Heroism? Sure, I'm game.

by Ken Blackman  Jan 21, 2014
Heroism? Sure, I'm game.

(Confidential to those who know me personally: I wrote this a year ago this week. --Ken)

A woman invites a man to be a hero.

And he says, Sure, yeah, I'm totally up for it.

He's completely unaware that the hero's journey he's embarking on is genuine, and treacherous; and that the obstacles to her heart are real — they’re not just whimsy, or her fucking with him, or whatever else he likely attributes them to; and that actual heroism will be required of him; and that the stakes are not just high, they're nothing less than salvation for both of them. None of this has crossed his mind.

And because he hasn't internally taken on the mantle of hero, he remains a pedestrian. And so he continually comes face-to-face with all of his pedestrian values. Things like fairness. Equality, reciprocity. Or status, politics, looking good, saving face. Or her supposed obligations as a woman, his rights as a man, his delicate ego, her job to make him feel good. Etc.

And so in my interactions with women I often have this voice inside my head that sounds a lot like the gold-plated droid from Star Wars. Or like Dr. Smith from Lost In Space. This voice is completely oblivious to how incongruous and, frankly, ridiculous he sounds in the midst of the heroic mission at hand. And it's certainly not the voice of the man she saw when she picked me as her hero. One of the things I'm learning is not to have that voice running the show.

It used to be that every one of my non-hero voices had to die before the hero could finally come to the fore. Every single hope had to be crushed. I had to have arrived at completely-and-utterly-hopeless, giving up on women for the rest of my life, and plotting my escape to a low-profile, low-responsibility job (my favorite being bus boy at Denny's). Only from that place, having given up, every other voice in my head snuffed out, does my hero come forth — the one with clear sight, who knows how to relate with women, knows what to do, operates without fear or doubt — and suddenly I'm attractive, desirable, a masterful player.

At this point I tend to discount it because, hey, fuck you, I'm leaving, can't you see, it's too late, I'm outta here. And so my resigned state gets drawn out longer, rather than brought to a close, by the demonstration of my mastery. Don't bother me, I'm busy in the depths getting my power.

So it would be easy to say that a guy's exasperation, his urge to throw his hands up and give up is just that: escape from the pressure, can't take it, close the door on something too big that he couldn't handle, permanent police tape across the doors and windows of that room, etc. But upon closer examination, it is — for me anyways — more like, I'm willing to completely ruin my life, take a bulldozer to it, in order to kill off the voices that stand in the way of my mastery. I'm willing to destroy my life if that's what it takes to unlock the hero she sees in me and is calling forth. I don't think I was aware of this until recently.

I've decided to use that as a reminder of the power and magnitude of the journey, and of the hero inside the man who agreed to take it on. And this time I'm not killing off my voices, remaining hopeless-powerful, as if it were a suicide mission. I plan to come out the other side. I'm just not having the voices run the show.