The Hero and the Harem: Universal alchemy – loose balls, forgotten lessons and tiger sharks


The first time you screw up it’s a mistake, the second time it’s by choice.

I never thought I would find myself in this situation again.  After all, I have my rules—clearly-defined, hard-worn, time-proven rules – the kind you accumulate over a lifetime of mistakes. Rules such as never eat the last spare rib on the buffet and always wear a cup when playing paintball.

Every rule tells the story of an old mistake.  Getting hit by a ball of paint, encased in a small rubber sheath, moving at close to 200 miles per hour will teach a lesson.  And in my case, it resulted in three days on the couch with bags of frozen peas smothering my wounded little love soldier. As a result, I established Paintball Rule Number One: always – ALWAYS – wear a cup.

Nothing drives home a point—and a lesson—like pain.  I made a mistake, and I got hurt.  A smart person allows his self-preservation instinct to take over, and makes a note of what to do differently next time.  Thus, if I take a second paintball hit to the jewels, it will only be because I made a choice not to wear the coveted cup.

After getting our hearts broken once or twice most men harden. Men create a buffer, a protective cup, around their heart and we always – ALWAYS – wear this cup too…until we forget the lesson and choose not to wear it.

Women are both dangerous and powerful. As a friend joked recently – boobs have power. Men learn early women can wound both the heart and privates. Unfortunately no one makes a protective cup for a man’s heart (well maybe Budweiser but that is a different lesson), but over time the Pragmatists in us learn to protect it in other ways.  After the first painful lesson, we make a habit of keeping our guard up and the cup on.

As a result most wise men create a specific set of rules for intimacy. Occasionally, and under the right circumstances, even the best man sometimes breaks his own rules. Women hold untold power over men, especially men like me.  They have the ability to break a man’s heart—the emotional equivalent of getting kicked in the nuts.

This week I made a choice that I am paying for dearly: I broke the rule. As such, I am on the couch in the fetal position with a symbolic bag of frozen peas covering my aching and wounded Pride.  Historically, that has resulted in the symbolism being translated into Greater’s Black Raspberry Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, Guinness and weeks of self-flagellation and shameful remorse. By writing it out, I’ve discovered I can skip the later two parts but the aching remains.

People in a long term relationship often forget how exciting it is to fall in love with someone new.  If the relationship is less than perfect, there is an added ache for companionship and understanding. The result is we are all vulnerable – in some way – to romanticism and passion. As men, we forget how potent and powerful the attention of a new love makes us feel, so when it shows up it often strikes like a camouflaged sniper: we feel the heat and the blood long before we hear the shot.

This is my vulnerability: I love the power, the elegance, the fun, the challenge and the risk that is the essence of a woman. From my Poet’s perspective, a woman is the result of universal alchemy – combining chemistry, gravity and witchcraft result in something baffling Mystical.

Romanticism, idealism and poetics, the misguided muses of youth, repeatedly left me vulnerable.  Because of the influence of these Youthful Muses, I naïvely maintained a belief in soul mates, twin flames and the Karma Sutra. Beliefs that should have been abandoned with the beliefs in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the free-market. However, I learned through pain the rewards of being a lover not a fighter often results in more fighting than loving. Often these Muses led me to Heartbreak Ridge…sometimes they misled others.

Honestly, I have a way with words sometimes resulting in my ego writing checks that result in me being morally overdrawn. It is one of my two superpowers. This power has periodically led me into situations I have learned are not situations I want to choose for myself, my loved ones or my Mystical Ambitions. Muses be damned. As such, my Pragmatic Rule of Self-Preservation requires me to maintain strict areas of emotional and spiritual separation from women, limiting my vulnerability…and theirs.

The solution is simple: stuff my Romantic, Poet and Idealist into the proverbial closet and adopt a life of pragmatism. It’s like being a priest but with the occasional benefit of oral sex. This lifestyle works as long as I occasionally let the Poet, Idealist and Romantic out of the closet to listen to a child’s laughter, watch a sunset or smell the flowers.

We all seek opportunities to find a connection.  To find someone who listens.  To connect with someone who sees us. When we bump into that person sometimes it gets away from us before we realize where it is going. It happens despite the rules or the consequences. It happens for lots of reasons. It can happen out of loneliness or ego or hormones, but the reality is it does happen.

The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, states that someone is having an affair in nearly 80 percent of marriages.   It is naïve to believe one person can be everything we need for 60 years. Not that this is a defense. But again, it is apparently reality in 80% of marriages.

