In the hills of Andalucia, Graham Phoenix walks and hunts with two dogs in a territory of rocks and heather. And thinks about the unique experience of being male in the context of ‘the only end is death’.
I was writing in my journal one morning when Carlos, the big white dog that looks like a wolf, came in and looked at me very pointedly; he wanted me to go for a walk with him and Maria, the black and white, agile hunter.
I followed him along the path through the high ground; Carlos always takes me for a walk. We kept going further than we had been before. We reached a track on the ridge and kept walking.
I ended up walking for most of the day. I climbed a local mountain I have been wanting to go to and I walked through a beautiful mountain village I love. My feet were sore by the end of the day but I had seen things I loved and done things I felt I needed to do.
It was as if Carlos led me to this, even though he bailed out and went home half way through. Carlos knew what I wanted better than I did. I thought I had a great day ahead of me but Carlos knew there was so much more out there.
I have been thinking about men and how they become satisfied with their lives. Men will spend a period of their lives striving and pursuing ambition and then a point comes where they stop and accept that what they have is what they are going to get. It’s like me going on this walk and just going the same way each morning.
This happens when we become satisfied with what we have and look to settle and enjoy it. We accept our home, marriage, children and our job. We seek to consolidate what we have.
Many of us go through, or will go through, a period of discontent around our 40′s, often known as the mid-life crisis, but we quickly revert to a calmer, if different, life.
The problem, it seems to me, is that men just don’t know how much better life can be. They believe that all the growth and development happens in their 20′s and 30′s and that after that life is just winding down. This sounds extraordinary but it is so true. How many men dread retirement because they just don’t know what to do. They are satisfied with working life and don’t know how to go beyond it.
I find it such a waste, to be just satisfied.
“My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never.”
“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”
How do we go forward, let go of our satisfaction and take life on? How do we find the excitement and enjoyment there can be in life without throwing away what is good in our life now? How do we reclaim our lives?
I have found that the one thing I can control is myself and my life. I used to think otherwise and tried to control other peoples’ lives. The result was anger and frustration. It took me many years to realise that I was wasting my time, I could not control others and if I continued I would alienate those close to me. Ironically while I was doing this the one area I was not dealing with was my own life.
So I set about reclaiming my life.
To do it I needed to know, first of all what my life was.
1. What is your Life?
Your life is who you are as a person. It is not the stuff you own, the job you do, the people you know or the place you live. It is not anything that surrounds you, it is you. It is not even the physical you, your body, it who you are inside.
I came to realise that I was a caring, creative man who was too focused on trying to make things right and creating perfection. I was a frustrated man who had lost sight of his spiritual core.
Having started the journey of self-discovery, the quest for the real me, I then needed to understand what I wanted my life to be.
2. What is your Vision?
Where do you want that life to go, who do you want to become? It is important to have a view of the direction you are taking and what you will achieve by taking that direction.
I found I wanted to develop my inner life, go deeper into my soul and find a way of truly enjoying my life. My vision became enjoyment and a deep sense that I was OK.
I came to know where I wanted to go, but how would I get there, what could be different and should be different.
3. What do you need to Change?
Tony Robbins talks about ‘the gap’, the difference between where you are and where you want to be. Understanding this will reveal the details of what you need to change to get to your vision. It will show you the path you need to take.
I knew that I needed to change how I lived my life, what I felt was important amd what I did with my life. I needed to change what I focused on as well as what I spent my time on.
The path ahead becomes clear, but how an earth is it going to happen?
4. How are you going to achieve the Change?
This is where the detail of reclaiming your life comes in. You need to work through the detail of what you need to do. Change doesn’t happen by magic, it needs to be created. Change doesn’t just grow on you it needs to be worked on. The devil is in the details, but by now you should be so psyched by what is happening to you that it becomes easy.
I set about changing the physical circumstances of my life. I let go of my home and started travelling, I let go of my work and started writing, I let go of my stuff. Although I am not a ‘minimalist’ I have become minimal in the way I lead my life. I focus on my inner soul and my relationships with others, I focus on what kind of person I am.
Having got to this point there is the danger that you fall back into satisfaction again and stop growing, so now is the time to start again…
5. What is your Life?
We come full circle and repeat the original question. Although I am not a marxist I am a believer in the concept of continuous revolution based on the dialectic ‘thesis, antithesis, synthesis’. This proposes that as soon as something becomes established, thesis, its contradiction appears, antithesis, this tension can only be resolved by the development of a new idea or situation, synthesis, based on an integration of the thesis and antithesis. So life continues upwards in a spiral where each new level opens up new possibilities.
As we achieve change in our lives, as we attain our vision, we find that satisfaction with this creates a new stagnation. We, therefore, start again to understand our lives and what we want and move on. ‘The only end is death’ is the way to go beyond satisfaction to a fully realized life.
I wish you well with your continuous revolution and I ask that you let me know how you get on.
photo by juanpol / flickr