warm up. as rough as it was, it would have been 10 times worse if I didn't have any experience with small children before that. So in a sense, it's like training wheels for the adults. And it's fascinating for them to get to process some of their own stuff. After you know, hopefully, after being with the kid of like, wow, like I am really impatient, like, turns out, turns out I have work to do. And there's a huge gift in that for them. Right. So that's one exercise is just is just imagining some people that we can regularly structure time in to be with our children so that they begin to feel the effects of village. Even if it's not physically there, even though we're not living like, you know, in a space where there's 10 Other people right around us and the houses are huts, we can kind of weave some of those elements, even in a modern context. That's a big piece. The other one is, you know, I want to say a lot of my friend group changed and becoming a father. And that was kind of not by choice. Like most of my friend group. They were just engaged in different activities after we stepped into parenthood, as a young parent, when we moved back up here are the average age of our like, peers, people we were associating with, through like kids activities went way up, we're like, most of my friends were like 10 years, 15 years older than me, who had kids that were the same age as ours. And that was cool. Like, I actually really liked that. Because I learned a lot from these folks, a lot of them were in a very different stage of their professional lives. And thankfully, like in our community, there was a lot of effort that every once in a while the parent would be like, Hey, let's go and meet up on a trailing take our kids biking. Another parent, I love this, they started a group they called little scooter. So balanced bikes are the best things ever. By the way, if you don't have a balanced bike for like your two year old, get them on because they'll learn how to ride a bike, you know, two years earlier than if they learn how to pedal first. And there was this pack of kids that were like six or seven of them and they all had their balance scooty bikes and we would just go and meet up on trails. And, you know, it wasn't about making money. It wasn't about a business forming around it. It was just like, yo, let's, let's pack up for a minute and just make it Regular every week, we'll be here Thursday at four o'clock or whatever it was. And just let the kids be together let the parents kind of decompress and vent. And that was, that was a great example, I think of some of the village contexts coming alive for us earlier in that journey. I can speak more about the journeymen side, because I think a lot of what we do is weaving a village into our work. We have an elders council. So we've invited
we have 10 elders from our community who are in the late stage of their life, and we meet with them every month, they come to our youth experiences, they get to interface with young people. And the role of the elder is something in addition to the gaps for youth, the role of the elder is probably the most vital function that's not happening right now in our culture that would be present in a village. And so if you have elders, it even if they're your own parents, or grandparents or folks in your community that you're not regularly spending time with, call them in, like, there is nothing more healing and holding than spending time with folks who are, you know, late in their human experience, and just being present with each other. I mean, it's beautiful, it's transformational in its own right. It's hugely impactful for them who, you know, I talk to a lot of older folks now through this role, like, a lot of elderly folks feel totally disconnected from the world, like they're not valued anymore. Like no one cares about them. They've been shipped off to an old home, or whatever, maybe the holidays are the only time they see anybody in their family. And so can we call those folks in? Like, can we can we regularly We've some time with elders in our life. And turns out, elders are really good with young children most the time, like, in this model of human development that I that I ascribe to the it's a wheel, right, it's not a linear progression. And so if we look at birth, happening in this model in the east, but happening at one part of that wheel, as we go all the way around the wheel, and we look at where elders are in the wheel, they're actually pretty damn close to where young kids are. They're far closer in their arc of human experience than parents and kids are. And it's so beautiful watching older folks and young kids be together, even outside of the grandparent grandkid dynamic. And it's it's really beautiful.
Curt Storring 47:21
Yeah, that reminds me of a quote in iron. John, when he says, if you're a young man, and you're not being admired by an older man, you're being hurt. And I thought that was quite potent language. It's not just like, you know, might suck. It's like, No, you're being hurt. And so bringing these elders and especially older men into the lives of your child is fundamental, I think. And it sounds like that's what you're experiencing as well.
Nicky Wilks 47:44
Totally. Yeah. And, you know, it's a cure for loneliness. Like, there's a lot of loneliness out there in the world, especially for older men, but I think elders in general, older men after they retire, you know, that culture has told them that they're valued, because of what they do what they make their productivity, right, capitalism has squeezed every ounce out of them, and now they're not working anymore. Like, where does their value come from? Well, if we're inviting them in, it comes through presence, right? Being together. That's, that's medicine right there.
