Prodigal Father, Wayward Son – a Book by Sam & Gifford Keen
by Boysen Hodgson I read "Fire in the Belly" in my early 20's. It was a powerful addition to my list of favorite personal development books, along with "The Book; on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are,""Way of the Peaceful Warrior," "The Road Less Travelled," and "Zen and the Art of ...
40 Powerful Purpose Quotes from Across the Ages
by Brandon Peele Since the beginning of history, humans have had a deep relationship to their life’s purpose, and sought to gift future generations with this message, weaving purpose into art, philosophy, literature and religions. Our ancestors who heeded the call of purpose, who made their life’s purpose central, reached unheralded ...
From Dad’s Toolbox
from the Lair of the Wildman There's a wrong I'd like to right. The man I wronged is dead, so I am asking you to hear my truth in this regard. If it resonates, so be it, or, share your truth. I was 48 when I first heard of a Warrior Weekend ...
The first stone
from the Lair of the Wild Man When my eyes opened this morning, my head had been working for some time already. I woke with a late-night conversation poking at my sensibilities and weighing on my heart. A man I have known only briefly through social media has begun to interject ...
The Price of a Cubicle
from the Lair of the Wild Man Some years ago now, I danced with a bawdy band of bough-brandishing brigands. We performed under the name General Hardware and danced Border Morris, an ancient English/Welsh men's folk dance with sticks. There was a particular event that opened my eyes and this is ...
Getting Lucky vs. Hooking Up – guest post
by Michael Russer, reprinted with permission from The Good Men Project Here’s why today’s “hook up” millennials may be our best hope yet for a shift towards true intimacy. - – - When I was the age of today’s millennial men I thought about one thing when it came to women—getting “lucky”. This was ...
Guest Post: A Blessing and a Challenge for the New Year
Republished with permission from Masculinity-Movies.com by Eivind Figenschau Skjellum (video greeting at the bottom) 2014 has been a year of enormous change and growth for me and most of the people I know and love. If you are someone who is in honest conversation with your life, I bet you’ve had the same experience. ...
Yep. I was Scrooge.
by Dave K Last night I took my family to see "A Christmas Carol." It's become a tradition for us, and is really one of the few holiday traditions we celebrate. I've seen this show many many times, but this one hit me especially hard. For decades, I was a Scrooge when ...
3-6-5 4-3-2-1 – Ignition
by Mike Morrell My heart burned within me like a molotov cocktail Melting atrophied organs of sense and perception Third eyes blinking open from awakenings rude Iridescent night vision seeing sights long subdued. Tricksters, gods and monsters find themselves drawn in To boys kicking off the covers revealing themselves to be men Without apology. Things hidden share secrets ...
Working on My ‘To Be’ List
by Stephen Simmer - MKP USA Mission Circle Coordinator I don't read emails, I scan them. The idea of slowing down and staying fully present with a thought is very difficult, very foreign to me. If you're like me, you might notice a persistent voice, right now, telling you ...
My Poem 310: Meeting Wisdom
My Poem 310: Meeting Wisdom The shaman knows those noises... They sometimes disturb the hunt...they are sometimes the result of the hunt... You see, the shaman has kept to his roots, not like the shamans reed flute, having been cut from its root, its soundings are the lamentations of the ...
Your Distraction Vortex – Purpose Block #3
by Chris Kyle If you missed the special Live Q&A call on April 15 for the Man on Purpose Course and want to listen to the audio, go to the Man on Purpose Course web site to listen. Over the last week, I’ve shared with you the first two core Purpose ...
Lighting the Darkness – Lumos
Guest Post New Warrior Brother Michael Marlin from Hawaii will enlighten audiences with his stage production of LUMA: Art in Darkness during a ten-city tour at performing art centers across the country beginning March 28th. A top comedy juggler who played Las Vegas and opened for the likes of Jay Leno, Jerry ...
Diner – by Wentworth Miller
april 2013 by wentworth miller i was sitting in a diner on colorado boulevard the other day, enjoying a nice breakfast with a friend (late 40s, a working mother of three), when a homeless man materialized next to us. i say "materialized" because i had no awareness of him entering the restaurant (even though i was ...
Three reasons for Lance Armstrong to Check In! with the ManKind Project
by Boysen Hodgson [caption id="attachment_15063" align="alignleft" width="300"] RAGBRAI Team MKP USA[/caption]The ManKind Project USA cycling team recently participated in our second RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). We brought over 40 men and women from across the country (and Canada) to Iowa for the ride. Lance Armstrong came out ...
Why you might want a men’s group
by Boysen Hodgson You're invited to sit in a men's group. Feel free to bring a friend. When you're done with the initial raised eye-brow ... you might ask ... Why would I want to do that? You might want to keep building on the success that you are having right now! ...
by Boysen Hodgson
I read “Fire in the Belly” in my early 20’s. It was a powerful addition to my list of favorite personal development books, along with “The Book; on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are,””Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” “The Road Less Travelled,” and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Yes, I was a young man searching.
Sam Keen’s powerful voice for the sacred masculine was terrifying and liberating. It felt unattainable. Maybe it was. Now, in 2015, as a man in my mid-forties, the masculinity presented in “Fire in the Belly” still resonates. And, with the progress of time and culture, it doesn’t feel as transcendent as what I see some men actually living.
Though the message he brought was radical, Sam Keen was still a man of his time. Sam Keen, as a father, a husband, and a working man, was different than the stereotype of the 1960’s corporate suburban provider, but his expressions of the values of manhood were a horizontal shift rather than an up-level into a new paradigm. His realisations about manhood were an essential and natural next step in an evolutionary process, similar to what Robert Bly captured in “Iron John.” Modern man’s search for the intersection of life-giving power without Patriarchy’s death-dealing oppression. It was a vision of men trying to kindle a spark of wildness in a time that felt deadening, and find their tender hearts in a time when their hearts felt hardened.
Some things have changed. Many have not. The evolution of our gender system is ongoing, and progress happens. I am fiercely optimistic. I see men living with power and compassion all around me. I see men awakened. Sam Keen played a role in this emergence – and for that I am deeply grateful.
“Prodigal Father, Wayward Son” the new book co-written by Sam Keen and his son Gifford Keen is reflective of the unintended consequences of the kind of manhood that a younger Keen wrote about, and a beautiful testament to the power of vulnerability, truth-telling and forgiveness. It is a series of stories told by Father to Son and Son to Father on a path to reconciliation.
Gifford and Sam Keen offer up the past unflinchingly. Sometimes it’s difficult to read. But what I loved about the book is the tenderness that emerges in the empathy that they discover together. It takes hard work to get there. It takes a level of personal responsibility and vulnerability only achieved through effort over time, the kind of effort that requires a fire in the belly.
I was fortunate to speak with Gifford and Sam in February 2015, shortly after the book was published. I believe that the Sam Keen I spoke with is a wonderful example of the evolution I explore above. What I experienced in the conversation with Sam and Gifford were men whose hearts were wide open, compassionate, and ready to speak the truth.
See the full interview here.
by Brandon Peele
Since the beginning of history, humans have had a deep relationship to their life’s purpose, and sought to gift future generations with this message, weaving purpose into art, philosophy, literature and religions. Our ancestors who heeded the call of purpose, who made their life’s purpose central, reached unheralded levels of achievement, fulfillment and spiritual realization.
