We were friends by way of a stack of cassette tapes. His name is Robert Bly, the author of the much loved/much hated book Iron John. On one of Bly’s tapes he talks about the three colors of a man’s life, and although someone else might come up with four pillars or eight stages or twelve phases, I’ve found Bly’s three colors work for me. They are the RED, the WHITE, and the BLACK. Bly describes them as “knights” but I’ll use the word “seasons.”
The RED season when you’re young, the tail-end of your teen years spilling over into your twenties, maybe even your thirties. The RED is all about vitality, energy, power, lust, passion, anger, rebellion, self-gratification. Sure, all those words can be dangerous, that’s the RED. The WHITE season reflects a time when other people move into the center of your world, its not just you anymore. A spouse shows up, children come along, there’s a desire to listen to others and communicate, and to fight for words like “truth” and “justice.” Some men move into the WHITE around age thirty, some remain in that season well into their sixties. And then there’s the BLACK. This is where you’ve accepted your flaws, you’re not blaming anybody else anymore, and you’ve learned you have very little control over your life. Rather than some depressing time, it can be incredibly liberating because your give-a-shit is broke. No season is better than the other, or good while the other is bad. They are the seasons of a man’s life, period.
Not all, but some of the difficulties men experience come from living out of season. For example, a fifty-five year old man still stuck in the RED. He’ll leave his wife, start screwing a twenty year old, and get an earring or two. He’s causing all sorts of crazy pain. Equally problematic is a twenty-three year old trying his best to present a calm and compassionate face when inside he’s seething. He’s an absolute hot-head but believes he’s got to be “progressive.” And then there’s the seventy-year old man still blaming all his problems on his Dad or his Mom or the Church or the Culture. There’s a fair chance he’ll die a bitter old turd, and people will say Good riddance.
Way over-simplified? Sure, no doubt. And are these hard and fast seasons with definite starts and stops? Absolutely not. But generally true for most men? I say yes. So the question is What’s your current season of life? If you’re RED, be RED, enjoy it! Remember, there’s some danger there, especially when making most of your decisions from your pants. Don’t go it alone. If you’re WHITE, be WHITE, enjoy it! Remember, much of that season is about sacrifice. If you don’t like that word, keep a close eye on the addictive stuff (alcohol, porn, etc). Don’t go it alone. If you’re BLACK, be BLACK, enjoy it! You’ve earned it. Share it with the planet.