All too often we are walking zombies in our lives surrounded by people who stopped seeing us – and we stopped seeing – long ago. We simply go through the motions of loving and living.

The reality is I recently made a choice to ignore my rules, my gut and my values and there is no one to blame. This doesn’t make me a bad person – although you are entitled to your opinion – but rather human. You have your sins – I have mine.

As a result, for a brief time someone brought this zombie back to life… I remembered what it felt like to be alive, to be seen…to be heard. It felt good to be vulnerable. It felt good to let the Poet, the Romantic and the Idealist self out of the closet to run naked through the surf with another Romantic and Poet and Idealist.

However, there is a reason my Pragmatist carries the keys and locks away the meddling muses. The world is not safe for them. They are misunderstood. Reality, by virtue of its nature, tends to stalk the Poets, the Romantics and the Idealists like a tiger shark waiting in the shallow surf for its bloody, wounded prey.

Here is the hard cold truth: the poets, romantics and idealists are idiots. They exist only through the virtue of the pragmatists’ protection and mercy. And truthfully, I am an idiot.

The Pragmatist in me made the choice – despite the lessons of past mistakes – to let the Poet and the Romantic and the Idealist out of their safe room; to take off their well worn, and deserved, straightjacket.

My Poet shared my heart with someone who is both safe and unsafe. My Idealist shared my Visions and Fears in a way that was both appropriate and inappropriate. My Romantic, my naive little Romantic, loved someone who loved me but would not love me. I ignored the truth and embraced truthiness. Ah, the duality of life and love.  Ah, the pain.

In the end, after all the poetry and romanticism and idealism, I ended up being bit in the balls by a tiger shark.

But do you want to know the ironic truth? For those three days I felt alive. Free from the shackles of the Pragmatist, the Poet, the Romantic and the Idealist wrote, felt and expressed a lifetime of pent-up demand. For those three days they remembered passion and desire and love.  They drank from the fountain of creativity, they rolled in the warm tide in a gluttonous embrace and danced naked in the surf…and the Poet wrote and the Romantic loved and the Idealist dreamed and were happy…and for the first time in a long time, so was the Pragmatist.

So today I am sore and bruised and humiliated and bloodied. But it was worth it. Now that they have tasted freedom again, I’m not sure the shackles will ever completely restrain the Muses. I’m not sure the Pragmatist will be able to keep them in the closet.

By the way, do you have some frozen peas I can borrow?

15 Comments

  1. Sean, tsk, tsk……you sound like a Pisces. You have not yet gotten in touch with your higher self. You are still tempted by base desires. Meditation will help you get in touch with your soul’s purpose in this life. Once you make that connection, (and it could take years), you will always choose the right path. In the meantime, to err is human……….Max

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    1. Hi Max!

      Tsk?! Tsk?! – lol! Believe me I thought of this perspective later.

      My best thinking got me there…truthfully, I was quite comfortable with the choice at the moment. It is so funny you mention Pisces – which is how I ended up there. Pragmatism requires a conscious effort – from what I understand not a normal quality of the fish people.

      Thanks for reading and commenting my friend!
      Sean

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    1. Or loose marbles! 😉 If I were in a relationship with someone where this would matter or harm them I wouldn’t dream of uploading this post. No one has any idea who or what I’m really writing about so it is safe. People are only as sick as there secrets we spend so much of our lives hiding shame it ruins lives. Plus this is my art; it is my creative outlet. Something I’ve denied myself for a very longtime.

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  2. he he .. I stumbled across this one! (for some reason you didn’t invite me to this party!) The icecream sounds really good.. is there any left? And believe it or not I have frozen peas. LOL They are always good for injured parts Please pass the icecream first though…I suppose you can try tweeting it…

    I love this post, love how it’s written, love the symbolism and metaphor . It’s all neatly held within the container of the very poignant “tale” of a 3 day romp that became more than a romp only to run headlong into a wall (while not wearing a helmet).

    I can never read enough times that men acknowledge it’s the women with the power! LOL LOL 😀 Yes.. I like that part…

    Now I have something to say (as always) and it is this. To have that relationship that you desire, with the Poet, the Romantic and Idealist dancing about in joy and bliss – you have to have it with yourself first. You have to BE that which you are seeking and LOVE yourself unconditionally as such. Be madly and completely in love with you. You project outward onto all around around you, especially relationships. Your capacity to love another unconditionally is equal to your capacity to love yourself unconditionally. Your relationship with another will be a reflection of your deepest feelings toward yourself.

