A note from Carl:
I just returned from a week of staying in a remote cabin outside of Boulder, Utah with our son, Mesa. The week gave Erin some cherished solo time at home, where she was free to follow her own rhythms for the first time in 6 years (much needed for any mom.) And Mesa and I got to enjoy open space, silence, woodstove heat, freezing pipes, and the profound shift of living out of phone and internet range for a week.
On the first night down there I found a copy of Fire In the Belly – On Being a Man by Sam Keen on the bookshelf. The cabin belongs to Erin’s younger brother, Nate, and we had given him a copy of the book several years before.
As I sat by the woodstove, re-reading this book for the first time in over 20 years, I had such appreciation for the impact it had on my 19 year-old self. I realized what a significant piece of my acorn this was. Before any interest in embodiment, or mediation or Buddhism, it was this book, along with Robert Bly’s Iron John, that opened me to a larger world of possibility.
A few years ago when Michael Meade was in Salt Lake City giving a workshop, one of the practices we did was to reflect back on some of the early experiences in our lives where something popped open- the early steps on a path, the first books, teachings, or conversations that led to finding your thread in life. He encouraged us to really resonate with a felt sense of what was inspired, awakened, confused, or enlivened in those moments. There is endless harvest in returning to these early experiences. It is like I can tap in to the whole patterning of my life by revisiting those earliest seeds of inspiration.
Like William Stafford’s poem:
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
What were some of the first books that ignited a spark for you?
Who were some of your early inspiring teachers, and what came alive in you through that contact?
What were early conversations where you had a hold of your thread?
For me, sitting by this woodstove with Sam Keen, listening for what wants to come in my upcoming Embodying The Masculine class, I had such a clear sense of this thread weaving through the last 25 years of my life.
One of the lines from Fire In the Belly that struck a chord in my 19 year-old heart, and has stayed with me, was Sam Keen recalling a conversation with his friend, Howard Thurman:
“The last thing he ever said before I left was probably the single most important advice on being a man. ‘Sam’, he said, ‘there are two questions a man must ask himself: The first is ‘Where am I going? and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’ If you ever get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble.”
That sense continuously coming back to what has most value and priority, getting clear on the inner compass has been so helpful. One of the many great blessings of the connection that Erin and I share is that we have both been loyal to the question “Where am I going? What is most important?” And, we are most grateful that our answers to those questions are well in tune with each other’s direction in life. :)
While on the topic of the conscious masculine, I’ll close with piece that came from listening to a great conversation between Charles Eisenstein and Boysen Hodgson. This is part of a group of beautiful, inspiring conversations Charles is hosting on Masculinity: A New Story.
“The New Macho
He cleans up after himself. He cleans up our planet. He is a role model for young men. He is rigorously honest and fiercely optimistic.
He knows what he feels. He knows how to cry and he lets it go. He knows how to rage without hurting others. He knows how to fear and keep moving. He knows joy, and shares gratitude. He seeks self-mastery.
He has let go of childish shame. He feels guilty when he’s done something wrong. He is kind to men, kind to women, kind to children. He teaches others how to be kind. He says he’s sorry.
He stopped blaming women or his parents or men for his pain. He stopped letting his defenses ruin his relationships. He stopped letting his libido run his life. He has enough self-respect to tell the truth. He creates intimacy and trust with his actions. He has men who he trusts and turns to for support. He knows how to make it happen. He knows how to roll with it. He is disciplined when he needs to be. He is flexible when he needs to be. He knows how to listen from the core of his being.
He confronts his limitations. He’s not afraid to get dirty. He has high expectations for himself and those he connects with. When he makes mistakes, as all men do, he holds himself accountable. When he falls, he gets back up. He practices compassion, for himself and others.
He knows he is an individual. He knows we are all one. He knows he is an animal and part of nature. He knows his spirit and a connection to something greater. He looks for ways to serve others.
He knows future generations are watching his actions. He builds communities where all people are respected and valued. He takes responsibility for himself and is willing to be his brother’s keeper.
He knows his higher purpose. He loves with fierceness. He laughs with abandon, because he gets the joke.”
– by Boysen Hodgson
Wishing you well, and the endless harvest of your early seeds of inspiration.
p.s. If you know of a man who might enjoy my upcoming class, please pass this email along, and thanks!