Did I Do the Right Thing?

As a child, my father often said, “Do the right thing, Edward.” From turning out the lights when I left a room to sending thank you cards after receiving gifts, he would speak those words.

Back then I did my best to avoid doing the right thing… or at least doing HIS right thing. Certainly, there was a good measure of youthful rebellion in that avoidance but there was at least an equal part of me that felt the mechanical, rote nature of his words. They felt empty and disconnected from a greater rightness that I sensed existed beyond the words.

If you had asked me back then I doubt that I would have been able to voice it but a part of me sensed that doing the right thing meant more than turning out the lights and sending thank you cards (although those are certainly good things to do!)

Now, though, when I hear those words coming from within, I find that I am grateful to have internalized this concept of “the right thing.” Not that I believe there is one “right” thing in a situation but because the question, “What IS the right thing?” opens me to bigger answers.

As the start of the Awakened Man Summit approaches and I dive deeper into the research and reading in preparation for it, I’m beginning to understand what it means to be an Awakened Man.

To be honest with you, when I got the “hit” to produce this summit, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant to be an awakened man. I had a sense of what it meant, but no clear picture or definition. Now, with less than 2-weeks to the start of the summit, I’m starting to “get it!”

Letting Go!

A big part of awakening, as a man, means letting go of the old concepts of the “right thing.”

Until recently most men have chosen to follow a path of rightness handed down blindly through generations of men. This unbalanced expression of the active (masculine) principle that has defined what it means to be a man in our culture has led to violence, war, unchecked growth and the increasingly unsustainable condition of our world.

More recently, some men – myself included – have actively chosen another path, one that disowns the active (masculine) principle and intentionally embraces the softer, receptive, feminine principle.

While there is much benefit in “exploring the feminine” most of these explorations start in reaction to the belief that there is something “wrong” or “bad” about the active, masculine energy. In that place of reaction, where men are actively connecting to the soft, feminine energies and consciously (or not) disconnecting from the active, masculine energies the “right thing” has led to inaction and an abdication of responsibility.

Neither of these paths leads to the Authentic Power that a man can access and wield when he disconnects from the old beliefs about manhood, discovers his true purpose and surrenders his idea of rightness into the service of the highest good of all.

It saddens me to think that my father – like most men – has never explored the concept of rightness unhitched  from the yoke of manhood placed upon him by his forefathers (and mothers).

Rites of Passage

In most indigenous cultures there were, and remain, rituals of initiation to help boys make the transition from childhood into manhood. These rituals involve extended time in the company of men, away from the energy and influence of women. As these boys step through the fire of initiation they are unburdened from the need to act in ways that lead to approval and acceptance from the feminine.

These cultures understand the importance of guiding men out of the “womb” and into the world. For, in many ways, men remain connected to and immersed in the womb of “WOMAN” until consciously and actively choosing to release that connection and step out into the world “naked and alone” as an awakened, conscious, mature man.

Our modern culture lacks those rituals – or gives us watered down versions such as a bar mitzvah. So most men have not experienced the transformative possibility these rituals offer.

Until a man makes this choice and releases his attachment to the energetic womb of “WOMAN” he cannot show up fully as a man in the world or in relationship with a (singular) woman. There will remain within him an urge to answer the question “What is the right thing” based on whether or not it will lead to approval and acceptance from the energy of WOMAN.

The Hero’s Journey

Last night, I saw the movie Thor. It was a bittersweet experience: My beloved and I had been planning to see it together and it didn’t work out that way. We were in the midst of a relational opportunity… to choose to move forward and deeper into trust or to step backwards into distance and defensiveness. The jury is still out on which way we’ll end up going.

[Note that a slight movie “spoiler” follows!]

There is a scene near the end of Thor where he makes a decision to save many lives and an entire world. It is not a decision easily made, for in saving the lives of many he must cut the bridge that connects him to his beloved. In making that choice he knows there is a chance that his actions will forever separate them.

