Old people sex is often seen by people as a contradiction. In response to my column about being a good man, ‘What On Earth Is A Good Man?’, a man made a fascinating comment on Facebook about a friend of his wife.
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I lay under the duvet cover screaming, screaming out loud. I could feel the break coming. I felt helpless and hopeless and I did not know what to do, I did not know how to deal with my wife, with my life. I was lost; as a husband, as a man, as Graham. I knew something was wrong, something more than the clash of brute force and stubbornness, something more than titan struggle that had been going on downstairs. I was so lost I could not even work out what was wrong, I just wanted the world to go away.
A Spiritual Warrior embraces noble personal attributes and strengths, he is someone who masters himself, overcomes personal desire, moral issues, and all weaknesses of character. He is someone who embraces a journey of self discovery so he can inspire others as well as enlighten himself.
Graham Phoenix refuses to get old and expects to become a cantankerous old man.
My parents-in-law are visiting: it’s their first trip to Spain. They have the resigned look of people waiting for life to fade out. They fit in here, in this seaside town full of English ex-pat pensioners wondering what to do with their lives and their money.
I am just a few months away from becoming an official ‘Old Age Pensioner’ (a UK term for the more gentle US term ‘Senior Citizen’) myself. I will be grateful for the State Pension, having paid into it my whole working life, but I don’t feel old. I am the same age as many of the tired people I see in ‘Koi’, my favourite cafe, but I feel as I’m from a different planet.
I am overweight and find hill-walking difficult. I no longer run, perhaps more through laziness. My hair is white and I enjoy more rest than I used to. I need glasses to read but I don’t feel my body failing. I don’t see age sucking me down into its abyss. I don’t think about death or what might have been.
I think of the future and all the things I want to do and I trust that I will have the time.
Some men in their fifties see their lives fading away. They start to count the physical failings and see them as ticks of a clock winding towards midnight. These old men make me sad and they make me angry. They feed the paranoia people have about getting old, encouraging people to think that fifty is the start of the end.
I laughed last year when I read a blog post from a 25 year old girl who was worried that time was running out on her being able to achieve what she wants in life. The fact that she was approaching thirty was a sign of impending doom for her.
Staying young in your mind is not about positive thinking. It’s not about pushing the future away and pretending to be younger than you are. I see many men in jeans and tee shirts who are pretending, and they look even older. They are not accepting what they are: they are refusing to acknowledge the signs.
My secret is to fully accept who I am, fully accept the age I am and fully accept the opportunities that await me. A year ago I started my third career and I intend that I will be as successful in this career as I was in the previous two.
I left school at eighteen and ran away to the theatre. There followed many hectic and exciting years working in drama, ballet, opera, even in a strip club. I was a Stage Manager, an Electrician and a Lighting Designer. I travelled, worked, drank and, occasionally, ate and slept. I had fun and I didn’t take care of myself. I swirled through life until one day I found I was in my thirties. I was married and was about to start having children and I knew I couldn’t carry on living as I was.
I faced that old question,”What am I going to do?” I had been working for around 15 years and I had no real career to follow. Could I catch up? I looked at my age and worked out that I could do everything I had done, since I left school, twice over before retirement. That didn’t even account for the additional years I might enjoy. My uncle died when he was 94, almost 30 more years beyond retirement age. On that basis I could do it all another 4 times, as long as I was physically able.
The remaining 30 years of my life so far has been taken up with a new career and family. I became an Architectural Lighting Designer and established a large body of work and a reputation. I loved what I did and I made lots of friends amongst colleagues and clients. I always vowed to retire from the job at 60, but not to retire from life.
When I left lighting design, I began a career as a writer, teacher and mentor, something I have always wanted to do. This is a great time to start it: with a wealth of experience behind me and opportunity in front of me. If I live to my nineties, which I fully intend to do, I will have the same length of time doing enriching work as I spent building my last career. Writing, teaching, and mentoring do not rely on physical ability, unlike both my previous careers. As long as I can type and use the internet, I can work.
My children have learned that I am independent and capable of looking after myself. I think they expect me to become a determined, cantankerous old man, not someone that can be put down in a old people’s home. If they do not already, they will find out.
Men can carry on being physically potent and can enjoy sex until they die, if they look after themselves, and can become fathers into their eighties. Women have a clock ticking inside them. I know from living with women what the menopause does for women, psychologically as well as physically. The women say they have to accept it and adjust to it. It’s said that men have something similar to menopause. Maybe it’s true, but it doesn’t have the physical immediacy or intensity of women’s experience.
