In the very last scene of the recent movie epic, Wind River, two men played by actors Jeremy Renner and Gil Birmingham share a brief conversation that pierced me to my core. In this chilling murder-mystery thriller set on a snowy American Indian reservation in Wyoming, Gil’s character is a native american man named, Martin, whose family is just shredded by tragedy throughout the film. In this final scene, we find Gil sitting out back behind his house on the ground beneath an old, rusty swing set, staring icily out at a vast, empty, bleak expanse of Wyoming tundra that clearly mirrors his internal state.
His face is covered in a pasty pattern of sky blue and off white paint.
Jeremy Renner, as wildlife officer Cory, walks up and sits down on the ground beside Martin. The two have been friends a long time, and they share a deeply painful past, having both lost a teenage daughter to the violence of men.
Cory asks his friend, “what’s with the paint?”
Martin replies, ‘It’s my death face.’
Cory presses, ‘And how do you know what that is?’
In a moment of heart-wrenching vulnerability, this strong, proud native american man looks at Cory and responds, “I don’t. I made it up. There’s no one left to teach me.”
Welcome to the podcast, “Men, This Way” … Life Insights from Wise Men.
I’m your host, Bryan Reeves … I created this show because I, too, have for too long felt like there’s no one left to teach me.
Sure, there are countless men – and women – who can show me, or you, how to write a business plan, or ride a motorcycle, or write code, or enter politics, or drink whiskey properly or … start a podcast … but where are the men showing us the way into a mature, wise, disciplined, fierce AND loving, heart-connected Manhood?
In some way, every man on the planet is teaching something, mostly unconsciously and unintentionally, about what it means and looks like to be a man … it’s just … what are most men teaching? Is what we see when we look into the world of men, is that what I and so many men and boys who will become men, really want to learn about being a MAN?
In recent years, it’s become clear to me, that I, and countless men I’ve known both as friends, and also as clients in coaching practice, have spent so much of our lives in deep longing for real connection to wise, elder men, men who can show us more than merely how to make money or score women or win and conquer – in politics, business, sports, war – no matter the cost to others, or ourselves.
Where are such men?
Where is the Man who has grown to embrace ALL the aspects of his inner being – from his ignorance to his brilliance, from his shame to his confidence, from his rage to his joy, from the heavy shadows where his demons hide to his wild, radiant heart that brings blessings into the world …
Where is the Man who no longer needs to exploit others for his own selfish gain, who doesn’t need to work incessantly on his abs, or his stock portfolio, because he’s too afraid to be with Life as it is, and himself, as he is?
Where is the Man who has learned to stay present in relationships, emotionally as much as physically, who knows in his being how to combine discipline and fierceness WITH gentleness and caring, so that his loved ones don’t just respect him, but their lives are made richer in every way by his loving presence.
Where is the man who has discovered his mortality, who knows he is going to die, and rather than be haunted by that and do everything he can to avoid it or distract from it, he’s inspired by it instead, surrendered to simply offering his unique gifts to the world, to his community, to his loved ones, whether that be his wisdom, his insight, his resources, or simply his strong, loving presence … whether or not he gets anything in return for his offering.
Speaking of which … where is the man who knows how to really love. Not just the pickup artist who knows how to get the girl, but where’s the man who knows who to LOVE a Woman once he has her.
Where are such men as this, who are modeling a Manhood that truly lights up the world, rather than merely add more confusion, heaviness, division, darkness to it?
We live in a time where men are confused, even afraid in many ways.
Painful political divides, the inevitable evolutionary correction of the #metoo movement, climate change, the bizarre world of online dating and social media, and 24-hour access to the entire history of pornography in our smartphone pockets …
Men are largely disoriented, which just means without meaningful inner orientation that helps us make sense of the world, and our place in it.
What does a woman want from me? What do I really want from a woman? Is sexuality so black and white, anyway? Do I even have to be in a relationship? Relationships don’t make any goddamn sense!
Why do we do them?
