Monday, May 21, 2012

Wanting vs. Having - Finding Personal Peace

An old Chinese proverb states, "Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome."

By that definition far too many of us are insane! We live in a world where change is constant and moving at light speed. Information and knowledge are increasing exponentially. The rate at which knowledge is increasing as affected all segments of our lives.

When I was in school in the 50's and 60's schools, like most other parts of our society, worked. Education was under control and had been for quite some time in the United States. But then suddenly over the last couple of decades schools and our educational system seemed to just stop working. How could we loose control of a system which had served us so well for so long? I think the answer lies in the Chinese proverb. We kept on doing the same thing we'd always been doing in a world that was no longer the same. In this changed world, we needed our educational system to give us a different outcome; but we tried to keep doing the same things we'd always been doing.

When I was in school we were taught to read and write as basic skills. Beyond that, educations consisted largely of the intake and recall of bits of knowledge considered to be the knowledge that an educated person should have. We were also taught how to reason through this knowledge base using critical thinking to apply the knowledge to life's situations and philosophies.

Only now are schools recognizing that in the world we now live in, the very definition of education has changed. To be educated now means one is an expert not at remembering bits of knowledge but instead expert at finding bits of knowledge at the time he needs it and plugging it into computer programs to manipulate it into something that helps him do what he needs to do at the time.

Unfortunately, it is not just education where many of us are thinking and doing the same things we've always thought and done, yet hoping for different outcomes. Many of us are being sold a bill of good by people with agendas, false ideologies and narrow minds. In the worst of circumstances, we ourselves are often all to willing to enslave ourselves to our own false ideologies and narrow minds.

No where have I seen this model exhibited more than in the arena of male sexuality. The post modern view of sexuality has changed, but many who should be taking advantage of the change have been left far behind in their own thinking and their own view of the world. That is a tragedy for homosexual and bisexual men who continue react to their sexuality and to view their sexuality in the same way they have viewed it for the last 20 - 30 years.

I've had the good fortune as a guy who talks to a huge number of men to have crossed paths with several guys over the years who have changed my life and to have crossed paths with several other guys whose lives I've changed. In one unique ten-year long relationship, my buddy Mike and I managed to change each other's lives.

To change a life for the better is an awesome thing whether it's your life that is being changed or you helping someone else to change their life. I spent the day with that ten-year buddy yesterday helping him do some work on his house. We're no longer sexual buddies. He's partnered now to a friend of mine I introduced him to. But he and I will always be soul mates. I couldn't help but think yesterday as we worked together that when I met him close 20 years ago, he had scheduled his suicide and fully intended to carry it out on schedule. That would have been such a waste.

We had a good time yesterday working together on his do it yourself home improvement project. It's not that his life is perfect now. It's not. He knows me so well, and he trusts me so completely that he doesn't hold anything back from me. I know what his problems are. I know the challenges he faces. But, as I told him yesterday, I can listen to anything he wants to share with me as long as I know that at the core of his mind, body and soul he's happy. And he is happy. It's not just his problems we talk about, but how utterly happy he is for the first time in his life. His problems are just the seasoning of his life these days, certainly nothing that causes him to reschedule his suicide.

To me, our relationship is a God thing. We met, when there was no way we should have met. He is more than a decade younger than I. We had nothing in common. We had nothing on which to build a friendship much less to support each other as soul mates. Yet, I came to see that my whole life, up to that point had contained a subplot I never knew about. My personal experiences and interests had all been preparation for meeting Mike and talking him out of suicide and pointing him to new ways to view and evaluate his life. To put it another way. My whole life of personal experiences and exploring interests had been preparation for convincing Mike to change his philosophical and religious paradigms about life.

Suffice it to say he was not always a willing participant in the task. We spoke yesterday as we worked of the number of times he told me to get the Hell out of his life. I lost count actually. I'd retreat from his life, give him a few days (one time I had to give him 6 months) and be ready to resume where we left off when he'd come back. I never let him off the hook though. When he'd come back, I knew he was coming back because he had to. It was his destiny (and mine). I'd take right up on whatever issue it had been that caused him to tell me to get the Hell out of his life and have another go at it with him. What I discovered with Mike is that changing one's philosophical and religious paradigms is very very difficult even when you understand that the old paradigms not only failed you but led you to the brink of suicide. What I also discovered is that Mike would continue to argue even after he understood and actually accepted the new paradigm. In fact, every time he ever told me to get the Hell out of his life was at the point I finally got through to him on the need for a paradigm shift in his life.

Getting angry (at himself for not seeing it earlier) and blaming it all on me and telling me to get the Hell out of his life was his way of resisting the implementation of the new paradigm he now understood and knew he had to implement. It was his last show of resistance, his last stab at trying to say to himself that he didn't need help and that he could be a man and damn well make it on his own.

Except he couldn't. And he knew that too. But the important thing is he did embrace new paradigms and today he is not only not suicidal he is happy and loving and productive and whole. He is loved by every person who knows him and none would ever believe the Hell he and I went through together.

