I met a real live knight once. I shook his hand and lived to tell the tale. He had no horse, armor, lance or sword in hand. He had a beer, and was at a scientific conference. Sir Ian of Wilmut, I believe. A decent warm-personality type of guy and pretty entertaining.
Come to think of it though, he was almost the polar opposite of what comes to mind when considering the historical knight. Those guys went through years of arduous physical, mental and spiritual training, and were in servitude to master practitioners whilst learning. There were defined benchmarks for coming of age, being knighted and questing. They were trained in leadership and were at the forefront in battle. Without intending to be demeaning, these days it seems all you have to do is achieve a greater than average level of success in your chosen field, or just be a Craggy Old Rocker.
But what has happened in our culture to these defined stages of the Boyhood-to-Manhood transition? Better placed commentators than I have questioned the lack of coming-of-age rituals, and the gulf that leaves in a boys life (and girls of course, but that would mostly be for a Moms angle). I for one have decided it's a big deal, and are considering how to empower my boys through their teen years, rather than leave them dangling at the whim of the culture. I'm bouncing several ideas around. Tapping into the experiences of "veterans" will be vital for me, those whose older kids announce through their character that Dad and Mom got something right. I'm talking to some other Dads about forming a local group with our boys to teach, train and formalize some steps of their journey. It should also serve to infuse camaraderie that these days only seems to come from organized sports. Which, lets face it, can be pretty misguided in late teens-early 20's, if that's the only place they are getting it from. But I think one of the major keys, one that I and so many other guys my age missed out on from our Dad's, is INVOLVEMENT. We are STILL kind of PO'ed about that (there, I said it). But at least we have the opportunity not to repeat the mistake.