And who am I supposed to trust in this world? When am I allowed to be angry, or cry, or jealous, or flirtatious and turned on … am I even allowed to be turned on anymore?
If money doesn’t buy me happiness, well, what do I buy happiness with then?
And what AM I really supposed to be doing with my life?
These are the questions – and countless more – that so many men live without clear answers for, every day of their lives. And it hurts.
Just the other day, a 56-year old man, a new life coaching client of mine, told me despite his business success and having a life he mostly enjoys, he actually doesn’t know what to do with his life – and he never has – because, in his words, “I don’t know who I am.”
Another man I coached recently, 47, owner of a multi-million dollar construction company and a beautiful Italian villa, partnered to a loving woman, when we first started working together he couldn’t enjoy any of it. Actually, he couldn’t even FEEL any of it. He kept himself busy, solving each day’s problems, making lots of money, doing his best to keep his woman from ever being too angry with him, and miserable in the entire experience – if empty indifference can be considered miserable, which I do.
Because that was my experience too. I was a military officer, a Captain in the United States Air Force, trained first by culture, then by the government, to not feel anything lest my feelings, my emotions, get in the way of productivity towards some mentally desired outcome.
Both in the military and later in life, I too experienced having everything I thought I was supposed to want – success, money, admiration, respect, comfort … love – and yet felt nothing, except sometimes misery, in the having of it.
Yet more and more, as I’ve done my own healing inner work, exploring and discovering the beautiful intricacies of both my masculine AND feminine essences, relearning emotional literacy and expression, reclaiming my desires, my sexuality, and a deep sense of identity beyond my circumstances, I’ve been able to step more fully into my birthright as an authentically powerful, heart-connected man.
Through that work, and in my reclaiming, I’ve been called more and more to work with men likewise ready to do their own healing inner work, ready to claim their birthright as an authentically powerful, heart-connected Man.
Most men don’t know that many of our struggles have anything to do with the lack of a consistent Male presence in our lives – when we were young, or as adults – one that is emotionally present, gentle, loving AND also challenging and disciplined, who never demands our respect, but simply through their being, how they hold themselves and by the way they show up fully present and engaged in life … commands our respect.
Even if our fathers were around physically, many of us didn’t have their emotional presence, so we learned to feel lonely in the presence of men, and we learned to feel deeply unloved by, and even unsafe, with men. Or maybe we had a man’s emotional presence growing up, but he offered little discipline, so he failed to win our respect, or he failed to instill discipline in us.
Many of us had neither.
Throw in the boy culture we all grew up in of harsh competitiveness, bullying, fear, disrespect towards girls (and each other) … and you’ll find we all grew up essentially not understanding men, not feeling safe with men, and often, hating men.
And we are men.
In my case, I discovered only in my late 30s – I’m now 44 – that I was actually fucking furious at my dad for not being present in my life from the time I was 4, when he and my mom separated.
When he left our home, he began a decades long journey that would take him across the United States, then across oceans and other countries … and all I want you to understand by that, is that I’ve been largely. painfully, missing a father for decades … and I only became aware of that a few years ago!
I had been just writing his absence off. That’s just how things are. What do I need dad for? Keep calm and carry on.
But not having him around – physically OR emotionally – has negatively affected my intimate relationships, because the sadness and anger I stuffed down around that experience, caused me to be emotionally constipated in intimacy, too. Which is a terrible recipe for relationship success. It also affected my capacity to sustain success in business, and even my core sense of purpose in life. … you know, without a father’s voice speaking confidently from above, “You’re doing great, son. You’re already a success in my eyes.” … and knowing that voice will never be there … well, part of me was constantly thinking, what’s the fucking point of doing anything? Because of that disconnect, I struggled for decades, in some bizarre schizophrenic like state of mind, where I both didn’t care about accomplishing anything, and yet simultaneously worked my ass off towards a standard of success I could never attain. Even when my blogs hit 30 million readers around the world, and I finally made $25,000 in one month in my coaching practice, I still didn’t feel successful enough.