Need a lift? Need some inspiration? Check out PurposeUpgrade.com for a free 75 minute Webinar – “Purpose 2.0 – Upgrade Your ‘Internal Operating System’ for a High Impact Life.” If you want change in the world – and in your own life – it’s time to upgrade your operating system.
This gallery of 40 purpose quotes is only the tip of the iceberg for what is out there. Leaders of all kinds from throughout history have arrived at a similar place … KNOWING and LIVING from a deep sense of purpose is key to feeling fulfillment, significance, and belonging.
Want to learn and experience something new with your partner? Try going on a “blind date”. Here’s how it worked for Michael J. Russer.
by Michael Russer, originally published at the Good Men Project
My partner and I wanted to do something different and adventurous for Valentine’s Day. So she had this idea about us going on a “blind date”. Where we would meet at a restaurant and bar as if being set up by our mutual friend “Bill”. The idea was to stay totally in character (i.e. as if we had just met) throughout the entire meeting and dinner. And what came out of this exercise was not only surprising, it certainly spiced up the rest of our evening during the “debrief” phase.
Getting Lost at the Bar
We decided that we would “meet” in the bar lounge area of the restaurant, one that overlooked the entire city of Santa Barbara where we live (very romantic I must say.) I actually saw her arrive and go into the lounge area, and what I thought was the ladies room. So I picked a nice spot on one of the couches near the fire place as I waited for her to come out. And I waited, and waited. Then I started thinking: “What the hell happened? Where did she go?”
So I got up and walked around until I found her actually sitting at the bar, looking very sexy as she sipped her glass of Chardonnay. As I walked up to her I was thinking how typical this must be in other blind date situations –the awkward initial trying to spot each other before formal introductions.
“Excuse me, are you Jacky?”
Once it became clear that I was her blind date, we shook hands and retired back to the couch as we waited for our table. Now we were firmly in the “let’s get to know a little more about each other” phase. You know how it goes, a certain measured charm, a sly look here, a subtle grin there. I didn’t want to come off as being too anxious or make it blatantly obvious that I thought she was absolutely gorgeous and whip smart. Likewise, while being relatively animated and engaging, she didn’t immediately let on that she thought I was quite charming with a good sense of humor.
My God, we really got into our roles as we started “learning” more about each other through questions and observation. Without question, as most couples experience in this kind of initial pairing, we both put on subtle airs and just a bit of pretense. Which is so weird to experience given that our real relationship has neither. So in some ways it was like an out-of-body experience (at least for me) as I observed our interaction. I actually found myself wondering if she felt I was passing muster as someone “interesting”.
Being a Real Klutz in a Pretend Situation
After about thirty minutes of pleasantries on the coach our table was ready. As we stood up I almost knocked her drink into her dress. I felt so embarrassed, actually much more so than if we weren’t in character. Apparently, there was a part of me that totally believed we were meeting for the first time and worried what a lousy first impression I must have made with my clumsiness.
Dinner was incredible. The food, ambiance and spectacular views. We both drank it all in as we continued to relax a bit and reveal just a bit more of our vulnerable true selves as we took our time eating. Even our conversation became a bit more playful as we let our guards down just a bit. Clearly, this “blind date” seemed to be going in the right direction for both of us.
After we finished dinner we walked hand-in-hand (she really let her guard down I must say) around the beautiful property surrounding the restaurant. Eventually however, our “date” had to come to an end and we went our separate ways (we each drove there) after saying how much we enjoyed the evening.
Of course the “going our separate ways” thing didn’t last very long as she drove over to my place where we debriefed and shared our experience with each other. Here are some of the things we discovered from our little experiment:
- Staying in character was surprisingly easy. We both really got into it without a hint of a snicker or knowing wink that would have broken the spell. It was if we were in a play-–very cool to experience.
- We received a fresh perspective of each other. Since we didn’t meet this way in reality and our courtship started out as strictly friends first, we had never experienced that “aha” moment that comes with a fixed “date” situation. We were both able to observe the other on how genuine and engaging (or not) we would have been if we met within this kind of context.
- My partner confessed that she spent extra time picking out the right dress and spending a couple of hours at the beauty salon. She pointed out that she actually enjoyed a great deal preparing for our ‘meeting’ and broke the routine of thinking ‘why bother, it’s just him’. It did actually push her to do something she doesn’t do regularly and enjoyed the experience of looking beautiful for the ‘blind date’.
Interestingly, it also gave each of us a whole new appreciation and respect for the other. Think about this for a moment. This experiment could have actually gone sideways. What if one of us really didn’t like the way the other was coming off (something I actually considered.) It could have tainted our real relationship. Instead, we seemed to have developed an even deep bond, respect and attraction for each other.
My partner and I have a relationship based upon mutual authenticity, respect, trust and a great sense of adventure. And as with any adventure there is risk, but with this risk is the reward of a far richer relationship that is anything but stale. So next time you feel you and your significant other may have fallen into a boring routine, spice it up a bit and go on a “blind date”. In addition to opening your eyes, it will open your heart as well.
from the Lair of the Wildman
There’s a wrong I’d like to right. The man I wronged is dead, so I am asking you to hear my truth in this regard. If it resonates, so be it, or, share your truth.
I was 48 when I first heard of a Warrior Weekend and the idea that there were other men in the world that wondered . . . ‘is this it, is this what being a man is?’ was foreign to me. I was hungry for the company of men I just didn’t know it, I was more often hiding behind the skirts of women, looking for validation. Or just plain hiding.
I grew up in Minnesota in the 60’s, the son of a hard-working, high-school educated man. He was plain-spoken, raised on a farm (that I cherished), he cried once that I can remember – when his father died, he was a perfectionist, and, he was profoundly unavailable to me emotionally.
I took this personally and when I began to spend time with men, it became fashionable for me, in reviewing the life I had with my father, to proclaim that he really wan’t much of a father, or, that he didn’t have much to give and therefore could really be the father I needed. I want to amend that story I made up.
Richard was a self-taught carpenter. He spent most of his early to middle working life in the employ of developers and the year I was twelve he had a great partner. Every day, for months that year, Dad and Bob hung 100 sheets of rock a day. It was the equivalent of five houses a week. Do words written with unabashed pride read differently? Richard was 48 that year and it wasn’t long after that he went into business for himself.
Richard was how I worked my way through college. Not every son gets to know the intimacies of this ancient father/son dance, but some do and I count my self lucky. As fortunate as I feel, know too that working for a father is a bugger. A perfectionist is seldom a perfectionist unto themselves and so it was with dad. My work and ethic was under constant and unwavering scrutiny. This was especially true in the world where ‘plumb’ and ‘level’ reside. As an adolescent, I was frequently given to ‘good enough’. I didn’t get it.
Let me put it another way. The idea that all things are ‘connected’ doesn’t emerge from Buddhist philosophy; it came from a carpenter, and he wasn’t born with it, its functional wisdom that is the product of trial and error. Try building a wall on a floor that isn’t level. Try hanging a door in a wall that isn’t plumb. Install a window or cabinet in a room and, damn, if one thing doesn’t lean on the other. There’s something sneaky about plumb and level because a degree here, is a foot on the other side of the room. The consequence of being inattentive in this moment, can mean unforeseen tragedy a month or a year down the road. Gives me pause even now.
