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Amare Et Sapere Vix Deo Conceditur:
Even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time. [1]

For the rest of the day, I continued to be intrigued by the stories Mo and Eli disclosed about this young woman in London. Imagine that, James; your very own Nightingale, I thought to myself as I wondered what it might be like to meet her.

Possibly we already bumped into each other since, as Mo suggested, we lived close. If so, I wondered if our eyes had ever made contact… 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.

Still, I was concerned if she or one of her friends was in the pub when I made a chump of myself that infamous dream night. If she ever made the connection, that might be the end of things for us.

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 rather 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! Perhaps Eli was right; not trying to make an impression sometimes works better.

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? Yet, how could that be, other than in an alternative reality? But then, 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 would 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 seemed to become restless with the women in my life and so ended up doing stupid things to provoke them so they would leave me… if I didn’t leave them first. Then, just as regrettably, I would get angry at myself for instigating all this mayhem. How would I ever break this vicious cycle if I couldn’t figure out what in the bloody hell was going on inside me?

Though I wasn’t willing to acknowledge these problems as being entirely my fault, I suspected most of them were. In the past, however, I used to assume every altercation had more to do with them than me and that it was only my lapse of judgment that had allowed these lovely but barmy women into my life.

Yes, James, I thought to myself, before you return, you need to reconcile this little foible before it’s too late. As Eli said, I might only get one chance before Julianne is downstream with someone else. Then what? I’d be left with a case of ale, reading Sartre while wallowing in my existential despair.[2] Whatever might be 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 with my dysfunctional romantic relations. Likely my mountain priest-confessors already knew about this, considering how they seemed to know everything else about me.

Despite Mo’s often gruffness and Eli’s mischievous antics, I came to trust these other-worldly beings more than anyone back home. I recognised that if I wanted to make a fresh start, I needed help exorcising these nasty, self-deprecating demons that kept ruining my life. Yes, forever might they be cast into the burning lake of fire or, if nothing else, the outside campfire.

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 without me even having to broach the topic. The sun was still rising as they arrived, and as usual, we sat down at the table for Mo’s freshly baked Portuguese sweet bread.

‘So, James,’ Mo said, ‘what should we talk about today? Do you want to talk more about Julianne, or should we give that up?’

      ‘I’ll admit, she has come to mind on occasion. Indeed, a most exceptional picture you painted of her with your sales pitch. Yet, you know, as I think about it, I’m probably not the man for her. She’d likely be better off with someone else because...’

‘Because the prospect of losing her terrifies you,’ Mo said, interrupting. ‘However, I can tell you this; flinching is not a good reason.’

‘Perhaps not, but when I look at the world, it’s rather apparent how elusive love can be. 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; probably it’s both.

‘Nothing seems to last, so it’s rather difficult not to become cynical when you realise how fickle relationships are and how things will likely turn out… especially for me! Sometimes I wonder why I even bother.’

‘Really? I’m rather certain why you bother,’ Eli said.

‘Yes, of course, there’s always that, however, that’s not what I’m referring to. There must be a better way to achieve the same ends, even if I don’t know what it is. Considering that things never work out, at least for me, I’d rather not take the chance of hurting this lovely young woman after all she’s done for me.’  

‘Doesn’t sound like a good place to be,’ Mo said. ‘Have you ever asked yourself why you keep doing this to yourself?’

‘If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t attract all this dystopia into my life. I realise I share in some of the blame, and yet, not all of it. Perhaps the problem is that I’m not selective enough, and 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.’[3]

‘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 out of life than me. Maybe that’s why I keep setting myself up for failure.’

‘Could you give us some examples?’

‘Sure, there are lots. I can tell you of one such incompatible relationship that was particularly agonising… at least for me. This time I thought for sure I was in love; I mean, really in love. She was a bright young lassie who recently graduated from the London School of Economics. I met her not long after I graduated from Edinburgh with my doctorate. At the time, I was still diligently searching 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 for the idea of 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 because I believed she was the one for me, I wasn’t prepared to go without her.’

‘Ah, is this the one who dumped you for that wealthy lawyer?’ Eli asked.

‘Is there anything you don't already know about me? Why need I say anything? At times it seems you already know more about me than I do.’

‘Knowing about and knowing is quite different,’ Mo said. ‘We wish to understand the perspective of your knowingness.’