Sexual potency is one thing that changes differently in men and women, in my experience, but the world of the mind continues, and the body will carry it where the mind wills, in men and women, alike. A friend of my mother had been a Girl Guide Commissioner and a very active lady. She lived on her own in her late seventies after her husband had died. She was planning a trip to China to visit some remote areas. Her daughter came to visit because she was worried about the trip, considering her mother’s age. Her mother stopped her as she was persuading her against the trip. The mother said, “I’m sorry, dear, if I inconvenience you by dying on the trip, giving you all the bother of shipping my body back home, but rest assured if that happens you will know that I died happy!” The daughter shut up and, of course, the trip went well with the mother having a fabulous time.
May you all, men and women, look forward to years of fun and danger and may you scare the wits out of your children. As a man I have been gifted with an ability to keep going. I fully intend to honour that gift by being everything I can be until I drop dead.
—Photo credit: Linda Cronin/Flickr
Male Dominance is a live topic causing differences of opinion and overheated arguments. The differences often revolve around whether dominance is part of men’s inherent male nature or whether it comes from how they are nurtured.
Men develop under their mother’s influence and live in a society that is increasingly feminised by the media. They are left wondering where this leaves them as men.
In the future will men continue to dominate or will it be the turn of women? Will men continue to be domineering?
Is it time for men to embrace a new world view of equality and justice or is it time to batten down the hatches and protect what they have? Continue reading →
Mid-Life Crisis Or What?
Does the male menopause exist? Assessing opinions, the field seems to be divided. It certainly doesn’t have such a specific physical component as it does for women, our reproductive organs are fully functional throughout the full course of our lives.
We do not suffer from the hormone imbalance that our female friends experience in their monthly cycles. Overall men are much more steady.
At the time of the menopause, all women experience a profound fall in oestrogen levels. Studies show that testosterone levels in men decline too, however, it seems they dont fall so much and their decline is much more gradual.
Then the male midlife crisis comes around. Somehow our hormones seem to get the better of us. This occurs for most men around early to mid- 40s, about the same time we start to notice that we cant keep up with the younger guys any more and we start to question our performance level. That hidden issue of male performance rears its head.
For many men these feelings trigger a significant behavioural change. Right at a time when – just like it is the case with women – physical changes begin to occur. Some one described male menopause as a stage where changes present itself on a psychological, interpersonal, social, and spiritual plain.
Male Menopause – Man-opause
For men the menopause is sometimes referred to as man-opause. This word relates to the slow reduction of the production of two hormones, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone and the results of that reduction.
Most of us are familiar with testosterone. It provides the drive, the masculine characteristics of the body (hair, musculature etc.). Dehydroepiandrosterone influences a wide range of bodily and emotional functions such as the immune system, our stress response, our memory capability and our moods.
The menopause for men is sometimes called andropause, because around that same time the androgens, a class of hormones responsible for masculinising effects in the human body – also decreases.
Male Menopause – What are the symptoms?
- Declining sex drive (libido) – less interest in sex, having sex less frequently and enjoying it less.
- Fatigue, lessening energy – the same physical activity takes longer and requires more effort.
- Poor concentration and/or Forgetfulness, also more difficult to focus.
- Feelings of anger, anxiety, irritability, depression.
- Weight gain together with a loss of muscle mass.
- Sleep difficulties – difficulty in falling asleep, not sleeping well and having a restless time before awakening.
- Mood changes
- Confusion, indecisiveness.
- Declining self-confidence.
In themselves, these symptoms do not prove the existence of the andropause, as they are very common. A doctors diagnoses is required.
Male Menopause – Saving the Best for Last?
Probably for the first time in history, men live long enough to experience this decline of male hormones. It is a new field to explore. How would life be without being driven to achieve all the time, or to compete with other men let alone women? Perhaps we are saving the best for last..
Male Menopause – Treatment
If you recognise some of the symptoms mentioned above, go visit your doctor. Only a medical professional can determine the cause of your symptoms. In case of the diagnoses of male menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy has been found to be effective. What lifestyle changes can a male make to reduce male menopause symptoms and support his health?
It has been proven that introducing important lifestyle changes will improve the symptoms. Things like quitting smoking, reducing your levels of stress, steering clear of excessive alcohol use, exercising on a regular basis and taking care of your diet are known to do wonders for your health.
