Lent Meditation – Day 39

Journey: Return

Urmila and I were travelling the world. We were creating new businesses and re-thinking our relationships with the world. We were free of our old restrictions and partners, and were looking to keep it that way. How could we take this forward? How could I follow my purpose in life?

We had agreed to take on a long-term, three year, house-sit in Spain. This was going to mean less travelling and that we would be creating a more settled life. We were having problems with money. We were trying to separate out our separate resources and incomes. We wanted to balance our expenditure so we both contributed fairly. We had spoken to a coach friend of ours trying to find a solution.

On the last night before we arrived at our house-sit we sat in an empty restaurant on the Mediterranean talking about how to resolve this matter. Out of the blue I offered a solution: getting married.

I suggested it tentatively concerned that I was just going back to my old comfort zone of family life. Was I reverting again, letting go of my new-found freedom? What would Urmila think, would she see it as an attempt to tie her down, against her wishes?

She was surprised, but liked the idea. We could still travel, we could still be free, it would just make life a lot easier. She accepted and we moved into the house in Spain and started to plan our future.

This time I was moving into a permanent connection in the full understanding of who I was and what I wanted in the world. In a sense I was going back to the start but with a completely different view of live. I was not being needy or seeking some kind of redemption. I was being me and moving forward, loving someone for herself and not for what she could give me. This was me finally on the road.

After we were married in Venice we settled in Spain and we are still here five years later. We have become residents and have bought a house here in the mountains. This is not an attempt at comfort this is creating a long-term future and life together. We both understand where we have been and we are both excited about where we are going. We love our life here and are stimulated by it.

This is not permanent here, or maybe it is. We have fixed nothing but we enjoy being together here in Spain. I am developing my life as a writer, exploring my thoughts and ideas. I am writing to inspire other people to look at and maybe re-think their lives.

Earlier in this series I talked about coming home, about finding the treasure back where I started. That is where I am now, back where I started but the difference is that I am not the same person. Yes, I am older. Yes, I am wiser. The real difference, though is that I have found my truth, I have unearthed my treasure, the one I was seeking all those years ago.

I have made many mistakes in my life, but I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to correct them, at least for myself. I have left people behind but I have also inspired people to live a better life.

That is my life now, to follow my purpose and inspire other people in their lives. I am no longer living for me, for my sole enjoyment, for my neediness. I am living for Urmila and our marriage, and I am living for the people I touch with my life and my writing.

Lent Meditation – Day 38

Journey: Strength

I left go of my neediness, I let go of my need. I found the inner strength to be me and to take my place in the world. I discovered that trying to re-create the world to what I wanted had caused all the problems I had faced in my life. It had caused the destruction of my marriage. Perhaps it would never have happened in the first place if I had not been this way. So what was my next step?

I arrived back at the cottage a changed man. According to Urmila my voice was deeper, my certainty was obvious, I had become a man. She had not been expecting this, she had already decided that this relationship was not going anywhere and it was time to end it.

She dived into a black hole of uncertainty and confusion, because of my shift. It was not supposed to be this way. She had spent some years trying to get the men she was with to go inside and find their masculine strength with no long term results. Here I was a changed man, a man who had found himself, a man who was willing to accept whatever happened. She did not know what to do, she did not know if it was going to last.

I opened up about how I saw the future and talked about what I would like to do, how I would like my life to move forward. She wanted to keep travelling and no plans to settle down and create a new settled life. She had been settled/trapped for too long to want to go into that again. I said I would happy to come on the road with her, to let go of my life in England and see where things went.

She ran away to Fiji, to the other side of the world in confusion. She had found someone who she now found herself attracted to and she needed to work out what to do.

I had shaken my world apart, I had shaken Urmila’s world apart, what was to come? How was I going to resolve my relationship with the world now that I had stopped trying to manipulate for my own ends. I was out there as me, letting life take its course.

I went to Fiji and Urmila and I started over again, spending time together getting to know the new me. We made a commitment and shared an apartment together in Fiji. This turned out to be an amazing time and an amazing experience. It transformed our lives and set us on a road into the world together.

