“I want to live in separate houses,” she said.
We were sitting on the living room floor. She had just unwrapped the handcrafted silk scarf I bought her in a remote Bavarian Village.
I had realized, racing that test-drive BMW Z-3, (not yet released in the States) through those Alpine peaks, that my marriage was dead. Not foully murdered. No blood. No viciousness. Just — like that famed Norwegian Blue parrot of Monty Python fame, standing only because it had been nailed to its perch; this marriage had ceased to be. Had expired and gone to meet its maker. This was an ex marriage.
So being the dutiful husband and father of two small boys that I was, I bought her a beautiful gift and came home to suggest that we sell our house and travel around the world – in other words – resurrect ourselves, find a way to make it work.
She, not so amazingly, had come to the same conclusion while I was away: marriage. Dead.
She wanted a 6-month break to discover herself as just herself, not as my wife, and not as a “mom.”
“Well,” I said, well entrenched in my “ordinary world” of good husband/good father, “if you want to go to a Buddhist monastery and meditate for 6 months, I’ll support you. But if you want to sleep with other guys, that’s a divorce.”
“I’ve never slept with another man. I want to experience that.”
“Well, I haven’t slept with another man,” I said. “You don’t see me complaining.”
She didn’t laugh.
I got it. She was dying inside. She had lost track of who she was. We had married out of college. Her father was powerful. I had been powerful (then). She didn’t know what she was anymore, outside of being defined by the men in her life, including our two little men sleeping in the next room.
That moment… was the lightning strike of my rebirth as a man. Her decisiveness allowed me to admit what I didn’t want to admit – how drained and hopeless I felt inside in this marriage. How what seemed, at 23, like a promising and grand project was never going to be a true partnership of minds and souls.
A distant voice – ancient, terrifying, thrilling – called from a distant shore. Like a horn blast. A death rattle. A siren’s call.
Everything was about to change.
I wanted this. And I didn’t want it. My body craved it. My “identity” however, recoiled in shame and terror.
Who would I be as “not father/not husband?”
Where would I go?
What lay before me?
YOU WILL BE CALLED TO ADVENTURE
As a man, you will be called to adventure.
It might arrive as a sucker punch, but come it will.
The Call will shake you out of stasis. Out of settling. Out of being a pussy cowering in the corner of the Thunderdome of life.
And, like me, like all men, your body will thrill to the tingle of possibilities unfolding before you. And, like all men, you will resist that call.
And THAT… is when the true adventure of your heroic journey begins.
Joseph Campbell laid it out for us. He elucidated what he called “the monomyth” – the ONE story that runs through EVERY story in every culture throughout mankind.
The adventure finds a man (usually) in his “familiar world.” He is dutiful but he is unfulfilled. He is Luke Skywalker scavenging droids on a desert planet full of vertical shih-tzus in bathrobes.
The hero is then called to adventure – often shockingly – as when Luke’s uncle and aunt are char-broiled by the Empire.
The hero then meets a mentor – Obi, Han Solo, then Yoda – crosses into a dangerous world full of allies and enemies (often it’s a dark forest).
The hero, along the way, gathers up “magical” weapons (e.g. light saber, invisibility cloaks) – which are metaphors for wisdom.
Then the hero has to face a great ordeal – fight a dragon, representing his deepest fear – die and get resurrected, slay the dragon, grab the treasure and here’s the crucial part – return home with the treasure, or magic elixir (representing Great Wisdom, his fulfilled and embodied heroic nature) and heal the land from which he came.
It should. George Lucas apprenticed under Campbell. It’s Luke Skywalker to a tee. But it’s also Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Frodo, Harry Potter, John Mclaine, Moby Dick’s Ishmael, Oz’s Dorothy, Gatsby, Huck Finn, Beowulf – and pretty much every protagonist of every Hollywood movie you’ve ever seen.
But more importantly – it’s you.
You are the hero of your own journey – that, or you end up a mere sidekick, an extra, vegetable-matter, a throwaway. A shadow of the man you could have been.
You either CHOOSE to heed the call to adventure and launch yourself into the dark unknown – or you wither away to become a cubicle man, a blob, a bar-code, what Eliot described as “The Hollow Men.” The opening lines of his poem by that name should keep you up at night…
“We are the hollow men?
We are the stuffed men?
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!?
Our dried voices, when?
We whisper together?
Are quiet and meaningless?
As wind in dry grass?
Or rats’ feet over broken glass?
In our dry cellar? ?
Shape without form, shade without colour,?
Paralysed force, gesture without motion”
Do you know men like this — “paralysed force, gesture without motion?” – going nowhere but back and forth from their soul-death jobs to the TV to the bar to the job and rinse and repeat until only the grave breaks the monotony?
Men who grow neither spiritually nor sexually nor emotionally nor intellectually nor… heroically?
These are the men Tyler Durden had to wake up with his spasms of violence.
These are the men that Eliot elsewhere described as so weak, they “measure their lives in coffee spoons,” wonder if they “dare to disturb the universe” — and in a pitiless, dim echo of brave Ulysses upon the wine-dark sea, meekly wonder…
“Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.”
The mermaids are singing to you, my friend.
They are singing to you right now.
What are you doing about it?
THE JOURNEY IS YOU
The beautiful, sensual, writhing, wise, radiant, pliant, mischievous liquiform women of the world are singing to you.
Do you dare hear them?
They are tempting you to brave their whirlpooled shores – to see you if you will paddle off, tail between your legs (like most men), or if you will collapse and sink mid-effort (like many men), or if you will ennoble yourself – and them – by rising to your heroic best – throw yourself boldly into their feminine maelstroms, take a deep breath and, swirling, swirling, join their blazingly erotic song of life.
Women are calling you.