Graham Phoenix looks at why kissing his sons helps them to grow.
“I’d argue that perhaps the only thing that garners more suspicion than a father being affectionate with his daughter, is a father being affectionate with his son!”
I read this recently from a commenter on GMP and was amazed. I wondered if I lived on the same planet as this man or whether I have ignored what people think all these years.
I am a man and I have two sons who are now in their thirties. They are perfectly normal, well-adjusted men and we hug and kiss in public. This is not some overt display of family emotion: it’s just something we do. Am I supposed to worry about this, about what people might feel? Am I supposed to feel guilty and see the finger of suspicion pointing at me?
Last year I was working in a small church in Ireland, re-designing the lighting. I was in a design meeting with the architect and the priest (it was a Catholic church) and I found myself intrigued by some of the work that was proposed.
There was the re-design of the confessional that put a glass door in the front. There was the building of a mezzanine floor in the sacristy so the choirboys could change separately from the men and priests. I enquired about these, to be told by the priest that these were now a requirement because of the revelations about the terrible misdeeds of many Catholic priests.
The priest was quite unconcerned about the needs for these changes; he felt no personal guilt for the terrible happenings but recognized that the Church needed to feel a sense of public recognition, even guilt, for the situation. If strategic architectural changes meant the life of the Church could continue, then that was okay.
The problem with this is that all it does is feed people’s paranoia. It does nothing to change what individuals may or may not do.
I feel the same about how I behave with my boys, and with others in my life. If I stopped showing my affectionate feelings I wouldn’t actually change anything: it would just feed people’s paranoia. If I really were a sexual predator I hardly think that I would call people’s attention to it by such public displays.
I think that we help people to come to terms with their emotions by showing them that can display them openly. Here, I am talking specifically to men.
So many men are brought up to believe that showing emotion is a feminine trait. So many men fear how public displays of emotion might be interpreted by others. Instead of hugging, men slap each other’s backs in a show of “masculine” bravado. Men shake hands with their boys, fearing sexual tension if they bring their bodies together.
I openly kiss women and hug men—no back-slapping—and I put all my emotion into it. I rarely offend people. I kiss my gay male friends without any connotations or confusion.
Where, I wonder, does the guilt come in to such innocent displays of love? It’s clear that if men have taken things too far and crossed boundaries,then they should feel guilty. If men have taken advantage of their sons or daughters, then they deserve our despising of them. But love between family and friends: should that create guilt?
Perhaps men are confused by the feelings stirred by close physical contact. Perhaps they find their daughter attractive or find they have a response to the physical power and strength in their son. That’s understandable to me. I feel the power and energy in many people I have contact with, even my sons. I recognise them as men and enjoy the physical intimacy.
But I know the difference between close, warm physical intimacy and sexuality. I know when I am sexually aroused and when I feel intensely close to someone. I know the power of sexual polarity and I respond to it.
I feel strong sexual polarity with my wife, not with my family and friends. I know the difference.
Maybe that’s where the guilt comes in. That’s what causes the confusion: when men have not learned the difference between sexual polarity and strong emotion they get confused about what’s going on and feel guilty. Where people in general get confused about this they see things that are not there and start accusing people.
I love sex and I feel sexual emotions powerfully. I am in a relationship where I can express these emotions and thoroughly enjoy my sexual urges. How would I be if I didn’t have this?
Are men, as they are often presumed to be, just sexual predators who will prey on anyone they meet, including sons and daughters? Do men need to fill their sexual urges somehow? Are men incapable of controlling themselves?
For me the answer is “no,” to all of these questions. Sex is a powerful drive in men, but it can be controlled. There is no reason why men need to fear what they are going to do. Self-control does, however, require strength and maturity. It requires men to feel strong in themselves and proud of themselves as men.
I think this is achieved through emotional strength and authenticity. So I openly hug and kiss my sons so they can express their emotions and feel strong in the process. If I succumbed to feeling guilty and drew back, I would create in my sons the very guilt that makes people draw back.
In the end it’s a generational issue. If, as men, we show our emotions we clear the air and allow future generations to be open and authentic. They will no longer need to feel guilt.
“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.” —Henry David Thoreau
How do you relate to the environment you live in? What appreciation of the flow of nature do you have? Reawaken to the dawn? Does this mean anything to you?