Curt Storring 48:16
That's so good. I want to ask my own grandfather, why old men seem to get so old. So quickly, the cultural relevance seems as though they've stopped paying attention. 1015 years ago, they stopped moving. And his suggestion was because they retire. And it's exactly what you just said, the entire identity is built on what they do, who they are in the company. And if you don't have that, then there's this crisis of identity. And oftentimes, it just collapse because there's no energy left. And there's nobody there pushing them to, I have this new identity. And I love the idea that you can not only help the child by giving them in a relationship with an elder but also give that man purpose back. That is a beautiful, circular sort of idea. Like you just said, really, really excited about that. And I would love to hear let's just break down journeyman so that we can then talk a little bit more about the specifics of that. What is journeyman?
Nicky Wilks 49:09
Yep, and before I forget to I want to get back to maybe some more specifics for parents out there who have boys you know, around late childhood teen please because love to just like you I live it today. I literally got another DM from from from a connection being like, hey, there's a 11 year old boy that really needs something like what what do they need? Like what can we do there? So I'll circle back to that in a minute. journeymen is hot man. This is this question changes every time I answer it. I could spill off like our mission statement, but I don't want to. Fundamentally I think our goal is to address the gaps in providing rites of passage experiences and mentorship to boys and young men so they can form a heart center. approach to the world. And so much of what we do is reconnecting boys and young men to their heart, their heart wisdom, their body wisdom, getting them not out of their heads, but getting them connected to their, all their wisdom systems that they have to navigate the world. And we do that through our primary form is a form of circle process. So if you've done men's work, or you've ever done group process, probably pretty similar. My lineage is in the way of counsel. So essentially, it's a form of compassionate listening and heart centered sharing. And that form guides a ton of what we do, we have a lot of games and activities that build from that. But essentially, we use the form of the circle to hold the vast majority of our experiences. And we do that in schools. So we meet boys during the day in the school buildings themselves. So there's no access problems. We do after school stuff. We try to get outside whenever we can. And use nature is kind of the meta mirror. And let that wisdom soak in. One of my favorite quotes is, you know, if kids are bouncing off the walls, take away the walls.
Curt Storring 51:05
Love that. Yeah,
Nicky Wilks 51:07
it's like, wow. And so many people talk about this, I actually just ran into another dad two days ago on a walk. And he had his kids outside. And he's like, Man, I totally forgot about this. I was going crazy in the house. And I just put them outside and everything's fine.
Curt Storring 51:20
Totally, I experienced Yeah, all the time. Yeah. And
Nicky Wilks 51:23
even with infants, like, here's another like, little hack, like if your baby is given sitting there with your like newborn, and they're really uncomfortable, add him agitated and crying, like, I used to, like, 80% of the time, I would just go outside, and any of our kids would just calm down, they would chill, they'd be next to me, you know, comfortable. And I was like, Man, this is so nice. When it works. You guys are 20% of the time, that's a different story. But you know, most of the time, that alone is a huge is a huge soothing for, for people young and old. And what else adjournment so rites of passage experiences, right? Starting, really in the late childhood, we start marking the transitions between these life stages. So the earliest we work with is really in this kind of late elementary age, maybe around like 10. And we start recognizing that childhood is coming to an end. And we start, you know, addressing that with with language and games and experiences that show these young people that it's actually it's okay, and it's good to let go of some of the childhood things. And it's important if they want to level up and be mature and, you know, have these other things going on these other privileges and experiences, they have to let some of those things go. And we do that through rituals that are appropriate for that agent stage. At that agent stage, most of it is games, kids want to play games. So how can we design and model games that fundamentally address that experience, and it's a super fun part of our work is designing and learning and practicing these, these rituals and games that most of the time, especially for younger kids are super fun. As we get into the early teenage years, you know, we're marking the beginning of of young adulthood. And it's really important to mention, like adolescence is not adulthood. And there's a lot of parents who unconsciously project that onto their kids, especially boys in a in a single mom dynamic like living with mom, if mom is harboring some, like real traumatic experiences with men, it's really unfortunate, but a lot of that ends up getting projected onto their boy, especially as he's going through puberty