Peter Pan

Alas, blaming my drought on the complexities of women is only half of the coin.  The root of the problem is that I’m not a kid anymore.  No matter how many huge jumps I take on my mountain bike to make my inner child squeal with joy, Red Bull and vodkas I do at the bar with my bros to set my inner party animal on fire, and exotic trips I take to explore new worlds satisfying my inner Magellan, I can’t escape the gray hairs and sore muscles.  I have epitomized the Peter Pan Syndrome to it’s fullest and the thought of true reality is something I’ve never been able to fully accept.  

“Puer aeternus* is Latin for eternal boy, used in mythology to designate a child-god who is forever young; psychologically it refers to an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level. The puer typically leads a provisional life, due to the fear of being caught in a situation from which it might not be possible to escape. He covets independence and freedom, chafes at boundaries and limits, and tends to find any restriction intolerable.”

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That leads me to nature or nurture of the American female.  Through countless observation, interaction, living vicariously, research, many conversations, and my own experiences, I’ve come up with a theory.  Females, whether you’re a human, rino, flying squirrel or dolphin have gender specific traits and rolls.  Animalistically, females control the progression of their species.  Inherently given this responsibility, females are biologically programmed to weed out undesirable males.

Women (men too, but in a much different way) are preprogrammed to be judgmental.  They have to take bits of information in casual passing, mainly first impressions, and decide if a guy is a friend, threat, sexual interest, or a passerby.  There is nothing wrong with this- this is a natural occurrence that happens in all species.  While we may not want to admit it because we’re such sophisticated beings, to think we’re not judgmental creatures is totally naïve and absurd.

Beyond that we get into nurture and our society.  Societal expectations placed upon women are completely different than those placed upon men.  Girls are given Barbies where guys get G.I. Joes.  Girls are expected to play house and dream of walking down the aisle in a flowing dress where guys are given a baseball glove and work on boxcar racers.  Early on, girls are preparing themselves for a relationship where I never thought once about it.

This goes so much deeper once you introduce media to a child.  12 year old girls are reading magazines of hot Justin Bieber, how to do your hair, is a first kiss awkward, and how do I get that cool 8th grader to notice me.  Don’t believe me?  Pick up a J-14 or M Magazine the next time you’re at the bookstore.  It doesn’t stop there- as women grow up they pick up Cosmo and Glamour and learn how to give a good blow job or how to drive a man crazy in 10 seconds while at the same time pick up invaluable hygiene, fashion, and style techniques in hopes of one day landing their dream dude.

Sure, there is Maxim, Stuff, and GQ but have you ever caught a 14 year old boy actually reading them?  I assure you he's looking at the photos.  It’s not until you’re 19 sitting on the pot trying to grind one out at a buddy’s house that you actually read something.  And let me tell you, not much resonates when you’re multitasking.

My point is, women from a very early age are groomed to be much more aware of relationships and interaction with the opposite sex.  They have essentially studied these matters from “professionals” years before guys even know they exist.  To say they are ahead of the game is an understatement.  Thinking that women mature mentally and emotionally quicker than men can be placed upon our society, not biology.  They are just pushed, subconsciously or not, into it a lot sooner.

Women have been taught that beauty, femininity, and acting like Paris Hilton attracts a man, with less emphasis on education, career, individual success and personal happiness.  On the flip side, men are taught that by having a high paying job, fast car, nice house, and a sense of security is more important than manners, fashion, and social cadence.

I’m realizing this now because as a young man growing up, I was rewarded with this stereotype.  As I said before, I had the money, car, job, and house and I didn’t even have to open my mouth to get a girl’s attention.  I bought into it, and it worked.  No questions asked.

Now that most men my age have those things, I drastically have to change my game.  I now have to be conscious of the clothes I buy, not just something quirky or funny to give my buddies a laugh.  The problem is, I’ve never really been taught how to do this.  I’ve always based my style off of things that I liked- music, surfing, video games, and sports.  Now I have to compromise, I have to find something that I can tolerate in hopes that a female will find it attractive.  As I said, I didn’t spend my youth reading about what girls find hot.