As he strikes the final blow that shatters the bridge he speaks the words, “Forgive me, Jane.”

If Joseph Campbell were here, he would tell us that, with that blow, Thor had completed his “hero’s journey.” He had learned to seek out, listen for and act upon a rightness transcendent to his own personal desires and even those of his immediate loved ones. He had become an awakened man and earned the right to become King.

While not nearly as dramatic as Thor’s actions, I made a decision yesterday to narrow my focus down to a laser point and put all of my time and energy into preparing for the Awakened Man Summit. I felt guided to stand in service of the highest good and consciously devote myself completely to this project.

In choosing that path and sharing my decision I knew that it could create a chasm between my beloved and myself.

It has.

Now I find myself standing at the edge of that shattered bridge wondering if I did, indeed, “do the right thing.”

Was the guidance I received authentic or was it coming from a place of fear?

Was my action truly “Awakened” or was I motivated by unconscious forces?

Will my beloved forgive me or have I permanently severed our trust and broken the bridge between us?

I don’t know the answers but I sense that asking these questions means that I am not far from the right path. My intuition tells me that my guidance was “right” but that I could have found a more graceful and elegant way to navigate those waters as I shared my decision.

Sin and Forgiveness

Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, and one of the speakers in the Awakened Man Summit, once said, “Sin and forgiveness is a better way to handle relationships than the illusion of perfection. We learn from our mistakes.”

What a relief it was to hear those words and to let go of the “illusion of perfection” in my relationships. And, yet, what a difficult path to walk… to be open to the “sins” of your partner and your own, to be willing to forgive your partner and yourself, and to be willing to acknowledge and learn from your mutual mistakes and use those lessons to awaken more fully. What a blessing. And what treacherous waters you may (WILL) find yourself in when you choose to engage in relationship in that manner.

I have no illusions about being a “perfect” partner (except sometimes when I do!). Nor do I have expectations of perfection in my partner (except sometimes when I do!) To be quite honest, I have no idea what it would look like to BE a perfect partner or to HAVE a perfect partner!

Perhaps perfection is to be found on the path of surrendering the question, “What is the right thing?” again and again, into the service of the highest good.

It seems that my father’s refrain of “do the right thing, Edward” worked, though perhaps not in the way he intended. I truly do long to do the right thing. Perhaps that longing is enough. And perhaps the desire to do the right thing, combined with the willingness to learn from my mistakes will keep me moving forward on the path of awakening.

We’ll see!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!

  • Aurelio

    Hey, Edward… The following quote you made really struck a chord in me: 

    “Until a man makes this choice and releases his attachment to the
    energetic womb of “WOMAN” he cannot show up fully as a man in the world
    or in relationship with a (singular) woman. There will remain within him
    an urge to answer the question “What is the right thing” based on
    whether or not it will lead to approval and acceptance from the energy
    of WOMAN.”

    Due to a lot of emotional abuse in childhood, I’ve had unhealthy relationships with women… and my wife and I have recently agreed to a divorce after being separated for a year and a half… During this time, I’ve done a lot of personal work in healing the hurts of the past…

    Thank you so much for leading this discussion!… Love, Aurelio.

  • IlonaMcMaster

    you can only ever make the decision for your self what others think of you is none of your business so do so anyway and good on you Namaste Ilona 

  • IlonaMcMaster

    you can only ever make the decision for your self what others think of you is none of your business so do so anyway and good on you Namaste Ilona 

    • Anonymous

       So true, Ilona. “What others think of me is none of my business!” 😉

    • Anonymous

       So true, Ilona. “What others think of me is none of my business!” 😉

  • Jeniferdriver

     I am relating to what you wrote as a woman… and now I have words to explain it to my boyfriend. I think I’m going to have to go see Thor. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

       I’d love to hear more Jenifer. What specifically did you find the words to explain to your boyfriend? And, yes, go see Thor! 😉

