Dr. Steve Rissman, ND
I’ve recently seen a few guys I know who are maturing out of the “dude” stage and I started thinking back to the time when that recognition happens. Sometimes it’s an abrupt awakening, when someone younger first addresses you as “sir”. Gulp. Really? I’m a “sir” and not a “dude”? Or it may be a subtle but growing discomfort in fitting in with a younger set of people, such as choosing not to stay out late partying, opting for a 10 pm bedtime. These memorable shifts are indicators that its time to transition into the next phase of life; we are no longer, the dude.
Now, what we do with this new recognition represents an important moment of choice in life. Do we accept the mantle of the next phase, or do we disguise ourselves, don the ballcap-backwards, cover up the bald spot, and create excuses for going home early? Or might we accept that it’s time to put away that old college jersey, change hats or make more mature health choices? I use the word mantle because it means to cloak, enwrap or be surrounded by. So this crossroad I’m alluding to is about the choice for immersion into the next phase of being a man, or remain in the known comfort of youth.
It’s the play between the true self and the false self or ego. Most every day we encounter opportunities to voice our genuine self, or conversely, to tell a little white lie. Our fearful self would likely tell the lie. Afraid to confront the truth, the mask of fear bends it, manipulates it in some way so we are accepted, comforted, and yet, small. We may even be convinced that we are still “the dude”, but something isn’t quite right. Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” We lose perspective, buried under the lies and masks without a compass for navigation, and leading often to poor health choices.
In today’s society, we participate in fewer rituals to mark the passage to the next phase of life because there are very few initiated elders to serve as the lodestar. And so there is a lack of clarity about when we are ready for that next phase, be it young adulthood, mature adult or elder.
I’ve started a research project to look at what qualities of a man facilitate the development into the archetype of the king, one who leads with great vision. I’ll be talking with men who have responsibly taken the seat on the throne, from which to listen, and provide wise counsel. I’m hoping to discern what might be taught to young men in guiding them to courageously step across life’s thresholds, so they can readily accept that they may no longer be the dude, but prepared for something much more purposeful, fulfilling and healthy.
If you know one of these men that I really should interview, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just be what you are and speak from your guts and heart – it’s all a man has. – Hubert Humphrey
Dr. Steve Rissman is a full-time faculty member in the Department of Health Professions at Metropolitan State College of Denver, teaching in the Integrative Therapeutic Practices program. He teaches clinical pathophysiology, holistic health, men’s health, homeopathy and several other classes. In addition, Dr. Rissman has a private practive in Denver and in recent years he has seen the need to focus his practice working specifically with men and boys, who all too often are not getting their health concerns addressed appropriately. Dr. Rissman has studied, taught and worked in the field of men’s health for over twenty years, and has committed his naturopathic medical practice to improving the lives of men and boys. He works with works with men/boys suffering with anxiety, compulsive behaviors, anger issues and a wide spectrum of physical pathologies such as heart disease, digestive disturbances, urological dysfunction, etc.
Having grown up on a farm and spending a great deal of time in the outdoors, Dr. Rissman has a deeply rooted curiosity for the laws of nature, particularly the science of disease process. Consequently, he has an extraordinary ability to illicit the story of one’s unique dis-ease process and to perceive what needs to be cured in each individual man/boy, using homeopathy, botanical medicines, therapeutic nutrition and other insightful methods intended to help lead men on the journey through the abyss of illness.