If I actually get up the nerve to talk to a woman that I find attractive, I also have to be very conscious of not throwing up any red flags.  Biologically, a woman is programmed to reject men or find a reason why he is not a good suitor.  It’s a perfectly natural defense mechanism to help protect her from making a bad decision she may have to live with for the rest of her life.  If you can somehow create enough smoke and mirrors while at the same time gain intrigue, you may have a chance.  Again, I haven’t been taught from an early age how to do this.

On top of that, a woman’s pride and ego, often fueled by our society, is just as strong or stronger than a man’s.  This is something I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’m just figuring out.  That’s how dumb guys are.  You’re a human, of course you have pride and ego- however, it’s so drastically different than mine. 

For instance, say a woman is having drinks at a work mixer.  Her coworkers are there, maybe a close personal friend.  She’s approached by a guy she finds attractive and is actually surprised to find that he’s also charming.  The guy leaves and then the group of friends start recounting the event.  If one woman in the group says something negative about the pursuer (maybe only to justify her own existence in the conversation or to project her own insecurities of why the guy didn’t talk to her), the man will have a very difficult time regaining ground with the woman because she doesn’t want to lose face with her friends.   On the flip side, a girl walks up to a group of guys and chats one up (even if she’s not particularly attractive), as soon as she leaves everyone is giving high fives.

This transmits so much deeper in our society.  Say a girl does really likes this guy, they have a lot in common but he isn’t all that stable in his life.  She has a hard time swallowing her pride and taking him home to meet mom and dad, showing him off to her friends, or inviting him to the next work function.  If a successful businessman meets a waitress he’s head over heels for, no one would question their relationship.

After all the initial awkwardness of the first meet and somehow the two of you progress to dating- a switch is flipped and instantly the man is accepted as her partner.  The woman's psyche completely changes and she is no longer guarded and judgmental but quickly turns into a nurturing caretaker.  It’s like meeting a completely new person.  Biologically that makes so much sense but for those of us who didn’t pay attention in 6th grade science or watch a lot of Animal Planet, it’s extremely confusing.  On top of that, I’m not sure if guys have “switches.”  It eventually happens, meaning the guy begins to care deeply for this woman, but that’s if he hasn’t been scared off (misunderstands nurture for crazy) or doesn’t fully realize what is happening.

The nurturing caretaker side of a woman is the part that scares me the most.  It’s reason I let so many amazing women pass through my life.  Women are often times criticized for wanting to “change” a man.  Biologically she is only trying to “tame” or “civilize” him, it’s totally natural and encoded in her DNA.  She wants the reassurance that he’ll stick around, be good to her, be a good father, and capable of providing should he need to.  Society also plays a huge roll.  According to her magazines and sappy movies, it’s her job to teach him all the things he missed out on when he was playing the G.I. Joes and tree forts.  She wants him to look presentable, so she starts dressing him.  She informs him how it’s uncouth to do a beer bong at a child’s birthday party.  She convinces him that even though she found that Ducati irresistibly sexy, it’d be a lot more practical and safer if they sold it and bought a minivan.

The bottom line is that a man needs to walk a tightrope of safe and stable but have just the right mix of thrill and excitement.  She needs to feel reassured and committed but will lose interest if there’s no theatrics.  She loves the hunt and chase as much as the man but once she has him she wants to make him the best version of himself.  This ensures the best possible life for herself, her children, and her family.

Once I broke it down into those simple terms- all of the insecurity, awkwardness, and shear fear of approaching a new and beautiful female completely melted away.  I am capable of commitment, I still have several t-shirts that I had when I was in high school.  I can be reassuring, I find nothing better than gaining faith in someone and not leading them astray.  I am certainly involved in theatrics, there’s hardly ever a dull moment unless I choose to have one. 

