1. Suburban Secrets
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
It isn’t quite sunset in the Andes, but the sun has fallen just behind the nearest mountain peak.
As the rainbow of light strewn across the sky erratically and erotically dances, I find myself entranced by the colors splashed upon the canvas of my eyes.
The air temperature begins to drop, and I can feel the chill as it finds its way into the crevices of my alpaca poncho. Instinctively, I grab for one of the wool blankets just behind where I’m propped up comfortably, in a circle with seventeen members of my tribe.
Carla turns to me and says, “Go Ken, it’s your turn.”
“Ah, I’m feeling it too. I think it’s time . . .”
“Okay, then it’s time!”
I unwrap myself from the blanket and stand up. I walk over to the fire and with hands in prayer position at my heart, I bow in gratitude and then sit down. Directly across from me on the other side of the fire is Christine, our ceremony facilitator. We gaze into one another’s eyes and I lose myself in the magic of her tender transmission of love.
I stand up—and with the eyes of my tribe fixed upon me—I proceed to remove my poncho, sweatshirt, and T-shirt. I look at my exposed upper body—and at the weathered tulsi mala hanging around my neck—and feel pure energy pulsing through me as my skin mingles simultaneously with the cold mountain air and the warmth of the fire.
I unbutton my pants. I pause. I take a deep breath.
I unzip my fly. I pause. I take a deep breath.
And I tell my story.
I was born during a blustery winter in December of 1983, in the suburbs of Long Island, NY. In the spring of 1985, at sixteen months old, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. On that night I was given a 50/50 chance of living—and obviously I lived.
Five years later, I was hit by a drunk driver outside of my house. I suffered a double skull fracture and a bunch of other broken bones. If it hadn’t been Memorial Day weekend, the parking lot across the street wouldn't have been empty, and the helicopter that took me to the hospital would not have been able to land. I would have died in the ambulance according to the surgeons.
Despite these early traumas, I had a pretty standard suburban childhood, albeit one that was sheltered by the Atlantic Ocean. But it was also full of the opportunities symbolized by the Big Apple’s skyscrapers, which pierced the clouds less than twenty-five miles from our house.
I played clarinet, and I had a dog named Astro. I was in the Cub Scouts, and played roller hockey from second grade to ninth grade, until I was forced to stop when I was attacked by my neighbor’s dog. My first "real" job was serving white chocolate mousse and pineapple swirl at TCBY during all four years of high school. I had a younger brother, Aaron, with whom I fought quite often, usually over whose turn it was to play Sonic the Hedgehog, but I was fortunate enough to have a mom and dad who loved me dearly, even if they didn’t really know quite how to love one another. There wasn’t much affection and tenderness between them and a lot of my childhood memories are of them fighting about money, employment, or both. Despite that, in their own ways they each infused me with deep wisdom, encouragement, and love.
I was an exceptional student, dedicated to getting into a name-brand college (which I did, despite being rejected by ten of the twelve schools that I applied to); I focused on my studies rather than distracting myself with the activities of my peers—things like sports, hooking up with girls, and partying.
I also had an uncle; well we called him uncle: Uncle Joe. He was my dad’s best friend from childhood, which meant a lot when your dad grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn in the ʼ60s. I was told Uncle Joe was a successful actor in Los Angeles—and I had no reason not to believe what my parents told me. I remember feeling so proud, that in the third grade I brought one of his headshots to my class for show and tell.
One day I arrived home from elementary school, before my grandma had arrived to watch me and Aaron. There was a large package from Uncle Joe on the porch, addressed to my dad. This wasn't the first, but it was the first I had intercepted. I was too bored waiting for my grandma and too curious about the contents of the package Uncle Joe had sent to us, so I ripped it open, put my hands into the popcorn and pulled out two videos.
What I saw on their glossy covers shocked and intrigued me. In fact, I couldn’t believe my eyes: penises that dwarfed my own, breasts bigger than my face . . . and vaginas, so many vaginas. I had never seen vaginas like these before. Actually, I had never seen any vaginas, let alone the perfectly-manicured examples on display here. I was speechless.
You see, Uncle Joe was indeed an actor . . . just not a Hollywood actor. Rather, he was one of the most successful male porn stars of the 1990s, based out of Los Angeles.
Packages from Uncle Joe continued to arrive on our doorstep every month for more than a year.
Why he sent them—and why they weren't just thrown out upon arrival—were questions that never crossed my mind. The unopened boxes accumulated in a dark, cluttered corner of the most difficult-to-reach area of our basement.
My dad didn’t know that I knew where the boxes were. Nor did he know that every now and then, in one of those rare moments when I was home alone, I’d build up the courage to go down into the caverns of the basement, open a box and pull out a video—grab bag style. Like that greedy kid in the candy shop, I'd fantasize about the flavors that awaited me. And as I grew up, I graduated from gawking at the covers to watching the videos.
But these pleasures were short-lived. The contents of Uncle Joe's videos would stain me, and have unfathomable consequences on my self-image.
Consequences that would take me on an arduous twenty-year journey to reclaim my power.
And my penis.
2. Sibling Rivalry
I was sitting on the toilet, taking a poop. A cascade of light poured down onto my head from the skylight above. I was basking in the simple joy of being home from school, when Aaron unexpectedly barged in, something he loved to do.
He perched on the edge of the bath tub, less than two feet in front of me. I slammed my legs shut, so he couldn’t see my private parts. He started talking about something completely inconsequential, but he didn’t care about my privacy. He was just being my bothersome little brother.
Then, in the midst of his small talk, sensing my indifference and coldness, he looked sternly at me and said, “You have a small penis.”
My heart skipped a beat, maybe even two. I began to sweat. Had he seen my penis? How? I was beyond embarrassed. What I felt was far deeper than mere embarrassment; it was something I had no word for in my eleven-year-old’s vocabulary.
His words stung my heart, and the only thing I could do was scream at him to leave me alone.
Though my brother was three years younger than me, that didn’t change the fact that his penis was bigger than mine. He was right: I did have a small penis. I knew this to be true because he loved running around naked and inevitably, as kids do, I compared myself to what I saw. He was big, and I was small.
Around the same time, coincidentally, my dad started referring to Aaron's penis as caaawwwk (pronounced like caulk, without the L, and drawn out). I know, fucked up. You see, my dad was self-conscious about the size of his body—and his penis—even though he would have said otherwise, so naturally he was proud of what he felt he was lacking; at least here was something he was fifty percent responsible for creating—my brother’s big cawk.
To add fuel to the fire, my brother loved being acknowledged for his cawk. Given that he was the second born, he yearned for Dad’s attention, to differentiate himself from me, the firstborn—and his cawk did just that. His cawk became a means of receiving love from a father who otherwise focused the majority of his affection on his first-born son.
My brother learned quickly that when he took his pants off, he got the attention from our father he craved. I learned just as quickly that it was the cawk that was idolized by our father, not my anonymous penis.