and starting to look and smell like a man. He's expected to behave in many ways, like an adult. But his brain and his, you know, his emotional wisdom system is totally immature and not even close to being ready to step into real adulthood yet. So a lot of our work is is is grounding them in that stage, if you're not yet an adult, you're an adolescent. And with that comes a tremendous amount of freedom, a tremendous amount of liberation from this previous stage of being a child. But it's also not the same thing as being a full fledged adult in our society. I wish it were a little different. I think a lot of young people don't get treated as as first class citizens. And that's something that pains my heart quite a bit. And I think a lot of our work centers around giving them tools for resilience, so they can navigate that stage and come through it intact, so that when adulthood comes around the corner, they're still you know, they're not too fragmented, they actually have a decent sense of self and can approach their adulthood with with some grounded sense of reality. We work with adults as well. We do trainings for adults, so they can come and mentor and eventually they want to staff, they can work with us or another organization. And we've done a lot of trainings for for teachers and educators who want to use some of our forms and techniques and practices to create a sense of community in their classroom. You know, a lot of them are struggling with behavior with boys in the classroom. Believe it or not, Boys, very often are the ones disrupting class and having a lot of the discipline referrals and stuff. And so a lot of our stuff is perfect for teachers and educators who are like, Oh my God, I don't know how to handle this behavior. So we do trainings for teachers as well, which is a big part of our work.
Curt Storring 55:19
Yeah, thank you. I mean, thank you for doing this. This seems like to me, probably the most important work that's been going on in our society today. And I just feel so solid. In my gut, when I think about and listen to what you're explaining. It's like, oh, yeah, this is what we need. This is the good stuff. And all I'm thinking is like, Man, how do we make journeyman that like, every single state, every single province, every single country, I want to think about that. Man, we're gonna need like three more hours, one of these days, I would love to go forever. This is so much fun. And I just want to go, let's, let's talk about rites of passage. Actually, you know what, before we do that, can you give us just a couple more examples, like you said, for the young men, for maybe single mothers with young boys or just anyone who's looking for their their sons to get more community village impact? Let's just touch on that first, and then we'll go into rites of passage.
Nicky Wilks 56:15
Yeah. And this one's really close to my heart, too, because I got this message today. And the question was, like, you know, can we do remote mentorship? And I'm like, yeah, we can. This is a situation where I'm not, you know, it's not a geographically local place. But there's a limit to that, right? We're talking through a video chat right now, so much of their world is digital and zoom based or discord, they're on video games, I think for a lot of boys and young men like it's video game based. And that's how they're communicating with their friends and socializing. I think it's important to not shut that off at all. Like, I actually think it's really important that they have a space, that's a social space for them, I think it's important that there's limits and boundaries on it. And it's tied to some responsibilities like it's either earned or it's, you know, essentially met with a corresponding set of responsibilities and discipline. And I think one of the biggest things that we can do as a parent is to find ways to join them in the activities that they are already participating in. And that might sound weird and uncomfortable. Some moms out there might be like, I don't know how to play video games, or whatever. But I got to say, it's so different for a young person to feel the authentic interest from a parent to join them in the thing that they care about, than it is to feel the pressure to be doing something else that they don't care about. And it might take you a while to find your genuine curiosity about a first person shooter game, or whatever it is that they're spending their time with. But that's your challenge, right? Curt, you said to me started, it's like you got to do hardship. And whether you know, whether your mom or dad or some other identity, but in the lives of a young person, meet them where they are, they're already giving you signals of where they want to spend their time and attention. And if you have any hope of changing their behavior, you need a damn solid relationship container to do that. And the best way to build a relationship with them is to join them in their activities. And it might not be your favorite top choice to start, but over time, right by you meeting them, where they're at. The natural reciprocity of that will have them meeting you where you need and want them to be over time as well. So that's my tip for that piece. And happy to, of course, if anyone's listening to this, and you want to reach out, like I'm happy to share more specifics and unpack certain situations, because all these are always nuanced.