‘Besides,’ Eli said, ‘it's not as though 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 still not sure why that should be necessary except for your amusement. Nevertheless, even though I passed on this employment opportunity for her sake, she had no problem passing on me…  but not for my sake. As a commerce graduate, she wasn’t that impressed with my financial situation, even less so when asking her to help pay part of the rent.

‘As I said, money was tight since I could no longer access student loans or earn scholarships. That didn't seem to matter to her, however. She wasn't prepared to pay for any living expenses even though she had lived with me for several months.

‘I don’t know; perhaps she thought she had already paid me in other ways… and possibly she did, although I didn't see it that way. Despite that, I still thought we could make things work if she would give me more time to get my career established in or near London. 

‘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 business stiff had come along who was considerably wealthier than me. From what I heard, he had done very well as a lawyer with an LLP firm with offices in London, Singapore and New York.

‘Perhaps she considered his luxury penthouse overlooking the sea at Canary Wharf to be more comfortable than my little love nest over the deli shop. There was a time, I remember, when she thought my insulation of wall-to-wall books was cozy and 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 becoming more focused on business than my scholarship, I'm not sure how much longer our relationship would have lasted anyway… nor do I particularly care anymore. So, there you have it, another sad vignette in my turbulent love life.’

‘Unfortunately, there might be even more unfortunate vignettes ahead for you,’ Mo said, ‘unless you’re able to identify what lies at the bottom of these relationships and why you select the partners you do. Perhaps there is something more to all this than just incompatibility, money or lack of it.’

‘Such as what?’ I asked.

‘Perhaps there was some trauma from the past that has unconsciously set you up for failure. If so, are you prepared to discuss this?’

‘What do I have to lose, except more of my wounded pride?’

‘Then let’s proceed.’ he said. ‘Allow me, then, to give you my perspective on the nature of intimate relationships. That might prove helpful to our discussion. This time, however, I need you to listen; last time you didn’t allow me to finish what I had to say.’

‘By all means,’ I said, ‘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, and therefore, 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 is enlightenment! That’s love! So, James, I say to you, never give up on love, no matter what disappointments you might have experienced in the past.

‘Always remember, love and truth, or as we experience them as heart and mind, are what constitute the divine essence of what we are. The separated ego-mind neither understands this nor does it wish to. Regardless, this is what unites the yin with the yang without loss or compromise to your identity.[4]

‘When these complementary expressions oscillate within their union, 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 if it wasn’t intertwined as one with all that is? There could be no universe since creation is an 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 been walked out on and jilted too many times not to be cynical about relationships. As I’ve already admitted, some of this might have had something to do with me, yet, not entirely, since 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, so how well did you fare with your feminist lovers?’ Eli asked. ‘From what you inferred earlier, it seems there might have been a love-hate thing going on between you and them.’

‘I suppose there’s some sort of aberrant dynamic to this mutual attraction. What can I say? I love strong women or 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. However, it seemed most of the women in my life had the same objective in subduing me, causing us to clash with who should tame who.

‘Even when I thought I seduced them, they would say it was they who seduced me. It’s rather funny, if not pathetic, to think about. 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 call you a misogynist?’

‘I don’t remember; I suppose it could have been most anything. Maybe it was opening the door for them or complimenting them on their anatomy… who knows? It doesn’t 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, then that would make them misandrists.[5] Not surprisingly, most of them didn’t even know what the word means or that it even exists. Some seemed to think it’s just a joke or some patriarchal throwback word that’s still 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 for being male, especially so when you are white.’

‘I agree, an extensive vocabulary is always helpful to understanding relationships,’ he said, ‘but 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 didn’t agree with the perspectives? Maybe, just like you, they just want to be recognised for what they believe.’

‘I’m not sure how independent their thinking is since that’s another thing! You must be very, 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… they can say anything they wish about what I’ve got. So, what’s their problem? Aren’t we all the same even if we are different?’

‘The problem is, James, you’re no longer docked at a port in the Mediterranean,’ Eli said, ‘rather, in a politically sensitive culture.’

‘You’re certainly right about that. Still, 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, but isn't your amorous life more about scratching an erotic itch than anything else? 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 you get scratched out of the game, if I may refer to the billiards allusion you were just thinking.

‘So, next time you become romantically involved, try to first connect with their inward spirit, and not just what you see outwardly; it's much less painful that way! Bodies don’t attach for long, yet love’s inner essence does. For most men on the earth plane, the outward appearances of form seem a necessary condition to love, still it can never be 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. Still, you must understand, Eli, 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 doing this to myself whenever I find myself drawn towards the more beautiful, yet higher maintenance types. I never seem to learn. What appears to be most necessary for them, I can happily provide, still, it’s never sufficient. I suspect this has less to 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, rather than overwhelmed by 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, and if that’s all they’re interested in, they can have it. To hell with them, I can get what I need from someone better. 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, still, it’s never at anyone's expense.’