When I was 28, a buddy and I built a cabin in the foothills of Mt. Shasta in northern California. My emotionally unavailable father drove the straight 46 hours out with me in a Jeep Wrangler to help. We didn’t talk so much about life, but he brought his tool box.
When I was later married and at 33 started to build another cabin on a lake in western Wisconsin. My father spent weeks and months helping me finish the place. We disagreed on politics, religion, and gutters but he brought his tool box.
Then, at 42, in an attempt to save my marriage we sold everything and bought a run down 100-acre farm.to ‘start over’, It was an 80-year-old man who brought his tool box and drove the 80 miles out to help where he could. Finally, divorced, I moved back in with dad to help him out with his Cancer diagnosis and collect myself, I began to go through his tools and when he died in June of 2012, I used some of them to build his casket. He loved the long clear grain of fir.
I reflect from time to time on the things I have built in my life and recognize with a flush, that I didn’t clearly see what dad was really giving me.
from the Lair of the Wild Man
When my eyes opened this morning, my head had been working for some time already. I woke with a late-night conversation poking at my sensibilities and weighing on my heart. A man I have known only briefly through social media has begun to interject divisive, strongly rhetorical conservative talking points to my posts. We disagree fiercely on core issues. When I sit with this kind of conflict, I see the same tension replaying inself in every arena of daily life. Is it any wonder then, even elevator conversations are either heated or paralyzed? Our debates happen to be political or reflections on ethics and society, and its heavy stuff. But it isn’t just those conversations. . .
I found myself on a page with a video highlighting the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. The cinematography was brilliant, the voice over powerful and measured. The posts that followed were divisive, angry and polarized. Not only did participants display complete irreverence for the other side’s views, posts were nasty and filled with name calling and actual threats.
A similar feeling came to me last night while I was watching PBS and a special by the BBC on the work of a northern Minnesota man who has been collaring and tracking black bears, bringing their struggle into the light. The response? Supporters are simple-minded liberal tree-huggers and the detractors are actively hunting the projects collared Research bears. Seems we are a binary as computers.
With my Facebook friend, my ‘facts’ are no better, no more persuasive than his. Moreover, (as he quickly points out) it seems most of the ‘facts’ cited in social media these days have been designed to be used and shared and repeated in just this manner by a public beleaguered with sound bites, memes and hyperbole. I believe we are being ‘used’. There’s something happening to civil discourse. In fact, even the words seem obsolete.
I reached out to him privately recently and suggested, “You are the loudest voice I hear across this river that divides us. If I forego what I think I know and I lay this stone down at my feet in your direction, could it be the first stone of a bridge we build between us?”
What if I forego what I think I know and lay this stone down?
That, my friends, is the work of the Wild Man. And if you’d ask it of a friend, would you ask it of yourself?
from the Lair of the Wild Man
Some years ago now, I danced with a bawdy band of bough-brandishing brigands. We performed under the name General Hardware and danced Border Morris, an ancient English/Welsh men’s folk dance with sticks. There was a particular event that opened my eyes and this is that story. It comes back to me whenever men wonder about the nature of the Wild Man.
The evening was a cold one in early November and we gathered, shivering as we waited to perform at a Samhain festival in western Wisconsin. Samhain is a Gaelic celebration that marks the end of the harvest season and, the descent into darkness. Yes, it is a pagan ritual.
On this moonless evening twelve of us gather to lead the procession into the great circle where the Corn King resides. Eight of the men gathered will be dancing with bleached, antlered deer skulls. Tonight we are dancing the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and it predates all the other dances we know. It is a trudging sort of dirge of a dance that requires pairs to ‘meet’ and click their antlers.
In accordance with the ancient tradition, the remaining four dancers don the garb of the British archetypes, the Hunter, the Fool, the Betty and the Hobby horse. Those Brits are a strange lot after all.
A wordless signal goes out and our troupe, along with a gifted, chilled fiddler begin our somber trudge to visit the King. We are followed on a winding dirt path, lit by an occasional candle, by as many as 80 guests for whom this has become an annual ritual. We have become a somber and wild spectacle of a procession.
As we weave through the woods I can hear children giggling and parents whispering. Rounding the last corner reveals the circle of the King and he is something to behold. He centers the circle of flaming torches and stands fire-lit and 16 feet tall. He is the creative genius of the man who holds these events and has taken about two months to build. I helped one year and filled the King’s wooden pallet legs with the fallen debris of the forest. Once the body of the sculpture is build and filled, dried corn stalks are stapled all around to finish the effect and spread the flames quickly. Rising from a powerful chest are the Gaelic wings for this king will burn brightly before he flies to the Norns – the old hags of mythology.
Now the forest is a buzz. I can feel the excitement, the pulse of all things. The King is enormous, and well-endowed, a reminder of the importance and the gift of fertility. More giggling. The host of this grand visage steps boldly to the front and asks three questions. First, “Are you living the life you want to live?” Silence. Furtive glances all around and many heads down, too. Second, “If not, who did you give your power to?” More silence, deeper and darker. And finally, the knife. “And, when are you going to take it back?” Words fail me. Who has ever spoken thusly?
Then, out of the crowd an old hag appears hobbling toward the King in a long black tent of a gown. She and her staff wobble, and her nose is like a craig. She cackles as she walks. Even as she struggles forward, there is a giddiness about her. Ah! She carries the flame. As she stoops to the dry stalks at her feet her face reflects the first glow and she is gone. Quickly, the small tongues of flame race around the base of the man and upward, upward! Now all the faces in the gathered crowd are golden and awestruck.
One day, years later, I was describing this evening, this wonder to a made man – a hedge fund manager. HIs jaw went slack, he stood for the twenty minutes bound by the words and images and said, “people really do this?” He came back every day for days and each day we spoke of it with reverence. I remember thinking then, as now, there is a great price paid for the comfort of a cubicle. For the regular, mind-numbing obedience to the machine of Civilization and its twin Industrialization. I cannot be, nor would I choose to be all Wild Man, but I work to integrate that energy and hold dear the Wild Moments.
by Michael Russer, reprinted with permission from The Good Men Project
Here’s why today’s “hook up” millennials may be our best hope yet for a shift towards true intimacy.
– – –
When I was the age of today’s millennial men I thought about one thing when it came to women—getting “lucky”. This was something that didn’t happen all that often, hence why the term “getting lucky” was so apropos. In our current culture getting lucky has been replaced by “hooking up” where having sex is about the same as ordering a cheeseburger with animal-style fries at your local In-N-Out burger joint.
At first blush this may seem like culturally we are going backwards with respect to relationships. However, I contend that the millennials are well positioned to take the next evolutionary step towards truly conscious intimate relationships because of the prevalent hook-up culture. Just stay with me for a bit, you will see where I’m going with this.
Surprising attention from the Ritalin Generation
What I’m about to share is strictly anecdotal. However I’ve experienced it so many times I believe there is a fundamental shift happening. As a fully impotent prostate cancer survivor I speak and write about extraordinary intimacy to people of all ages, orientations and stages of relationship. What I have noticed (surprisingly so) is that the millennials in my audiences seem to be extremely interested in achieving truly connected intimacy which seems totally counter to the casual sexual behavior so ascribed to this generation.
Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing
Here’s what I think is going on. In a hook up encounter, sex is so accessible that it essentially becomes just a form of mutual masturbation for the primary purpose of releasing sexual tension. Within this context there is rarely, if any semblance of true connection between the parties. And without connection there is no intimacy. And it is that lack of intimacy that becomes the unfillable hole that so wants to be fulfilled. Therefore there is this huge disconnect between sex and intimacy (generally speaking) for the millennials.
At least in the days of “getting lucky”, when we actually did get lucky it was so special we often associated a deeper connection with the other person, whether the encounter warranted it or not. That is, getting lucky seemed to be a far more transcendent experience than just getting off. And it’s this lack of experiencing transcendence that I feel our millennials crave. And this kind of transcendence typically can only come from risking a deep, authentic and vulnerable connection with another human being, be it on the emotional, physical or even spiritual level.
Maslow’s hierarchy of intimacy
In Maslow’s model of the hierarchy of human needs, base-level needs (i.e. survival, food, clothing, shelter) come first. Then procreative needs show up as a strong second place (i.e. sex drive). As these lower level needs are met, people will (as the theory goes) seek to meet higher level needs, with self-actualization being the highest.
For much of the developed world, most of their lower level needs are met. This leaves a craving for higher level ones –including the feeling of transcendence (which is a form of self-actualization) that can occur during intimate encounters. So viewed through this lens, hooking up is certainly a way to address ancient procreative urges, but does nothing for achieving a deeper level of connection between partners.
The fact that many millennials seem to feel and acknowledge this emptiness is actually a good thing. This means they are *aware* of what is missing / possible –a critical first step to change and being open to exploring how to achieve the deeper intimacy they crave. Whereas I find many men in my “getting lucky” generation not as open to this same exploration –perhaps because that sense of emptiness is not as strong as it is with the millennials.
There is hope yet…
The passing of the baton from one generation to another is always interesting to observe. The older generation gives it over with a mixture of relief and concern. The new generation, always different, takes it with a mixture of confidence and trepidation.
I think we have much to hope for in our current generation of millennials. I personally find them to be very caring, intelligent, and most importantly –ready for much more in terms of deep, connecting intimacy than what their hook up culture suggests. And for that, I am grateful to and for them.
by Michael Russer, Reprinted with permission from the Good Men Project
At some point most relationships end up in the rut of routine, here is a sure-fire way to get out of it and stay out for good.
Ever drive to work only to arrive and remember little if anything about the details of how you got there? That is one of the ways routine shows up in our lives. We put things on autopilot and let our subconscious do the “driving” as it were. This is also closely related to the destination of most routine activities –our comfort zone.
This is one of our ways of not having to be particularly conscious or present to every single thing we do. It can make some things more efficient, but almost by definition, it also means we are not fully present or available to new possibilities. And that therein lies the problem of allowing relationships to fall into routine. It has been my personal experience that relationship routine left unchecked can lead to the slow death of even the greatest of relationships.
Fortunately I believe there is a way out of this relationship rut and ways to keep out of it. What I’m about to share is simply my opinion based upon personal experience and observation of others. Feel free to take whatever value you may see here and ignore the rest.
Routine = Not Present
Let’s start with the premise that any time you do or participate in something routine it also means you are not fully (i.e. consciously) present. If we accept that idea then it is fairly easy to see how couples allow aspects of their relationship to become routine (which quite often includes the bedroom). And that outcome right there is the primary reason routine can kill relationships. It is my belief, supported by experience, that for any relationship to thrive it requires both parties being fully present for each other at least part of the time. And most importantly, during physical intimacy. Sex without presence is not true intimacy / connection. It may be great for getting off, but does nothing to deepen and strengthen the relationship.
Three Steps to Breaking the Routine
You know how your car has warning lights indicating something is wrong or about to go wrong? Well, relationships have them too, they are just more subtle. If you don’t remember the last time you both did something really different and fun, that my friend is a relationship warning light indicating you have started to slip into the rut of routine.
If you find you and your significant other have fallen into routines that are beginning to dull the spark you once had, here are three steps you can take to immediately break free from it:
- Acknowledge It – this means both parties being willing to authentically and vulnerably communicate what each sees as disconnecting / boring routines that have taken over the relationship. This particularly includes aspects of your physical intimacy. It is crucial to first get out in the open what each sees as routines that are stultifying the relationship.
- Be Willing to Get out of Your Comfort Zone – as mentioned earlier, the primary reason we fall into routine is that it feels comfortable and non-threatening. This means that if you truly want to break free of your routines each of you must be willing to go outside your comfort zone to allow possibilities to present themselves that neither of you even expected to exist. For example, my partner and I spent this past Halloween not only in San Francisco, the mecca for colorful display of people in costume, but in the very “anything goes” Castro district. Do you see what I’m mean about doing something “different”? We had a blast.
- Be Adventurous – consider things neither of you have done before but might be interesting to both. It is in the spirit of adventure and seeing what shows up that my partner and I keep routine at bay. And frankly, it is usually an incredible amount of fun and often insightful. We love discovering new things about people, the world and of course, each other. And the only sure way to do that is be open to that possibility. Here’s another example. Instead of driving the car to downtown San Francisco we took public transportation. What an amazing array of costumes we saw. The fun started right there and then, that set the tone for the rest of our evening.
And here’s the cool part of all this. When you each authentically acknowledge routines that are preventing the relationship from getting richer, get out of your comfort zone and do it with a spirit of adventure and discovery, you both are being very, very present for each other. Now all this almost begs the question as to how you are able to stay in this kind of space where there is little room for routine…
Discipline Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Ironically, it takes quite a bit of discipline from both parties to keep yourselves out of a relationship rut. That’s because our minds are very tricky about turning anything new into yet another routine. There is a thin line separating cherished “traditions” from boring routines.
Here are some of the things my partner and I do to keep things fresh, exciting and giving that sneaky rut wide berth:
- Take Short Trips – we do our best to travel, even relatively short distances, to places neither of us have been before or infrequently.
- Try New Restaurants – at least once a month we try some new restaurant just because.
- Check Out New and Different Activities around Town – my Sweetie is particularly good at this. She is constantly scanning the local paper for new and interesting things, events etc.
- Play New Games – I recently taught my partner how to play Monopoly (she’s from Brazil and never heard of it before) and now she loves it!
- Attend Interesting Lectures – we both have minds that are insatiably curious so we are always on the lookout for new and interesting things to learn.
- Be Erotically Adventurous – it seems we are always exploring the boundaries of what is possible with respect to our emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy and have yet to find any limits.
Every week we look to do and explore something different. We may not always succeed, but the very act of being disciplined about it keeps things fresh for us.
While all of this may seem to be quite a bit of work (it sometimes is), we both find it to be far superior to the alternative: a dull, lifeless relationship that never gets better.
Republished with permission from Masculinity-Movies.com by Eivind Figenschau Skjellum
(video greeting at the bottom)
If you are someone who is in honest conversation with your life, I bet you’ve had the same experience. We are in many ways in over our heads, with lives full of activity. And while “activity” used to mean that we do a lot of different things in the outer time-space dimension, this rapidity has long since infiltrated our inner worlds as well.
The consequence is that we seem to be transforming, for better or worse, faster than ever before. People seem to be “popping” all over the place. Indeed, waking up from the trance of conventional life seems no longer reserved for hardcore meditators only.
