The key to your Mojo is finding your Wild

Let’s face it, men and women are completely different, no real news there I know – I just don’t want to feel bad anymore because I want to fight and fuck, well not so much the fighting thing because I hate being punched in the face, but I do love a good fighting film and here lies the topic of this blog.

We men are wild, deep down something primal sits waiting to be set free – as Steve Biddulph put it in his book “Manhood” “We are like Tigers raised in a zoo, confused and numb with huge energies untapped”.

“We are generations of men raised by women” – as stated by many including of course Fight Club.

Back in the day, men went to work and mothers raised the kids. Fear of being accused of something evil eventually drove the majority of men away from teaching and other areas of child development. Without men in the schools male energy started to be deemed as something that needed to be controlled, ADHD was invented and with a name, a “condition” we can now drug it.

Us men looking back at the wars we have started, the pain we have caused and with constant statistics thrown at us in regards to domestic violence and sexual abuse started to believe that maybe there is something wrong with us and we began to paint ourselves with the same brush.

We lost our mojo.

But this of course is ludicrous. To paint myself as a monster just waiting to be unleashed upon the world because a small handful of other men have acted as monsters… That’s a fucked up way of thinking.

I’m no monster, but I am wild.

Take the typical home. Most have the “woman’s touch” everything around us is sterilised and feminised – I know this from experience as a builder, where 97.3% of the time it’s the woman’s call around the home as to what gets done and how it gets done.

What part of the home does the man control? The TV! Come on, you know it’s true. And what do we watch on it? Men being wild! Action movies, sport, playing violent video games and in the old days before the internet, porn.

This is it. This is our wild, just like that tiger in the zoo but given a small window he can look through that shows what he really wants, just enough to keep him alive but at the same time to slowly torment him. We don’t actually live, we escape.

There’s no one to blame here. We’ve done this to ourselves and we sit there wondering way we’re so fucking depressed?!

I don’t want to spend my life escaping; I want to live, truly live.

To find my mojo, I need to find my wild.

Wonder – Pharmaceutical companies – and a desperate attempt for certainty.

Over recent years I’ve become full of wonder, like somehowRob and Phoenix black and white I’ve come full circle and now have the level of wonder, joy and amazement of a three year old all over again.

Everything is new, every day holds a thousand moments of awe. (God I sound like I’ve been smoking something)

I’m drawn to souls on the same journey, those with a grand curiosity of all around them and especially the journeys of others. To sit and listen to someone’s story as they too fumble their way through life, trying to puzzle together the pieces and make sense of it all.

It’s so easy to let the uncertainty of life drain the very life from us. If we hold onto everything tightly in a desperate attempt for certainty, we lose the very nectar of life.

“I really don’t know” has become an incredibly liberating mantra for me. I’ve become comfortable sitting in the question – and in fact, I revel in it. Life is so much more intoxicating when I don’t have to know the answer.

Over recent years I’ve been thrown head first through some massive changes that ten years ago would have sunk me. Now (for the most part anyway) I just yell “plot twist” and look for the new possibilities that will arise.

Holding everything with an open hand has taught me to find the wonder in the moment, replacing depression, anxiety and rage that once filled my life when things wouldn’t work according to my well dreamed out plans.

There is very little I can control but I can always learn, always grow and always put myself in a place of endless possibilities rather than the confined space of my own dogma. The conclusion of my own thinking and experience is still limited to that which I know and in the greater scheme of things, I don’t know very much at all.

The simple joy of wonder is one of life’s greatest gifts and if embraced in all its splendor and beauty could possibly put a few pharmaceutical companies permanently out of business.

Rob

I think I’m about ready to stop drinking and go for a naked swim instead.

 

“What’s the use of trying?… it’s just going to be another one of my spectacular failures”

I hate it when my mind starts thinking like this, judging the future on the past, seeing life as the destination and not the journey.

So why do I do it to myself?

It’s a bit of a pity party really. Sometimes I get tired right down to my very bones. I start to see all my failures not as lessons to get me to where I want to go but as a map of failures yet to come.

