The first one is “If the map doesn’t agree with the ground, the map is wrong.” I immediately want to scream out “I OBJECT!” I want to say that my case is different, or he simply doesn’t understand my situation or the nitwits I’ve had to deal with, on and on. But ultimately, I have to say to myself, ‘Give it up already!”
While Livingston went on to apply this truth to our seeming lack of ability to know how to find a suitable lifelong partner, I was struck more by its general application to life. How often do we use the same old techniques to get our way, to manipulate someone or a situation, or even use the same old phrases that we think will get us the some desired response. It’s like going out with a friend and hearing them use the same old lines that they’ve used in virtually every setting you can recall and wondering what the hell is this, a robot? I’m guessing I do the same thing!
Our mental ‘maps’ are simply our repertoire of behaviors, action sequences, and arguments we use to guide our lives, most often without much thought. We learned them long ago and we generally just keep on using them in only slightly different forms for much of our lives. We are sadly just creatures of habit in many ways, operating much of the time on autopilot, and not thinking about what we are saying or doing and whether we should be even saying or doing them. Put more plainly, we’re not very reflective. Part of our task as single midlife men is to seriously look at what kind of men we have become. That seems the first step on the road to setting new courses for our lives, in the hope that we will actually become different and hopefully better men.
This is an exciting prospect to me. I really hope I don’t slither into another relationship the same ‘dimwit’ I was before. Heaven forbid! I mean, if midlife transitions mean anything they should at least mean that we have weighed ourselves in the balance and found ourselves lacking. And we no longer can accept that kind of man going forward. I know I want to be a better man than before!
I want to relook at my maps and say, ‘What am I doing? Why do I do that? What happens when I do this?’ and then, ‘What do I want to be doing? How do I want to be? What kind of impact do I want to have?’ Our hope is that 4060men will be a place where this conversation is encouraged, a place where it can take place and that a community can develop. This just might be the place where we turn in our old maps and get our hands on some new ones, ones that actually reflect the terrain we’re trying to navigate.
You know the definition of an insane person, don’t you? It is one who keeps doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Now I may be a little slow, but I’m not crazy… crazy…crazy… are you?
About the Author: Master Hobbit