    The truth is you are always and only in a relationship with yourself. Think about it. Betty? Rachel? Others? Look objectively and you will see it.

    So now that you know that… I suggest bringing out the Poet, the Romantic and the Idealist and making candlelit dinners for yourself and romping on the beach naked in the surf (at night so not to scare any children) with yourself and really enjoying being with you. You must be your own soulmate first before you’ll attract one that lives in another body.

    So who is a Pisces?

    Leaps of Joy,

    Amy

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  3. Sean, I think this is some of your best work….real and raw and fresh with emotion…. I am in awe of your ability to take the emotions we all face and lay them so eloquently to paper.

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  4. * clap * * clap * * clap *

    Congratulations on your epiphany, as Tenysson put it:

    “I hold it true, whate’er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.”

    However, after reading through this very personal diary, I fail to see how it deserves to be touted in the #poets thread ad nauseam. Except of course that it contains the self-indulgence characteristic of Poets that this AntiPoet is opposed against. Honestly, if people are interested in your work, they will seek it out themselves (as even I have).

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  5. That Tennyson line – from In Memoriam A.H.H. – is a poem about grieving that took 17 flipping years to write…

    Are you the guy who just broke my heart? You sound like me at this moment in time. Sigh. I sometimes hate being a romantic. I really do. But I am glad I am not a coward. At least I’m brave enough to love. So are you.

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  6. Me again Sean, on some of the finer points, as your auto-robot repeatedly encourages me to revisit here…….

    The first time you screwed up you made a choice, and it’s NOT excused away by calling it a ‘mistake’. Let’s call it what it is…….a screw-up.

    “It is naïve to believe one person can be everything we need for 60 years. Not that this is a defense. But again, it is apparently reality in 80% of marriages.”…….I don’t for a minute buy this (do you, really?). Marriages ripen with commitment over many years. Couples are not ‘lucky’ to be in a good marriage. This minimizes marriage. If couples are in a good marriage, they have worked at it, long and hard.

    Men love to accuse women of having ‘the power’. Members of both sexes are all equally powerful, though not all of us are powerful simultaneously. Only strong women will concede that they have ‘the power’. The weak(er) ones are always just that, therefore they remain powerless.

    By encouraging others to be ‘madly, completely in love’ with themselves, you tacitly grant them permission to be blithely selfish. Therefore, anything they do in the cause of ‘self’ is OK. Recipe for an easy life, yes? But we will always come to an accounting for our actions somewhere down the road. Some will never be faced with accountability during their lifetimes……(do you believe in an afterlife?)

    Nobody is safe…….everybody is safe. It just depends on which side of Home Plate you’re standing. Quit giving yourself permission to screw up. Only when you love another more than you love your own life, and be willing to give all you have to that ONE, will you understand… what . it’s . really . all . about ….

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  7. Still, though, for 20% that is not a reality. You are a gifted, loving, passionate, compassionate, honest, generous soul with a beautiful spirit that is evolving every day. Celebrate who you are, and know your worth!

    You deserve to be in that 20%. (And since you are a Pisces, then you know that a Pisces cannot recover and ever feel complete again in a relationship where someone has been unfaithful to him/her.) The safest, are actually the ones whose hearts are open and honest. Be grateful for your feelings, whatever they be. That’s how we grow.

    You have a beautiful writing voice! Much love to you, my friend!

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  8. You constantly continue to amaze me with your open sharing of the reality of life. You say in words what many of us wish that we could. Your talent not only lays in the pen, but also in the honesty of the path you walk. I love Frost and I often take the road less traveled and I think you do too.
    You have much love to give and I believe the other comment that when you love yourself fully –love will come to you –one you have never known. I know it for a fact.
    You have become a dear friend and I thank you for sharing your words with the world and especially with me

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  9. I am loving the comments here. They are almost as eloquent as the post!

    Such magic!

    Happy Equinox Sean and all! Powerful energies are flowing through today, today we are lifted to new heights from which we do not return. It’s only upward from here! 😀

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  10. Hello spring, goodbye winter!
    Sean, shake off the drab tales and spring into the new. You are not an idiot for loving fully; stuff happens.
    Where is the project I sent you? Come on lets get to it and hey, leave me some comment love on my blog too.
    Cheers,
    E

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  11. I’m quite proud of you for lettin’ loose but realizing, once London bridge fell again, that there is a time to mend and contemplate… with a bag of frozen peas at… uh, hand.

    🙂
    El

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