So I stop trying, because I’m tired of fucking lessons, of mountains to climb and so I throw it all away and dive head deep into escapism – heavy drinking, eating shit food, watching too many movies, none of which replenish me and all of which make me feel sorry for myself and fuel the pity party.

What if instead of feeling sorry for myself I just gave myself permission to stop for a while? “You know what Rob?… you’ve been going pretty hard out for a while now, chill out, get your strength back and when you’re ready, get up and carry on…” WOW! Wouldn’t that be awesome self-talk?!

I learned this self-talk many years ago and have used it often but sometimes I forget to slow down in time and to give myself permission and burn myself out instead, slipping into old ways of thinking and acting.

One of my biggest problems is unrealistic expectations. I start something with a time frame in mind on how long it will take to achieve and then get disillusioned when it takes ten times longer. When it’s taking too long the last thing I want to do is slow down and take a breather, “that will make it take even longer!” so I don’t stop and end up exhausted and escaping and completely lacking enthusiasm.

There is a big difference between activities that replenish me and those that drain me. The heavy drinking, smoking, eating shit, porn, angry birds, watching too many movies etc all leave me empty, they take from me.

Playing guitar, singing, going bush, swimming naked in a river, eating good food, making love, reading a good book, all feed me and give me strength. Reminding me, enjoy, life is the journey. These activities aren’t escaping life but embracing it.

Sometimes it helps just to name it “Rob, you’re sulking” it helps me stop thinking like I’m life’s big victim – we all go through our seasons but we always get to choose how we face them and how long we dwell in each one.

I think I’m about ready to stop drinking and go for a naked swim instead.

Rob

The sweet seduction of bitterness

A man sits alone in a smoky bar, dressed in black, a reflection of the state of his battered soul. His eyes filled with the pain of recent betrayal, he stares blankly at the empty table top.

Across the room a woman dressed in red makes a slow approach; she’s intoxicating to watch, every movement of her body tells him she’s his salvation.

She sits and the story of his woes are slowly drawn out, as his saviour gains his trust.

“I’m sorry that happened to you she says” she understands him…lady-in-red

“What she did to you was so wrong” the words he’s been waiting to hear…

“You deserve to be happy” like balm to his soul…

“If only she could feel the pain she has caused you” the heroin of sweet bitterness offered like breast milk to a starving child.

“Yes… she should feel my pain” he begins to think as the narcotic enters his bloodstream…

 

I know the seduction of sweet bitterness, of hatred… oh it feels good to hate… justified, like watching a film where the bad guy has a hammer taken to him.

In my own anger, rage and struggle to forgive I’ve looked for that hammer to rip the world apart but instead found something much greater.

A mantra, an insight, a truth. “Bitterness and un-forgiveness, are like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies”

I saw people who were “victims” and how they would live by their wounds. Telling any passing ear that would listen, to their stories of woe, in the hopes of finding a fellow wounded soul.

Then I saw those who had taken ownership of their lives. Those who had learned to forgive, not for the benefit of those who had wronged them but for themselves. They knew they couldn’t change the past but they could change how they responded to it. They could get their power back.

I learned that forgiveness doesn’t come through willpower but through insight. Willpower only goes so far. It’s like trying to hold the cork in, on a shaken bottle of Champagne. As soon as your strength fades the cork comes flying out and everyone gets covered.

As I touched on in my first book, I couldn’t forgive my father for his old school ways during my childhood. Not until I had the insight, that he was just another man, flawed like me, trying to figure his way through life.

I couldn’t begin to forgive a good friend and business partner who betrayed me until I owned my part in the failure and got an insight into the way he thinks.

He was man full of bitterness who had learned to fuck or be fucked. Some people are so damaged and have been seduced by un-forgiveness for so long that this has become their realty. They start to live in a world where they can see all the angles on how someone might be fucking them over and so they get the upper hand and fuck them over first.