For several tormenting months, my brother reminded me at every opportunity of how big his penis was—and of how small mine was. Instead of taking my younger brother on, instead of fighting him or his judgments, I succumbed. I let the jabs of his harsh words knock the wind out of me. I let his statement become the foundation of a core belief that would hold my life back in so many ways.
And yet, I was only a boy. How could I not fall victim to my brother's assertions, especially when they were bolstered by my dad’s incessant idolization of the cawk—the most perfect penis ever?
The damage to my psyche was complete. What resulted was a deeply tarnished self-image and a total erosion of my confidence. This period of my life would be the beginning of a long quest to discover not just my power, but my manhood. I just wasn’t quite ready to take on such a monumental journey.
3. Peep Show
Every six months I had an appointment with my endocrinologist, Doctor Bransky. On this particular morning, like any other morning before an appointment, I sat apprehensively beside my mom as we made the thirty-minute drive to Long Island Jewish Hospital.
Now that I was a pre-adolescent and in the early stages of puberty, the standard protocol was for me to have the appointment with my mom, but the exam portion with the doctor alone. Doctor Bransky welcomed us into his office, talked about my blood work, insulin levels, my weight versus height versus age, and then promptly initiated the next phase of the appointment by signaling to me to stand up.
“Time for the men to leave,” he said with a conspiratorial smile, and pointed the way out of the room and down the hall to the exam room.
As we were walking down the hallway, I noticed that we were being followed by a crew of young doctors, all in white coats, all with stethoscopes draped around their necks.
“Kenny,” he said, when they were close enough to hear us. “Is it alright if these guys come along for your exam?”
I stared at him, and he went on, “They’re medical students. They’re studying to be doctors.”
“Uh, okay,” I said. “Sure.”
We reached the exam room and Doctor Bransky, myself, and exactly seven young men and attractive women—some of the most beautiful women I had ever seen—entered. The doc rolled out a fresh sheet of tissue paper onto the exam bed and had me sit down.
He measured the things I had become accustomed to having measured, like my heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. He checked my ears, the back of my throat, and hit my knees with that little rubber hammer to check the nerve response. Everything was normal.
He asked me to lay down, so I did.
He then reached into his desk draw and pulled out a tool I had never seen before. It was a necklace of sorts, strung with wooden beads that progressed from the size of a pea, up to the size of a golf ball.
During this time, the med students were standing in a semi-circle directly in front of the exam bed. They were feverishly scribbling in their notebooks. For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine what they were writing; nothing had happened!
Doctor Bransky stood up, and looked me straight in the eyes.
“Now Kenny,” he said. “I’m going to measure your testicle volume with this orchidometer.” He dangled the necklace in front of me. “It’ll give us a sense of how you’re progressing through puberty.” He swung the beads between us. “Take your pants off, please.”
Completely bewildered, and, frankly, fucking terrified, I complied. What else could I really do? I was just eleven! I unbuttoned my jeans, unzipped my fly and began to pull my pants and underwear down. The med students scribbled ever faster.
The doctor brought the jeweled necklace up to my right testicle and fingered through the beads, like a Buddhist monk. Clearly, he’d done this before. He searched for the one that matched my testicle, and the students waited in silence, gazing at my balls while he measured me. I glanced up and saw one of the beautiful female doctors looking into my eyes; she was an actual, real human being, not just an automaton in a white coat. At that moment, I wanted to curl up into a ball and die.
“Eight,” the doctor eventually announced, and the students dutifully recorded it on their pads.
He then found my left testicle, repeated the procedure and said, “Ten.”
He stood up straight and said, “Thanks Kenny. You can put your pants back on.”
If having my penis and balls exposed and measured in front of a group of strangers—some of whom were beautiful women—wasn’t bad enough, what came out of his mouth next was the icing on the proverbial cake . . .
“Your right testicle is smaller than I’d like to see for you, at this age.”
I knew I had a small penis, but now I had a small right testicle too? Was he serious? And did he have to announce it in front of everyone? This doctor could not be trusted.
As we left the office I told my mom I wanted a new doctor. She asked why.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Just because . . .”
4. Holiday From Hell
During winter break of the seventh grade, our family took a vacation to sunny California. We visited Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Epcot Center. We played mini golf, raced go-carts, and had ice-cream nearly every night. We also visited Uncle Joe at his house, his big house in the hills.
While he gave us the tour of his palace, I began to have some shooting pain in my right testicle. Over the next few hours I could no longer ignore the pain and had no choice but to tell my parents that one of my balls was hurting really bad. Believe me, this was the last thing I wanted to do.
But by then, my testicle had swollen to more than double its normal size and I was lost to the pain, no longer on vacation. My parents decided to take me to the hospital, and, an hour later, I entered the exam room; I was in tears as I changed into the dreaded hospital gown.
When the doctor appeared, I told him what was wrong. He snapped a pair of gloves on, did a quick exam, and quickly saw for himself what was wrong. He told me someone would be along in a few minutes to find out just what was going on with my testicle, so we could fix it.
Moments later a man dressed in blue scrubs walked in. He looked like a doctor, but he wasn’t.
“I’m a medical technician,” he said, and offered a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “We’re going to do a scan to find out what’s wrong with your testicle. I’m going to need you to tape your penis to your abdomen for this procedure, to keep it out of the way.”
How am I going to do that, I thought, as I took the little roll of tape from him. My penis is too small to tape to my abdomen—that’s like a mile away. Can’t he see that? But he’s given me the tape; I have to do something with it.
I fiddled around and taped as much of my penis as I could to whatever I could tape it to. I didn’t do exactly what he’d asked, because I couldn’t, but I did the best I could. I was taped up—and I was deeply ashamed. Neither he nor I mentioned the inadaquacies of my attempt.
As I lay on the ice-block of the examination table, dressed in only the drafty gown, the bright lights above me made the room blurry and dull yellow. I was unbearably uncomfortable.
Is this really happening? I asked myself, but I knew the answer. It was happening alright.
And, even worse, I was a minor, and that meant my mom and dad were in the room with me, for support. So, not even any privacy. All I could feel was excruciating embarrassment. My small penis and mismatched balls were center stage, ready for the performance of a lifetime.
“This will only take a minute,” the technician said as he applied freezing cold gel to my testicles and began the scrotal ultrasound procedure.
He was wrong though. It didn’t take a minute. It took a lifetime.
You can put your clothes back on,” he said eventually, and, when I was dressed, he went on, “Well, Kenny, you have testiculitis. In fact, more specifically, you have epididymitis.”
This merciless ultrasound technician made sure to let us all know exactly what epididymitis was—inflammation and infection of the tightly coiled tube that lies above and behind each testicle. The very tube that collects and stores maturing sperm made by the testicles prior to ejaculation.
As if it wasn’t bad enough having my penis (barely) taped up, a testicle the size of a small lemon, and my scrotum covered in a cold, sticky liquid and scanned by a strange man—all while my family watched—he had to announce this to the world.
Sperm, ejaculation, masturbation, no! I beg you, please don’t go there, not with my parents here!
“I’ll have the doctor look over the results,” the technician said, “and within the next six hours, we’ll know if we need to surgically remove your testicle.”
Surgery? What’s he talking about?
My parents fired away questions, themselves struggling to understand what was happening, but I was speechless and in total shock; anxiety took the wind out of me, like a punch to the gut. I’d barely withstood the few minutes he took to scan my balls, let alone the prospect of six more hours in purgatory, contemplating life without one of my testicles.
An hour later the doctor returned with a smile on his face.
“I’ve got good news,” he said, glancing at his clipboard. “Your testicle isn’t going anywhere, as long as you promise to take this antibiotic for the next two weeks." He smiled broadly as he handed the prescription to my mom.
“I promise to take the medication,” I said with dead seriousness, and did my best to find some semblance of a smile that might pass for happy.
In fact, I was happy, and relieved. But more than that, I was embarrassed and ashamed of all that my family had witnessed, especially the fumble with taping my penis.
I left California, vowing to never return. I would rather have my swollen testicle explode before I was embarrassed like that again.
5. The Cost of An Education
By the time high school began, I knew I was different.
Firstly, I had diabetes, and all that went with it: the denial of sweets on classmates’ birthdays and the accompanying feeling of ostracization; diet coke instead of regular coke; concealed blood checks and injections; insulin shock, seizures, and diabetic ketoacidosis. Then there were the countless bouts of dizziness, shaking, sweating, poor coordination, and irritability. And let’s not forget frequent urination, cotton mouth, dehydration, fatigue, and trouble concentrating, often during class. To name just a few.
Secondly, I had a small penis. Maybe my peers didn’t know, but I knew—and my family now knew.
I spent a lot of time in my own mind, attempting to analyze and control circumstances, and I noticed that many of the other boys I observed were simply being—they were comfortable being social, in groups. I wasn't. They were extroverted, light-hearted, fun, and most importantly, confident . . . qualities that were definitely lacking in me.
Unconscious of my own sense of inadequacy, I did what any young kid would do. I decided to prove to myself—and to the world—that I was not what I “knew" I was (and what I feared others “thought” I was). I set out to show just how adequate I really was through something I was able to control: my academic endeavors.
I was blessed to have someone I could lean into during this stage of my life, someone to show me the way. My cousin Jacob was a handsome man, freshly graduated from one of the best engineering schools in the country (on a full scholarship), dating beautiful women, and working towards his Master’s (while also working full-time) thanks to NASA. A total success by the Jewish-American standards set forth by my grandmother and mother.
Looking back, the cards were stacked against me to do anything other than what I did, which was to declare, "I want to be an engineer!" I was interested in math and science—and excelled at both— but what I was really interested in was showing the world who I really was—and engineering was the way to do it.
My infatuation with math and science took up a lot of time and energy, and required discipline and focus. By the tenth grade I was having conversations with a young professor in the Chemistry Department at Brooklyn Polytechnic University, where I would eventually spend a summer working on a nanotechnology research project; this would eventually be distilled into a paper that I submitted to the world-renowned Intel Science Competition in the twelfth grade.
This vision gave me purpose during a deeply insecure period of my life, but the guys from my classes had their eyes on a different vision: girls. While they were playing spin the bottle, French kissing, fingering, getting blow jobs and eventually having sex, I was at home, having late-night sessions with quantum physics and string theory.
To compensate for my lack of development and experience with girls, as well as to buffer myself from immense penis insecurity, I studied with another teacher, one who could fill in the gaps and show me—at an accelerated pace—what I most needed to know. That teacher was my uncle, the porn star—and he had no idea that he was teaching me how to be a man through his “educational” VHS videos.
The truth is, everything comes at a cost, and I paid for this education dearly, with what remained of my confidence. By the time my pornographic instruction was complete, I knew two things for certain:
First, I knew the “inside secrets of how to please a woman.”
Second, I knew that, without a shred of doubt, I had a small penis, thanks to Uncle Joe’s co-star, Jake the Snake's enormous Snake.
Had it crossed my mind that any man, especially a teenager, might think exactly the same when confronted by Jake the Snake’s snake, the next decade of my life may have taken a different course.
6. The Fear of Being Free
Defending myself from the exposure of my genitals meant defending myself from all sexual opportunities, which, in my eyes, weren’t opportunities so much as threats.
The truth is, it wasn’t so much the girls that I feared during my youth—though at the time I was definitely anxious and uneasy around girls—it was more an absolute terror of being told that I had a small penis, by a girl I liked. As far as my ego was concerned, this was by far the greatest threat.
It could be something as simple as a girl holding my hand, or asking me why I wasn’t holding hers (this actually happened). It could be my fear of asking a girl to dance, or a friend saying, “Melissa likes you." Or it could be a party where I knew people would be playing spin the bottle. I saw all of these as sexual threats. Any girl that might expose me, by sharing what she discovered with her friends, was too much of a risk to mingle with. Such an outcome was an absolute impossibility, as far as I was concerned.
Protecting myself from such imagined sexual threats, while simultaneously presenting the appearance of a normal guy well versed in the ways of women, became quite a complex game to play.
Fortunately, my uncle’s performances with his co-stars in LA had prepared me, in some measure, for a world that was far removed from the sheltered one I had created for myself. Despite my lack of experience, I knew a lot about women and about how to interact with them sexually. At least that’s what I thought, and that’s how I shaped myself to appear. I had engineered myself to seem confident and comfortable with who I was, but this was the furthest thing from the truth.
This was the cross I came to bear, and the weight couldn’t help but crush me into my textbooks. Education became my savior. The prospect of going to a good school and getting an engineering degree, like Jacob, saved me. That was my drug of choice and fortunately for me, it was far less destructive than the other drugs some of my peers were experimenting with.
This subterfuge went on for years, deep into college, and beyond graduation. A woman would show interest in me; I’d either ignore her or lead her on, and then I’d sabotage the situation to avoid any activities involving my penis. I cannot tell you how many times this happened, or how utterly frustrated and torn up I was each time, because—yet again—I had denied myself the very thing I wanted: intimacy.
Ask any of my friends from college, and they’ll be the first to tell you I was a hopeless romantic. I didn’t date, I didn’t go out with girls, I didn’t even really have too many lady friends. But the ones I did have, I found myself attracted to. Who better to chase than the most disinterested of women, my female friends?
I didn’t know the difference though—between friend and love interest—and sadly, I pushed away several female friends along the way. I was a dreamer, fantasizing about the woman I would eventually meet, even if I believed she didn’t exist, all the while rationalizing to myself why the girls that did like me, weren't the one. All the same, I knew that she was the only one that I could expose myself to, and who could fully receive me—and my baggage. And with every denied sexual experience, she drifted further from me.
Yet, as far as she drifted, she was the lifeline that I clung to as I sank deeper and deeper into existential crisis. While my friends were preparing for a night out, I was sitting in my room, feverishly reading books like The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead, and Alchemy and Kabbalah. I was hunkered down in my cave, searching for something. And while I didn’t know what exactly, I knew enough to know it wasn't out there, where they were going after having drunk enough. The best they could do was dig me out of the books and give me a beer, which I almost always drank.
My prayer was that whatever it was, it might save me from my growing spiritual destitution. Despite classmates, friends, and family that loved and cared for me, I was convinced that I was inherently broken, and beyond repair. As far as I could tell, I was alone—and worse, destined to a life of disconnection. Without her, she who existed only as fantasy, I had nothing and no one to stop me from drifting into deep depression. She was the fuel for my existential quest. And though we had yet to meet, she was the very connection to life that guided me.
Still, I was driven by primal desire to unleash my passion; yet simultaneously I was being cockblocked by my own fear. Balancing these dynamics during the free-spirited years of college was a challenge that required as much of my energy as did my engineering degree.
Despite this, I did have a handful of (non-penetrative) sexual experiences, with the assistance of various substances, mostly alcohol. Usually, I modulated the experience, so as to eliminate the possibility of my penis being involved. I was always the one who wanted to go slow. But if my penis did come out, there was no pleasure, for I was in my head rather than my body.
Each time I engaged with a woman, I felt a disproportionate warming of my body, a constriction of my chest and a closing of my throat. There’d be deep terror in my heart. Sometimes I’d feel like an ice block, even though I was profusely sweating.
“Are you okay?” became familiar words.
I was okay . . . but I wasn’t comfortable, ever.
Most of these girls laughed at my sexual awkwardness. In the third week of my freshman year of college, one of them giggled childishly when I ejaculated in thirty seconds (which became the evidence and rationale for a massive fear of ever having sex, regardless of my penis size); another laughed at my apparent lack of skill with her pussy; others were hurt by my coldness towards their affection and sweetness, and my straight-up rejection of their expressed interest in me.
I was doing the best I could, and yet despite these sexual encounters, a demon of insecurity and shame lived inside of me. The more I engaged or disengaged with women, the closer I came to the epicenter of something that was far beyond my comprehension, but which terrorized my spirit.
By the time I was twenty-five, I was working as an engineer for Boeing. I was living with a close engineering buddy in a loft apartment, making good money, traveling for work, and I had all that I had aspired to as a teenager. All except for the fantasy of the woman that I had created in my mind, as the antidote to all that plagued me. Despite all that I had, I was angry, unhappy, and spiritually unresolved.
I had arrived at a deep knowing that one of two things had to happen next. Either I’d have to slay the demon that lived inside of me or die trying.
7. Reclaiming My Balls
With each woman that passed through my life, I came closer to the limits of my ability to keep my penis caged up due to shame—and this shame was consuming me as much as the pain of the continued denial of touch and intimacy, of desire itself.
About twenty-two months into my engineering job, I was at the lowest point of my life. I was profoundly unhappy, burning through my vacation hours just so I wouldn’t have to be at work. I was cranky and cold to those closest to me. I pushed away those who were trying to get to know me, and I was disconnected from any degree of lasting pleasure. Instead, I fed myself with the temporal pleasures of masturbation, alcohol, strip clubs (on Fridays after work), and fast food. So much fast food that I had to purchase a new wardrobe for work. I was depressed, though I wouldn’t have dared to use this word at the time.
In December of 2009 I brought myself to the family care practitioner assigned to me by my insurance. He weighed me in at 199 pounds.
What the fuck? I’m only five foot four.
By this time, I’d almost fallen over twice at work, even though I was standing upright. Heart palpitations were becoming a regular occurrence. I’d been prescribed reading glasses for the first time in my life. My arms and legs were burning, like they were on fire, all of the time. I knew something was wrong, and I was scared.
The doctor quickly diagnosed me with Early Stage Neuropathy, which is apparently quite common in diabetics. There was a prescription that could help me, but I would have to schedule a follow-up appointment, with a nerve sensitivity test, before he could prescribe. As he told me this, I just sat there, lost in my own thoughts. This is only going to get worse. If I do nothing, nothing will change, except that I’ll weigh 300 pounds and I’ll be talking about amputation rather than medication with this guy. I can’t go down this path. I don’t want to go down this path. I’m tired of all this.
In that moment I made one of the most powerful and significant choices of my life . . . I chose life.
I told my doctor no on the tests and the medication—and in that moment vowed to myself that I was going to overhaul my life.
On New Year’s Eve 2008/09, already two weeks into working out, I set out my intention to go from a thirty-six-inch to a thirty-inch waist, get fit, and completely revamp my neglected relationship to diabetes.
By early April of 2009, I had two pairs of thirty-inch Levi's. I’d lost sixty-five pounds, rid myself of all the symptoms that had brought me to the doctor only a few months earlier, and I had completely overhauled my lifestyle. I was now vegan, running, rowing, or riding my road bike six days a week, and I’d just begun practicing yoga. I really enjoyed yoga and I was fortunate to have found an amazing yoga instructor, which was a miracle in itself because there weren’t many in the small town I was living in.
As I recall, I started going to her yoga classes, at first once a week, then twice a week, and pretty quickly maxing myself out by going to the three classes she taught each week. I loved her teaching style and she was good-looking too, which didn’t hurt. She was outgoing and social, cracking jokes and then laughing at them herself. She was fun, lighthearted, and easy to be around; she lifted everyone up around her.
Typically, I was the youngest (and, ironically, the most social) person in the class, and inevitably we began to speak afterwards while she was cleaning up. Mostly she would ask me questions about my life, what my home was like, what I did at work, what I did outside of work, simple questions. She was pretty easy to talk to and very cool, and I found our conversations quite effortless. Around her, I was able to joke, laugh, and be the me that I loved. And yet . . .Would you believe me if I told you that yoga became the most stressful part of my life?
Well, it did. Crazy, right?
Our relationship, friendship, whatever you want to call it, was escalating quickly. A month into her classes, after a dozen or so conversations, I realized that one of three things had to happen:
One: I had to ask her to hang out, get tea, go for a walk around the track, something, anything.
Two: I had to completely stop talking to her.
Three: I had to stop going to her classes.
I figured that I really couldn’t stop talking with her after yoga. Everyone would leave, and I would hang out and chat; this was simply where our relationship had evolved to. If I were to stop talking, she would notice—of course!—and inevitably she’d ask me why I wasn’t speaking to her.
All we were doing was talking, but each conversation thinned the distance between her and my deepest insecurity. I could feel the energy between us and I could feel my defense systems warning me that this girl was a serious threat. The risk was way too high of getting into a situation where she’d judge my penis.So, I listened to the warning system, honored the pact I’d made with myself back in the day, and I chose to stop going to her yoga classes.
Without any warning, notice, explanation, or heart-to-heart, I simply stopped going. That’s self-sabotage. Yet I quickly realized that not going didn’t actually make things any better for me. In fact, I felt worse. Not only was I feeling an infinitely deep frustration with myself, but I was angry; angry at how much of my life was controlled by this warning system, by fear itself.
When I was home alone as a kid and when the doorbell rang, I would run and hide, afraid of being seen . . . and here I was yet again, hiding from the beautiful woman knocking at my door.
The most painful part was knowing that I was complicit, that I was allowing myself, via my penis insecurity, to be controlled by fear. I was making yet another self-sabotaging decision, the most recent in a long line of life-suffocating decisions.
I was tired of not answering the door.
The problem wasn’t her, or her jovial personality. Nor was it yoga, or even my penis. The problem was, in protecting myself from the perceived death that cometh by penis exposure, I was cutting myself off—metaphorically castrating myself—from the very thing I desired, in this case to see and talk with my cute yoga teacher friend who made me laugh.
I’d had enough.
One evening, when normally I would have been at her class, I sat down on my couch and made contact with my frustration and anger. "I cannot live this way,” I told myself. “I cannot live my life in service to fear. I’ve come too far to be a slave to it. If she sees my penis and judges it, fuck it, whatever; that’s better than this, better than seeing her at the health food store and having to explain why I stopped going to her classes.
“Letting my penis be seen, well, that's better than expending all of my energy on survival and defense, rather than on thriving—which is what I want. That’s definitely better than never hearing her laugh at how much I sweat in her beginner-level class, and it’s definitely better than never seeing her again, because I like seeing her.”
On that night I made a decision with far-reaching implications. For the first time in my life I consciously chose, despite my fear, to let myself be seen by a woman. Like, really be seen.
And nothing would ever be the same.
8. Show and Tell
Please Note: Written below is a story based upon my experience, and my memory; and may vary from the memory of those involved.
"Where have you been?” Julie asked as everyone was shuffling out of the room. She beamed at me, her eyes sparkling. I’d never seen her look so happy.
“Ah you know, I just needed a break,” I said. “Too much yoga, too quickly.”
“Well, was two weeks enough?”
Our conversation picked right back up, but this time something was different. I was different.
Julie saw my bike helmet hanging from my backpack.
“We should go for a ride sometime,” she said.
I jumped at the opportunity (and jumped a few steps). “What are you doing now? Want to get some tea?”
In my mind I simultaneously high-fived myself, gave myself a pat on the back, and jumped for fucking joy. I’d done it. I’d asked her out . . . and I was so fucking scared. This was uncharted territory for me.
As I remember, we left the gym, but instead of parting ways at the parking lot, we got into her car and drove to a local tea shop. We had a beautiful experience and then she had to get ready for her other job, so she dropped me at my bike and we said goodbye with an awkward hug.
The following day was Sunday, and she had an afternoon class. Afterwards, everything was the same. We talked as she cleaned, walked out to the lot together, and then, after a moment of strange silence she said, “Would you like to get tea?”
“Sure,” I said, but my heart was beating furiously.
As we sat in the tea shop, I thought, Wow, this is our second time hanging out; I’ve never done this before. I literally have no idea what I’m doing, or what happens from here. What do I do after her next yoga class? I don’t care, I’ll figure it out when I’m there. I’m here now, so enjoy the moment.
We were both hungry, and she knew all the details of my recent health makeover. I lived just down the street, so I told her we could go back to my place and I would make us a smoothie.
“Sure,” she said. “Let’s go!”
We went back to my place and I made her one of the most disgusting broccoli smoothies ever created. But she drank it anyway and said it was good, even though she told me later that she poured a bunch of it over the railing when I was in the bathroom.
Again, we had a good time and she had to leave for work. We said goodbye, with another hug, but this time less awkward.
This continued for some time . . . desires and expressions of desire.
“Hey, want to go for that bike ride?”
“Hey, want to come over and do some yoga and hangout?”
“Hey, want to come over and watch that movie we were talking about?”
Eventually, I mustered the courage to just go for it—to kiss her. Making the first move was never my thing, of course it wasn’t, given my history. But I had some of my balls back, and it only made sense to kiss her. That’s what I felt like doing, and I would soon find out if that was what she wanted.
She didn’t kiss me back, but my kiss didn’t faze her. We just continued doing yoga in my living room like nothing had happened. Later, she hugged me goodbye and said something to the effect of, “Just because I didn’t kiss you back doesn’t mean I’m not interested.”
Phew . . . okay.
Over the following weeks, as I recall, we spent more and more time together. Things got physical. Cuddling, making out, groping, all of it.
Inevitably our physical exchanges came to involve my penis, which, unbelievably to me, wasn’t judged, ridiculed, critiqued, inspected or evaluated against fictitious porn-star standards.
Instead, Julie simply received me—and my penis—with deep affection and burning desire.
Can I do this? I wondered as the first opportunity to have sex presented itself.
Yes you can. Now stop asking questions and be with the experience. And remember to breathe, deeply.
And that’s exactly what I did. I surrendered myself—deeper with each breathe—to the intimate experience, and rode the surge of joy and excitement; my once-worst-nightmare was transformed into the highest pleasure I had ever experienced.
Through our love-making, I was liberated, freed from the role I’d played in a story that had come to define me.
Wow, how did this happen? I wondered to myself.
Well, after a two-week hiatus, you decided to go back to her yoga class . . . you chose to courageously feed your heart’s yearning, rather than your fears. You leaned in, despite the discomfort. That’s how this happened.
For over ten years I had engineered intimacy out of my life, to protect myself and to minimize the risk of being told I had a small penis. Now I was having sex, with my new girlfriend, and the threat of judgment was finally gone.
In fact, when I shared what I've written here with Julie, she laughed. As far as she was concerned, my penis was perfect.
Words cannot describe the depth of gratitude and appreciation I have for Julie, and for the healing she brought to me. The unconditional love she showered upon me and the way in which she embraced every bit of my body, without judgment, ridicule, or any sort of criticism—that was the deepest medicine I had received from a woman to that point. In hindsight I know her medicine wasn’t just for me, but for all men, through me.
I knew I had created this erotic and intimate experience; I could see it with supreme clarity. I felt my power in a way I had never felt before. I felt the power of my penis to create the reality I had so longed for.
Finally, I had seized the proverbial sword, my sword, my penis and found my power in the process.
Making love to a beautiful—physically and spiritually—woman and liberating myself of the baggage of my penis history was the highest taste of freedom I had ever had.
And what I would come to do with my newfound power would shock me as much as those closest to me.
9. Throwing Off the Chains
What I shared with you yesterday was one of the greatest milestones of my life, but to end this series there would be to do an injustice to the scope of my journey, and would be a disservice to you. For what I shared with you yesterday, was just the beginning of something larger.
On a cold Friday in January 2010, I walked through the security gate at my workplace. As on most of the previous 750 days, I dreaded spending yet another one at my desk, or in the lab, engineering advanced internal technologies, and devising strategies to make myself do shit I didn’t really want to do anymore.
