the 7 words of well-being for men (redux)

The ground is shifting under the feet of us all, but perhaps even more so, for men determined to release themselves from old ways of being. Someday, the gender distinction will likely prove itself irrelevant. Until then, this feels like a good time to revisit this post, which originally appeared in April, 2008.

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Even though my books and writing may be labeled “for men” or “for women,” these distinctions often reflect publishing-world realities more than anything else.

Each one of us resides (and from time to time, slides) along a masculine/feminine continuum. Much of the work we undertake to be whole now, involves integrating our inner masculine and inner feminine in a divine marriage. Liberation from cultural and family oppression and repression is not the province of any particular gender or lineage: It’s Universal (with a capital Y-O-U).

I culled these 7 words from my out-of-print book, What There Is To Love About A Man (Sourcebooks, 1999). My prayer is that women’s anger and the culturally acceptable male-bashing of the late 20th century are behind us: Let us now see our own reflections in the eyes and hearts and spirits of others, variations in body parts notwithstanding.

The 7 Words of Well-Being for Men

Fire

Something inside a man sizzles. Red-hot coals lie aglow in his belly, waiting for the breath of inspiration that will set them aflame. This is the fire that lives in a man. These are the roots of his passion, his fervor, his fuel to create a well-tempered existence. Herein lies his tinderbox, awaiting to arouse a man to a luminous life. When his fire is tended and nourished and fed, a man can kindle a revolt of his spirit, and awaken a brilliance as bright as the sun. He need only build the proper hearth to channel this white-hot intensity into the energy of action. To build and to dance; to begin and to be. To radiate a light that shines from within and enlightens all in his orbit — and nobody needs to get burned. A man has the power to be a firebug for his very soul, but first he must find his own matches. And then, he must play with his fire.

Fertility

This is not about sperm counts. This is about the potent fruitfulness that lives in a man. It lives in his fertile imagination, in his prolific mind, in the seeds of innovation and initiation that he gently scatters like milkweed on the wind. A man’s heart is fertile when it gives rise to acts of perfect love and radical forgiveness. When it sows the seeds of peace and justice. When it flowers and drops its petals in receptive soil strengthened by the sun and nourished by the rain. A man walks upon fertile ground when his every thought and his every action favor compassion over contempt and amity over animosity. This is more about productivity than it is about reproduction. This is about begetting a future void of old, obsolete ideas, and bringing forth new ways invigorated by new truths. This is about creating; this is about life.

Work

It doesn’t matter how many jobs a man may have, unless he’s found his work. Not just the work that pays the bills, but the work that feeds his soul. The real work of a man goes on 24/7/365. The work to define his place in the world, and to help create that world. The vocation that fits him like a glove and that no one else can do exactly like him. If he listens, work will call to a man. But until he’s found right livelihood, everything else may feel wrong. He can work for money or love or sheer satisfaction. He may wear a white collar or a blue collar or a pink collar or no collar at all. He can work for wages or work for himself or work for the company store. A man can work with his hands or his head, but to work at what he loves, a man must work from his heart. He must give freely of the gifts that only he can give. Until he steps into his one true calling, a man’s work will never be done.

Eros

Cupid pulled back his bow and hit a bull’s eye, and now the man is real, real gone. He’s leaking love all over the place and sucking the deliciousness out of life. He’s stopping to smell the roses and sticking around to taste the dripping flesh of a ripe and juicy mango. He sees lovers cavorting in the clouds and alongside the road and he’s trembling with runaway lust. Suddenly, all is sensational! Birdsong sweeter than he’s ever heard lilts across meadows more lush than he’s ever seen. A light rain sprinkles his face and he rises up into rapture. He trades in flannel for silk, and cotton for satin, and finally chucks it all to run naked ‘neath the moon. Love songs spill out of his lips without the slightest provocation, and he stays home from work on account of desire. He craves deep chocolate ice cream with hot raspberry syrup, passionfruit nectar with a twist, and Pavarotti twenty-four hours a day. He’s washing in rosewater and soaking in ylang-ylang. He’s been struck by an arrow, and he’s taken it to heart.

Voice

Listen to the voice of a man. Hear it cry out for freedom and call out in triumph. Hear it keen and bellow and moan and wail. His is the voice that exploded in battle; his is the howl that ignited the flame. Beneath all the babble, he spoke sotto voce ; his basso profundo enveloped the hall. You can hear the entire world in the voice of a man. The bit of brogue, the touch of twang, the patois of the plain, and the elocution of the noble. The changing voice of a boy becomes the unwavering voice of a man. A full-throated man voices his fears and his deepest yearnings. He voices his anger as he voices his joy. If called upon and ready, he voices the conscience of the people. The strongest men’s voices still strain to be heard, while somehow, the lesser are heard over all. Listen to the sound of a man’s voice in all of its glory. It just might be a god, with the voice of a man.

Truth

There’s a lot more to the truth than just facts. Or consequences. Truth be told, it matters little whether a man tells the truth, unless he also lives it. Unless he lives the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of his life. The genuine article; the very life he was born to live. It is one thing to stand in a court of law and swear to be truthful; it is something else altogether to stand in front of the mirror and commit to live a life without lies. When a man creates a life in tune with his deepest knowings, he lives in his truth. When a man forsakes the agendas of others and lives according to his highest values, he can truthfully say he is living an authentic life. The truth is sometimes bitter, and often strange. To get to the naked truth of his own existence, a man may have to peel away lifetimes of layers of lies. When he does, he will find his truth, his way, and his life.

Sanctuary

In the woods, beside the creek. High on the mesa, beneath the ruins. Down in the cellar, behind the furnace. At his desk, late on Sunday. Back at the woodpile, chopping, chopping. Out on the range, running the horses and racing the wind. Over at the levee, skipping stones. Hangin’ at the garage, tinkering with tools. Men without women. Men deep within. On the floor of the library, flipping through art books. Up on the roof, watching the sunset. At the tip of the island, building castles in the sand. Down on his knees, surrounded by Spirit. Underwater. Alone in his den, gathered at the lodge. Lost in his music, seeking the silence. Finding his song, quelling the voices. Behind the wheel. At the controls. On the road. Off the grid. Below the surface. Beyond the din. Far away, men go within.

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