We worked on events, travelled the world and found our lives merging closer together. We started house-sitting around the world, staying wherever we fancied, roaming the planet. We set up an internet domain, roamingbirds.com, to signify what our life had become.

I started to create a new life of work. I left lighting design behind after forty years and became a writer. I started writing in two areas, travel and men, eventually to focus on men and masculinity. I was invigorated by my shift into myself, by the idea that I had come home to what was already inside me. I wrote on this on my website, malexperience.com, which became satpurusha.com.

I started working as a coach as I explored my new freedom and my new ideas. Urmila stimulated my intellectual and emotional development and our relationship blossomed. Urmila started writing and exploring her femininity as we both spent more and more time together.

Where could this go, what could endanger it?

Lent Meditation – Day 37

Journey: Adventure

I had broken away from my old life and was busy forging a new one. Was this a new life or was it just a repeat of the same old pattern? Was I changing and renewing myself or was I just regressing to childhood and starting all over again?

I had burnt my boats behind me, there was no going back. I had divorced my wife, sold my house and had taken on large debts that I had no foreseeable way of paying back. I was travelling and not pursuing my lighting design work so my income was shrinking. The situation was getting difficult, to say the least.

I had met this amazing woman and was spending time with her around the world. We went on a powerful road trip through the south west corner of the US. We drove in a Mustang from San Diego to San Francisco via the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. This trip brought us together and made me think that we could have a fabulous future.

We had a synergy that excited me, and we had a great deal in common. We were both divorced and had been in long marriages with addictive partners. We were both renewing our lives and re-forging our relationships with our selves and with the world.

We spent time together in Fiji and in the US, so I invited her to the cottage I now rented up in the Derbyshire hills. This was going to be an interesting new departure.

In the relative isolation of my cottage I spent time talking to Urmila. I was helping her to see what a great relationship and life we could create together. We had so much in common and so much we would be able to do together. We were a perfect match, the answer to both our needs.

The answer devastated me and sent me back wondering what on earth I was doing. “I don’t need another girlfriend,” she said, “I can make my own mind up, thank you very much.” That was pretty final.

I was in a spin and did not know what to do. She did not agree with me, and she was on the verge of moving on, leaving me behind.

We talked and talked and everything she said just hurt more. She was putting me in my place and being told I could not change her view and it was time I accepted that.

I went on a trip to Seattle for a meeting connected with my lighting design business, which was still limping along, on its last legs. We talked by text on Skype throughout the weekend. I was trying come to terms with what was going on, trying to find out what she wanted. My well developing skills of persuasion has gone down the plughole, ineffective with her.

On the last day she was on the verge of calling it all off. In exasperation she told me to look at myself and become a man! The connection disappeared and we did not speak again till I got home the next day.

On the flight back I thought about what she said and realised it spoke to what had been going on throughout my life. I had been trying to create the life I wanted around me rather than just being me and living my life. I had decided what my life should be like and persuaded the world to fit in to that. It had not worked, yet here I was doing the same thing again.

I decided to make a simple but profound shift: to become me, to become a man, to live life as came to me. I let go of having a relationship and decided that I was either right for her or not. The best thing I could do was to stand up and just be myself.

What happened when I got back to Derbyshire was life-changing, and not just for me.

Lent Meditation – Day 36

Journey: Demons

I left home and went travelling—finally travelling for myself, not travelling for business. This was a return to the rebellion I had started by going into the theatre but it was one with freedom, with an acceptance of uncertainty. I was doing the travelling I had missed out on by going to work after school—I felt young again.

I was now finding answers, I was now diving into myself and seeing what was there. I was learning about myself, changing myself, growing and developing. I was developing ideas of how to use this in the world, how to use my learnings to help other people. There was no focus to it yet, but there was a power growing inside.

I did more events with Tony Robbins and became a Senior Leader with his organisation. In the year I left home I spent four months in Fiji working on his events. I had learned many skills in my life and was a capable person. I met a lady, of course, and jumped back into trying to create the comfortable world I had left twice before. This time it was to be different—but more on that later.