Relationships aren’t so daunting once you break them down and now understanding these dynamics makes it less of a gamble.  I can now make a lot more rational and clear headed decisions of whether or not to run for the hills or jump in with both feet.  I guess separating biology from crazy and now seeing how society played such a dramatically different roll in our upbringings gives me more compassion for women.  It makes them more “real” instead of these mystical creatures that occasionally pop in and out of my life.

You always hear stories of guys “putting the pussy on a pedestal” and it’s so true.  While women undoubtedly need to be respected, men shouldn’t lose sight that they are in fact human and products of our society, just as I am.  Bringing women down to this earthy level makes them so much less intimidating.  Simply understanding their basic needs has been an amazing epiphany. 

TO BE CONTINUED...

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It’s amazing how much influence the abstract concept of time has on our lives.  Time makes up so much of who we are that it’s basically thought of as an absolute, such as gravity.  Sure, the Earth keeps circling the Sun but it was man that invented time, just as it was man who invented money or religion.  If you think about it, these three things combined pretty much make up our entire existence yet they are completely unfound in the natural world.  You can’t eat money, religion doesn’t keep you warm at night, and time doesn’t slow dealth.

Well, it’s that time.  It’s been 10 years since I graduated high school and in a few weeks I’ll be going to the reunion.  Getting the invitation was a shocker, I couldn’t believe that it had really been 10 years.  The 4 years of high school seemed exponentially longer than these last 10, almost like high school took a decade to get through and I’ve only been out for a short time.

I’m not really sure how to prepare myself for this experience.  It’s no secret that I wasn’t very fond of Tooele High and the community as a whole, but it is the birthplace of some of my best friendships and no matter how much I resist, it will forever be my alma mater.

I must admit, my first reaction was “psh, yeah right- like I’m going to that…” and I think a lot of the blame can be placed upon FaceBook.  You see, there’s no mystery, anticipation, or significant events to catch up on.  I know more about my high school class now then I did when I was actually in high school.  Everything from their last vacation, recent additions to the family, and the braggadocios sushi lunch they had at a trendy new restaurant is laid out for me in the “news feed” on my FaceBook homepage.  I haven’t actually spoken to you in 10 years, but I know you still like peanut butter and crushed up Ruffles sandwiches because your status told me so.

The excitement further wore off as I began talking to close friends and family about the event.  It seemed this little reunion wasn’t as much “reconnecting with old friends” as it was a posturing, judgmental, who’s who effort to out-impress or “one-up” one another extravaganza.  We all started our adult life at the same time and apparently we have been in competition with each another to secure the highest paying job, hottest wife, reproduce the smartest kids, head-up church activities, or have the biggest boat.  The measuring stick had been set and now it’s time to see who’s living up to, exceeded, or fallen short of their childhood potential.

I’m sure those of you who know me can see me smiling as I’m writing this.  It’s pretty clear that my life hasn’t been based around things I “should” do.  Now, this isn’t by accident and I’ve actually had to work pretty hard and sacrifice a lot to not fall into a job I hate, marry a woman who sucked away my soul, or bring kids into the world that I couldn’t adequately take care of.  Now, I begrudge no one who has a wife, kids, or a career.  I’m just saying those things haven’t presented themselves to me in a way that I feel comfortable devoting my life to yet.  There are many times I could have compromised, or dare I say “settled”, but something in my gut wouldn’t let me. 

Believe me, I am not shitting on the things you “should” do and in fact I am extremely jealous of the people that have a career they love, a significant other that means the world to them, and child they can love and nurture.  I want answers from them- how’d you do it?  How’d you know it was “right”?  Where you ever afraid you’d fail at it?  What happens if it gets taken away from you?  Do you ever really know any of these things?

Anyway, it’s all about the single chicks.  Seriously.  That’s my only motivation for going to this reunion.  I see my best high school friends a few times a year anyway- we make it a point to get together.  As I said before, FaceBook has ruined the mystery of what everyone else has been up to.  All that leaves are the late 20’s single babes looking to be 17 again. 