  • http://www.jamiemurphy.net Jamie

    I very much enjoyed your openness in Do the Right Thing. In attaining balance between the masculine and feminine energies within a man, it is important not to reject either but to accept and express both. The seeming traditional masculine, macho energy that has led to wars, abuse to others, and other ungodly acts through the ages, is a perverted aberration of the male masculine energy that lacks rationality or wisdom. In war it is what men are forced to do to survive, yet why was war the best or only solution to the problem in the first place? There are many interpretations to doing the right thing that will differ for each person. Being a man is being true to yourself and your ideals and having the courage to accept the consequences of your beliefs and actions. No smalll feat, but ultimately the true path.
    Jamie

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

       Yes, Jamie! Perverted is an appropriate word for the way the masculine energy has been expressed in contemporary society. When the power of the masculine is not linked to – as you say, “rationality and wisdom” – it tends to demean rather than uplift, destroy rather than build, hurt rather than heal.

  • Corrina

    Corrina’s personal female perspective: when Thor and you chose to serve the highest good over the Beloved I became ecstatic. What I want as a woman in the deepest of my core is for a man to be a man independent of me. It is only then that I can see him, see me, see us, and be complete. We become a true partnership. My son, my true Beloved, who passed away at age 4, will always fill the space in my womb, as my deeply Beloved One who loves ME and chooses me above all else. As I move on into an intimate relationship after his passing I struggle with “how can any man ever come close to being my Beloved as much as my son will always be?” Your story has just shed light for me as I lived into knowing that what I want from a Beloved partner is a graduation of the Beloved space my son will always fulfill. I want my Beloved partner to be my compliment. To be all those things a man can be, to come to his own with me at his side.  Many blessings my dear Edward, you always have a perfect message for me. I wish my partner now would choose to go to your summit because we are dealing with exactly this in our relationship. Much love to you! Corrina you! Corrina

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

       Beautiful, Corrina! Thank you. The rituals I spoke of in the article – in which a boy is initiated into manhood – are equally powerful for the mothers. It is just that connection with your son, that you spoke of, that is reconfigured through the initiatory process. The rituals awaken boys into Authentic Men, but they also liberate the mother from that mothering space and open her to the possibility of deepening into the next level of the Divine Feminine. Your son has already gone through his initiation into authentic manhood. Perhaps, at some point, you might consider a ritual for you. Much love!

  • Guest

    Hi EdTry this,True Forgiveness

     
    Think of a person or thing you want to forgive.See the
    person or thing in your mind and say these words:
     
    “You are not really there.If I think you are guilty or the
    cause of the problem and if I made you up, then the imagined guilt and fear
    must be in me.Since the separation from God never occurred, I forgive
    both of us for what we have not really done.Now there is only innocence and
    I join with the Holy Spirit in Peace.”
     
    Then release the person or thing to the Holy Spirit.As you
    release them, then you are released.
     
    This is from  Gary Renard’s
    Disappearance of the Universe

     
     

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

       Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Beckon

    Hey Ed,
    “Let your spirit be your guide.”
    That’s all I need to do the right thing. By staying connected to my Personal Spiritual Guidance System and following it’s lead, I can always stay on the right track. It means showing up fresh in every moment, without attachment to past or future, without attachment to other people’s beliefs (or my own), without being dependent on advice from anyone else. The challenge, of course, is to stay spiritually connected at all times. But what a worthy challenge it is!

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

      Thanks Beckon. Great advice!

  • Martina Becker

    I like your mails very much cause they always sound very honest and authentic and I admire that you share these personal experiences and thoughts with this large community! I can relate to many things and they touch me.

    I would have thought I might choose to concentrate on my work to back out of the relationship cause of the fear of getting closer. But I think it really is about standing back from my personal desires and needs to serve for a higher good like you said. Or maybe both is true and both is ok and serving development, cause I don’t think they’re any “wrong things” at any time cause every experience leads to another there are just different feelings involved.

    Looking forward to the summit!