This time I was going to change my life. At the start of my journal for that year, 2006, I said,

“Life is changing, Life will never be the same again.—This was never truer than of now. The tipping pint for me is NOW. Never again will there be a day like today, never again will I put myself through the pain and heartache I did today. Perhaps it was necessary for me to experience one last time what it has been like and what it would carry on like if I didn’t change.”

My determination saw me through against the battles that lay ahead. I faced struggle, bitterness and rejection in moving forward but the move was right and the move was to transform me.

My wife was bitter seeing our life together fall away. I understood her pain. After all it was me who had pushed to bring us together, it was my persuasiveness that had created the family life I was now rejecting. I faced difficulty unpicking the life we had created together. Our boys were grown up, so now had lives of their own, but we still had to untangle the piles of debts and responsibilities we had created.

My wider family just did not understand what was going on. They thought I had become tangled up in a cult and could not understand what I was doing. Leaving my marriage was something that was unacceptable to many of them and they did not like it. It seemed like they rejected me and took my wife to their bosom as a clear signal of what they felt. That hurt me so much.

My lighting design business collapsed for a second time. I became involved in financial chaos as I struggled to earn an income and deal with the debts that seemed to be spiralling out of control.

I had new friends in the world of self-development, friends who helped me to see what I had to do. I had support in a way I had never experienced before, support from people who cared. They helped me see a way through my confusion and understand that my seeking was normal and was something that I needed to resolve.

Then there was Urmila. Was this a new chapter or was this just a descent back into a comfortable nightmare?

Lent Meditation – Day 35

Journey: Shift

My jump off into the world of the theatre and rebellion was exciting and stimulating. But in the end it did not provide any answers to the seeking inside me. I still felt a loneliness inside despite all the people I met and worked with on a daily basis. I missed the connection at home, tenuous as it was. As soon as I could I found a way back into a form of that same life.

At the time my theatrical life seemed to last forever. After only five years I began what I later realised was a way back out of the danger and isolation inherent in that amazing life. I met a girl who swept me away with the power of her sexual connection.

I had not been bold enough to develop many sexual connections, even though it was everywhere—or so it seemed. When I fell into bed with my boss the experience overwhelmed me and I thought this was it. I was craving love and felt it in this relationship, I thought I had found what I had been starved of.

To her it was a bit of fun, but for me this was it. My first actual relationship and I was not going to let go of it. I found the dominating, persuasive power that I had learned from my father and would not let her go. She was bowled over and stuck with me.

In time we married and had two children, two boys, my own copy of the family I was brought up in. I had returned and created what I had hated for all those years, but I told myself it was different. We bought ever bigger houses with ever bigger mortgages. I moved from the theatre to a more normal job in a lighting company to make more money and spend more time at home.

The debt and pressure built up and I was till seeking, I had still not found any answers only more questions, more doubts. What was I doing? Where was I going? Was this it?

This lasted for more years than I care to remember. I developed a career in Architectural Lighting Design. I went into business and failed at business—twice. Although I had a great reputation as a designer I spent too much time trying to run a business. I even went to the extent of doing the book-keeping and running the finances.
I had not just fallen back into what I had run away from I had deliberately taken myself there. I knew I was doing what my father had done and somehow it seemed to make it alright—but it was not.

Our great marriage with the powerful physical connection broke down and fell apart. My wife blew herself apart with alcohol and I became lost in a swirling sea of anger, frustration and resentment. I had no idea what to do, but I did know that I had to do something.

Tony Robbins came to my rescue. In his work I started to see some answers, started to find the outline of a way forward, a way out. I was at a powerful event of his, Date with Destiny, when I saw my next step. It was Relationship Day and he was encouraging people to go back and work on their relationships, to make them work.

Then he said, “But, sometimes, after say thirty years, it is time to call it a day and move on. Sometimes you have to accept that it is just not going to work.” He was speaking to me, he was opening up the space for me to admit that I needed to move forward on my own.

I left home, sold my house and moved on.