Their voice is bewitching. Beguiling. It sends a temblor down your spine and a tongue of fire through your veins.
Can you hear them?
Can they even tell that you hear them?
Campbell’s Heroic Journey is not about “literature” or “old myths.”
This journey – eternal, repeating, personal, vivifying – is YOURS. It is about YOUR growth. YOUR self-forged destiny.
YOUR one and temporary life.
It is about your being called out of stasis and fear and hesitancy and indirection and manipulation.
The “Heroic Journey” structure is universal because it is OUR universal story.
It is like a grand, living “Mario Brothers” screen where you leap to higher and higher plateaus.
So let me ask you a question…
Where is your “plateau” right now with women?
Where do you hesitate? Where do you hide in shadows?
Where do you not let the boldness of your true heart shine? Where do you hold back your love for fear it can be popped like a balloon, when in fact it is a undepletable, rushing river?
Where do you not lead women past their own fears and hesitancies for fear of their rejection, as if one woman’s momentary closure can dam your warrior’s inheritance?
Where have you settled for merely “f*cking,” when women yearn to be ravished open to dissolution, to bliss, to fullness and filledness.
The mermaids are calling you. Are you answering?
As a teacher of over 50,000 men who stand ready to fortify their spine, open their heart and approach, connect with and inspire women, I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard men complain about dating, that its too hard, that the women are bitchy or too picky or only want male models or millionaires, or that online dating sucks or that girls don’t know what they want…. and all I hear in this are “mouths full of straw …dried voices… whispering together… quiet and meaningless.”
You cannot hear the mermaids singing when your ears are full of your own complaints and excuses.
You can’t set sail and catch the wind of life if you resist the call over and over, in a hundred pallid ways.
YOUR DATING LIFE IS YOUR HEROIC ADVENTURE…
… should you, like Ethan Hunt, choose to accept it. How you date can be the forge of your manhood, of your spine, of your destiny.
When I sat there on my living room floor with my then wife, I was a ball of terror. Would she find some amazing wealthy man who would endear himself to my children? Would I be “that” guy living in a shitty apartment impoverished by alimony until the grave? “That” guy who only saw his kids on weekends? “That” guy, hair thinning, stomach bloating, haunting the shadows of wine bars and hotel lobbies, stalking the wounded stragglers of middle aged women herds? Would my beautiful sons grow distant? Would I drift and drift and drift away from this home I had rebuilt with my own hands…. and simply vanish? Unseen. Unimportant. Unloved?
And worst of all – I sat there wondering if any woman would ever date me? Mid life. Balding. A bit heavy. Broke from divorce. A guy who “lost his family.”
Yet, the next morning, I was at the courthouse, filing for divorce.
And guess what?
On that long line to the little clerk’s window, the woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder. “What?” I snapped, maybe too sharply.
“Do you realize,” she said, “that you are singing at the top of your lungs?”
I didn’t even know I was singing at all.
But something deep inside me was answering the mermaids.
In the dating world, you answer the mermaids by learning to live full-throttle and communicate your truth boldly.
I have been on an extraordinary hero’s journey this past decade…
I crossed a threshold into the unknown world of dating fearing rejection and invisibility.
I found my “wise mentors” – I read everything on male-female dynamics, sought the authors, found workshop leaders, aligned myself with David Deida (who I worked with for 2 years), and hounded shamans and scalawags, rakes and rabbis, sages and seducers, barflies and black-belts for every crumb of wisdom I could shake from them.
I learned how to approach beautiful women boldly. To flirt without shame or hiding my erotic self or sexual intentions. I learned – by trial and error – how to lead, directly and without subterfuge, a woman from the spark of that first encounter on a playful and unmistakable path into sexual adventure and connection.
I gathered “magical weapons” – patterns of unmasking and “presencing” – conversational techniques that skip the small talk and kill “the friend zone” before it even has a chance to be born. I learned how to dress. How to hold my body, to take up space like I deserved it. I learned approach skills. Infallible flirtation games. Rapport skills. The ability – eventually – to speak truth brashly and boldly. And every woman/ally on my journey handed me a magic talisman of wisdom. Or two. Or a hundred.
I battled “enemies” – mostly my own ego which sought to “get” from women rather than to boldly “give” great and authentic experiences, unattached to outcome (I often lost these battles).
I faced the “dragon” of my own self-worth many times but, snicker-snak, relentlessly, with my vorpled sword I slew self-doubt, slew “smallness,” slew “neediness” – each time, returning with just a little more of the elixir of a healthier self, a healthier love of women, a healthier ability to connect with women at the levels of both play and depth, and most importantly – with a deeper draught of my own freedom.
The True Victory Of The Dating Journey
And through it all, through writing and teaching and coaching men around the world, I have found that the true victory on the heroic journey of dating cannot be measured in bedpost notches (much as I’ve enjoyed my notching)…
The true victory is in the boldness of thought, speech, touch and offering, is the resultant self-sovereignty, the expansive fearlessness and the buoyant confidence that living dating as a “heroic journey” gives you.
It’s a far sight better prize rather than the needy, bumbling, scattershot stumbling that most men settle for as they go “after” women – rather than standing proudly before them – and inviting them into adventure.
Non-heroes treat the dating journey as a carnival ring-toss game of “hope.” They throw their money down. They fling their little hoops and try to get “lucky.”
Heroes treat their dating life like the heroic journeys they actually are – adventures of self-discovery and self-refinement, of striving and self-development, of facing down fears, dying little deaths over and over again only to be resurrected anew and grabbing the ultimate treasure…
… and thereby growing to the next level up of manhood: proud, scarred, wiser and able to give their true mental, physical, sexual, social and spiritual gifts to themselves, to women and to the world at an entirely new level.?
Do you want to learn how to do that?
Come with me. I know the way.
The mermaids are waiting.