THE ASCENT CHAPTER ELEVEN
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ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE: THE ASCENT
LAMENT TO LOVE
Amare Et Sapere Vix Deo Conceditur:
Even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time. 
For the rest of the day, I continued to be intrigued by the stories Mo and Eli disclosed about this young woman in London. I wondered what it might be like to meet her. Possibly we already bumped into each other since, as Mo suggested, we lived not that far away from each other. If so, I wondered if our eyes had ever made contact be it on the Tube or in the coffee shop below my flat. Might we have said anything to each other while at the counter ordering? Likely, I would have flirted with her since I had a habit of doing that with most women… just can’t help myself.
I was more concerned whether she or one of her friends was in the pub that infamous dream night when I made such a chump of myself. If she ever learned of the connection, that might be the end of things.
For now, I was happy my body was being cared for by her, even if I wasn’t there to enjoy the intimate baths. Although not likely intimate for her since that was her job. Still, it was humorous to think; all I had to do was lie there, mouth shut, eyes closed, and her hands were all over me. Once again, the irony! Eli was right; being natural and not trying to make an impression might work best.
What if caring for my body was more than just a job for her? If she was asking questions about my life when visitors showed up to see what was left of me, perhaps there was, as Eli suggested, more to this attraction than her feeling sorry for my body. What if this encounter meant something more… something like a merging of destinies? How could that be, other than in an alternative reality? And yet, isn’t that where I was?
As I lay on my bed that night, an old, familiar sinking feeling came over me that I'd find a way to blow this relationship, too, likely the first chance I got. I always did; that seemed my fate. I felt powerless to do anything about it, so how could I ever expect to have a genuine relationship with Julianne? Worse, it sounded like she might have high expectations.
The self-talk continued, saying, this too shall be denied you; just wait and see. As with all the others, you don’t deserve happiness because if you did, you wouldn’t be going around sabotaging relationships. Ah yes, I had to ask myself again, what ancient curse had beset me, ruining any possibility of love in life? I had no idea.
I wasn’t sure why I always became restless with the women in my life, doing stupid things to provoke them so they would leave me… if I didn’t leave them first. I never wished them to leave, except my fear of commitment did. Then, I would get angry, regretting instigating all this mayhem. So, how in bloody hell would I ever break this vicious cycle if I couldn’t figure out what was going on inside me?
Even if I wasn’t willing to acknowledge these problems as entirely my fault, I was beginning to suspect most were. In the past, I assumed every altercation had more to do with them than me and that it was only my lapse of judgment that had allowed these lovely, barmy women into my life.
Yes, James, I thought to myself, before you return, you need to deal with this foible before it’s too late. As Eli suggested, I might only get one chance before Julianne is downstream with someone else. Then what? I’d be left wallowing in my existential despair, reading Sartre with a case of ale beside me. Whatever the cause of my troubles, I knew there had to be a better way… so what was it?
After sulking miserably through the night, I was ready to confess I needed some help coping with my dysfunction. Likely my mountain priest-confessors already knew about this, considering how they seemed to know everything else about me.
Despite Mo’s occasional gruffness and Eli’s mischief, I trusted these other-worldly beings more than anyone I had back home for a long time. I recognised that if I wanted to make a fresh start, I needed help exorcising these nasty, self-deprecating demons that continued to ruin my life. Forever might they be cast into the burning lake of fire or, if nothing else, the campfire outside.
As if my concern was a scene to be played in the next act of my life’s choreography, an opportunity arose the next morning, even without me having to broach the topic. As usual, they arrived just after the sunrise as I was brewing a pot of coffee.
‘So, what should we talk about today, James?’ Eli asked as we sat at the table eating Mo’s freshly baked Portuguese sweet bread. ‘Do you care to talk more about Julianne… or should we give that up?’
‘I’ll admit, after your sales pitch last night; she came to mind more than once as I lay on my bed. Even though you painted this exceptional picture of her, still, I’m not sure if I’m the man for her. She’d likely be better off with someone else because...’
‘Because…. the prospect of losing her terrifies you,’ Mo interrupted. ‘I can tell you this, however; flinching is not a good enough reason.’
‘Perhaps not, but when I look at the world, it’s most apparent how elusive love is. From what I’ve seen, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of functional relationships between the sexes. Maybe it's because of male misogyny or feminist misandry, most likely both.
‘Nothing seems to last, so it’s difficult not to become cynical when you realise how fickle relationships are and how things will likely turn out… especially for me! I wonder why I even bother.’
‘Oh, I’m relatively certain why you bother,’ Eli said.
‘Yes, of course, there’s that, although I’m not referring to such. There must be a better way to achieve the same ends. Considering how things never work out for me, I’m not sure I trust myself. I’d hate to hurt this sweet lassie, especially after all she’s done for me.’