Curt Storring 58:42
Oh, totally. And I love that you phrased it in like creating this container of relationship. Because there's a real chance that if we don't do this, we lose our impact, we almost let go of the authority. And I don't mean that in a authority over I mean, an authority to speak into their lives and doing something like that. I mean, I did that recently. Within the last two years, my oldest son was like, really obsessed with Pokemon cards. And I was like, hi, don't want to do that. But I had this push for a man in my men's group. He's like, just play with them. Just do it. And it was like, Oh, my God, this was so easy to connect. And it just really helped the relationship. So 100% love that recommend that as well. And I know we're coming up on time here. Do you have a few minutes to chat about rites of passage?
Nicky Wilks 59:28
I'm good. Yeah, I'm actually good. For any extension over so yes.
Curt Storring 59:32
Okay, so let's just sort of frame this. A lot of people don't even know these days what a rite of passage is in the second episode of this podcast. Friend of mine, Brandon Archer explained, the rite of passage he did with his teenage son is I think he was 16 years old, brought him to the beach blindfolded him. He went through this this lineage that the the purpose of this was to blindfold the son, sit him on the beach and to wade out all night and tell him he couldn't take the blindfold off and he needed to sit in Wait, because you know, there's something coming. And the moral of the story was, When the Son takes the blindfold off, he sees the Father sitting with him and the realizing that the Father has never left aside this whole time, even though he assumed that the father was supposed to leave him to be a man. And so he gets this feeling of I'm not alone. And now everything my father is, all the knowledge My Father has is now my knowledge. And like, you know, it choked me up when he was telling me this, and I think it's just such a beautiful example of fatherhood. And I would love to hear your thoughts on rites of passage, what you do in journeymen, what you're planning for your own son, your son's, walk me through what even is a rite of passage and why men and boys need them?
Nicky Wilks 1:00:44
That story choked me up to man Wow. Who? Yeah, for kind of a textbook definition, I'll offer that a rite of passage is an intentional act, right, or ritual set of activities that celebrates acknowledges and supports the transition from one life stage to another. And rites of passage are very fundamentally vital functions in intact cultures around the world, even today, many indigenous cultures have various forms that are probably, you know, seen as as the reason that these cultures have persisted and thrived until this day. And in some regards, maybe a good definition of modern Western culture is one that is, is absent of meaningful and significant rites of passage, because there's really not a lot examples would be marriage. Marriages is one of the intact ones in our culture, high school graduation, at least here in the US, it's fascinating because I'm a high school teacher part time, and like, we wear the silly hats, and there's a tassel and, and nobody knows what any of these symbols mean anymore. Like the symbols have lost all of their significance. And yet we still do them unconsciously. fascinating to me. It kind of it kind of brings up this question, like, do these symbols still have meaning and power if we don't know what they mean anymore? It's something I like to sit with. And there's other rites of passage too. And and some of these, maybe folks can kind of sit with like, what are the experiences you've had that were really fundamentally giving, giving you and the folks around you a sense of acknowledgement that there was a transition taking place in your life. For us, journeymen were primarily focused on a specific rite of passage or two, I'll say one is the ending of childhood and the other is the beginning of adulthood. So if we look at that stage, roughly age 10, to 20, even though age and stage are not directly related, they're correlated, so to speak. We are supporting that transition to support a healthy positive identity development through those years. And identity is a really tricky thing. Right? It's, it's, it's us answering the question, Who are you? And doing that without just talking about activities and work? Which I think for a lot of men, but adults, especially like, Hey, who are you? I'm a software engineer, and, like, it's so common for us to identify with our doing self. And so the Who am I that's underneath that oftentimes brings up culture, ethnicity, race, gender, these other layers? Well, great. If we peel those off, then what are we talking about, and we start to get into some raw territory, where essentially, some fundamental senses of self can come through. And that is our work at its best. For the younger folks, we don't go that deep, but especially for these like late teens, and when we work with adults in our training, and I think for a lot of us as adults, if we go and we, you know, we do envision fast in the wilderness or we go and do some shamanic practices, we're gonna peel back all those layers, and eventually get to something deep and true and authentic, around who we are in the world. And that piece is what comes into question when we are undergoing a rite of passage. The identity is changing, and it rocks the boat. And what comes through on the other side, is really that kind of delicate, that delicate little flower that we get to steward through the next stage of our life.