I’ve seen bitterness slowly creep into the lives of some I have loved dearly and it’s awful to watch, it’s like a cancer slowly eating them away from the inside out.

I choose to forgive for me, because it sets me free. I’ve got one life to live and I don’t want to waste a single minute of my tiny existence in hatred.

So who are the people in your life? Are they like the lady in red who listen, empathise and then help you develop a victim mind-set? Or are they people who will listen, empathise and then say to you, as only a true friend can “Now what the fuck are you going to do about it? Own your part, find an insight and let’s move on!”

The common misconception about Wildman.

So I wake up to a message this morning from Kathrin, a beautiful German girl who I kind of fell for a bit on my last tour.

She had a few questions about me, my life and the bigger picture of who I am. The only thing I could come up with to summarise it all was this – I want to fully live – to truly feel alive.

The happiness goal that so many aspire to, pales in comparison to the electricity that flows through my veins when I slip into that sweet spot of truly being me.

I’m attracted to people with that spark of life, I’m like “tell me what you see and how you see it?! Because your energy is awesome and I want more of that in my life”

That’s what Kathrin had, even though I only knew her for a week and of that only spent 3 days “together”, she was alive. Gorgeous? Absolutely! But the world is full of beautiful women. She had something more. It radiated out from her, in her smile, her laugh, the way she embraced people and made everyone feel like they were part of the tribe.

I have a grand curiosity of life, of the world, and I love to laugh. I know who I am and what I’m passionate about and want to surround myself with people who are the same. I have no time for people who complain about life but never do anything to change it. It drains me and so I’ve emptied my life of such people.

“But Rob, didn’t you start Wildman? And isn’t Wildman a group of depressed guys sitting around talking about their problems?” This is the common misconception about Wildman.

I started Wildman in the spirit of who I am.

Wildman is this – Men who are curious – men who want to truly live, to find who theEveresty are and what they’re passionate about so that their lives burn. A Wildman goes to the grave grinning from ear to ear because he nailed it. He took on his Everest and shared the journey with his tribe.

Wildman is liberation.

Now it is true that most men never get around to joining Wildman until they reach a crises point in their lives and this does make the first few weeks of a new group very different from what it eventually becomes as guys learn to “own their shit” and learn from the stories of others.

So if you’re not curious about life and who you are and where you fit, and you lack the courage to drop the mask and truly be seen, if you want to sit around and complain about life, your wife, your boss rather than working your way through to clarity, then Wildman isn’t for you.

The group I’m a part of has just entered its 4th year. The collective wisdom, laughter and life that I get to soak in each week around the fire is far better than any inspirational seminar, book or movie I could otherwise spend my time indulging in. I have a tribe.

Rob

The gift of depression

From my book:

We don’t heed the warning bells

A couple of times I’ve cooked the engine on my car because I wasn’t paying attention to the warning light flashing right in front of me.

Warning, Warning, Warning—all of this not talking, the pretending and hiding behind masks, the lack of something to fight for and living not in line with who we are has led many of us here.

The gift of depression

I hate depression. I hate the years I spent diving in and out ofdepressed-men it. I hate it like I hate pain—but it also saved my life.

I’ve come to see depression not only as brutal but also as normal and healthy.  That’s not the way it’s typically viewed in our culture. In our culture we regard it as dangerous, because we don’t know how to deal with it. So we drug it. (Some depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, and I am grateful for the medication that has saved the lives of many friends. This is not the depression to which I am referring.) 

Depression is often about grieving the loss of something—a relationship, a dream, a father who wasn’t there, even the loss of ourselves, that we are not the men we thought we would become. It is a process of letting go of the old and embracing the new. There is so much to grieve, and yet we seem to have lost the ability to fulfil this basic human need.

Depression can also be a symptom of the inner conflict between our beliefs and our authentic natures, an expression of this inner turmoil.

The gift of depression is this: a warning light flashing right in front of us, a big red sign in the sky that screams, “Something’s not working, something is out of whack!” or “Let go!” Depression is pain, and pain exists to show us that something is wrong. Pain is a lifesaver. Without it, we wouldn’t know when to stop.

However, we live in a culture that avoids pain at all costs. This means we often seek ways to subdue depression rather than face it head-on. We see hitting rock bottom as a tragedy, and so we miss the gold that lies at the lowest reaches of our suffering.

In his book, The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck talks about the cycle of grief and the work of depression. He explains how we travel through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally on to acceptance. He points out that the work of depression is so difficult that most people regress back to bargaining, anger, and denial, thus never making it through to acceptance.

Peck is right. The work of depression is brutally hard, and it’s best not tackled alone. It’s because we try to go it alone that regression continues to happen.

When I see a man who is depressed, I see a man who is ready to stop pretending and be honest with himself and others. He can either numb the pain or start talking.

Hitting rock bottom

I have hit rock bottom twice in my life. The first time I was only 20. I had spent the entire year previous touring the country with my band. By the end of it all, I was completely burnt out. For the next six months I was in torment, suicidal, a total mess. Over the next two years, I felt totally numb. I didn’t feel a thing. Not happy, not sad, just black. It was like being in a tunnel with no light at the end. It took me years before I felt “normal” again.

The second time I hit rock bottom was in my mid-thirties. I had built our first home just before the last property boom. Our home doubled in value, so we sold it and used the money to finance a subdivision, which, if successful, would have made us millions. However, my Lone Ranger approach saw the project crash and burn. We lost everything and then some. The aftermath resulted in our family moving to the other end of the country and living with my sister-in-law and her four kids for 18 months while I tried to get back on my feet. I’d failed on a spectacular level, and it hit me pretty hard.

Although I wouldn’t wish the pain of those days on any man, the life that emerged once I made it through to the other side was and is extraordinary. It has been a tough time of growing up, of challenging old beliefs that were harmful, and examining new ideas. It was the process of letting go of who I thought I was or should be and embracing a new future, a new self.

Rob

 

We don’t own our story

From my book:

Until recently, I hadn’t realised how often I refused to take responsibilityviktor-e-frankls-quotes-3 for my life. “Where the hell are my slippers?” I’d yell out, accusing my family of a great slipper hiding conspiracy. “Who took my keys?” Only to find them exactly where I had left them.

I hear similar things from others—it’s the government’s fault, my boss’s fault, my wife’s fault, even my father’s fault, but never mine. Grown men unable to take responsibility for our own lives.

The truth is, every action I take is mine. Every word is mine. The phrases, “Well, he wound me up” or “She just kept pushing me” do not belong in the vocabulary of anyone over the age of three.

I am covered in invisible bruises. And when one of those bruises is poked or prodded, I explode. My journey as a man needs to be one of healing those bruises rather than reacting every time they are pushed. “He’s pushing my buttons!” you say. Then get rid of the buttons, and there won’t be anything to push!

When I first started Project Wildman, I was telling my brother about it and how one of our pillars is: “Own your shit. You are where you are today because of you and no one else.” My brother was so impressed by my deep insight that he asked, “Does that mean you’re gonna stop blaming Dad for everything?”

Shit! Well, I guess it does! A good kick in the pants from my little bro.

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to it.”— Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

If anyone knew about owning his life and choosing how he responded to what it threw at him, it was Viktor Frankl. He was a survivor of the Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz.

A lot of people have been through some pretty brutal childhoods, and when they were children, they truly were victims. But as adults, we get to choose whether or not to allow our past to rule our future. No matter how hard the choice is we can still choose either to work our way through it or stay stuck in the pain of it.

When I blame others, I am a victim, and victims have no power.

Men don’t talk about that stuff…

From my book – Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey

Men, you see, don’t have friends… we have ‘mates’ with whom we share a straightjacket agreement on which subjects we never discuss.” — Steve Biddulph, Manhood

In New Zealand, we have these great sayings like “She’ll be right”, Men+pub+guinness+th“No worries” and “Sweet as”, which mean everything is okay, or “Good as gold” which means, well, good as gold, except for when it isn’t, and we just say it anyway to show how carefree we are and that we don’t take life too seriously.

We have managed to build an entire culture around shallow, laid-back phrases that have ultimately created a culture of men who have no real way to express what’s going on inside.

We “talk” to our mates, but at a level that is skin deep at best. In this country, you can literally play football or drink with the same bunch of guys for 20 years and never really get to know the man behind the “Good as gold” mask.

How men talk—a slice of Kiwi man culture

Sitting at the pub, one guy twitches away nervously trying to rustle up the courage to say it as it is. “Jo’s left me and taken the kids,” finally fumbles its way out of his mouth.

His mates go into panic mode as they try to remember what they’re supposed to say at times like this.

“That’s a bit rough, mate,” pops out of the guy sitting across from him, and that’s the best he’s got.

“Yeah, it’s rough,” says the guy whose life is falling apart, a wave of shame washing over him. What he’s really thinking, and what he really wants to say is, “My life’s over. I don’t know how I’m gonna live without my kids…”

He thinks it, but he never says it, because his Kiwi tough guy “She’ll be right” mask must never be lowered to show the true depth of his pain… not unless he’s got a dozen in him, of course. That’s alright then… that’s just the piss talking. We all say “that stuff” when we’re pissed….

The real tragedy of this story is that these guys have known each other since high school, and their conversation has never risen above drinking, sex, and sport.

This is where most Kiwi men live, behind the mask, never allowing ourselves to be truly seen by anyone. Not our mates, not our kids, and definitely not our partners.

Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey

From my book: Men wanted for Hazardous Journey
“Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long monthsEndurance-team28men of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
In the early 1900s, while English explorer Ernest Shackleton was planning his ill-fated crossing of Antarctica, he placed the above ad in the local paper. Over 5,000 men showed up wanting to be a part of something wild, something hazardous, something great!
Over 5,000 men wanted a taste of something more.
As I write this, our city (Wellington) is being hit by earthquake after earthquake, and I find myself hoping for the “big one” just so I can escape the stale bleakness of my life and be thrown into something hazardous and life-changing. Of course, the reality of such an event would be anything but desirable, but it is this same need for something more that leads me to venture outside during thunderstorms or light a fire in my backyard and sleep next to it under the stars.
Men Wanted For Hazardous Journey—this call strikes right at the heart of who I am as a man. It makes me stand up and take notice, because at my core is a man who longs to be free. To be wild. To live. To die having spent my days doing that which makes me burn rather than this place of relentless anger, stress, and anxiety in which I find myself.
This year I will be 40. I’m right in the middle of my own journey as a man, as a husband, and a father, a journey that I tackle mostly alone—a journey that has me pinned to the ground on many a day and has worn me down to the bone….

Lost in the shadows

From my book – Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey

Lost in the shadows

 

My granddad learned to be a man in a German prisoner of war camp in Word War 2. prisoners_of_war_queueing_for_soup_tirol_austria.jan_1945Five years of lessons.

For many men who went through the war, what they saw, what they did, and who they became during that time was never talked about. Returning servicemen disconnected from society. Their model of manhood was broken, but like us, they had no manual to show them how to fix it.
My father worked every hour God made. As a child, I rarely saw him. And when I did he was tired, angry, and distant. And yet for his generation, he was top of his game as a man. He was strong and provided exceptionally well for his family. He was also faithful, and he loved my mother. His absence, however, left a massive hole in our family. Connected to his work but disconnected from his family, his model of manhood was also broken.
Our generation of men lives in the shadow of these broken models. Is it any wonder we lack a vision for who we are, why we struggle to recognise our unique strengths and giftings? Like our fathers and grandfathers, we are lone rangers bound by cultural beliefs that don’t allow us to show weakness or even talk about it. This map, this model of manhood, has led many of us down a dark road of anger, depression, anxiety, broken marriages, and strained relationships with fathers we barely know.
I want something better for my sons and me. Maybe you do, too.