    Best wishes for the summit and the relationship!
    🙂

    Martina

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

      Thank you Martina. Yes, I had that thought too, especially since that was the pattern my father engaged in… using work as an escape from relationship and family. And I think there is probably some truth in that. While I still feel like the guidance was accurate, I see that I placed unnecessarily fixed boundaries on the way I presented it.

      I agree with you that there are not any “wrong things,” just things that, when we explore them, we realize we could have done “more right!”

  • Allison

    Hey Ed, It was great to read this. The idea of “the right thing” changes by individual, relationships, family, society – the zeitgist (on and on). I’d love to chat with you about the idea of “right for the individual” vrs “right for relationship” vrs “right for family, society” and who has a say or gets to judge either or both. Can “right” actually be a goal, either collective or individual, or is it always a path to other “right” decisions for an alternate goal? I find that “right” today is periodically not “right” a day, a month maybe a year later. How do we reconcile decisions that were once “right” and now seem misled? How does one know that today’s “right” won’t seem misled tommorrow? Understanding that we “learn form our mistakes” is fine, but isn’t it also sometime just a saying we use to forgive ourselves or others? Is there an amount of learning that must take place for the non “right” decision to be worth-while? In which case, are we absolved of all our “wrongs” no matter what or why we made them? Hmmm… Max is on my lap and bored.

    One more thing, this also make me wonder about the right of passage for a girl to woman. (that’s something I’ll have to spend some time on.) Perhaps becuase woman have a definitive physical change, the need for a ritual from childhood into adulthood is not as necessary – actually, no, we are so far removed from our physical selves, that a ritual would actually be nice.

    I love you Shmedly. Can’t wait to see you and Ella in June.

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

      Hey Allison. So good to see you here and to hear your thoughts. Great stuff!

      Yes. Yes. Yes. I don’t believe there is a Right with a capital R. I believe that in each moment we make the best – most right – decision we can. And then we evaluate and adjust as necessary to make it “righter!” I think our rights of today will inevitably become the not-so-rights of tomorrow!

      Yes, women do have the advantage of having a physical change in their bodies to demarcate the transition from girl to woman. Ella is already talking about her ritual that is going to include getting her ears pierced the “first time I bleed.” And there are beautiful indigenous rituals to celebrate the coming of age of women as well as men.

      Can’t wait to see you guys too!

  • http://twitter.com/ClarityScout Scout Wilkins

    Edward –

    I’ve been quietly following you for awhile now and just have to speak up and say this post was amazing. Thank you for the deep look into your life, the questions it brings you to ask, the heart behind them. Best wishes with the summit.

    All the best,

    Scout

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

      Scout.

      Glad you decided to “break the silence!” Thanks for the kind words!

  • Rosanna Marano

    They should have a “LOVE” button, in addition to the “LIKE” button, for such BEAUTIFUL and AUTHENTIC posts like this one! Thanks Edward! Love and Blessings …. Rosanna.

    • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

      Wow! Thank you Rosanna. It’s funny that no matter how many times I write
      a very personal post I’m still surprised when it resonates with others.
      So thank you for sharing your enthusiasm!

  • http://www.facebook.com/edwardmills Edward Mills

    Thanks David! Yes, lots of great imagery and depth in Thor! Can’t wait to see what you’re creating. Glad this helped fill your sails!

  • David Margoliash

    This is a beautiful, thought provoking and moving piece Ed. Thank you so much for it. I have had these themes moving through my life recently for sure. I appreciate what you capture here and the ground you cover and the way you weave your own personal experiences in with the themes you addressing. I also saw Thor last week. I hadn’t actually interpreted that piece of shattering the bridge the way you had. Yet it totally works. I was impressed with that film actually for a number of reasons. One was the sheer love that was put into creating the beauty of the world of Valhala.

    There is so much more I could say, but right now I need to do more of the right thing that means putting my focus on what I’m creating here.

    Thank you as always for putting great wind in my sails and for being the devotee of truth and beauty that you are. My prayers and positive energy are with you as you take the steps you are now taking.

    -David