Curt Storring 1:04:39
And do all men need this? What if you didn't get one? When you were approaching adulthood or exiting childhood? Can you get one still?
Nicky Wilks 1:04:51
Yeah, yeah, it's always available. I believe it's always available and it's never too late. But I can also say that it's it It can be painful and and really, I want to say stunting to, to run away. And I know that story. I know what it's like to run away. So there's a phrase we use kind of in the, in the rites of passage realm, which is, you know, when you hear the call, you know, you know what it's saying? And there's a question like, do you hear the call? Do you hear the call to the next level of you? And the call can be, it can be subtle. It can be just this little knowing your intuitive voice. Or it could be like, really painful repeat lessons from the universe? Like, oh, my God, how many times do I have to get into a codependent relationship? And watch it crumble for me to, you know, get the message like, what is the message in that? So the call is your invitation, right. And if you're experiencing these repeated or consistent patterns that are not desirable for you, they're not part of your life vision. Or, here's a better one. If you don't even have access to vision, if you can't identify a future or a world that motivates you to show up in service, and an action and then your wholeness, then a rite of passage is calling for you. Right, that is one of I think, the fundamental gifts that comes from the good side of this work. Well practice rites of passage work and initiatory experiences is access to vision. And the world needs vision right now. I mean, the world needs creative, heart centered people to steward their individual visions for the world that we've asked together. That is, is like a collective medicine that can come through this work.
Curt Storring 1:06:42
Well, thank you. for that. I have one last question. And that is, how do we as fathers introduce this to our sons? How do we, what responsibility do we have in initiatory? Rites of Passage. I mean, there's so many different, so many different ways to do this. And you can come up with your own, as far as I can tell, I've heard of many men bringing their sons up on a mountaintop on this strenuous hike with other men sitting in circle and just sort of being there. And and that's enough, in many cases. But first of all, what is the role of the father, as we leave lead our sons to manhood? And second of all, what resources are out there for other men who may not be where journeymen operates? How can we then do this? Yeah.
Nicky Wilks 1:07:35
All right, unpopular opinion of the day, the role of the father, in this regard in raising young men, and this rite of passage is to get the hell out of the way. And I'm sorry, if anyone's like, damn it, like, that's not what I wanted to hear. But, you know, I want to go back to this wheel model, right now, I want you to imagine a wheel. And I want you to imagine it starting and ending in the same place with birth and death. And then imagine where you are in the wheel. If your whole lifespan is going around this wheel, maybe you're middle aged, so you're right across, kind of at the halfway point, maybe you're early or later. But then I want you to imagine like yourself as a.in that spot. And now if you're a parent, particularly if you're a father, whatever, but I want you to imagine the dot that is your child, like where are they in their arc, and imagine them stringing themselves along and eventually recognizing that they need space, that they can't move any further along the wheel until you move a little further along the wheel. And so my first order of business is recognizing when and if you have your own deep work to do, to engage in that to experience your own rites of passage and initiatory experiences. And that is I think fundamental and, and will open up I think the authentic next question, which is what is my child need and what's going to be appropriate for them. I love that you bring up examples of dads or parents creating these for their own children. I think that's rad. I think if everyone had the resources and and inspiration to do that, our work at journeymen would almost be unnecessary. But there's also a lot of fun that comes through the group side of this, like our camps at their best we have like, you know, we'll have like around 40 to 50 people total we'll have about 20 Boys 21 Maybe at a max and, and like around 20 total staff or so. And these things are like these are highlights of my year like they are so fun and engaging as a staff person, like our staff report like these are some of the most intimate and intense and amazing and transformational experiences to staff and be a part of. And so there's a lot of organizations that do kind of Rites of Passage themed weekends, there's one up in Canada, the young Men's adventure weekend why Ma. And there's one in California, the young men's ultimate weekend, why MUw. And there's an organization called Boys to Men USA, particularly for male