‘And how do you feel later?’ Mo asked. ‘Is there some other price you pay… a hidden cost?’

‘I don’t know; maybe. Sometimes I ask myself why I feel so empty when they leave. Do I still respect them in the morning? Maybe, why not, and the next morning too 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 that just being a good lover isn't enough these days.’ 

‘If you say so, I’m sure you are,’ he said with a smirk, ‘not that we need to know. Still, let me ask you; if outward appearances aren't sufficient for you to sustain a loving relationship, doesn't that tell you something? Is there a lesson here as to why these affairs never last?

‘If, as you say, these women are superficial, don't they have a right to what they want just as much as you? If you didn't respect them for anything more than outward appeal, why should they respect you for anything more than monetary appeal?’

‘I'm not sure that's a fair question; I give a lot more than I take, and they know it!  If they afford me gratification because I take them out for an expensive dinner, then I guess we know what that makes them.’

‘From what you seem to be saying,’ Eli said, ‘it appears they must think what they have to offer is more valuable than what you have to give, so in the end, no one is satisfied in these dubious transactions.

‘Still, if you’re not cutting it with these less altruistic types, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing if it means you’re learning what love isn’t. What I’m saying is that if you’re prepared to settle for a shallow life, it would mean you wouldn’t have left the Lowlands to climb this Mountain.’

‘Now that you’re here,’ Mo said, ‘it’s time to leave these mistakes in the past where they belong. However, they weren’t actually mistakes, only learning experiences to help you understand what a functional relationship should be, first with yourself, then others.

‘As we keep saying, everyone learns by contrast. You discover what you want by experiencing what you don’t want. That’s why you can, at long last, begin to find what you want most.’

‘You mean Julianne?’

‘No, I mean you. That’s who you first need to find before you can find her or anyone else. There are plenty of women who can teach you what you need to learn about relationships.

‘However, it's your life, and so you have the freedom to do as you please, with whomever you want. We’re not going to judge you by what lessons you need to learn because it’s you that must bear the consequences of your actions.

‘As you continue to become more aware of who you are, love will begin to express itself in new meaningful ways, in many types of relationships. It will be interesting to see how love unfolds for you when you return home.’

‘Perhaps Julianne will be part of your life’s drama,’ Eli said, ‘yet you may also find yourself in several other relationships that could 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 still shining. Now that I’ve ventured beyond the easterly sierras, one beam at a time, I thought I might skip over the Argentine border.’

‘Go ahead; maybe I’ll join you next time,’ Eli said. ‘These outward escapades reflect your new freedom from being on top of life again. To use this analogy, perhaps we can help you view your love life from a higher vista when you return.’

After an exhilarating trek among the sierras, I found my friends waiting for me 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. It appeared Mo was pouring something, perhaps a glass of Portuguese Quinta do Crasto, his favourite port.

Probably it was a knock-off, like everything else up here, including me when I was knocked off, knocked out, 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, even Eli’s baccy.

‘Sit down matey,’ Eli said, ‘and help us finish what’s left in Mo’s bottle of port; we’ve been on it since you left, yet it seems to keep refilling itself.’

‘I can understand why,’ I said. ‘It seems some strange magic is wafting about in the air from whatever you have between your lips.’

‘We’ve been giving some consideration to your tangled web of relationships,’ Mo said. ‘All we can say is that it must feel like a curse to be overwhelmed by so many lovely women.’

‘Yet, a most blessed curse it is… at least until it’s all over. So, tell me, what do you think might help me untangle all these snarls and knots?’

‘All this entanglement is just part of the weave of life, or at least your life,’ he said.

‘Still, what a colourful pattern you have weaved, James,’ Eli said, tossing aside whatever he was smoking. ‘Exotic, but painful at times, I’m sure. For the brave soul, however, who’s not afraid to venture on, I’m not sure there’s any way around it. You might have heard the ancient adage, Amare et Sapere Vix Deo Conceditur: even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time.’

‘I might have, however, that’s not of much assurance.’

‘Probably it isn’t,’ he said. However, we might be able to offer a few insights, so things become less gnarly when you return.’

‘Okay, then, let’s hear what you have to say; this should be provocative.’