There have been others who I was privileged to help understand new paradigms, Mark and Dean are on the more current list. Mark had simply given up on life and happiness and was prepared to live out the rest of his days in a world he was simply resigned to. Dean was struggling, doubting and scared of what he didn't understand about himself. He had turned his enormous intellect into a weapon aimed at himself and his vulnerabilities. It is a scary thing when one takes deadly aim on his own vulnerabilities.  Today both men are on the verge of one of life's greatest mile stones and looking forward to new lives. Both are happy beyond what they once thought possible because ultimately they were willing to expend the energy and take the time to understand and embrace new paradigms which changed their lives.

These three men are the major success stories that I am personally acquainted with. There are several stories other men have told to me that I celebrate though I had nothing to do with their successes. And celebration is the appropriate word; for it when one comes to see that ideas and ideals, philosophies and beliefs can (and often should) be modified.

But celebration is not always warranted. For many guys I've met, the need for a paradigm shift is simply not something they can or will understand. What would those who know them best think? How could what they have been taught to believe all their lives be wrong? It is not a new phenomenon. In fact it is a phenomenon that is mentioned explicitly in the Bible in the 2000 year old story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18: 18-23. That is appropriate for it is religious paradigms which are the most difficult of all to change.

Even life long Christians continue to think they can and must earn redemption. Those who speak the loudest about every word in the Bible being divinely inspired continue to fail to understand that no one can be good enough to deserve salvation nor can anyone be bad enough not to deserve it; for salvation is a gift, a gift of love.

But religious salvation is not the only salvation we are speaking of here. Religious salvation and the rewards of that salvation are matters of faith, not fact.

My friends Mike, Mark and Dean may or may not have been concerned about their religious salvation. But each one of them was greatly concerned with his current salvation in the real world. Despite his scheduled suicide, Mike wanted to live and he wanted to live now, not in some future world. Mark was willing to live the rest of his life in despair and frustration, but he dreamed of living in happiness and meaning something to someone who loved him and whom he loved. Offered it in the present world, even at a stiff price in the acceptance of philosophy directly opposite from what he had once embraced, he grabbed for it eagerly. Dean was damned to suffer thoughts and fears he could not control about feelings and desires he did not want to embrace. Once he did embrace them, he found the feelings and desires much less fearful and much more manageable.

In short, each of these friends of mine were faced with a thing in their lives which they could not change. Their one shot at happiness and wholeness was their willingness to change what could be changed even though it would take great effort, the paradigm they held about what couldn't be changed. Again, the problem is not new. The words, "paradigm shift," may be new to some of you but the concept is as old as man. Since 1943, the "Serenity Prayer," attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr and popularized by its use in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA),  has perfectly illustrated the concept:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
As bisexual or homosexual men, we simply cannot change what we are. We can change the way we think about it, the level to which we accept it as a part of our real selves and how we feel about ourselves as homosexual or bisexual men. We can also change how we think about those who choose to disagree with our personal thoughts about our sexuality, and refuse to give others control over a part of our lives that are as much a part of us as other's heterosexuality is part of them.

The only question, we need ask ourselves: "Do I have the courage to form and hold new paradigms?"

I, personally, have never met a man who changed the way he thought about his own sexuality who was not happier and more secure in himself than he was before. I have personally met a great number of men who, refusing to embrace new paradigms, remain unhappy, frustrated, angry and even suicidal.

Which is it with you? Are you sticking with the old way of thinking, with the despair and  self hatred; or are you willing to embrace new paradigms and find peace and a sense of oneness with yourself?

Wanting to change is not enough. You must be willing to have change in your thinking take control. Wanting something is one thing. Having it is quite another.

Jack Scott


  1. I always like reading your are a man that cares and gives of yourself. That in itself is so heartwarming and refreahing, especially in this day and age.

    I have just gone through and difficult life change. Suffice it to say, it was my fault.

    You speak a great deal of "happiness" in this post. It brings to mind something I read recently but do not remember where the quote is accredited. It goes and I paraphrase.."Happiness is fleeting, freedom to be is what matters."

    Thank you for your insights.

    1. Thanks for sharing the quote Vinmor. I like it. I guess I would suggest, and this probably your point, the freedom to be does matter and it is only the freedom to be that brings lasting happiness.

      I was glad to get your letter and to read your description of my writing as heartwarming and refreshing. I do care about happiness. I do care about a sense of fulfillment for bisexual guys. There are so many of us for whom those things have yet to become a part of us.

      I talk about them so much that sometimes I fear people may get tired of hearing it. But it is simply that I have lived both ways. I've lived in self hate and frustration and now I live a happy and fulfilled life. The latter is better by far and if I can achieve it, most other guys can too. It only takes the willingness "to be."

      Thanks Vinmor for a thought provoking comment.

      Jack Scott

  2. Thank you Jack, this is a 5-star post! It consolidates what I've been thinking/doing over the last year in order to feel whole and at peace.

    1. Wow JF! Five stars is great. This post has been rattling around in my brain for some time. I've battled with myself as to whether I should post it or not.

      I'm so glad to receive your confirmation that I made the right decision in doing so.

      Actually this post is the first of a two part series on the issue. I hope you'll stayed tuned for the second post later in the week.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Jack Scott

    2. Looking forward to the second part. By curiosity, why did you think you shouldn't post this ?


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott