It is early morning on Father’s Day. I am in Austin, TX and my father is in Auburn, MA, exactly 1649 miles away.
I miss him.
I love Father’s Day. Although I am grateful that it is by far not the only invitation, it is a guaranteed invitation for me to be still and sit with my father in my heart, reflect on our journey as father and son for the past 27 years and really feel what the present moment between us feels like. My dad is a pretty remarkable man.
People had been telling me about “Saturn Returns” for the past two years, and what I came away with as an astrology layman is that approximately every 27 years, Saturn returns to the exact place in the orbit around the sun and in relationship with Earth as it was on the moment of your birth. The time around every Saturn Returns is one of transformation, of one Life phases ending and beginning. I felt the same way about this idea as I do about all ideas: it all sounds great and I am open to all truths, and yet until I feel it and experience it for myself, I cannot call the Truth mine.
Well, Saturn has returned, and shit, it’s kicking my ass, in the best way possible. All of a sudden I am really feeling the end of my childhood and the beginning of my adulthood. 27 seems a bit late for that, but our culture doesn’t really have any clear cut coming of age ceremony or marker, so we tend to just turn into big kids until Life shakes us and finally says, “OK, you are not a kid anymore!” And that is precisely what this moment in my journey feels like. The past few months I have been in reflection mode, looking at my childish ways. And I do not say childish ways with disdain. I love childish ways. And there is always a child spirit in our hearts, accessible when we need. And at the same time, I am not a child anymore. And suddenly that raises the realization that if I am not a child, then I am a man. I’m not pretending to be a man anymore, and I’m not trying to be a man anymore. Hello, it has happened. Welcome to the brotherhood.
So now the question becomes, “what does it mean to me to be a man?”
What beautiful ponderings to have around Father’s Day. I cannot ask these questions and reflect on them without also sitting with my father in my heart. Although we are quite far apart distance-wise, I have never felt closer to him than I do as I walk this piece of my journey. To be experiencing this transition into manhood and knowing he walked the same path, and knowing that bringing me forth into the world was part his path as a man, is beyond words. It is humbling and incredibly profound to sit in the present moment and feel my father and his father and his father before him beating in my heart. To know that the work and path I walk, the Life Force I carry, and the stories, gifts, and wounds all rolled tightly into spiral coils we call DNA is but a continuation of that which ran in each of their veins as well.
I am my father, and I love and honor him.
As I child I struggled with my father. No surprise there. That is part of the path for most fathers and sons in our culture, and maybe all cultures. All fathers, be they present or absent, are shaping forces on their children. And my father was present, which in and of itself is a miracle. Not all fathers that are raised in our culture are capable of being present in their children’s lives. Not all fathers are courageous enough to stay. Mine was. He coached my soccer teams and lead my Boy Scouts troop and came in to my classes for show and tell with the insides of computers. He took me on hikes and taught me to build bird houses. He even built me a tree house. But we struggled against one another a lot, and that tree house became a runaway’s shelter a few times over the years. I was a sensitive boy with strong energies in me, feminine just as clear as the masculine. Judging from his resistance to the sensitivity in me, I can assume that my father was sensitive as a boy as well and learned through his shaping forces that to be sensitive as a man was weakness and left you vulnerable and men needed to be strong to thrive in our culture. He learned to “be tough,” or at least pretend to be tough. He learned to be strong, physically and emotionally. He learned to be focused and strive for success. And he was going to teach me how to be a man. Isn’t that a father’s job?
Now imagine that is your job, and that is your training for your job, and then your 6 year old son walks in the room in a dress and pair of high heels. Rough day at the office 🙂 Of course the fear that my father had of my sensitivity and femininity was very hurtful for me, and there were countless scenes of me crying and my father reeling in guilt for hurting my feelings and apologizing. I didn’t understand that he was preparing me in the best way he knew how, what else could he do? And I didn’t know how well the things he was working to instill in me would serve me as I walked on in my journey.
Instead I took it as a rejection of me, and as teenagers can do, I became a dick to my father. Seriously, I look back and think, “What a little asshole!” I was so damned angry at him for the pain of some of his shaping forces and my rejection of myself manifested as a rejection of him. My anger at him blocked me from seeing any of the amazing ways he loved and taught me and just saw him through this lens that colored everything the color “not the father I wish I had.”
And yet my father never gave up. He never threw in the towel. Never said, “screw this.” He stayed, even when he wasn’t sure if he was doing a good job, even when I was making sure he knew he wasn’t. He stayed and loved me, every single day, and tried to understand. And tried to evolve. I was not always the easiest child to roll with the punches with, and yet while it never came easily for him to roll with punches, he tried harder than anyone and that has come to mean almost more to me than those that the rolling came easy to.