I had no elder man to be proud of me, so even in the dawning of my greatest success, I still didn’t feel worthy of being a man. I COULDN’T feel worthy … Manhood is not lived into viscerally, as womanhood is through a woman’s bleeding, the onset of her cycle in her young teens. Rather, throughout history, in cultures that lived more closely to the earth, and to each other, it was acknowledged, and practiced, that a boy must be initiated into manhood by the elder men in his community who were the only ones could bestow upon him the respect AND responsibilities due any man who survives the initiation.
Without that – or if that initiation is done by men who are still psychologically adolescent themselves, which means they are unable to take responsibility as they continue to inflict their immaturity on the world around them, like street gangs and college fraternities – well … everyone loses. Including us. Because we never quite escape adolescence, and it usually then falls on our women, or an intimate partner, anyway, to initiate us into manhood by their stubborn refusal to accept our adolescent behavior … and that’s not what intimate relationships are supposed to be for. But that’s often what they become, to everyone’s deep dissatisfaction.
Today, I love my dad, and our relationship has healed in many ways these past few years, but a big part of my healing has come from my finally reconciling with the fact that he’s never going to be the father my heart aches for. As good intentioned as he always is, he isn’t a man I really look to for wisdom, or validation that I’m successful enough.
Though perhaps, in some way, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Perhaps it’s on each of us men to learn how to father ourselves, to pick up growing and expanding our own hearts and minds where our fathers dropped us off because they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, go any further themselves.
Perhaps that’s the gateway to true manhood in the modern world, where we step into our King essence – and we become not despots intent on terrorizing the world with our projected fear, nor flaccid weaklings afraid of our own power, but benevolent Kings, strong and connected to our authentic heart’s core, honored and proud to serve others, to serve love.
If we don’t learn to find Father wisdom in ourselves, we substitute that with a God we can still disappoint if we don’t do things right (just like human dad), or money, or work, or women, or porn, drugs, alcohol, etc. Anything to substitute or distract ourselves from the awful pain of disconnection, not just from our fathers, but from our own true, whole and complete selves.
That’s what Men This Way is about.
Helping every man discover his own well of wisdom.
That question I asked earlier, Where are such men as this?
They’re on this podcast.
In addition to my own insights, practices, and hard-earned wisdom, through this podcast I bring you the wisdom of other inspired men whose work and way of being in the world I deeply admire and respect.
The men on this podcast come from a variety of cultural, racial, and professional backgrounds. Some of them will be rich and famous; some of them you’ll have never heard of. You’ll hear from a man who was in the twin towers on the morning of September 11, 2001, an experience that changed the core purpose of his life forever. One grew up poor in India, and rose to be CEO of the most exciting transformational education company in the world. Another overcame nearly dying from addiction to become an internationally loved yoga teacher and founder of an online recovery support program that has helped millions of recovering addicts. Another man you’ll hear from, one who’s been professionally holding space for men’s deep healing and personal awakenings for decades, recently experience every parent’s nightmare, when he had to disconnect his own daughter from life support.
Whatever their story, you will hear from men who have climbed difficult mountains in their lifetimes, and who continue climbing them everyday, men who regularly ascend to their dangerous peaks and return with hard-earned wisdom that you and I can benefit greatly from as we make our own way, up our own challenging mountains.
This podcast will not prescribe any particular way of living, being, thinking, or praying, but rather assist every man on his own journey to discovering for himself what it means to live a truly masterful life.
This podcast is oriented around a map for masterful living that I created, The 5 Pillars of The Thriving Man.
Through working with men in my coaching practice since 2013, and remaining committed to doing my own inner growth work, I’ve discovered these 5 domains of a man’s life are critical to his deep fulfillment, his enjoyment of being alive.
The 5 Pillars are: Purpose. Intimacy. Family. Brotherhood. Spirituality.
