Man’s Leprosy Of The Soul

I’ll never forget the sight of that leper begging in the slums of Nairobi.

The man had no feet or hands, and lay on his back like a dog, waving his runny red stumps in the air to draw the passerbys’ pity and open their purse-strings.

The twist with leprosy is that it’s not the disease itself but the secondary effects that wreak especial havoc.

First, the disease shuts down the pain messages that warn your brain of bodily damage. Then begins the body’s slow destruction: you stand on a hot coal unaware, or walk about, oblivious to the nail buried in your foot, until infection and rot take hold.

In other words, the fouling and decomposition of the body is a direct result of the body’s impaired ability to communicate with itself.

You and I were born into curious times.

The great strengths of our sex–power, assertion, action, conviction–have all been called into question, treated with suspicion.

The one masculine gift we found safe to exercise was our long-suffering.

And so, clinging to this one sanctioned strength, we doubled-down on our ability to push through pain and discomfort, to endure without complaint.

In so doing, we become dangerously adept at numbing ourselves to all forms of pain and discomfort, including the messages our own inner life tries to send us.

Just as leprosy shuts down the signaling system of the leper’s body, leading to destruction of the body, we as men have developed a type of leprosy of the soul… a slow shutting down of the soul’s signaling system.

We become terrified and distrusting of that subterranean language. We become unable to grapple with the roiling in our gut that tells us to end the soul-killing project, to pursue the crazy idea, to have that terrifying, long-avoided conversation.

And so begins our slow decomposition.

Though our bodies remain whole, our inner life begins to rot away… the numbing lives we lead eating away at our soul and killing our fire until our eyes go flat and lifeless.

You may feel the truth of this assessment but see no solution, skewered on the horns of an impossible dilemma.

But this re-awakening to your primal self, this re-firing of the forges… it does not mean anarchy and surrender to vices and a scattering of your family life to the wind.

You do not become some craven animal.

You become the fully alive, unleashed version of yourself you’ve lost, pursuing all your same essential loves and aims with the fuel of passion.

You become the man who no longer wastes months and years on dead-end paths…

Who no longer burns his life force in appeasement… in blind, logic-bound service to the concerns and frameworks of others.

You become the man who’s life evolves forward at the speed of instinct.

You may feel it’s all too late, that the nerve lines are irreparably cut.

But your great gift is not so easily destroyed.

Strangely, beautifully, the most precious things (love, desire, hope) are also the most renewable.

No matter how unbearable your present routines…

No matter how dead your days…

No matter how deep a pit you find yourself in…

The kernel is there within you. Even now, the ancient seed lays dormant, waiting for the long overdue wildfire to split the shell and trigger the wild green shoot.

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