Modern society has shifted the natural rhythms of the body to fit with it’s perceived needs. We use artificial light to lengthen our days and allow us to live as we want, not as nature intended. We no longer allow the flow of natural light to trigger our physical responses and take us through life.
This has been key to my life over the past 40 years. I was a lighting designer and created amazing environments for people to work and play in, for people to enjoy. The work I did enabled people to do what they wanted in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.
I am not recanting the work I did or even saying that it has a negative effect. I am saying that it has increasingly allowed people to become separated from the world they live in.
There is a natural flow to life that is about more than light and dark, about more than the obvious. There is a flow that is seen in the subtlety of nature, of the universe. It comes out when we reawaken to the dawn.
The play of energy that we live amongst is not noticed by most people and yet it powerfully affects their lives. The polarity between male and female energy affects not just relationships but also the balance of power in our cultures. Whilst many people see a battle between the sexes, I see a constantly shifting flow of energy.
The influence of spiritual energy in our lives goes far beyond concepts of religion. Our expectations in life, the way we manifest the life we lead is closely intertwined with the spiritual energy that flows through and around us.
When you insulate yourself from nature’s natural rhythms you also insulate yourself from the energy of the universe. When you close yourself off into an unnatural world you close yourself off from the opportunities presented by the universe and the spiritual energy that flows through it.
When you allow yourself to sense the subtle shifts of natural light you slowly re-connect with nature. As you allow this connection to grow within you, you become increasingly aware of the amazing potential in the world.
This process needs time to grow, but as you trust it it becomes extremely powerful in your life. It is a re-awakening of our spirits and our soul that will transform us and transform society. This re-awakening, however, has to come from within, from a sincere desire to re-connect with your core, with the source of your life.
As you feel the subtlety of the approach of the dawn, as you become able to sense the imperceptible shifts in natural light, only then can you truly become aware of the energy of the universe. Only then can you reawaken to the dawn. As this energy becomes real to you, you become more conscious of your role in life.
Then you are able to expect amazing things for yourself and society.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” —Michelangelo
I often ask myself the question, ‘What is my purpose in life?’ I always get the same answer, ‘To find your purpose!’ Hmm.. What help is that? How does that get me to my vision and goals?
The point is that we are here on this earth to have a purpose, through our experiences to make sense of ourselves and the world. The sense of purpose is built in to us as human beings, but the nature of the actual purpose… That’s for us to work out.
It’s easy to focus on goals, day to day needs and desires that need fulfilling or completing. I often get tied up with these. I need to finish the article I am writing, I need to pay my bills, I would like to go and swim in the Mediterranean.
For some people this becomes the extent of their life. What is in your mind right now, what do you think you should be doing rather than reading this article? Do you have any vision and goals?
What I missed for a long time was a sense of vision, a sense of a clear direction in my life that drives everything I do forward.
Buzz Aldrin, an american astronaut, had an amazing goal, to fly to the moon. Many people thought it was an outrageous dream. He proved it wasn’t, he reached his goal and astounded the world. But what then? What did he do with the rest of his life. He was lost and descended into alcoholism because there was nothing left.
He had a dream but he didn’t have a vision, just goals. The problem with a dream is that when you achieve it you’ve done. You can create another dream, but is that really your purpose, your vision.
A vision needs to be an over-arching purpose that will keep taking you forward forever. It needs to be outrageous but achievable, it needs to be beyond your scope but not impossible.
Urmila and I have a phrase that has become key to our life together. It is, ‘beyond expectation’. We shoot high in everything we do and expect the results to be beyond what we can imagine. We don’t downgrade what we expect to ensure it happens, we just let the universe show us how much we are valued and respected. We constantly achieve results beyond our expectations.
Not achieving your dreams should never be an issue as long as you are always on the path to achieving them, As with Buzz Aldrin the danger comes when you make them too concrete, too small. Even the dream of standing on the moon is a physically achievable target, as he proved.
A vision is an attitude of mind, a process. A vision influences how you live your life, it influences everything you do. You take a vision inside and it creates the amazing person you are and enables you to achieve amazing things, forever.
What is your vision? What are your goals? Who do you want to be?
My vision is to live fully everyday, to love deeply and treat everyday as the most important in my life. My vision is to have the resources to do this to the fullest extent possible and to look for results each day that are beyond my expectations. I expect to live everyday in paradise.
What do you expect?
What I loved was not just that people had fun but that they had fun with family and friends in their town. People were enjoying themselves because they knew the people they were spending time with and they enjoyed making fools of themselves.