‘Doesn’t sound like a good place to be,’ Mo said. ‘Have you ever asked yourself why this keeps happening?’
‘If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be attracting so much dystopia into my life. I realise I might share some of the blame, though not all of it. I don’t know; perhaps the problem is that I’m not selective enough, so I continue to allow the wrong type of women into my life.’
‘Quite possibly, you’re not the first to think that way,’ Eli said. ‘As the good bard once observed, the course of true love never did run smooth.’
‘So, tell me, James,’ Mo asked, ‘why do you think nothing can ever work out with your lovers?’
‘I’m not sure; maybe they just want different things from life. Likely, that’s why I keep setting myself up for failure; we’re always pulling in different directions.’
‘If you don’t mind, could you give us an example?’ he asked.
‘Sure, there are lots. I can tell you of one such disaster that was particularly vexing, at least for me. For once, I believed I was in love… I mean, really in love.
‘She was very bright, having recently graduated from the London School of Economics with honours. I met her not long after graduating from Edinburgh with my doctorate. At the time, I continued to search diligently for a lectureship to begin my career, so my financial situation wasn’t the best, not that it ever was.
‘After a few months, I finally received an offer for an interim lectureship at the University of Glasgow, which I almost accepted, even though I didn’t care about moving back to Scotland. Still, it was a place to start. The only thing that held me back was this woman. She wasn’t prepared to come with me, but since I wanted to believe she was the one for me, I didn’t wish to leave without her.’
‘Ah, the one who dumped you for a wealthy lawyer,’ Eli said.
‘Is there anything you don't already know about me? Why need I say anything? You already seem to know more about me than I do.’
‘Knowing about and knowing is quite different,’ Mo said. ‘We wish to understand your perspectives.’
‘And to feel your pain,’ Eli said, smirking. ‘Besides, it's not like we spent weeks and months reviewing your files in some dingy celestial attic. So, carry on with your story; we want to know what happened next.’
‘I’m not sure why, except perhaps for your amusement. Regardless, even when I passed on this employment opportunity for her sake, she had no problem passing on me. As a commerce graduate, she never was that impressed with my financial situation, even less so when I asked her to help pay part of the rent.
‘As I said, money was tight since student loans were no longer available for me. Nor could I earn scholarships, no longer being a student. None of that seemed to matter to her, though. She wasn't prepared to pay for any of our expenses regardless of living together for several months.
‘I suppose it’s possible she thought she had already paid me in other ways… and maybe she did, although I didn't see it that way. Despite that, I believed we could make things work once I established a career in or near London; I just needed her to give me more time.
‘Then one day I came home, and she was gone… along with all her possessions and a few of mine. Didn't even leave a note. I found later that some stiff had come along who was considerably wealthier than me. From what I heard, she did rather well for herself. Her new benefactor was a partner in a large LLP firm with offices in London, Singapore and New York.
‘Regrettably, she considered his luxury penthouse overlooking Canary Wharf more comfortable than our little love nest over the deli shop. There was a time when she thought my wall-to-wall books were charming, along with the broken-in retro furniture from the 70s.
‘Somehow, along the way, this must have lost its quaint allure, as did I… most obviously. So, what was she to do?’ Of course… she bolted, this time for the good life and a million-pound view!
‘Still, with her interests increasingly focused on business, I'm not sure how much longer our relationship would have lasted… nor do I particularly care. So, there you have it; another sad vignette in my turbulent love life.’
‘Unfortunately, there might be even more calamities ahead for you,’ Mo said, ‘unless you can identify what lies at the bottom of these problems and why you continue to select the partners you do. What if there is something more to all this than just incompatibility, money or lack of it?’
‘Such as what?’ I asked.
‘Is it possible there is some suppressed trauma in your life that has unconsciously set you up for failure?’
‘I don’t think so; still, I’m prepared to hear what you have to say. What do I have to lose except more wounded pride?’
‘Then allow me,’ Mo said, ‘to give you my perspective on the nature of intimate relationships. That might prove helpful. This time, however, I need you to hear me out; last time, you didn’t permit me to finish what I was saying.’
‘Fine, by all means, carry on… the mic’s yours.’
‘The first thing you need to understand is that love is more than just a sensation. Instead, it’s the essence of your Source, the highest expression of who and what you are. Let that sink in for a moment. When you realise that you are one with all that is, nothing can be more fulfilling… how could it be?
‘That realisation alone is enlightenment! So, James, I say to you, never give up on love, no matter what disappointments you experienced in the past. Always remember, love and truth, or as we experience them as heart and mind, constitute the divine essence of what we are.
‘The separated ego-mind neither understands this nor does it wish to. Regardless, this unites the yin with the yang without loss or compromise to your identity.
‘The more these complementary expressions oscillate within the union of your being, the essence of yin becomes more yin, just as the essence of yang becomes more yang, even as they merge as one.’
‘Sounds much like a paradox,’ I said.
‘Yes, but a happy one, wouldn’t you say? ‘Where would the universe be without this entwined with all that is? Creation is the eternal enactment of relationship!’
‘That’s splendid, Mo, at least in theory, although it hardly seems relevant to what I’ve experienced in life… too abstract. I’m sorry; I’ve walked out, been walked out on and jilted too many times not to be cynical about relationships. As I’ve already admitted, much of this might have had something to do with me, though not entirely. It seemed the better I treated them, the less they respected me. Then I would get angry, and everything would go to hell, even when I didn’t say anything.’
‘Just curious, James; how well did you fare with your feminist lovers?’ Eli asked. ‘From what you inferred earlier, was there possibly a love-hate thing going on between you and them?’
‘I suppose there might be some an aberrant dynamic to this attraction. What can I say? I love strong women, at least these qualities in women who don’t think they need to be cared for.
‘Or, maybe it’s because I enjoy the challenge of subduing them, as portrayed in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Unfortunately, most of these women had much the same objective, causing us to clash over who should tame who.
‘Even when I seduced them, they would say it was they who seduced me. Looking back, it all seems rather funny, if not pathetic. Perhaps we should have agreed to take turns. Still, none of this makes me a misogynist; I just want a level playing field. Is that too much to ask?’
‘So, what was it you said that caused them to infer you were a misogynist?’
‘God knows; I suppose it could have been most anything… opening the door for them or complimenting them for their anatomy or something more chivalrous. It doesn’t seem to take much once they have it in their minds they ought to be offended.
‘I’ve often made the point that if they insist on accusing me of misogyny without cause, that would make them misandrists. Not surprisingly, most of them didn’t even know what the word meant or that it even existed. Some seemed to think it’s just some patriarchal throwback word that remains in the dictionary. When’s the last time you’ve heard a feminist use the term? They would probably choke just trying to say it.’
‘In fairness,’ Mo said, ‘most men probably haven’t heard the word either.’
‘Probably not,’ I said, ‘which is most unfortunate; they need to know there’s a word for males being assailed, especially when you’re white.’
‘I agree, an extensive vocabulary is always helpful to understanding relationships,’ he said, ‘although reacting may not always be the best approach in negotiating these delicate exchanges. Have you ever complimented your adversaries for their independent thinking, even when you disagreed with their perspectives? Is it possible they just want to be regarded for what they believe?’
‘I’m not sure how much independent thinking there is in the sisterhood. And, that’s another thing, you must be very careful when paying compliments, especially when it’s about their bodies. They call it objectifying; I call it appreciating. They can say whatever they wish about my body; I don’t mind. Bring it on. So, what’s their problem? Aren’t we all human even when we are different?’
‘The problem is, James, you’re no longer docked at a port in the Mediterranean,’ Eli said, ‘Instead, you’re at bay in a politically sensitive culture.’
‘You’re certainly right about that. But am I not doing them a favour by showing them they shouldn’t take themselves so seriously? All too often, humour is vastly underrated among these warriors. They need to lighten up with their hyper-sensitivity.’
‘Ask yourself,’ he said, ‘if the unconditional love you are demanding from them is even possible when your love remains just as conditional as theirs. I don't wish to be too direct since there may be more to this; still, doesn't your amorous life have more to do with scratching an erotic itch? Where’s the unconditional love in that?’
Once again, Eli had me snookered. I couldn't deny it: too often, I was a player, finding that in the end, I was the one played, and perhaps deservedly so.
‘You’ve come to a point in your life,’ he said, ‘where you need to decide what is essential before getting scratched out of the game, if I may refer to your billiards allusion.
‘So, next time you become romantically involved, try to first connect with their inward spirit, not just what you see outwardly; it's much less painful that way! Bodies don’t attach for long, yet love’s inner essence certainly does. For most men on the earth plane, the outward appearances seem a necessary condition to love even when it’s never sufficient for a lasting relationship.’
‘That’s correct,’ I said. ‘Logically speaking, a necessary condition is hardly the same as a sufficient condition; that’s the first thing I teach my first-year students. Nevertheless, you must understand it cuts both ways. Like my ex-roommate, many of the women in my life seem more interested in external appearances and trappings than, as you say, love’s inner essence.
‘In all honesty, I admit to putting myself in this position whenever I find myself drawn towards the stunning, higher maintenance types. I never seem to learn. What appears to be most necessary for them, I can’t provide since it never seems sufficient.
‘I suspect this has less to do with my body than the bottom line on my tax return… such as it is. So, if these women are so decidedly underwhelmed by what I have, instead of recognising what I am, that would make them as shallow as me when it comes to love.’
‘Your words, not mine,’ Eli said.
‘Well, perhaps I should rephrase that. All I can say is that without a lot of money, there seems to be no loyalty or commitment. First chance, they're off with some big swinging dick with a luxury Jag, Rolex, and an upwardly mobile career.
‘Fine then, if money is their aphrodisiac, they can have it if that’s all they’re interested in. To hell with them; I’ll get what I want from someone more deserving. The only difference is that their exploitations are more flagrant than the simple charms I fancy. At least with me, there's no second-guessing what I want. It may only last a night, but never at anyone's expense.’
‘And how do you feel later? Do you still respect them in the morning?’
‘Of course; why not? And the next, and the next if need be. But how about me? I, too, could use a little respect in the morning, with or without a Ferrari. Is that too much to ask? Unfortunately, it seems just being a good lover isn't enough these days.’
‘Is there some other price you pay… a hidden cost? Do you ever ask yourself why you feel so empty when they leave?
‘Probably not as empty as they feel.’
‘Okay, but might there be a reason why these affairs never last? If, as you say, these women are so superficial, don't they have a right to what they want just as much as you do? If you didn't respect them for anything more than their appeal, why should they respect you for anything more than your monetary appeal?’
‘I'm not sure that's a fair question; I give much more than I take, and they know it! If they only afford me gratification because I take them out for an expensive dinner, I guess we know what that makes them.’
‘From what you seem to be saying,’ Eli said, ‘it appears they think what they have is more valuable than what you have to offer. So, in the end, no one is satisfied in these dubious transactions.’
‘Just an observation,’ Mo said, ‘but if you’re no longer cutting it with these less altruistic types, maybe that’s not such a bad thing, especially when they reveal to you what love isn’t. If you were prepared to settle for a shallow life, you wouldn’t have left the Lowlands to ascend here to this Summit. Now that these mistakes have served their purpose, why not leave them in the past where they belong.
‘Not that they were actually mistakes,’ Eli said, instead, you might look at them as learning experiences to help you understand what a functional relationship should be. As we keep saying, everyone learns by contrast. Everyone discovers what they want by first experiencing what they don’t want. That’s why you can, at long last, begin to find what you most desire.’
‘You mean Julianne?’
‘No, I mean you. That’s who you need to discover before you can find her or anyone else. It's your life, so you have the freedom to do as you please. We will not judge you over what lessons you need to learn since you, not us, bear the consequences of your actions.
‘As you become more aware of who you are, love will express itself in more meaningful ways, in many types of relationships. I’m sure it will be interesting to observe how love might unfold for you after your return.’
‘Possibly Julianne will be part of your life’s drama,’ Eli said, ‘yet you may still be involved in other relationships that contribute to your personal growth. Some of these could turn into cliff-hangers, much as you’ve experienced here.’
‘Which reminds me,’ I said, ‘there are a few cliffs I plan to visit while the sun is shining. Now that I’ve ventured beyond the easterly sierras, one beam at a time, I might finally skip over into a few more countries.’
‘Go ahead; perhaps I’ll join you next time,’ Eli said. ‘These outward escapades reflect your new freedom of being on top of life again. To use this analogy, possibly we can help you view your love life from a higher vista when you return.’
Sometime later, after an exhilarating trek among the northern sierras, I found my friends on the deck outside, indulging in what some may consider vices. Eli was smoking a fag, or whatever was hanging out the side of his mouth as he strummed his guitar.
Probably it was a knock-off like everything else, including me, when I was knocked clear out of my body. Of course, that didn’t make me or anything else less real here; in fact, everything seemed better in this aether and that of Eli’s baccy smoke.
‘Sit down, matey,’ Eli said, ‘and help us finish what’s left of Mo’s Portuguese Quinta do Crasto port; we’ve been working on it since you left, although it seems to have a way of refilling itself.’
‘Like everything else here,’ I said. ‘It seems some strange magic wafts about in the air from whatever you have between your lips.’
‘We’ve been giving more consideration to your tangled web of relationships,’ Mo said, ‘and all we can say is that it must feel like a curse to be overwhelmed by so many lovely women.’
‘And, a most blessed curse it is… at least until it’s all over. So, what do you think might help me untangle these snarls and knots?’
‘These are just part of the weave of life, or at least your life,’ he said.
‘But what a colourful pattern you have woven, James,’ Eli said, tossing aside whatever he was smoking. ‘Exotic, yet painful at times, I’m sure, for the brave soul who’s not afraid to venture on.’
‘This reminds me,’ Mo said; ‘have you heard the ancient adage, ‘Amare et Sapere Vix Deo Conceditur? Which is to say, even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time.’
‘I might have; still, that’s not very assuring.’
‘Probably it isn’t,’ he said. ‘Relationships can get gnarly even for the best of us.’
‘So, let’s hear what else you have to say that might be provocative about my relationships.’
‘I trust you will find what I say more evocative than provocative,’ he said. ‘Eli and I don't wish to make light of your past experiences since everything is part of your conscious evolution. Nevertheless, we think we understand why many of these relationships, as fanciful as they may have seemed at first, end up causing you such pain. We sympathise since we’re on your side… just as we’re on theirs.
‘Relationships,’ Mo said, ‘are generally too complex and deliciously unpredictable to know what’s going on in the other’s mind most of the time. As unsettling as some of your relationships may have turned out, they all serve a higher end. Remember that.
‘Undoubtedly, you've had some conquests, some losses, some gains, some disasters, and, I’m sure, more than a few thrills along the way. However, it’s time you understand what you’ve learned from your relationships. And just as importantly, what they might have learned from you.’
‘I honestly don’t know what they might have learned from me other than some creative manoeuvres between the sheets, though nothing of great lasting value.’
‘Apart from the gymnastics,’ he said, ‘have you ever considered how they might have felt about you? Is it possible some found you too aloof to love them as they wished to be loved?’
‘Or,’ Eli asked, ‘did they ever feel rejected by your emotional absence after you got what you wanted?’
I didn’t reply since it felt they were getting a bit too personal for my comfort.
‘Don’t feel too offended by these questions,’ he said, ‘we’re not judging you; we just ask that you give some thought to this.’
‘I’m not sure if dwelling on these questions would be that productive,’ I said. ‘My attitude has always been; when it’s over, it’s over, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. I try not to dwell on it after; it’s less painful that way.’
Although I was uncomfortable with their probing questions, I realised they were doing me a big favour by bringing to my attention what I continued to avoid. Never before had I spoken to anyone about intimate personal affairs such as these, nor permitted anyone to hold a mirror before me that I may see for myself what was there.
‘Yes, I suppose if you need to know,’ I said, ‘I’ve probably been a bit detached, not because I wanted to be. It was something in me.’
‘We don’t wish to make this any more difficult than it needs to be,’ Mo said. ‘Nevertheless, these questions, as painful as they may seem, might help you discover why your affairs with women continue to sink you ever deeper into your old ruts.
‘So, now that you are no longer in the Lowlands, you can finally extricate yourself from its boggy marshes where you keep getting stuck. Everything becomes much clearer up here on the Summit’s solid ground where you can view your past and possibly your future too.’
‘I’m not sure I wish to view my past, particularly with all the conflict I got embroiled in. I’m not referring to the brawling in the mud, blood and beer while docked at various ports in the Mediterranean. Back then, it was just recreation; by morning, we were mates again. Great sport! With women, however, conflicts are never fun. Even worse, they never seem to get over it, even when they pretend to!’
‘Maybe it’s because you’re not that easy to get over,’ Eli said, ‘especially if you caused them to feel used.’
‘Fair enough,’ I said, ‘yet, to be honest, sometimes I just want to get shagged with no strings attached. And I think many of them do too. If I stay non-committal, it’s easier to move on before getting stung by another queen bee. Believe me, once you get attached, they turn into queen bees. Then it comes… the inevitable sting, and I die another death!
‘Things can get vicious in these swamps, but I’ve never been able to find my way out before it’s too late. Once I get attached, I don’t know what to expect because I can’t read their minds. How am I supposed to know what they want if they don’t tell me? I’m not all that good at innuendo.’
‘Did you ever ask them?’ Eli asked, ‘or did you assume they should be able to read your mind when you couldn’t read theirs?’
‘Why bother? I’m not sure if even they know what they want. As you say, we just keep scratching each other's itch, then end up itching more. We’re all trying to score – wherever, whenever, and however we can. That’s why I try not to take any of these relationships too seriously; it's all in the game… right? Yet I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it. There must be some other blood sports that are less brutal… perhaps rugby or bullfighting.’
‘Did you realise,’ Mo asked, ‘that as you moved on to the next and the next, you weren’t just moving from body to body, but rather, one soul to another? So, how did you see them, as bodies or souls?’
‘I guess it depends on their bodies,’ I said, chuckling. ‘With some, it’s not so easy to see past what’s staring back at you, if you know what I mean.’
‘Still, had you seen them as souls first and bodies next, things might have turned out quite differently.’
‘I don’t know… possibly,’ I said, shrugging.
‘Let me ask you,’ Mo said, ‘did you ever think to ask if they might wish to join you on your journey to the Summit? Maybe some were standing by your side as you gazed out your hovel window towards the Mountain. What if they, like you, wanted to catch a glimpse of what was hidden beyond the dark mists? Who knows, they might have ascended with you.’
‘Sorry to disillusion you, James,’ Eli said. ‘Is it not possible some of them were looking for something more than your body, but your soul too?’
He then paused to give me time to reflect on what he had just said.
‘That might be worth thinking about,’ I said. ‘It never occurred to me they might be looking for more than what I thought I had to offer.’
‘How unfortunate,’ he said; ‘by projecting your desires as theirs too, you'll never know what they truly wanted. Is it possible they reflected in you what you saw in them... someone to thrash about with for a night or two?’
‘What if they were seeking the same Mountain as you?’ Mo asked. ‘Possibly, they wished to find this same something more you sought yet not knowing which direction to look. Regrettably, you didn’t share your quest, so in the end, they came to see you as you saw them, another toy to play with until becoming bored.’
‘Well then, I guess it’s just as you say; we’ll probably never know. Still, I didn’t treat them as just toys... not all of them. There were a few I wanted to connect with in ways I hoped might last. It’s just that I didn’t know how to do this. It was frustrating. I could never understand why I found it so difficult to satisfy the ones I cared for the most.’
‘Unfortunately, you had no idea what would satisfy them. So, you moved from body to body, never understanding them as souls too.’
‘That’s what scares me about Julianne; I don’t wish to set myself up for another disappointment. Unless, of course, Julianne is only interested in my body. After all, from what you say, she’s rather fixated on it.’
‘Julianne wants nothing more than to preserve your body so what’s within might shine through when it awakens. She also wants to help heal your body so she can connect with your soul. Then, if things work out, your body too.’
‘That would be different. I always assumed it was them, not me, that couldn’t connect.’
‘Is it possible you were projecting your insecurities onto your lovers? What is in the depths of your psyche has nothing to do with them.’
‘And what would that be; what insecurities would be holding me back?’
‘That’s something only you can find. So, let me first ask you, in all honesty, what do you think makes you fear women, even as you love their bodies?’
‘I’ve never really thought about that before. I just know it’s always the most beautiful ones I fear, possibly because they make me feel so vulnerable.’
‘So, what’s behind this vulnerability, and why is it only those you most desire? Do you have any idea?’
I had no reply to Mo’s probing. After a few moments, I got up to pace the floor, deep in thought.
Finally, I said, ‘I think you have me there, my friend. I’m not sure what to say. Possibly I feared they would be the ones most capable of causing me the greatest pain should I open myself to them. If so, that might explain why the women I cared for the most were the ones I could never allow myself to get too inwardly close, even when I wanted.’
‘Or perhaps,’ Eli said, ‘not allowing them to get too close to you even when they wanted to.’
‘I never considered myself the frigid one, at least not from what I could tell in bed.’
‘So, how were the reviews out of bed? Did they see you as self-absorbed and detached? Where was your mind after you got what you wanted?’
‘I don’t know; over the last few years, I’ve had plenty of things on my mind. I was conflicted; I wanted to fall in love, yet I feared if I became too emotionally attached, they would take power over me… and then what?’
‘Yes, indeed… and then what?’ Mo asked. ‘Even while your heart clung to them, your mind was preparing to throw them overboard so they wouldn’t throw you over first. Wasn’t’ that it?’
‘I’m not sure if I would put it that simply,’ I said. ‘Still, I can’t deny it either.’
‘Let me ask you; did any of them say they loved you? You need not answer me; look within and ask if that’s what terrified you. If so, doesn’t this sound like an unhappy situation, both for you and them? What if they wanted to draw close to you, although you wouldn’t let them because you feared their rejection. So now you wonder why they came to despise you. Surely you must have heard the line; hell, hath no fury as a woman scorned.’
‘Why would I be frightened? There’s little I fear in life. Not mountain heights, storms at sea or even bullies lying in wait at port or in the halls of academia. Why would I fear this? If I want, I can soon enough find a better one.’
‘That’s something you will have to figure for yourself. Not with your mind, though; it doesn’t know… but your heart might. What if there is some dark hidden secret harbouring within you?’
‘I have no secrets, at least no dark hidden ones.’
‘It wouldn’t be a hidden secret if you were aware of it, would it? Is it possible there’s something suppressed down deep in the dingy caverns of your frightened soul? Something that keeps you from finding whatever is down there.’
‘That sounds a bit hyperbolic, wouldn’t you say?’
‘Indeed, your life is a bit hyperbolic, is it not? Just consider where you are. In fact, it’s even more dramatic than you realise, which is why you now need to hear me out. So, prepare yourself; you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.’
Mo certainly had my attention now. Whatever this was, it sounded serious. I sat down and braced myself for what he had to say.
‘What lies at the root of your problems, James, is an insidious fear that has long persisted and will continue to persist until it is recognised and dealt with. The question isn’t about all your women, per se, or even your wonton forays with them. These are only distractions that prevent you from seeing the dragon within you most fear.
‘Without realising it, you’ve created several buffers over the years so you wouldn’t have to face what lurks below. Sabotaging your relationships has proven to be an effective means of avoiding this terror.
‘You will do anything to prevent yourself from being abandoned, even if it means jilting your lovers first. That’s how you protect yourself… by abandoning those whom you love. I ask you, is this not perverse; is this not insane? Unfortunately, you can’t help yourself; it’s a psychosis festering very deeply within your soul. And it will continue because you have no awareness of it.’
‘A most disconcerting hypothesis, I would say, Mo. Regardless, I’m relatively certain there are no fiery dragons lurking under the floorboards of my mind. Whatever issues I had with women in the past were probably not much different from what most men experience.
‘I’m sure if more men were honest, they’d admit how intimidating women can be. With a subtle pout or response such as fine, they can easily undermine a man or make him feel like a jerk. Women can leverage what they have for what they want simply by withdrawing. It’s devastating for the male ego. Like most men, I want to love and be loved by a pure soul; it’s that simple. That’s why I think you’re making too much of this.’
‘If it’s so simple,’ Mo said, ‘why do you keep using women to shield yourself from your fears? You need to acknowledge this and then ask yourself what you’re shielding yourself from. Could it be this fearful dragon you harbour that devours the young maidens you put in front? You know, those you hide behind whenever the dragon breathes its fire.
‘Until you’re ready to confront this monster, James, there’s not much we can do for you. If we told you what this beast was, you would deny it. Then you would never find it because it would have consumed you before you dared to look.’
‘Those are rather harsh words, Mo. Regardless, if you don’t wish to tell me what this dragon is, you don’t have to. Nevertheless, if it’s true that I’m hiding from something, then at least give me a clue what this might be. You can’t just leave me flapping in the wind like this. Not exactly fair, is it?’
‘All we can tell you is this secret involves a certain relationship you once had that didn’t last for long… not nearly long enough.’
I was flummoxed; which relationship? I’ve had many. Should I feel guilty? If there was anything to this, I had no idea what it might be. Possibly he was right; maybe there was something so deeply hidden and suppressed within me that I couldn’t see or feel it. If so, what could that be?
As we continued to sit there, no one spoke up. I looked at Eli, who had remained silent as Mo worked me over.
Finally, he spoke up. ‘You need to listen to what Mo is saying, James. It’s something you’ll have to deal with before you return home if you hope to win, Julianne. When you confront this monster, don’t be surprised if it breathes its fire deep into your soul while lunging out at you. Nevertheless, as you look upon it and see it for what it is, you will know what to do because you will be prepared for battle.
‘Should you slay the dragon, your deepest fears will have been purged, and you will enter into the paradise that has eluded you all your days on earth. Yet, you won’t enter alone; you will be with the one you’ve always sought but could never find. And that’s why it will be paradise.’
He then got up from his chair and said: ‘It appears we’re almost out of firewood, so why don’t we take a break to see what we can find below the treeline.’
 Publilius Syrus (85–43 BC), was a Latin writer and actor.
 Certain Existential Philosophers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, often had this effect on me.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, Scene 2
 According to traditional Chinese philosophy, Yin is the negative/passive/female principle, and Yang the positive/active/male principle. Carl Jung termed these concepts as anima, the female image in a man’s psyche, and animus, the male image in a woman’s psyche. Together they form the complementary whole.
 Misandrism or misandry means a disdain for men, the counter to misogynist or misogyny.
 A similar statement was made by the French writer Anais Nin, who wrote: We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.
 This is the popular misquotation from a poem by William Congreve’s (published in1697). The exact words are: Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd, nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.
PREVIOUS CHAPTERS TO ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE: THE ASCENT
1. Prologue to the Series
2. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter One
3. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Two
4. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Three
5. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Four
6. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Five
7. Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Six
8. Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Seven
9. Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Eight
10. Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Nine
11. Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Ten
12. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent, Chapter Eleven
13. Elysium's Passage The Ascent, Chapter Twelve
14. Elysium's Passage: The Ascent, Chapter Thirteen
15: Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent, Chapter Fourteen
ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE NOVEL SERIES
ELYSIUM'S PASSAGE: THE ASCENT, the first in a series of five Elysium’s Passage narrations regarding a young British philosopher named James Phillips who finds himself living in an altered state of reality while still remaining on earth.