Lent Meditation – Day 34

Journey: Start

Earlier in the series I wrote about seeking and returning, about how this had had a profound effect on my life. Looking back I can see the pattern of a journey in my life, a journey of profound importance to my life now and my life moving forward from here. Over the last few posts I am going to trace the journey and draw the lessons.

I was brought up in a normal middle class family in a comfortable suburb in the North of England. My family were Scottish although I was born a Sassenach (English to the Scots). My father was an accountant and company director with a large company and my mother was a mother and housewife. These were traditional roles in this period soon after the Second World War.

My parents had wide outside interests and a supportive circle of friends. They were involved in Scottish activities through the Caledonian Society. They even taught Scottish Country Dancing. While there were occasional arguments they were a happy couple who had a fulfilling life.

I was the youngest of three brothers and felt the effect of the masculine challenge from them and my father. My father was loving but dominant in his nature. That element made him a successful man, but sometimes a difficult man to live with. My brothers and I learned that need for dominance from him. This resulted in a challenging atmosphere for me—the youngest.

I felt little connection in my home life and buried myself in my own activities, such as the Boy Scouts. I felt lonely much of the time, riding my bicycle and pretending it was alright not to have friends. I remember once attempting to run away from home with a rucksack containing monopoly money and a bag of sugar! I must have got no further than about a mile from home.

There was always this sense of seeking, of there being something bigger that I could hang on to in my life. I tried to read the bible and listen to radio evangelists but they only feed the desire rather than answered the questions.

I went to a great school, Manchester Grammar School, but did not excel there despite my abilities. They were not to come out until much later in my life. I failed to get a place at university, a rare thing for an MGS pupil. This was the late sixties and there was not the plethora of universities that exist today.

My father was concerned about what I was going to do with my life and talked to me about helping me find work in accountancy or banking. I screamed inside my head at the thought of sitting in an office doing what my father did. Looking back I can see the rising of rebellion against my parents and my comfortable home life.
I had to do something to avoid this–hanging round at home doing some dead-end job was just not an option.

I thought about the thing I enjoyed doing at school—working with the Dramatic Society as stage crew or productions. I remember being annoyed when they said I could not work on the production of Hamlet because I was doing my final exams. Perhaps this was where I could go.

I wrote a couple of letters off to theatres asking for a job doing anything. The first letter brought a reply offering me a job. I did not care what the job was, it was work, it was adventure and it was out.

I shocked my parents when I went downstairs one evening and told them I was off to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. I was going to work in the professional theatre. They were also impressed and did not stand in my way.

With no idea of what lay ahead I left home at the age of eighteen and started my life. I faced the fear of the unknown, and discovered sexual awakening, drugs and a way out of the suburbs.

Lent Meditation – Day 33

Authentic: Openness

I strive to be open. I seek to be myself. Achieving this can be difficult. It almost seems impossible. I have delved into my core, I have come out from behind my mask, I have re-built my boundaries, but there is something still there.

Perhaps I am trying too hard? Perhaps I am seeking and missing the solution? Maybe it is there all the time?

Earlier in this series I told the story of the shift I made in my relationship. I stopped trying to make it work, I stopped persuading. I just became me, whatever that was. When I got back home Urmila saw the difference, she saw the man inside.

Openness is the solution, the simple solution. It is about letting the light in to the man inside, letting the light reveal the simplicity of what is there.

Authenticity is about letting go of trying to be anything.

When I try I end up creating something that is not there. It is that creation that causes the problem. That creation builds something artificial on top of the internal reality. Holding the honesty of my internal reality is the simple solution to all the problems of connection.

The difficulty I create for myself is thinking that I know better. I set my mind to work and it takes what it sees and judges it. That judgement finds fault and sees what could be better. But that is only what could be better not what is.

Whatever I am is what I am, authenticity comes from the openness of letting that light shine through.

Of course I can always work to change things, to create new shifts, but that is to come. Today is what is happening now. Today accepts the warts and all.

When I attended Tantra weekends in the Netherlands there were many times when I stood naked in front of the other participants. There was no hiding there, there was no chance to pretend I looked other than I did. I would want to be slimmer, more muscular, have matching legs, but I was not and did not.