As I entered the office, I had a thought, one that I had considered countless times: What if I just quit today?
I took a breath and immediately rejected the idea, as I had also done countless times.
Yet the thought persisted. What if I quit today?
I felt a wave of panic and fear come over me. By the Grace of Spirit, I realized I had a choice. I could reject the question, minimize my feelings and rationalize myself into action, as I had trained myself to do. Or I could let myself feel this panic and fear.
Instead of going to my desk, I sat outside the office, in the cold tundra of January, for thirty minutes, letting myself feel the fear—and the bone chilling cold—that until now I had not let myself actually feel. I called my brother and told him, “I feel like I’m standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and I’m about to jump! I’m sweating and freezing, my heart is pounding . . . I think I’m going to quit my job today. I’m scared.”
“You’re okay, Kenny. Just keep breathing and follow your heart."
I hung up with my bro and walked into work. I sat down at my desk, logged into my Google Drive and opened the resignation letter I had written two years earlier. I changed the date, updated a few sentences and left it up for the rest of the day.
At three o’clock that afternoon, I spun my chair around to my work-buddy Zack and told him, “I think I’m quitting today.”
“Now? Are you serious? The day’s almost over.”
“Yes, I’m serious, and you’re right.”
I picked up the phone and called my boss, Mike, and told him that I needed to speak with him. He was in another building and asked if it could wait till Monday.
“No, I need to talk to you now.”
“Alright, I’m on my way. See you in the conference room in twenty.”
I told Zack, “I’m going to meditate in the corner. Please come tap me on the head in fifteen minutes.”
Fifteen minutes later, he did just that. I stood up, went to my desk, printed the letter I had revised earlier in the day and asked him to wish me luck. I took the letter, put my headphones on, turned on a Shiva Mantra, and made my way to the conference room.
I sat down and Mike walked in. “What’s up Ken?”
I was so nervous, so filled with vulnerability, I couldn’t even speak. I took the piece of paper and slid it across the table to him.
“Wow, are you serious? You were just promoted.”
"Yes, I’m serious.”
“Do you want to think about this over the weekend and let me know on Monday?”
“Thanks,” I said, “but no. Consider this my two-week notice.”
And just like that, my engineering career was over.
"What just happened and who was that guy who just quit his job?” I asked myself.
As I left the conference room and walked to my car, it hit me, like a tidal wave. I wasn’t just quitting my job as a research and development engineer for a Fortune 500 company; I wasn’t just letting go of the safety and security of a well-paying job, one in which I was liked and respected; I wasn’t just letting go of a career that buffered me from the unknowns of life. I was actually shedding an identity that was no longer resonant with who I had become, and in doing so I was honoring and accepting the person I had evolved into . . . and was destined to become.
In choosing to quit, I was showing myself just how powerful I was—and not just acknowledging, but leaning even deeper into, an unrelenting faith in the yearnings of my heart.
My childhood desire to be an engineer was rooted in the need to prove how adequate I was. It was a response to what I had been programmed to believe about my penis size and what I had made that mean about me.
I had achieved the success my family revered while simultaneously ensuring a flow of love from them for my professional achievements. I had cultivated a relationship with my “cool cousin”, who I’d idolized as a child. I had money, respect, praise, and responsibility—and yet for what? What the fuck was this all for?
At the end of the day—every work day in fact—and Sunday evenings, I just wasn’t happy.
But what was I trying to prove and to whom, exactly? For the last year, I’d been making love regularly to Julie and I was the engineer I had always dreamed of becoming. Was this not enough evidence to invalidate the perceived facts at the root of my inadequacy complex?
As far as I could tell, the fuel had run out and I had reached the end of the road.
On this monumental day, I chose, finally, to let go of the deeply insecure and inadequate part of myself. I chose to stop pretending to be someone I wasn’t and step up as the captain of my ship. I did this for myself, to honor my potency as a self-directing man. I set sail from the safe harbors of the known, into the open, uncharted waters of the unknown.
I remember the twinge of excitement and the sense that something big was unfolding; that whatever it was, it wasn’t just about me, but about something far larger, something that could only be revealed in time, by taking this leap of faith. For the first time in longer than I could remember, I felt alive.
And so a new phase of life began, free of the nine-to-five—or, as was sometimes the case in R&D, the four-to-eleven—grind; free of useless team meetings, of planning and coordinating; free of frivolous conversations, and of being told what to do and when to do it; free of the need to know or to define, free of the need to care, and free of the need to put fires out.
Life as I had known it was over—and it was scary as fuck.
10. Revealing My Heart
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
It isn’t quite sunset, but the sun has fallen just behind the nearest mountain peak. As the rainbow of light strewn across the sky erratically and erotically dances, I find myself entranced by the colors splashed upon the canvas of my eyes.
The air temperature begins to drop, and I can feel the chill as it finds its way into the crevices of my alpaca poncho. Instinctively, I grab for one of the wool blankets just behind where I'm propped up comfortably, in a circle with seventeen members of my tribe.
Nestled deep in the trees at 10,000 feet above sea level, the Andes Mountains don't move an inch, but I feel the Spirit of the Mountains engulfing us. I feel the energy shifting as day becomes night and as the portals to the heart of darkness begin to open.
Carla turns to me and says, “Go Ken, it’s your turn.”
“Ah, I’m feeling it too. I think it’s time . . .”
“Okay, then it is time!”
I unwrap myself from the blanket and stand up. I walk over to the fire and with hands in prayer position at my heart, I bow in gratitude and then sit down. Directly across from me on the other side of the fire is Christine, our ceremony facilitator. We gaze into one another’s eyes and I lose myself in the magic of her tender transmission of love.
This is my final night in the Andes. I'm here on a spiritual retreat of sorts. For twelve days, I and nearly two dozen other friends from around the world, have been partaking in sacred plant ceremonies, and powerful shamanic medicine rituals. Together, as new family, we’ve addressed our deepest wounds.
In two days I fly back to California, to reunite with my partner, Aria. With three Ayahuasca ceremonies, two San Pedro ceremonies and an Ayahuasca/San Pedro Sweat Lodge Ceremony under my belt, I'm now ten hours into our final San Pedro ceremony and I am utterly exhausted—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—and that’s exactly why my heart is blasted wide open, as open as it’s ever been.
I feel this overwhelming sense that the sacredness of this moment, and the sacredness of this fire, is asking me to stand as the fullest Ken I know myself to be. I feel it as a shock wave of heat that moves from my toes to my head.
The fire speaks to me, literally demanding of me that I hold nothing back. I feel the magnitude of this moment in the core of my being.
I have arrived.
I take a long, deep breath, and exhale as slowly as I possibly can.
I stand up—and with the eyes of my tribe fixed upon me—I proceed to remove my poncho, sweatshirt, and T-shirt. I look at my exposed upper body—and at the weathered tulsi mala rosary hanging around my neck—and feel pure energy pulsing through me as my skin mingles simultaneously with the cold mountain air and the warmth of the fire.
I become aware of the very physical effects that eleven days of plant ceremonies—and intermittent fasting—have had on my body. I’ve lost nearly fifteen pounds and I am energetically and physically lighter. I place both hands over my chest and feel the gentleness of my heart as I tune into its rhythm.
I know what I must do—and I do it not just for me, but for you as well.
I unbutton my pants. I pause. I take a deep breath.
I unzip my fly. I pause. I take a deep breath.
“Ken’s going to take his pants off,” says an unidentified voice. Giggling from all directions breaks the silence of this sacred moment.
“Yes, I am.”
“Wait a second, Ken,” says Christine from the other side of the fire.
I look up and fix my gaze upon her.
“Do you have to take your pants off, Ken?” I recall her saying.
I know, as much as I know she knows, that this isn’t about what’s inside my pants.
“Yes, I must . . . for completion.”
I extract myself from the dialogue and return to my pants. I’m not wearing underwear, so my pubic hair is showing through the opening of my fly. I take a deep breath and slowly slide my pants down my thighs.
I step out of the pants and kick them to the side.
I stand fully nude, immersed in the silence of the group. My heart is pounding. I am the most exposed I’ve ever been, but my heart is covered by the protective blanket of the Andes.
After some silence, Christine whispers, “Why are you standing here naked, Ken?”
I take another deep breath and make contact with the profound vulnerability that’s coursing through my body in this moment.
“Because this is my edge. Because I’ve been ashamed of my penis my entire life and I don’t want to carry this shame anymore. I’ve spent my entire life afraid of being seen, and I’m tired of having this fear in my body.”
I begin to share my story with the group, the story that I’ve shared with you, beginning with my brother telling me I had a small penis when I was a young and impressionable boy. I told them that I grew up with an uncle who was a porn star, and how, at a young age, I came to judge and criticize the size of my penis.
I told them that I sabotaged nearly every sexual experience I could have had, for fear of being ridiculed. I told them that I’ve made love to two women in my life and know, in my heart, that I’m fully capable of pleasing a woman, physically and spiritually. And yet, despite this knowing, I still feel this deep fear of being seen, of being exposed. As I am now.
“You look like a fine specimen of a man, to me, Ken,” says Christine.
“Ah, I know . . . but I’m feeling . . . I’m just feeling . . . seen. And it’s scary.”
“So be with that, be with the feeling. It’s okay, you’re okay. We all love you.”
“We love you Ken . . .”
“You’re so hot . . .”
“You’re the most courageous man I’ve ever met . . .”
Praise comes my way via the group and I let their words wash over these unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings. Christine stands up, walks around the fire to me, and begins a process of energetic cleansing.
Sometime later, with a smile on my face, and a newfound lightness in my heart, I put my pants back on. In the center of my radiant chest, I feel that I have done exactly as the fire had demanded of me; I’ve held nothing back. I’ve revealed my less-than-average-sized penis, while sharing my story about it. And it was all witnessed with pure, unfiltered, unconditional love. I’ve been seen, all of me, not just my body, or my penis. I’ve revealed the story I’ve been carrying in my heart since I was a kid. Though it’s difficult for my mind to grasp in this moment, I can feel that there's truly nothing to fix, because I'm not broken, and never was. I’m clearly not alone, nor am I destined for a life of disconnection, as I once believed. Rather, I am destined for a life of deep connection, proportional to how much of my heart I’m willing to show.
I feel whole for the first time in my life. My existential quest is, for now, complete.
Not only have I found what I was looking for in college, I have reclaimed it; that wounded boy who, if nothing had changed, would have been banished, as I once feared, to the caverns of destitution.
Now embraced by me with love and total acceptance, he can walk free into the light of day. With arms wide open I gratefully welcome him home to my heart.
As the evening shifts into the celebration of our individual and collective transformations, a sense of peace, relaxation and stillness comes over me. I can leave Gaia Sagrada knowing I have absolutely nothing left to hide, from myself, from the group, and from you.
On this night, my greatest fear is fully dissolved, setting the stage for a series of unexpected events that will unfold upon my arrival back in the States.
11. Penis Power
On the journey back to California, I realized that I had undergone a significant rite of passage through a series of initiatory experiences, including the one I’ve shared with you. But what was the result of this rite of passage? What was all that deep inner work for?
In two words: internal clarity.
Clarity as clear as the waters of a glacial lake tucked away in the Swiss Alps. Practically speaking, that clarity came through knowing that it was time for me to begin working with powerful men ready to release the self-limiting stories that inhibit them from expressing their greatness.
Back in June of 2017, before the Ecuador trip was even a consideration, I had applied for a High-Performance Men’s Coach position, with a reputable men’s work organization. It was a dream opportunity that I’d come across one night while scrolling through my Facebook feed.
I shit you not, on the exact day that I returned from Ecuador, just hours after landing, I received an email from the Director of Coaching, saying that he had reviewed my application and wanted to set up an interview.
I could see how Spirit was not just caring for me, but directing me. It was providence.
By early October, after a month of interviewing, and a sharing of all that I’ve shared with you, I was offered—and accepted—a $100,000-plus per year full-time position as a Men’s Coach with this organization.
I was fucking ecstatic. I felt deeply blessed and grateful to be teaming up with an epic organization doing powerful men’s work. I called my parents, my brother, my closest friends, and together we all shared in the joy of this answered—and timely—prayer. The pieces were finally coming together for me.
That evening, Aria and I went out for a celebratory dinner. Afterwards, we sat on a bench in the park. Imagine, I thought, how powerful it will be for me to share with these guys the story of my penis . . . my uncle . . . the doctor measuring my balls . . . Ecuador . . . overcoming the shame . . . you . . . and . . . ah, all of it!
I was so excited as I shared the snippets of my story—the story she was already well aware of—and I felt the impact and influence I was going to have on the men I would be working with. On that bench, Penis Power was conceived, in ecstatic joy. I just didn’t know it at the time.
With her hand on my heart, and her smile ear-to-ear, Aria said, “I love you so much. You’re so powerful! Those guys that’ll be working with you are so blessed.”
Yet, the celebration was short-lived.
The following day I could feel from the stirrings in my heart that something was amiss. What ensued was a four-day Spirit-guided deep-dive into my underworld of desire and power.
On paper this opportunity was everything I had once desired.
“What exactly have I said yes to? Why am I taking this job?" I asked myself.
“You need money,” a little voice in my mind said. “You need a more consistent and reliable way of funding your burgeoning life in California. Aria needs to know that you’re in this with her, that you can pull your financial weight and that she can rely on you, as a man. This job is the perfect opportunity to leverage your skills and experience and be that man for her. This is an answered prayer. Do we need to slap you in the face with a cock to make you see that this is the very miracle that you’ve been asking for? This is everything you wanted—and more. This is it, the time is now. This is the magic of manifestation . . . and you did it!