After experiencing a near-fatal fall while climbing to the summit of a remote mountain in the Andes, James awakens in a new dimension. He soon encounters two mysterious beings who provide him with a very different perspective on the nature of his existence. Over the next year, before his body recovers from the coma, he is challenged to re-examine his understanding of life’s meaning and purpose far beyond anything he previously believed or could believe.
An engaging and sometime surreal adventure with intimations of impending romance, the narrative explores the most important questions about life, death, reality and our ultimate destiny.
The Plains of Elysium (Champs-Élysées) was described by Homer, Hesiod, Virgil and many other poets as the paradisiac afterlife realm reserved for heroes. As the title suggests, this is about a journey through a passage that leads towards Elysium’s exciting realm of existence.
Press review: https://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/05/prweb15515775.htm
PENDING PUBLICATIONS ELYSIUM’S PASSAGE SERIES
The ELYSIUM’S PASSAGE novel series is projected to be released as follows:
THE ASCENT fall 2022
THE SUMMIT fall 2022
QUANTUM LEAPS 2023
SURREAL ADVENTURES 2023
MYSTICAL ROMANCE 2023
HE ELIXIR 2024
THE RETURN sometime in 2025
The following comments are among the first Amazon reviews of Elysium’s Passage: The Summit. All are Five Stars! Other reader reviews are included below, along with excerpts from two professional reviews. To read full reviews, go to READER REVIEWS on www.elysiumspassage.com
"Quietly, gently, and without imposition, the Author unfolds the pages, creating an intricate, interlocking bridge spanning the chasm between mind and heart. Renewing, refreshing, restoring. In my bereavement, it was vigil and light…"
"A delightful mix of fantasy, reality, conjecture and humour; Mr Meyers draws the reader into the story with a gentle narrative that captures the imagination, leaving one anxious to get to the next page drawing you into his exceptional world.”
“Excellently written with an exceedingly deep understanding of this world and the next. The characters are very well written and engaging. I can't wait to complete this book!"
“Takes the reader on both a philosophical and spiritual journey, a journey that at times is both disquieting and tranquil. James, a British Philosopher can be irreverent and caustic, traits that should have left me cringing, but instead made me laugh out loud. Elysium’s Passage is a fun, enlightening and remarkable book.”
“This is a masterful fantasy, becoming a real possibility, as the reader is drawn into the story. The Summit leaves you anxious for the next book in the series, yet also leaves you totally satisfied with the world you have just visited. Genius! An exciting, yet calming, experience that is not to be missed."
"There was hardly a page on which I did not find at least one sentence worthy of hi-lighting for future reference. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed the main character, James, whose personality and passionate verbal exchanges with the other characters, kept me coming back for more. I am reading the book for a second time while I wait for the next one in this series to be made available."
“N.G. Meyers has clearly put a great deal of research and thought into what the afterlife may look like and I like his perspective. It’s an altogether welcoming and exciting vision. The book gives one a great deal to think about and a reassuring confidence that the end of our lives is truly the beginning of life in the next. I highly recommend it."
“The humour interjected into a serious discussion makes me laugh out loud. Totally unexpected....l may be in the presence of at least a master, if not a genius. A fair ride into reality... seeking that which is unseen, yet absolutely real.”
“An engaging story of adventure embracing man's deepest desire to search for meaning and purpose, N.G. Meyers takes the reader on an adventurous thought-provoking journey. This book has substance. It is a perfect blend of adventure and fantasy combined with spiritual philosophy. It ignited my imagination. The author magically weaves a good story laced with wit and humour together with deep philosophical wisdom. This book has it all!”
“An evolution in thought is triggered by many fresh philosophical themes which could inspire readers to re-think their reality and former ideologies that have dictated their lives… the author fires readers’ imaginations to view what could be possible when spirit vacates the body.”
“This is the book spiritual seekers have been waiting for. For me, it granted a great read as well as increased inspiration to live every day with a heightened sense of purpose. I highly recommend it.
“The Summit is capable of hooking readers and luring them to search for Book 2 to discover more about Dr. Philip’s surreal trek into the mysterious unknown universe. This thick book is well worth the read and to share…”
“Mind-blowing statements and speculation (‘…everyone is a non-physical thought form conceived in the Mind of God, preserved for all eternity because God’s thoughts never die…’). Many will find Meyers’ journey up the Mountain intriguing—and possibly even life-changing.” (BLUEINK REVIEW)
“In its effort to grapple with fundamental questions about the meaning of life, it raises questions that have echoed throughout the ages, including about where we come from, where we are going, who we are.” (CLARION REVIEW)
For more READERS REVIEWS go to https://digitalbloggers.com/arts-and-entertainment/reader-reviews.
BLOG POSTINGS: https://digitalbloggers.com/articles/elysiumspassage or the Elysium's Passage website
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