It worked because we were all standing naked and wishing we looked better, fitter, more attractive. But we did not. Our ability to be open with each other made it work. The trick is to take that idea and integrate it with the rest of my life.

I have been through the work of awareness. I have looked at every aspect of myself and found what I was hiding away from, discovered what I did not want revealed. I have been through the work of acceptance. I have considered all that I have found out and accepted it, become one with it, drawn it into my life.

Now the work of authenticity is before me. But this is easy after all, it just needs me to do nothing. I need to find the courage to just be me, I need to take on board the compassion to just be me.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness, It’s about cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think—No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking—Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”—Brené Brown

I am enough, I am worthy of love.

  • Do you practice openness?
  • Are you enough?
  • Are you worthy of love?

Lent Meditation – Day 32

Authentic: Wall

I often felt the urge to exert control, the need to get people to listen to me. What I did not realise was that it was all about boundaries, my boundaries.

What took many years for me to discover was that I could only control myself, not others. To lead others I needed to be seen to be in control of myself. Learning to control myself, I realised, is about setting boundaries, something that is not as simple as it seems.

“There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. […] Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.”—Ursula Le Guin

I can imagine the wall being built, crudely, before the builder had any skills. It was rough but it was confident. When it came to the road, the way that was open and used by many people, it lost its strength.

The idea was there, the imaginary line, but it had not been marked, either with wall or gate. The line did not really exist.

This is what boundaries were like for me. They were built early because of childhood events. They were built before I understood their significance. They fell apart as I interacted with other people. I lost confidence and I became upset.

What I forgot was what the wall meant to those on the outside. I knew the inside, I saw it all the time, but I forgot that it looked different on the outside.

What I found difficult was how to see my boundaries from the other side. I resorted to blaming others for what happened. I knew my side, I knew I was justified in what I was doing, I knew the world was against me.

The world I saw, the world out there, I discovered, was the world I created. I saw the world as against me because I only I saw things from my point of view. I only saw the inside of the wall.

I attached meaning to the world I experienced. I reacted to the world I saw and created an inside world of anger in relation to it. What I didn’t realise was that I created that meaning from inside myself, from where I was hurting.

I needed to take control of myself, of my thinking and of the meaning I gave to things. To take control of myself I needed to take responsibility for what I did and how I reacted, I needed to see the other side of the wall.

I create my world myself, it is not created by the actions of others. This is a crucial issue, one that is at the heart of boundary setting.

I decide what I will do, not others. If I am doing what others want it is because I have decided to do so. I cannot blame others for what happens to me, and I can not punish them for it.

When I find myself getting angry, which is rare today, I know the wall has started to crumble. I know the way is no longer clear. It is time to get out the mortar and re-build my wall, on both sides. I need to take responsibility for what is happening and clearly communicate that.

I talk, I listen, I explain, I hear and I re-create my boundaries and, as a result, I am now a happy man and others respect me and enjoy my company. I no longer need to control others because I no longer attach meaning to what they do and I no longer react to them.

  • Did you wear a mask in your life?
  • What were you trying to hide away?
  • Can you come out from behind the mask now?

Lent Meditation – Day 31

Authentic: Mask

I used to regard the life I was leading as a lie. My fear was that people would see me as weak, indecisive and scared. We all have a Primary Question that we ask ourselves everyday of our lives, one that controls the direction of our lives. Mine was, “What if I’m found out?”

I regarded the life I was leading as a lie, a mask, an attempt to bolster my male power. My fear was being found out by someone, by anyone. My fear was that people would see the real me, the weak, indecisive and scared me. To avoid being discovered I put on a front of strength and determination. I hid behind a view I had of masculinity, of male power, a view that I thought protected me.

As I developed my view of myself and moved beyond this phase, as I started asking myself better questions, I found that I was left with a borrowed view of masculinity. I realized I was lost, as a man. My view of myself was based on an idea of being a man that I thought was attractive to women. I realized this was false when I discovered that the women I knew saw through this mask.