With these 5 pillars lighting the way, we’ll explore the art of masculine and feminine being, we’ll explore meditation, and creating intimacy with self as a foundation for intimacy with another; we’ll tackle all aspects of relationships and communication; disciplining dads who are also emotionally present will share profound fatherhood wisdom; men who are successful in the most meaningful senses of that word will help us discover what it really looks like, and takes, to achieve creative and professional fulfillment in authentic, truly enjoyable ways … and so much more.
You’ll get empowering insights and distinctions, tools and practices you can work with in your daily life, to aide you in living more masterfully, more free in your mind, more connected to your heart, more present in your relationships, especially the one with yourself.
You will discover for yourself what it means to be a Courageous Gentleman AND a Warrior for truth, for freedom, for love.
I’m so excited for this journey.
I’m honored to personally know extraordinary men of different races, nationalities, sexualities, even different politics, who inspire me, who I know will inspire you, too.
But here’s the truth, and where I need your help: I don’t personally know enough men who inspire me AS MEN to keep this podcast going for long. It’s kinda sad really, but also it’s why I’m doing this.
If you know a man, who meets these 3 simple criteria:
- He’s devoted to some meaningful work, or just by his way of being, he is creating awareness in ways that serve the world, whether that means the people in his family or local community, or millions across the globe …
- He inspires your heart.
- No matter my religion, gender, or sexual preference, he could inspire my heart, too.
If you know such a man, please email information about him, including WHY you think I should consider him for the podcast. If you can give me his contact details, all the better. Email that to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One last thing, who am I?
I’m Bryan Reeves. I’ve had a fascinating life journey, not unlike my dad’s, actually, through the military, higher education, private business and entrepreneurship, and across cultures, oceans, continents. I’ve survived multiple dark nights of the soul and thrown myself into the transformational fires of intimate relationship, over and over and over … and not only lived to tell my tales about it all, but triumphed to create a life I’m in love with, with the exquisite woman I waited a lifetime for. I’ve been blogging about my journey, and my awakening as a Man, for 10 years, with over 30 million readers worldwide.
You can learn more about my story, and how I might serve you personally, at www.bryanreeves.com/mystory
Simply put, I am simply a man.
The experience of being a Man is a BEAUTIFUL, EXCITING, and WORTHY journey. No more so than being a woman, of course, or whatever other gender one might identify as, but I want men to be proud and honored to be Men …not at the expense of or on pedestals over others, but proud and honored just the same.
I believe the world desperately needs men, but men invigorated by a Manhood that honors, protects, holds close, and enlivens the world and everyone in it.
The paradigm of an invulnerable, fearless, stoic masculinity that can’t hear the cries of the world – or even those of his partner and children aching for his loving presence – is outdated. It doesn’t serve anyone anymore, if it ever did.
And when there’s no one to teach us, we must teach ourselves.
We can also learn from each other.
We can paint our death faces together, even if we’re just making it up.
I dare say we need a new model of Man, anyway. Not one that suits all, but rather one that encompasses all the magnificent possibilities of what it can mean to Be A Man.
It is my intention that this podcast will serve to illuminate, and unleash, those possibilities, by revealing the massive well of wisdom, authentic power, and love, that lives inside the heart of every human man.
Thank you so much for listening to this first episode of Men, This Way.
More episodes will be found at www.bryanreeves.com/menthiswaypodcast … or whatever podcast app you listen to.
If you can think of anyone who might be served by what you just heard, please share this episode with them now!
And to help more men benefit – as well as the mothers, sisters, children, girlfriends, wives, employees, bosses, and anyone else who loves men or is affected by a man’s state … to help them benefit from this, too … PLEASE … right now go to whatever app you’re using to hear my voice and rate this podcast with as many stars and glowing words as you can muster, so you, too, can lead more men, this way … and don’t forget to subscribe while you’re at it …
If you’re a man committed to thriving in every domain of your life, and you’re not afraid to get out of your comfort zone to have that, go to bryanreeves.com/thrivingman … and learn about my current coaching experience designed specifically for a courageous man like you.
I’m your Thriving Life & Relationship Coach, Bryan Reeves … until soon … keep your head up, your breath relaxed, and your thoughts inspired.