Courting a Woman’s Soul

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly

By the time I met my friend who became my wife for 16 years, I had failed so many times in my youthful attempts to love and be loved.

Every book I’ve written in my 35-year career emanates out of my old failures. Courting a Woman’s Soul is no different.

By the time a man is, say 35, he knows, even if he can’t say it, that the things he has been taught, told, saw, and heard from his peers, Playboys, and yes, even his parents, do not work in life or love.

Like most “straight” young men, I was only seeing, no – worshiping, the bodies of the women I slept with or wanted to sleep with. I was un-tutored and un-emotionally intelligent.

By my 40s, thanks to about a million hours of therapy, recovery and men’s work, I finally was yearning to see something eternal – for a glimpse of a woman’s soul, bare of society’s makeup and my upbringing. I wanted to see the beauty that time and knowing enhances. Now don’t get me wrong – I can still enter the slip stream of my own latent narcissism and regress back to adolescence from time to time.

Here are just a few lines from Courting a Woman’s Soul about the moment I stopped being a naïve, irresponsible boy:

We are not going to be lovers, are we, Isabella asked timidly.

No, Isabella. You deserve the kind of love I can’t give you… If we made love, I would be one more pathetic jerk included on the list of men who have hurt you. I have hurt enough women in my life.

Why had it taken me nearly four decades to realize the difference between lust and love?

Lust takes everything and gives nothing; love gives everything and takes so little.

At first when I was working on “Courting” I didn’t have a title. I asked my wife (my ex-wife and still best friend) why she picked me to love and marry. Without a moment’s hesitation she said, “That easy. You’re the only man who ever courted my soul.”

I hope you can join me Feb. 29th at “Recovering Our Power” A conference for women inspired by the dedication of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to make women’s lives matter presented by Creative Changes Conferences being held at the Annenberg Health Science Building in Rancho Mirage, CA.

John Lee Anger (4)

A Quiet Strength

“A thoughtful book like this encourages contemplation, rather than hyperactivity, and, oddly, we need good words in order to find fruitful silence.” 

~ Thomas Moore – Care of the Soul

Who will mentor, teach, and touch the souls of the boys who have been bullied, bloodied and beaten literally or figuratively?

Each day from now until the 11th Annual Creative Change Conference, “It Happens to Boys,” I’ll be providing a daily meditation excerpt from A Quiet Strength: Meditations on the Masculine Soul for the boys inside all men and for the man-father to the boy, and for women who love their sons, husbands, lovers, and fathers.

I hope you will join me for this important conference to be held on Oct. 4, 2019 at the ABC Recovery Center located at 44359 Palm Street in Indio, California.

Making Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9

Many men are uncomfortable with peace, though we may like the idea. We’ve been programmed since childhood to prepare for war, prepare to kill or be killed. We played army at five years old, imagining sticks into sub-machine guns, dirt clods into grenades, pretending to sneak up on the enemy to destroy them. Later on, some of us went on to wage wars on battlefields known as gridirons. If we didn’t engage in combat there, then we did with fellow classmates, particularly the ones who tried to wrestle away our girlfriends. We carried our propensity for battle into bedrooms and corporate boardrooms, believing our manhood would be won or lost there.

Without a war to fight, we rested only to prepare for the next great conflict, the next chance to “prove our strength.” We came to associate peace with boredom.

I want to teach my children that peace is greater than pistols, quiet and contentment more necessary than counterattack.

Today I’ll make peace with an old friend or relative I’ve hurt, a child I wounded with words. If nothing else, I’ll declare a cease-fire with myself. I’ll refuse to shame myself for learning what I was taught.