Another voice said, “Ken, do you realize what was conceived on the bench the other night? Your life’s work! Bring Penis Power to the world! Devote, commit, and immerse yourself in this project. Not in your spare time, not after you’ve been coaching all day, not after a few months of being a men’s coach with this organization, but right now, today. The world is ready—and you’re ready. This is the expression of the wisdom of your journey, your offer to the world. Do we need to slap you in the face with a cock to make you see that this is the very miracle you’ve been asking for? Step into your power, share your story, and show your light. Everything is going to be okay. This is the beginning of an unimagined life.”
The dilemma was that both voices made sense to me. Where they differed was that the first felt contractive, whereas the second felt expansive. The first felt safe. The second was scary as fuck. My mind was telling me one thing, my heart another—and I found myself vacillating between the two.
Through a series of alchemical processes that burned away the impurities and revealed the truth —and with the assistance of deep introspection and contemplation—I finally arrived at an answer to the question I had asked myself: why am I taking this job?
“Because of fear,” I heard from within. “I’ve said yes to safety, security, and comfort, because I’m afraid. My ‘yes’ is rooted in fear.
I had to sit with that for a bit, literally sit with my eyes closed as the revelation peeled away the layers of my story.
Did I succumb to my fears (yet again) and jump at this seemingly resonant opportunity, with the knowing that, despite whatever story I might convince myself of, it was mostly for the financial security? Or did I move through my fears, own my power, choose risk, show myself how fucking capable I actually was—of building a purpose-based business— and surrender to the magic and mystery of life itself—to Penis Power?
Was this, and all it might bring, worth $100,000?
A choice had to be made.
I knew this was another rite of passage, and I could feel how, in moving forward, this decision would inform life—and the world—of how to be in a relationship with this guy known as Ken.
Four tumultuous days after accepting the position, during my first work meeting, I had a telephone conversation with the Director, and informed him that my yes, was now a no—and this wasn’t up for discussion. He was surprised, but he honored my choice and respected me for being true to myself. I thanked him for co-creating the perfect storm of circumstances to drive me even deeper into my power, in the exact area of my life that I needed to show up more powerfully. I was no longer the same man who had accepted the job.
I chose to defy logic, honor my feelings, and stand for courage itself, rather than fear . . . a choice that required me to be more of me. I chose the path of greater uncertainty, risk, and vulnerability; the path that scared the fuck out of me, and made me feel alive.
My path is the path of the heart, the path of courageous vulnerability, especially when tempted by the mirages of the mind. This was an unusually tender set of circumstances to navigate, and I had navigated by leaning into and trusting my heart, and having faith in what I could only feel, in spite of the fears of my mind.
As a kid my dad would say to me, "I don't care what you're doing as long as you're following your heart. Always follow your heart Ken.”
And so, I chose Penis Power . . . and I knew what I had to do.
I hung up the phone, and minutes later opened my laptop and began ferociously working on this story.
Three months later, voila.
Together we’ve arrived to the end of this story, which is but one chapter in a far greater story.
Before returning to business as usual, I invite you to take a few moments to be here, with yourself, and simply notice.
What are you present to?
Below are some questions to contemplate and/or to answer in a journal, preferably the latter.
Take as much time as you feel available for.
This is for you.
Gift yourself with your presence.
- What are you feeling and/or what is the feeling tone of your inner space?
- What is the state of your mind?
- What internal narrative, if any, are you present to?
- What meaning is your mind making about me or about yourself in lieu of what you just read?
- What aspect of the story did you most connect with and why?
- What aspect of the story, if any, did you find yourself resisting, turning away from, or judging and why?
- What aspect of this story most impacted the story you tell yourself about yourself and why?
- Where do you see yourself in me and/or in this story?
- What in this story was most valuable to you and why?
- What’s the medicine here for you?
- What, if anything, are you ready to face within yourself?
- Why now?
- What’s different in you, and/or in how you perceive yourself, other men, or the world?
- What, if anything else, is on your heart in this moment?
- What is the truth you need to hear to set yourself free?
- What’s possible for you, if you let yourself dream?
- What support do you need and/or want?
Thank you for investing your precious time to read this story. Choosing to share this with you was as much a part of the story as was the story itself. Yet, the impetus to share (in service to you) far outweighed the fear and doubt I experienced along the way.
In every hero’s journey the hero or heroine returns with an elixir. For me, the elixir of this journey was courage. The courage to face the most frightening monsters within.
That monster could be the story you tell yourself about your penis (as it was for me)—or any part of your body for that matter—yet the dynamics apply to any monster with which you may be fighting—consciously or unconsciously.
Practically speaking the proverbial monster is that which you feel shame towards or for. I wonder what that is for you? Is it your penis? If so, is it just your penis?
What else do you feel ashamed of or for?
What’s it like to acknowledge this to yourself?
What if anything changes in acknowledging where there’s shame for you?
Seriously, take a moment to sit with these questions, now or when you feel available to, if ever. Either way, notice your reaction to these questions…
This story is as much about my penis as it is my heart. For facing the monster of shame is but one path of opening the heart.
My wish is for all men and women to taste the nectar of self-love, self-compassion, and self-forgiveness.
Most importantly may you find the courage to do what you need to do to excavate the power to let love envelope the parts of your self which may feel the most distant and challenged to love.
The journey of rewriting the stories that encase our shame and changing the associated behaviors that protect us from feeling the depth and intensity of that shame, is one of the most rewarding, albeit delicate and intense expeditions any human can endeavor upon.
Courage is a must, as is strength.
And until you venture into this unchartered territory within, something that is rightfully yours shall always remain just out of reach.
May we all be blessed to experience a life free of shame, knowing it’s more about the journey than the destination.
This is the path of remembering and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Right here, right now.
I honor you.
P.S. - I welcome anything you feel called to share with me. Furthermore, if you feel inspired to share your responses to the reflective questions above, I invite you to email me: email@example.com.
Your heart and your truth are safe with me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Educated as a mechanical engineer, with work experience at NASA, Boeing R&D, and Spirit AeroSystems, Ken’s expertise is problem solving. Having left his technical work in the corporate world to focus on his own personal and spiritual development, he now assists individuals from all walks of life to solve the ordinary to extraordinary problems causing strife, struggle, and suffering. With two near death experiences prior to the age of seven, a rigorous ten-year meditation practice, extensive fasting and cleansing experience, including the completion of a 108-day mono-fruit juice fast, substantial lineage repair and trauma work, and countless hours in ceremonial space, he is anchored by an unshakable commitment to personal metamorphosis. As a beacon for those on the path of personal liberation, Ken utilizes somatic coaching, family constellations, and earth based ceremony to assist men and women to navigate through the stormy seas of crisis, crossroads, and catharsis to the shores of ease, peace, and joy.
To explore working with Ken or for speaking inquiries email: firstname.lastname@example.org