It’s not nearly as American Pie as that though.  No matter how much of my underlying bitterness of Tooele you’ve picked up on, I did spend my formative years there.  There is a connection, a foundation, and unique outlook that all of us who grew up there share.  Those teenage years are significant- special even, and maybe there’s a girl there who also hasn’t done all of the things she “should” have in life.  Maybe we can share a drink.  Maybe we can reminisce.  Maybe we’ll find out that our teenage wasteland wasn’t in vain because 10 years later it brought us back together.…

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Undoubtedly I’m going to offend some people, ruffle some feathers, or someone will find it necessary to play devil’s advocate.  All of which I’m fine with.  You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to mine.  However, I’ve given this very lengthy thought and find it necessary to report back with my findings.  As I too can find an exception to every idea I’m going to touch upon, most times out of ten I find it to be true.  Finally, I may have one side of the women’s rubik’s cube figured out.

Let me start out by saying that I am certainly not a misogynist.  I feel I have ample female support on this claim.  I am totally fine with and support equality, think that the sexism that goes on in other countries is appalling, would completely support a female President if she was qualified, and am probably 1 of 15 red blooded American males who actually watches and truly enjoys some women’s sports (the WNBA not being one of them- zing!).  To dig even further, I’ve had several female bosses in my time and always got along swimmingly, have no issues with my Mother, and am generally on good terms with most of my ex’s.  Girls rock!

However, to not accept that there are significant biological and societal differences between men and women is just plain naïve.  And let me stress “differences” is not a negative word.  It simply means that it’s not the same as “my” normality and how I interact with the world as a male.  Not better, not worse.  Different.

I’ve been thinking about these differences lately because I’ve been in a rut.  I haven’t had much luck with the ladies lately and I started wondering why.  What’s changed?  While it does get a bit tougher to date as we get older, that’s not my problem.  As much as I like to blame being in a heavily dominated male work environment (rock n’ roll, computers, or construction), that also isn’t the case.  Simply put, I’ve lost my mojo.

Swagger, charisma, bounce, twinkle, life force- whatever the hell you want to call it, mine has slowly faded.  This, and I can’t stress this enough, is 100% my own doing.  I can’t place the blame on a shedevil for breaking my spirit, attribute it to a single moment of rejection, or a point where I gave up on society and returned to the wilderness.  I lost my mojo because I lost direction in life.

When I was younger, late teens to mid twenties, women were plentiful.  Not only are you in a lot more new and exciting social situations at that age, but I was way ahead of the game.  I’ve always had a goal and dream, a job (and very well paying jobs for being that age), a decent car, a clean house with real furniture (rarely lived like a frat guy), lots of traveling, and always a hip party, club, or concert to go to.  In the moment I never thought of it as glamorous, it was just me.  My life.  Looking back, it was pretty frickin’ rad and I can see why I’ve dug myself into the hole I’m in today.

With all of that said, I’m not the best looking dude in the world.  I have a “boyish cuteness” about me but could probably lose a few pounds and get a haircut more often.  However, in my early twenties, I never even had to open my mouth to get a girl (probably how I fooled so many).  Externally, I seemed to have a lot going for me.  I didn’t realize that at the time, I just lived everyday not thinking too much about it.  Subconsciously that must have radiated.  I’ve always had confidence but not much of an ego, not super competitive, never cocky, but I was happy.  Lots of good vibrations.  Women can intuitively pick up on this, or so I’m learning. 

I could literally go to a party or bar with my boys, not have thought of hooking up, and end up with 4 or 5 numbers at the end of the night and never initiate a conversation.  As time went on and my career grew, the more this would happen.  When I worked for Sony Music it borderlined absurd.  I had private boxes to practically any sporting event, knew every DJ in town, shared VIP rooms with club owners/managers, and of course rubbed many elbows with famous musicians and celebrities.  To be honest, I really didn’t want a girlfriend.  I was terrified a relationship would rob me of many of these experiences or require too much effort to subdue the drama (it was often hard to explain that my “job” truly required me to be out until 3 am, half drunk, and make an appearance at a party).

