Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Letters to a young man 20

Hello my friend. I've been thinking over the questions you sent to me following my last letter, and before the new year is upon us I want to address your concerns. To start with, you understand in theory that sex isn't everything, but your every waking moment is filled with a burning desire you wish to quench. And you wonder what point there is to deny yourself things.

I realize that for a younger man, nature is sometimes your enemy. Every part of your body is primed and on the lookout for opportunities to father offspring. Even if you have no awareness of your body's goal, you no doubt feel the pressure that it brings to you. Your loins may literally lead you, and also cause you to make mistakes.

How often do you see a teenage couple with a stroller at the mall?

As you get older, these passions wane a bit, but they don't disappear. Believe me, age is no panacea for the troubles of life. I know men older than I who are still ruled by their bodies and desires. You can temper yourself as a younger man, I'm just saying it's more difficult, as you well know.  And don't think that I don't have my own struggles now. It gets easier to remain focused, and to step back out of your own fire, but work must be done. The focus must be acquired through action, like honing the edge on a blade.

And so, I realize that my advice to you may have come as a bitter pill. To swallow it may seem to abandon every urge you have. And you'd be right to question me. I never ask you to put what I say into practice without having thought it through. The problem, of course, is that thoughts are slippery like fish, and can easily deceive us.

In many ways, there is nothing to be done. You must plod through your course. However, I know that if you push yourself, even just a little, you will reap the benefits, benefits that I wish I'd earned earlier in life. I never advocated that you deny yourself for some philosophical reason. It's more to do with appetites and how the effect you.

As you start the new year, contemplate one thought:

The thing is not to be successful with women; the thing is to be successful with life.

Yes, I gained your attention long ago with talk of women, and I am forever guilty. Yet I know what you think of and what you desire. I tell you that men everywhere are as concerned with sex the way that a fat man is concerned with food. Or the way that a woman is obsessed with her appearance. In each case, there is some health and benefit to attending to the desire. Yet, crossing that threshold, there is little difference in derangement from the obsession.

Push the plate away when you are no longer hungry. If you cannot tell when you are hungry or not, how do you expect to see anything clearly?

Take care.

My book on stoicism.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letters to a young man 19

Hello my friend.

You have been going in circles and are disappointed when you reach the place you started from, again and again. There are moments when everything is bright and clear, and then darkness sets in and consumes you. How many times I have found myself in your shoes throughout my life. And now you ask me where you might find the exit.

Men enslave themselves. Everywhere I look I see men who are bound by their needs. Men who would otherwise be free. I ask you a question, because you have been looking for such a long time, and looking in the wrong place:

How much validation will you seek in the warm embrace of women's bodies before you realize that what you're looking for is not to be found there?

The target is easily missed by pointing yourself in the wrong direction. You must exit and turn around.

One day you'll wake up and none of your old concerns will matter anymore. You will have found the exit.

Yes you will say, but where is the exit? You will press me, and chide me because I give you no ticket. I tell you there is no easy exit. You will be tempted to turn and find comfort and solace in the easy distractions. Before you know it, you will be back in the endless loop.

So hear me.

Struggle against your own complacency. Continue to chase after what you seek with women until you have exhausted yourself. You will have success and failure; hope, and despair. And when you reach your lowest moment, you will be faced with a realization that may alarm you.

There is only you. What you're looking for doesn't exist out there.

You will have to accept this. It doesn't mean that you cannot and will not have meaningful and important relationships, with women and other men. That is not the point. When you reach that low point, when you have that realization, you will know what I mean. I mean that what you seek is something you build yourself.

Just being in the gym means nothing, it's what you do while there that counts.

When you accept this you will begin to see the world and your life differently. You will see things that used to attract you differently. You will be repulsed by some of those things. Others will not move you either way. And some things you never found attractive will become so.

As you walk around and no longer seek the old things, you will seek new things. Where you used to start a conversation with someone with the end-all-be-all goal of having sex, you will seek only conversation and connection. You wish to know what makes the other person tick. There is no rush to exchange bodily fluids. You will offer more than you seek to take. And the reaction from those you deal with will be hard to miss.

You will have become the prize. No longer seeking what others have to offer.

You will feel a peace you've never felt. You'll laugh and embrace your contentedness.

And yes, there will be new difficulties and new challenges. An easy life is a life not fully lived.

You will finally look yourself in the mirror and see the man you've wanted to be looking back at you.

Take care.

My book on stoicism.