About two years ago, my father and I had our very last fight. Arguments, disagreements, challenges? Oh yeah, we’ll have plenty of those. All true and intimate relationships have those. But I know we will never have a “fight” again. It was the day before he, my mother, sister, and I were all going to be flying to Sedona, Arizona for a family vacation, and a huge explosion brought up the question of whether the vacation was even still on. I remember saying to my sister on the phone, “I’m done! DONE!” What I was implying at the time was that I was done trying to communicate with my father. I had decided he was the problem and that he was a hopeless case. I was throwing in the towel and therefore I was sure the relationship we had would fall apart.
Well, what happened was that we actually got a real relationship instead, for what felt like the first time in many years. Because we all went on that vacation, tension and raw nerves and all. And after about 4 or 5 days in that crazy beautiful intense collection of red rock temples, I realized that I didn’t really know what I meant when I said I was “done.” I was right, but I didn’t know what it meant. What I ended up doing by way of “giving up” was that I quit wanting my father to be someone he wasn’t. I had been so angry that I thought he was trying to make me someone I wasn’t, yet I was doing that to him the whole time. So when I said “I’m done,” I quit trying to get him to be the father I thought I wanted or thought I needed or thought I deserved or I thought I could make him, and when I quit, I saw the man before me for who he was, not who he wasn’t. And who that was, and who my dad is, is an amazing man and an amazing father.
A father’s only fully necessary obligation to a child is to bring him or her forth into the world. That really is the bare minimum requirement. That’s it. Of course every child deserves a father that can be a present and loving guiding Being in their life, but that isn’t what we all necessarily need. So many men did not have present, loving guides for fathers, so how can we expect them to jump so fully into that capability? We build on what our fathers were able to do. My grandfather was not very present in my father’s childhood because he had to work all day every day to provide for his family, and when he wasn’t working, he had to drink himself silly in order to dull the pain of giving up himself to take care of everyone else. And my father not only brought me forth, but he was there, he loved my mother, raised my sister and I, provided for us, taught me to love and honor and respect them both, and therefore all women. My father taught me to use my hands, my body, and my head. And because of his fathering, Here I stand today, a man that is well and loves Life and wants to serve his fellow humans. And my sons will reap the fruits of the labor of my grandfather and my father and my self. That’s a pretty damn good job fathering if you ask me.
So I return to the original question that Saturn has been asking me. “What does it mean to me to be a man?” I spent 27 years learning what it means to my father, and therefore what it meant to his father. I spent 27 years learning what it means to the popular culture as fed to me via the television and the internet. And now, I am learning what it means to me, yes, guided and shaped by those forces, but no longer through their eyes. And to me, right now, at this moment, being a man today, in this time on Earth, means recognizing, accepting, and honoring duty. As a man today on Earth, I have a duty to be awake. To be conscious. To be fiercely compassionate. To be Love. To be humble. To honor my family. To care for my people, and to take care of those that cannot take full care of themselves. To walk humbly on the Earth. And I have a duty to God, the Universe itself. This opportunity to be a human named Gregory Richard Kozicz, son of Richard Raymond Kozicz, son of Raymond John Kozicz, is an incredible gift, and I have a duty to live in gratitude and celebration of it.
So today, I honor and celebrate, in deep, humble gratitude, my father Richard, his father Raymond, and all my fathers before him. I honor and celebrate, in deep, humble gratitude, all the fathers of the world. Thank you for what you have taught me. Thank you for what you have not taught me, therefore allowing me to find it on my own, and build something new upon the foundations you prepared.
I love you each, my brothers, my uncles, my fathers, my grandfathers.
Thank you for the gifts you have passed down through the bloodlines. We share them generously with the world.
Thank you for the wounds you have passed down through the bloodlines. They humble us and we heal them as lovingly and gently as we are able.
It is our work, our duty, and we say yes.
We will continue to pass down the true wisdom of men. The wisdom that reminds us that men are strong and weak. Resilient and vulnerable. Courageous and timid. Gentle and activated. Kind and light-hearted. Honorable and dignified. Humble and willing. Loving and patient. Grateful and powerful.
And again to you, Dad. You are a man, yes, but you are more. You are literally the symbol, the archetype, the physical incarnation of the Father, the Masculine Creative force of the Universe. Thank you for being the link in this chain of ancestors that has passed all this onto me. Thank you for bring me Here, through my mother, my Divine Mother.
It is an honor to be your son.
Peace and love and gratitude men of Earth.