We have become fed up with the “old world”, have we not? This tight-assed, hyper-rational, consumerist, destructive, depressed world seems to be gradually losing its grip on humanity, and while its consciousness should never be eliminated (it’s part of the spiral of evolution that we all must traverse), it looks set to lose its status as top dog.
This is good news!
The bad news is that on the way down, it seems quite willing to take the whole eco-system with it. You would think the problem is “out there”, but this process towards ecological collapse is fuelled by normal folks like you and I who are simply too busy, challenged or depressed to go looking for the answers to their problems in their inner worlds. So instead, they keep buying shit they don’t need, polluting both their inner lives and the planet in the process. We are probably the most addicted people the world has ever known.
This planet has everything we need to thrive. And if we were to take this opportunity to turn towards lives of sanity, our future looks bright indeed. But for that to happen, we must, in a sense, die.
Failing identity structures in a changing world
“The world is changed. I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air”. Thus opens the start of the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings epic. For those who have done deep inner work and opened the door to mysticism in their lives, Galadriel’s words ring true these days. The other day, I could feel it as an “electric charge” and an otherworldly, pregnant silence in the air. A friend described it as “the quiet before the storm”.
It seems that these shifts in the collective soul of humanity and the spiritual air we breathe are causing large numbers of people to come face to face with their false identity structures. I went through this process in 2014 and many of my friends either did go through it or are in it now. We became so allergic to ourselves (a concept poet David Whyte talks about beautifully) that we were forced to drop our attachments to our old world identity structures and fall into the alchemical crucible of underworld initiation.
And in this dropping of old world relics from our inner geographies, landscapes of connectedness and mysticism seem to open up. This isn’t woo-woo. Such phenomena are studied at esteemed learning institutions such as Harvard and MIT (check out the research of Robert Kegan or Susann Cook-Greuter for more information).
Not only are serious practitioners hitting their Nekyia journeys, en route to their fully incarnate Sovereignty, “normal people” are starting to wake up as well. I have made my own contribution to this process, particularly with my Inner Throne work, and many, I’m happy to say, have been waking up through material I’ve offered. (I’m obviously not talking about enlightenment here, but of becoming introduced to some bedrock truths about who we are and how we operate.)
What is going on?
It seems we are at a stage in human history where the forces of evolution have pressed the red “nitro” button and are speeding forth into some sort of crescendo. (remember those fun driving games from back in the 90s?)
Where are we headed?
I’m reading about Carl Jung’s life now, and am intrigued and impressed by the level of guidance he opened to in his life. He was a truly remarkable man. In 1913, he had a premonition of bad tidings in the world, just like in Galadriel’s voiceover. And as we all know, World War I started the year after.
Dr. Jung was clearly a very intuitive, tuned in man and I doubt not for a second that his premonition was more than mere coincidence. So when one conscious man can put his finger on the world pulse and read it accurately, what are we to think when thousands of conscious people simultaneously feel the exact same thing? What are we to make of this persistent collective feeling that we are moving towards the point of “make it or break it”? Shall we adopt the ostrich strategy and pretend nothing’s going on?
Or shall we rise to the task and assume responsibility for a world which hovers periluously close to disaster?
The world is so beautiful. Yet, it can be a pretty scary place. For the ecological crisis isn’t our only one: Large parts of humanity are now fanning the flames of their wet armageddon fantasies. Millions of “right believers” are concurrently, from opposite sides of the globe, invoking the end of the world. “Chosen people” mythologies like those of right wing Christians and radical Muslims hold that the old world must end before the new world will be reborn. The consequence is that they will, more or less consciously, encourage any developments in the world that promote the coming of the end times. Essentially, the sooner the world goes to shit the better. In their mind, you see, there is such a thing as paradise, and it is not on earth as we know it! (that’s what happens when you exile the Lover archetype to the afterlife)
So understand that there are many people who think that the world should end as soon as possible and that anything you do in service of saving it is actually an obstacle to the fulfillment of their chosen people mythology. Of course, you can’t campaign politically with such ideas, but that still doesn’t prevent you from being run by them.
When you understand that millions of people – and a large percentage of Fox News-watching Americans andpoliticians – actually live within this paradigm, you may start getting very scared indeed.
And this is but the start of the challenges we are faced with!
Ah, humanity! We sure made a mess of it this time.
Becoming guardians of the balance
If you are one of the many who have had a glimpse of reality – who have seen the true face of madness that (still) governs humanity – you cannot anymore pretend to be okay with conventional living. And I believe 2015 is a year when you will need to accept the consequences of what you have seen more fully than ever before. This is a blessing and a curse. It will give rise to tremendous joy, even bliss. And it will fill you with despair.
This much is clear to me: When you take the red pill, you can’t undo it. You can’t plug back into illusion as if you hadn’t seen the truth. That’s for characters in movies only. As one who knows, you must either assume leadership in the process of birthing the “new world” or you must suffer deeply trying to pretend you can be happy in the old. The suffering you may experience in 2015 is simply your soul’s way of telling you that you’re out of alignment with reality. Trust it.
And know that there is a wave of awakening washing over the world. This is not some trite new-age concept; I see signs of it in my life every day, as I’m in the privileged position of counting some of the most powerful change agents in the world as friends.
What I want for you, dear reader, is that you let yourself be inspired by all of this. There has never before, in the whole history of humanity, been a time when the forces of the world have been more perfectly aligned for individuals like you to discover and give their Great Work. This is a gift to you. It also happens to be a moral imperative. Your life plays a crucial role in getting us all safely through this unfolding human drama. If you discover what you are here to do, and then do it, all of us will have a better chance of making it through.
And by plugging in to the global network of change agents who are actively taking on these challenges, you will discover friendships unlike any you ever before have experienced. In the real world, staying in the matrix simply isn’t as fun as unplugging from it.
Here’s the deal: If fulfillment and empowered masculinity is what you’re after, you don’t really have a choice; you must engage with the battle for the soul of humanity as soon as possible. Anything else will be out of integrity with your deepest calling and the depression and suffering you feel will remind you of it every day.
You can tell the degree to which you are on the right track from your level of addictive behavior. If you are severely addicted, yet thinking idealistic thoughts, you’re still a symptom of the disease and not the cure. Having nice ideas is not enough – you must engage with life. You must accept your destiny as a guardian of the balance of the world.
Our survival is at stake. Wake up.
May 2015 be your best year ever
There’s a lot of talk in the world of self-development of creating your perfect life. Yes, it’s important to have a good life. I want that for you, just like I want that for myself. But it’s a limited perspective. Thinking that the purpose of your existence is merely to create a good life for yourself will create a bad life for yourself. For a good life is found in giving. Learning to receive openly is more important than you may think, but learning to give sustainably is even more so. In fact, it seems that your level of happiness is in direct proportion to the level of service you are offering to others.
In some strange and ironic way, your life is not really about you. This is what I want you to wake up to in 2015. You live to be fully given away. You must die an empty vessel or what you die with is regrets.
I will give all of my energy to this global alchemy in the time to come. And I would be honored if you let me play a part in your awakening. The Reclaim your Inner Throne workshops and online training are powerful ways of unplugging from illusion and putting you on the path to Sovereignty (see calendar). And I offer powerful one-on-one coaching for those who want to take it deeper.
Whether you choose to work with me or not, I sincerely hope – from the very bottom of my heart – that this becomes an amazing year for you. Truly, there has never been a better time for amazing years. But the stakes are high, higher than they ever have been. You may find that you will have to give up a lot of things which you hold dear to manifest this joyful life of service.