Looking back, my own selfishness truly ruined many relationships or sabotaged them before they ever had a chance.  I’ll also admit that these were amazing women- well educated, great upbringing, successful, fun, and caring individuals.  I should have been so lucky to even have them show a bit of interest, but I saw them as dream crushers.  C’est la vie.

As time and life wore on, that lifestyle became very tiresome.  I realized if I truly wanted to be a major player in the music industry, I’d have to compromise a lot of my core beliefs and change the direction of my moral compass.  That pill was one I wasn’t able to swallow so I made changes and tried new ventures.  It’s tough to say at this point if those ventures were successful.  They were certainly spiritually fulfilling and notches on my belt that I’m very proud of but the money dwindled and when things didn’t go as planned, it affected my confidence.  You start to question if it was the right move, if you or the situation “failed,” what you could have done differently, and if you can pick yourself up after this.

Also as you get older, you begin to think more deeply about life.  What’s truly important?  Why are we here?  Is the American Dream really what this existence is all about?  Is finding someone to share the rest of your life with and being a father ultimate fulfillment?  These questions smacked me in the face when my parents turned the page into the golden years of their life. 

With the economic collapse and many investments not panning out, combined with sickness and daily struggles, I saw how quickly life can change.  Aside from all of the heartache and stress of coming to terms with these changes, my family grew closer.  We rallied around one another, shifted rolls, and tried to swallow the piss colored lemons that had been set in front of us.  While not easy and not always with a smile, we stuck beside each other and that resonated.

I am very proud of my Mom and Dad for the way they’ve handled things.  At this point, I’m not sure if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel but there is a sense of acceptance and calm.  While having a few moments to take a breath and reflect, I wonder what I have done?  Have I missed out on sharing this with someone?  Do I even want to share this one someone one day?  They’ve lead by example of how strong a family can be and how important it is to get you through tough times.  Of course I want that.

Being knocked down a few pegs is a very humbling and worthwhile experience.  But like I said, my confidence was shaken and with that my mojo has taken a backseat.  I’m still the “boyish cute guy,” have a decent ride, my own place with furniture, able to pay the bills, and by an unknown miracle don’t have an ounce of debt to my name.  However, everyone in their late twenties has most of this and the field has shifted.  Those traits are now considered “normal,” where as when I was 20 they were admired.

Because of this, in my own warped world, I feel as if I’m failing.  I’m not ahead of the curve anymore.  I’m not extremely successful, I’m not doing glamorous things (though I feel the things I am doing have more meaning), I am not independently wealthy, and things aren’t all that certain or stable.  I do, however, still have goals and dreams…

Needless to say these days, if I go into a bar I am not walking out with a fist full of digits.  Now, I haven’t tried to get any numbers but it’s been a huge paradigm shift.  I’ve never had to try before…

TO BE CONTINUED...

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I write for several reasons.  The most important being that it helps me process thoughts.  Putting ideas into clean cut sentences and physically writing them strengthens that thought immensely.  I can go into a long explanation of how strong thoughts (positive or negative) physically affect you on a biological level and use quantum physics to also explain how thoughts affect the world around you, but my goal isn’t to teach you anything.  I do it to give you insight.  There’s nothing more pure and honest than talking to a blank screen.  It doesn’t judge me, I can’t hurt its feelings, and it can’t question or second-guess my thoughts.  Lastly, I do it for reference.  Years from now I can look back at my writings, laugh at how different my thinking is, and see if I’m measuring up to the much younger and idealistic Sean.