It was only when I looked closely at myself, when I discarded what I thought a man should be, that I started living as the man I am. It was then that my outward presence shifted, it was then I became just me, a masculine man, not a not pale shadow of a male stereotype.

The context within which I now see myself as a man is one of honesty and authenticity. Its not that they are necessarily masculine characteristics, but they do reveal a man in his true essence. My mask is swept away and what I now see as masculinity appears free and clear. Women see this and respond to the clarity. The nature of the masculinity revealed is personal to me. There is no one model, there are many forms of masculinity, all equally valid.

William Pollack said in his book “Real Boys’ Voices”,

“When boys speak about ‘being themselves’. Many describe a double life in which they are one person in public — a cool guy who plays fast and lives by the rules of the Boy Code — and somebody completely different in his private life, often a much more creative, gentle, caring sort of guy. Others say they can ‘be themselves’ only after they go home, go to their own rooms, and shut out the outside world. What just about every boy says he knows all too well is what I call the mask of masculinity, a stance of male bravado and stoicism boys learn to use to cover over their inner feelings of sadness, loneliness, and vulnerability, to act cool, and to protect themselves from being shamed by their peers.”

I now live way beyond the mask I wore when I was younger. I see myself clearly and understand the issues I faced through my life. I have successfully dealt with the issues and feel happy and relaxed as a man. I no longer worry about being found out, I happily let people see my true essence, see me as I truly am.

“Life is all about making a choice regardless what is thrown at you. Overcoming these so call obstacles that will assist you in becoming a better person. Go against the grain and do not just grow into that idol that society wants you to be. Fighting to keep your own image and standing fast for what you believe in is the only thing that counts.”—Fendson Dorvilus

  • Is your life relaxed and peaceful?
  • Have you come to a clear understanding of who you are as a man?
  • Have you dealt with the issues you had when making your transition from boy to man?

Lent Meditation – Day 30

Authentic: Authenticity

Authenticity is such a hot potato today. People have such powerful reactions to any claim to be authentic. What is the issue with this? Why are people so afraid of claims of authenticity? What is authenticity?

The problem stems from people using authenticity as a badge of honour. If I reveal my darkest thoughts I can claim to be authentic. I am bad and admit it so I must be authentic. This, for me does not get to the heart of the matter. Authenticity is about more than baring your soul, it’s about being totally honest with myself and with others.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ―Brené Brown

If I really admit it, by Brené’s definition I am rarely authentic. I make choices every day and frequently those choices involve me in some measure of holding back, of not saying what I really think. This is not about telling the truth, I think I have fairly well debunked the idea that there is a truth. This is about being seen for everything I am, for the whole of me.

I rarely have the confidence to reveal every part of me. I have a lingering fear of being judged, that I have talked about already. I wonder what people will think or say if I reveal everything. I want to keep something about me to myself.

Even more important is the question of revealing everything I think about the other person. the classic question is what do you say if your wife/girlfriend asks, “Does my bum look big in this?” I am not even going to look at how I would answer this…

Why would I want to reveal everything I think about another person?

Perhaps I just think that to be authentic I should be honest about the whole of my thoughts. Maybe I think that they should know it all because it would help them? Maybe I am just arrogant enough to think that what I think matters that much?

“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!”

This might be relevant and necessary in court but I do not live there. I live in the real world full of decisions to make about my interactions with other people. I make assessments all the time about me and others in order to create an optimal situation.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ―C.G. Jung

For me the answer is to leave behind all the stuff about thoughts and truth and follow Jung in becoming who I truly am.

This is not about what I reveal or what I say, it is about who I portray myself as. Do I create a persona that I set out as the real me or do I just behave as me, unadorned, open and honest?

I believe I say more by being silent than by speaking. I find that my energy speaks volumes. My body language, my facial expressions, my energy are all about me inside. Being authentic is about being congruent with what these say. Being authentic is just being.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.”—Sarah Ban Breathnach

What does my soul say about me? having been through a process of awareness and acceptance I should be clear about my soul, can I let it speak for me? I hope so.

  • Do you regard yourself as authentic?
  • What does your authentic self say about you?
  • Can people read your soul?