identified folks, they have chapters kind of around the country, a lot of them do what they call the robot rites of passage, adventure weekends. And that model is a great way to complement like a family centered experience. I think so much of this work shines when we realize that transformation takes place at the family level. Like, I wish we could, we could simply only work with like youth and create long lasting transformation. But it really requires buy in from from the institution of family itself. And if you're listening to this, and you're inspired, and you're like, Matt, how do I start to prepare this, if my kids are young, or maybe my kids are already in that stage, you can reach out. But I'd also just urge you to consider that. It's, it's not your job. As the parent, we talked about this earlier. Like, it's not your job to initiate. And, and I want to say, facilitate the rite of passage experience for your child to leave that identity in many ways. And this comes up in mythology too, like, there needs to be a fundamental shift away from the parent, in order for them to own their whole self. And it's not that you go away or you become irrelevant, but your relationship will change forever. And as uncomfortable as that is. It's beautiful in its own right. It sets you free. And it also welcomes the role of their village, young people will start to build their village as they go through their rite of passage. And they'll pick their mentors, and they'll pick the people that they want to be a part of their vision for the future. And that is a huge relief for those parents that like myself are like, Oh my God, I feel overwhelmed. I have to do so many things. Imagine what it would be like if your child as they're aging, handpicked the folks that they looked up to and really wanted to extract and just soak in their wisdom.
Curt Storring 1:12:16
Yes, yes. And that. I mean, we'll leave it there. And I just have to say I saw something the other day, I think it was from a man named Ryan Meckler, who runs order of man, it's a men's program group community. And he said that his job as a father was to render himself irrelevant or obsolete. And that sort of speaks to what you're saying here is giving rather than how do I make my son into X, Y, and Zed? It's how do I provide the tools and the space for him to make these decisions on his own? And that's scary for me because I go like, Oh, my control, like I need to control everything, because I know best. Yeah, clearly, I don't, it's not my life. But the amount of love we have, it's so hard to let go. So please let this be an invitation if you're listening to, like out, surrender and allow him to grow into who he is meant to be. Yankee. This has been probably one of my favorite conversations, if not my favorite conversation that I've had on this podcast, and I just really love that you're doing this work, and thank you so much for sharing it with me. Where can people find you and journeymen to learn more?
Nicky Wilks 1:13:20
Yeah, thanks, Curt. This has been a true blessing and just lively experience for me as well. You can check us out at journey men.us. Again, that spelled journeymen, m e n dot U S. We got all of our camps and courses and trainings and stuff listed. We're based on Vashon Island, just between Seattle and Tacoma here in Washington State USA. And it's it's definitely possible for folks to drop in we have, we have youth travel to come and come to our experiences from Canada. We've had folks come down from Canada for training up from California, we've had folks fly out from DC, we are very I want to say regionally focused, and we don't have an intention to like license or franchise and grow all over the place. But I think, if nothing more, we hope to inspire like local flavors and versions of what we do. And a lot of this work is is tied to by a region, like what we do, wouldn't necessarily work in every other community around the world. There's a cultural relevance to it as well. So I hope that folks who feeling called to drop in may do so and also recognizing that if you're feeling the fire, what can you do like in your family or in your community and just start something authentic and genuine and organic for your people. You can also check me out at NickyWilks.com, I occasionally will bop around for public speaking or training on my own right. And also currently sitting with my own vision for my future as it relates to journeyman and beyond. So it's an exciting time.
Curt Storring 1:14:58
Amazing. Well, I think there'll be a lot of men who are interested in this conversation so please check out Nicky checkout journey men. And that's a wrap guys. Thanks for listening
that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening it means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to dad dot work slash pod that's da d w o RK slash pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad dot work slash pod to find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.
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