As for me and Masculinity-Movies.com, I don’t know for sure what will happen. My energy will go to where it has the greatest impact. I love connecting with you here on this site, and if that keeps changing lives, I will keep doing it. What I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, however, is that you will find me hard at work spreading Inner Throne work in the world. And I would love to see you in a workshop or an online training soon!
A very happy new year to you, friends and followers of Masculinity-Movies.com. May you rise and rise again, with heart and with fierceness, and become who you truly are.
My best wishes for your best year ever,
Eivind Figenschau Skjellum,
Founder of Masculinity-Movies.com
and creator of the Inner Throne process
by Randy Marks
Nine years ago, I joined the Mankind Project (MKP.org) after completing the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA). The Project changes the world by helping men heal and serve others, including their families, friends, and all humanity.
The Talisman I received at that NWTA is probably my most valued possession. It originally was just a red pouch on a leather cord. Over the years, I added a lot of beads and other objects. Some I got at other trainings and retreats. But most came at the end of the end of NWTAs that I staffed for other men.
Staffing 36 NWTAs has given me new friends and much more. I’ve had the privilege of helping and witnessing hundreds of men transform their lives by healing their wounds, embracing a mission of service, and connecting with other men. And I’ve grown as a man by working on goals at each staffing, such as to empowering other men to be brilliant, and having more faith in myself.
By working on the goals and being open to learning something entirely unexpected, I have transformed myself. I hardly recognize the annoying, anxious, controlling, and self-loathing man that I was nearly a decade ago, though I confess those qualities still sometimes emerge.
So I treasure my Talisman as picture of my journey to being a loving and powerful man. It represents lessons learned, gifts given and received, transformation and empowerment, and, most of all, love.
by Dave Klaus
I have a very different relationship with shame than I did a few years ago. Indeed, as I have learned to forgive and love myself, it rarely comes up at all. But when it does, I choose to dig right in, glean any useful information from the feeling, and then let it go.
But I used to feel a lot of shame.
I truly believed that there was something terribly wrong with me; that I was a freak, a weirdo, sui generis: truly alone in the world. Whenever I made a mistake, rather than forgive myself, I just added another reason to feel bad.
The data isn’t really that useful, but here are some examples of things I used to feel shame about: having bad acne, telling lies, being lazy, having little ability to talk with girls/women, being privileged, being spoiled, being mean to people, and best of all, shame for being ashamed.
The voice of shame is powerful. Unlike guilt, which is feeling bad for doing some specific act, shame is feeling bad just for Being. Sociologist Brene Brown usefully defines shame as the fear of disconnection: a fear that if any other human were ever to truly know me and see into my soul, they would recoil in disgust and shun me forever.
The cruel irony of this belief is that it leads to a most insidious cure. When I act out of shame, my clumsy effort to protect myself from judgment and separation leads me to present a false front to the world; to isolate and hide myself.
The “cure” thus produces the very “disease” I was trying to avoid: Being Alone!
It went something like this when shame started talking: “You’re a fraud, a faker, you’re a piece of shit!! If anyone really knew you, you would be fucked! NO ONE would like you! No one would love you! So… Tell no one the truth. Pretend that everything is just GREAT!! Hold it IN!”
Ugh. It hurts to hear that voice again.
In hiding my true feelings, I created a solitary confinement of shame.
And in a tragically familiar cycle, my sadness would lead to shame, the shame would become toxic, and then I would inevitably fall into hopelessness and depression. This dark funk could last for weeks or even months, and was disabling at times.
Fortunately, as Dr. Brown teaches, there is an effective cure for shame, but it is not hiding: it is honesty and vulnerability. When I started to honestly share my feelings, fears, and concerns, I found that they shrank and dissipated surprisingly quickly. I began to see that when I am honest and forthcoming, when I make myself vulnerable, people actually come CLOSER rather than shying away. Oftentimes they even thank me.
The voices of shame are like vampires: they are sinister and powerful in the dark, but when exposed to light they burn away. In the process they are often exposed as hilarious and goofy jokers: Jerry Lewis pretending to be Bela Lugosi.
So the next time you hear that hectoring and merciless voice of shame, turn the tables on it: instead of hiding yourself in the dark, open up the shades and let in the sun.
Try sharing your truth with a good friend, with your support circle, or maybe even with your facebook friends.
It gets easier and easier with time and practice, and you will learn along the way that many others feel exactly like you, but were afraid to say so. By exposing your feelings to the sunlight you will allow yourself to be truly seen and appreciated, and you will show others that it is safe and helpful to share and be vulnerable;
You will heal the world even as you heal yourself by sharing this message: sunlight defeats shame.
by Dave K
Last night I took my family to see “A Christmas Carol.” It’s become a tradition for us, and is really one of the few holiday traditions we celebrate. I’ve seen this show many many times, but this one hit me especially hard.
For decades, I was a Scrooge when it came to Christmas. I could rant and rant about killing trees, and commercialism, and phony temporary brotherhood. I was a humbug through and through.
Mostly though I got sad and depressed.
Then one year my daughter, 10, announced “I don’t like Christmas either, because Daddy gets so sad.”
This devastated me.
Arrows in, Arrows Out.
I went to I-Group the next day and did some big work around the holiday and my mom and the way she handled it (and mis-handled it.)
In the process, I came to a new place of understanding and compassion for my mom (who had already passed).
I opened my heart to the spirit behind the holiday: the same spirit we celebrate and cultivate in the ManKind Project: service, empathy, generosity, optimism, and of course love.
Since that night, I have actually enjoyed Christmas. I learned how to show up for my family in December, how to let go of my cynicism and judgments and breathe deep of pine and mistletoe.
Last night, at the theatre, I realized that Scrooge had his own hero’s journey, his own New Warrior Training Adventure.
He explored his past, he woke up to the present, and he took responsibility for the future. And it shook him to his bones. He found gratitude; just for being alive, for breathing, for being human.
In the morning when he wakes in his own bed, he dances and sings and says “I am a baby again.”. And he races out to give away his heart and his money.
I had started crying earlier in the show (really as soon as Tiny Tim appeared) but now I was gushing.
I reached over to touch my son, and scratched his back and felt so much love for him and my daughter and wife.
I felt so much gratitude.
I FEEL so much gratitude.
So to you brave and loving guides, you wizards and angels of the past and present, you irrepressible Bob Crachits, I thank you. If not for you Men and this work, I’d still be a Scrooge, hiding in the dark, separate, eating the thin gruel of depression. Instead, I am free.
It’s a beautiful day, and it’s Christmas time, and I am alive. I am a baby, again.
dave / king bEE
by Mike Morrell
My heart burned within me like a molotov cocktail
Melting atrophied organs of sense and perception
Third eyes blinking open from awakenings rude
Iridescent night vision seeing sights long subdued.
Tricksters, gods and monsters find themselves drawn in
To boys kicking off the covers revealing themselves to be men
Things hidden share secrets by flickering flames
Word-making devices now turning a page.
Ruthless grace shows up – mercilessly – picking me off the ground
Charred nuclear shadow where unused conscience once lay
Shrugging off my hangover from that first awful drink
‘Good’ and ‘evil’ hallucinations – that overripe fruit.