Pretty much my entire life I’ve kept some sort of journal.  From late elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and so on there’s either actual daily entries or weekly writings summing up what’s been going on in my head.  It’s scary how much stuff I have and how much you forget over the years, especially things that seem really important in the moment… 

A few weeks ago I went rummaging through old files looking for something in particular and I came across an entry that stopped me in my tracks.  I can tell when I wrote it that I was personally listing goals and dreams rather academically trying to write something.  It was meant for no one other than me, was never supposed to be “turned into something” (like part of a larger work), had nothing to do with what was going on in my life at that current moment, and was chillingly specific.  It was like Sean from 6 years ago had the foresight to write a letter to future Sean to make sure that I stayed on track.  For me, the biggest twist about coming across this entry was the timing.

Maturity and reality have been the biggest issues I’ve been facing lately.  For months now I’ve known deep inside that I am ready for a change.  I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten older and chugging beer doesn’t have the same allure along with sleeping on couches that it used to.  Not really knowing what to do with myself but understanding that reality could no longer be ignored, I started to conform.  I picked back up the family trade, found myself a little place I hesitantly call “home,” pop into Mom and Dad’s to help with chores or cook a meal, and dilute my thoughts each night so I can fall asleep with my new found mediocrity.

As much as I was trying to buy into this new direction of life, there was no amount of drugs, alcohol, sex, movies, iPods, Hulu, concerts, or Daily Show with John Stewart that would allow me to swallow this blue pill.  I wasn’t being honest with myself.  I wasn’t being honest with those around me.  I was giving everyone what I thought I was “supposed” to give, not what I have to give.

People say that timing is everything in life, I don’t know what I say.  However, it seems a bit too serendipitous that within 3 days I reconnected with an old family friend from Orange County, both the managing editors at Surfing Magazine and Surfline offer me freelance writing jobs, my Endless Summer 2 poster falls over laying directly in my walkway so that I have to stop and move it to be able to pass by, an amazing, beautiful, unstoppable spirit of woman that I was best friends with on Warped Tour, who now lives in Huntington Beach and surfs twice a day, out the blue adds me as a friend on FaceBook, and I happen to stumble across some of my own words from August 6th, 2005.

I don’t believe in destiny unless it’s manifest destiny. Get off your butt and take a leap of faith, who knows how many great things are waiting in the world out there…:

August 6th, 2005

"My mission in life is to be happy.  Nothing else matters when you are happy.  I’d rather be poor surfing everyday than working a job I hated.  I also want to leave something behind, I want to make a difference.

Here’s my perfect day: I’d wake up just before dawn next to a woman that I’m totally in love with.  I’d grab my surfboard and head down to the corner store to pick up a cup of coffee.  I’d drive to the beach and watch the waves for a few minutes until there was enough light to paddle out.  I’d be out for a few hours getting a fantastic morning session.  Then I’d drive to Surfer Magazine headquarters with my hair still wet and begin working on a story.  Lunchtime would come and I’d go get some Mexican food with the pro surfers that were hanging around the office.  We’d talk shop, tell stories and plan our next surf trip.  Then after lunch I’d make the rounds and try to find inspiration for upcoming articles.  Then I would head home, stopping by the flower shop to pick up one hibiscus.  My wife/girlfriend and I would have dinner, then make our way down to the beach to watch the last few waves before it got dark.  We’d talk about each other’s day, memories, plans, whatever.  Then we’d go home and go to bed early.  I don’t think expecting too much… haha.

The trait I value the most in myself and other people is honesty.  Be completely honest with me all the time no matter how bad the truth is.  I hold myself to very high standards.  Failure is not tolerable.  I think if you’re going to bother to do something, you should do it right and to the best of your abilities.   

When I “die” I want people to wear Hawaiian shirts at my funeral.  I want people to be very relaxed and easygoing.  I don’t think a traditional funeral would represent my life or what my life was about, in fact it would be the exact opposite.  I want people to say that I had passion, love, hope, and dreams.  When I wanted something I got or did it.  I want people to say I had an impact on their lives, and on the world.  I want to be remembered for doing something.”.

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