“Get up, Man,” Kali taunts me, blue angel of death
Shrunk heads of men who died trying hanging mute ’round her breasts
Her lips curled in kindness, a shared moment between us
Daring me to do better, Mars rising from Venus
While Michael, archangel, the template of me
Stands silently, original, master of all that he sees
Bedouin warrior of Thrones, desert Jinn and bright devils,
Has work to do once my apocalypse settles.
Alchemy seeps down deep in my bones
Leaden dreams long abandoned now spin into gold
Boy’s nightmares arouse to find themselves man’s playmates
(Amid tonight’s deadline and next week’s penciled play-dates)
Eden – alas – left me no forwarding address
Shangri-La (from saved seeds) now blooms in its stead
Could this garden-city be New Jerusalem’s nest?
I’ve been saving ’till now; it’s time to invest.
The invitation is intuition
A ceremony of recognition – my body and blood’s rhythmic repetition
Mercury’s metal on my tongue and sweat on my brow
Life’s transubstantiation – here and now.
Remembrance is re-cognition
Re-membering this disposition
That gives rise – then and always – to original face
Holy Sun Absolute shining shelter and grace
Kindling the compost of what had begun
Seraphim and Destroyer erect such a pyre
Food for the moon from all left undone
“Why not be utterly changed into fire?”
By Tim O’Connor
As a server at a restaurant, my son Corey wears a tie. As a dutiful father, I’ve always provided him with the Dad-Assist Tie. That’s where I tie the tie as if I’m going to wear it, but slip it over my head and give it to him.
But the time comes when a 20-year-old son must buy his father a beer in a bar. No wait… the time comes in a young man’s life when he must learn to tie his own damn tie.
Recently he brought his untied tie to me said—in essence—”The time is now. Teach me this great skill of manhood.” Just a blink ago, I taught him to ride a bike. Now… this.
The lesson began with each of us with a long length hanging down the right side of our chests, the short side on the left. I had him stand beside me like we were synchronized swimmers. We didn’t synch.
Man, it’s hard to teach something I do in a mirror without thinking. ‘How the hell do I do this?’ (There’s a golf lesson in there somewhere.) Eventually, I managed to coordinate my hands and words: “Fold this around, and under, now over…”
He tried about 10 or 12 times, but after each promising start, the great moment when the short end is pulled to reveal the triangular miracle of a crisp knot gave birth instead to something that looked like a highway interchange made of blue stripes.
We tried it with him standing facing me. Nope. “Nothing worth doing is ever easy, son,” I intoned, obviously buying time. “Adversity builds character.”
“Right Hobbes,” the son mocked, rightfully.
Sensing he must seize the torch (well, the tie) and weave his own way, Corey tied, retied, tied and … until he turned his face skyward, punched the air and bellowed, “I freaking did it!” High-fives all around.
There was no great lesson for me—just reminders about being a father to my two boys. Be there, do my best to show them what to do, and then shut the hell up and let them do things for themselves.
The most important piece in all that? Be there. Really be there. If we can do that as fathers, my sense is that the ties between fathers and sons—and daughters—will grow tighter and stronger.
by Jeffrey Bates
…a small boat sat on the rocks on the beach
as he approached it felt just out of his reach
the oars they lay inside half disclosed
the old man in his chair dreamed a dream as he dozed.
The stream from the mountain descended to the shore
Where the boat had been dreaming of the man it knew before
He approached and he saw the world without care,
As he breathed in the sun, felt the crisp morning air.
The old man, he shifted a bit in his chair
He’d thought that he saw someone standing there
“Get in!” he sighed, as he passed on the edge,
“The boat is ready and the shore’s no hedge.”
He squirmed once more in his chair on the porch
The young man, he felt no flame, but a torch.
As he pushed the small boat from the rocks on the beach
What was once so far was now within reach.
February 9, 2014
by Boysen Hodgson
New Warrior brother Jeffrey Bates (Bedford, Indiana 1996), has written a mythical children’s story called The Little Bucket. With a poetic voice and unique illustrations The Little Bucket is a hero’s journey that will enliven and stimulate the imagination. The book teaches about empathy, boundaries, how to understand bullying, reaching out for help, and also about what it’s like to feel lonely and lost and not know what to do about it.
When I got the book from Jeff earlier this spring, I shared it with my foster daughters. They both enjoyed the story, and it opened a much bigger conversation about what it means to look inside when things are hard. In a culture without a lot of strong models for emotional intelligence or personal responsibility, this is a story that can open some doors. It challenges blame and shame patterns that can get embedded so quickly in a child’s psyche. I have referred back to the messages of The Little Bucket when working with my daughters to remind them that the what’s going on on the ‘outside’ is only a tiny part of the reality … the BIG stuff is on the inside.
The thematic illustrations are gentle and colorful. The poetry flows with each turn of the page as the story moves through loss and revelation of a mysterious answer to the problem.
A reviewer commented, “Jeff Bates’ use of rhyme and imagination creates a story to help readers of all ages to look within themselves and live life to its fullest.” (Roxanne L. Pace, Library Media Specialist, Brevard County, Florida)
Jeff Bates says, “One of the things we lack in our approach to helping build character in our children and feeling self-confidence is a model. The Little Bucket fills this gap and provides an opportunity for deeper discussion about the things that matter most: feelings. Once we can enable the discussion of feelings, we can make great strides in helping our kids concentrate better and become strong from within.”
He continues, “We are all overwhelmed by the entertaining digital world which really distracts kids from the real learning they need to be doing. I’m just not talking about ‘school learning’, but learning about what’s going on on the inside.”
Additionally, when kids experience social pressure to conform and to give in to others, and feel distracted or intimidated by it, they can lose track of themselves, have difficulty concentrating and then spend the rest of their lives trying to recover.
Bates states that he is interested in selling the book, not just for the books sake, but for what can happen when it’s heard. The Little Bucket can help kids discover themselves on the inside and, according to Psychotherapist Larry Pesavento of Cincinnati, Ohio, discover that “happiness is an inside job.”
If you have little ones, or big ones, and you struggle with starting a conversation around feelings such as sadness, fear, anger or even joy with them, this book can be a helpful kick-starter.
The Little Bucket is available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com to order. Also visit The Little Bucket on Facebook and be sure to give him a “LIKE.” Jeff also has The Little Bucket presentation where he comes to your group/class/school to present the story, have a discusion and then sing The Ballad of The Little Bucket. You can visit the author’s page at http://jeffreybates.net for more information.
by Les Gaines
What is this shadow following me, damn?
Just a lie of what I truly am.
A mark from yesterday
when some guy said I wasn’t good enough to play.
That old stain has been like a stone
locking away my heart in a catacomb.
How can I live?
How can I breath?
With this mirage of limitation blinding my destiny.
I pay the price to feel worthy.
But still it’s clear that I’m not free.
No, just a proxy of what I should be,
offering a little taste of what I could be.
So what about a little authenticity,
If I drop my spear,
if I drop my shield
if stand before you with my shame revealed,
If I let my mind settle in this space,
and show the of years of fears etched on my face,
then can I stay?
Can I stay and love you through my shadows anyway.
That shadow has a bind on me,
nothing I can do sometimes but say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for my mother.
I’m sorry for my father.
I’m sorry for that freak down the street.
And that’ they all called a geek.
I’m sorry for my big head.
I’m sorry for my fears.
I’m sorry that I bite back hard,
when I fell attacked, and I’m not clear.
But, if I say I’m sorry for being me,
can I stay and love you through my shadows anyway.
I know that …
kings have other mansion
and, boys other toys.
Lovers have other passions
and, warriors other ploys.
But a man has only one heart to feel.
And, if he’s lucky he’ll hold onto one friend that’s real.
So, I will stay, I’ll stay and love you through my shadows anyway.
by Les Gaines
As if asleep in a sea of denial, loathing my own shadow,
my faithful friend with me along so many miles.
I know the crippling fear of stepping beyond the front door;
that hope for a better life was best left ignored.
I know trauma.
I know the doubt that comes
when everybody wrong seems right,
and everything right seems wrong;
when every arm but mine looks strong.
I know the helplessness of trying to feel like something,
while my brain is screaming that I’m nothing.
I know trauma.
The intrusion of phantom hands, sounds, and scents
that cross the gap of time making danger feel so imminent.
Flashbacks they’re called,
by those who walk with memory intact.
I know just how long that panic can last.
But, I also know the power of Goodness and Life
that shields a soldier in the most vicious of fights.
I know the strength of hands, ready to survive.
I know how to thrive.
How to search the infinite resources of mind,
to unlock the chains of shame restoring innocence,
I thought left behind.
I know the power of the yearning for freedom
that made me stand from my crawl, and
throw away that doormat that read, “free-for-all.”
This is my Life!
And it’s time I change
the rules of that old abusive game
to restore each fragment of my Self to its rightful place.
I’ll say who I am,
Love, Life, and Freedom.
I am Choice. I am Real.
I am here … with the courage to heal.
GUEST POST by Peter Clothier
“Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion,” by Nick Duffell.
First, don’t assume from this book’s subtitle that is irrelevant to us here in America, or to our leadership. It is of vital relevance, no matter the specificity of his target. Nick Duffell’s title will have resonance for anyone who has lived through the past couple of decades in America and watched our own wounded leaders in action–or, more correctly, inaction. That said–and we’ll come back to this–his central argument is that the boarding-school educated governing elite in Britain are themselves unconsciously governed by the lasting wounds incurred by the experience of being sent away from the family at an early age, and placed in a militaristic environment in which they learn to protect themselves from a hostile outer world.
I can speak to this. I am what Duffell aptly refers to as a Boarding School Survivor. As a practicing psychotherapist, he has a long-standing practice designed to bring such people back from their emotional disorientation and isolation. I could have used his services, long ago, but had to discover my own path through this maze. I was sent away to school at the age of seven, and by the time I escaped to freedom at the age of eighteen, I had received a remarkable head-oriented education but remained what I often describe as an emotional cripple. I had learned the costly and dangerous art of evasion and emotional invulnerability. As a seven- or eight-year old, I could not afford to do anything but suppress the feelings that would open me up to attack from my fellow-boarders: fear, anger, sadness, grief, the terrible pain of being separated from parents who assured me that they loved me—even though it was hard to understand the paradox of being loved and yet exiled from the family, the locus of that love.
The result of my excellent education was that I never grew up. Rather, it took me another three decades before I realized there was something wrong with living like a turtle in a shell. Boarding School Survivors, as Duffell describes them, are stunted individuals so caught up in their heads that they remain disconnected from their hearts. I simplify his profoundly well-informed and subtle arguments, whose bottom line is that Britain’s ruling elite, boarding-school and Oxbridge-educated, are supremely unqualified to lead in our twenty-first century world because they get so intently focused on their distorted, rational vision of national and global issues that they remain impervious (invulnerable) to the bigger picture of human needs. They are unable to listen, to empathize with others than themselves and their own kind. They are guided by the certainty of their own sense of rectitude. To doubt, to question, to have a change of heart is to be vulnerable, and vulnerability is the last thing in the world they can allow themselves. (Duffell’s final chapter, on doubt, is particularly eloquent and on-target.)
I am admittedly unqualified to evaluate the more technical aspects of Duffell’s argument. To this reader, he seems impressively knowledgeable and up-to-date with the latest discoveries of neuroscience and academic psychology. He draws on a broad understanding of the philosophical development of rationalism and its critics, the countervailing social movements of repression and rebellion, and contextualizes his argument in that historical perspective. In our contemporary times, his exemplars are primarily the likes of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, England’s current Prime Minister David Cameron, and London Mayor Boris Johnson, whose attitudes and actions are profoundly—and in Duffell’s view—mistakenly reactionary. As he sees it, they bully and bluster their way past opposition into futile military actions and social programs that enrich the already privileged and wealthy and contribute to the continuing impoverishment of the needy. No wonder the England he describes is an angry country.
Late in the book, Duffell expands his vision of an entitled elite to include brief reference to American leaders—in particular, of course, George W. Bush, whose blind and reckless pursuit of a delusory obsession rushed us headlong into the war with Iraq. The disastrous results are with us today, in the form of a Middle East in unending turmoil. Looking at America today—a nation of people surely as angry as the British—I’d argue that what Duffell calls the Entitlement Illusion is by no means limited to British elitism. Our leaders must also be counted amongst the wounded. Our leadership is dominated by the squabbling of little boys who have never grown beyond the need to protect themselves and their own territory from those who do not agree with them. Our political problems are the same as those Duffell describes in his country: militarism, misguided and prejudicial rationalism, a lack of empathy for the poor and underprivileged, an assumption of rectitude that rejects other views without a hearing, an angry rejection of doubt or reappraisal of previously held views.
Entitlement, I’d argue, is not the exclusive property of the British elite. I myself believe it’s also, more broadly, a factor of historical male privilege, the patriarchal tradition. There is a persistent myth in our culture that sees men as rational beings, in control of events, capable, practical, while women are (still, in the eyes of too many of us men) perceived as irrational, guided by emotion rather than reason, and therefore less competent in leadership positions. Duffell argues passionately for a middle path, one that minimizes neither reason nor emotion, but balances the intelligence quotient with the emotional quotient, the head with the heart, reason with compassion and empathy. I agree with him, that unless we as a species can find that balance, we are in for dangerous times ahead. His book is a timely and important reminder of the need to “change our minds” in a fundamental way, and open ourselves to the powerful–and practical–wisdom of the heart. I sincerely hope that the book will find readers beyond the native country of which he writes. Its insights are profoundly needed everywhere, throughout the globe.
by Les Gaines
I sit in a circle with Men
who are ready to go within,
whose eyes blaze like diamonds in disguise
and whose bodies are poised with determination.
Unwilling to compromise,
and using clever minds as a honing device,
the brothers listen in.
For groans and moans of shadows and doubts
that utter, “I am less than.”
In this circle of men,
we find traces of hopes we’ve seen before,
hidden behind childhood doors
arousing pain we must explore.
And in that journey we find our life’s mission
to be who we are, without seeking permission.
To do what good men have always done,
be willing to be “the One.”
In this circle of men,
a warrior rises to the occasion,
to see the world he made
and claim his power to change it.
Here hands beat upon drums,
And, masculine roars form our songs,
calling the four directions, the sky and the earth
and upon ancestor’s shoulders we take up our work.
In this circle of men,
there is power to turn ore to steel,
to dissolve every illusions that prevents
living a life that is real.
In this circle of men,
there is truth in projections
and healing when a man encounters his own golden reflections.