‘We trust you will find this more evocative than provocative,’ he said. ‘We don't wish to make light of your past experiences since they are all part of the human growth process. Still, we think we understand why many of these relationships, as fanciful as they may have seemed at the time, often cause you so much pain. So, please understand that 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 we said, as unsettling as some of your relationships may have turned out, they all serve a higher end.

‘Undoubtedly, you've had some conquests, some losses, some gains, some disasters, and, I’m sure, some thrills along the way. However, the time has come for you to discover what you’ve learned from your relationships, and perhaps just as importantly, what they might have learned from you.’

‘I honestly don’t know what they learned from me; if anything, other than some creative manoeuvres between the sheets… though nothing philosophical or of 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?’

It seemed they were getting a bit too personal for my comfort, so I didn’t reply.

‘Please don’t feel offended by these questions,’ he said, ‘we’re not judging you, but you may wish to 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 think about it after; it’s less painful that way.’

Though I was uncomfortable with their probing questions, I realised they were doing me a big favour by cutting to the chase of what I had avoided. Never before had I spoken to anyone about these intimate personal affairs, nor permitted anyone to hold a mirror before me that I may see myself in this light.

‘Yes, I suppose if you need to know, I’ve probably been a bit detached at times, not because I wanted to be. It was something in me.’

‘We don’t wish this more difficult than it needs to be,’ Mo said. ‘But these questions, as painful as they may seem, will help you discover why your affairs keep sinking you deeper into your old ruts. So, now is the time to confront yourself. Now that you’re no longer in the Lowlands, you can extricate yourself from the boggy marshes. Everything becomes much clearer on the Summit’s solid ground where you will be able to view your past and maybe your future too.’

‘I’m not sure if I wish to view my past, particularly with all the conflict I became embroiled in with my simmering anger issues. 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 sailor sport! With women, however, conflicts are never fun. Even worse, they never seem to get over it, even when they pretend to!’ 

‘Perhaps it’s because you’re not that easy to get over,’ Eli said, ‘especially if you make them feel used.’

‘Fair enough,’ I said, ‘but to be honest with you, sometimes I just want to get shagged with no strings attached. That way, it’s easier to move on before getting stung by another queen bee. Believe me, once you get attached, they all turn into queen bees. And then it comes… the inevitable sting. Then I die another death!

‘Things can become rather vicious in these swamps, yet I could never seem to find my way out. My problem is that once I get attached, I don’t know what to expect next because I can’t read their minds. How am I supposed to know what they want if they won’t tell me? I’m not all that good at innuendo.’ 

‘Did you ever ask?’ Eli asked, ‘or did you assume they should be able to read your mind when you can’t read theirs?’

‘Why bother? I’m not even sure they know what they want. Maybe it’s what I want, except more. As you say, we're scratching each other's itch, only to end up itching more. We’re all trying to score – wherever, whenever, and however, we can. So, I try not to take these relationships too seriously; it's all in the game, right? Still, sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. There has to be some other blood sport that’s less brutal, perhaps rugby or bullfighting.’

‘Did you ever realise,’ Mo asked, ‘that as you moved on to the next and the next, you weren’t just moving from body to body, but from one soul to another? How did you see them, as bodies or souls?’ 

‘I guess it depended 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.’

‘I suppose it’s not, however, if you had seen them as souls first and bodies second, things could have turned out quite differently. Did you ever think to ask any of them if they might wish to join you on the same journey?’

‘Of course not,’ I said, ‘I’m not sure if I was even aware that I might be on a journey out of the Lowlands.’

‘Maybe not, and yet, some of them might have been standing by your side as you gazed out your hovel window towards the Mountain. Perhaps some of them were searching for what you thought you saw through the dark mists of the Lowlands.

‘What if they, like you, hoped to catch a vision of your Mountain so they could ascend it with you? Sorry to disillusion you, James; but possibly some of them were looking for something more than just your body.’

Mo then paused, perhaps to give me time to reflect on what he just said.

‘That’s a most provocative thought, Mo. I assumed they only wanted what I wanted and nothing more. It hadn’t occurred they might be looking for something more than what I offered.’

‘Yes, but isn’t that too bad? Because now you'll never know. Is it possible some of them saw in you what you reflected in them, something more than just thrashing about in bed for a night or two?

‘What if they were seeking the same Mountain, hoping to find that something more you sought, 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 they were bored.’

‘Well then, I guess it’s just as you say; we’ll never know. Still, I didn’t treat all of them as just toys. There were a few I wanted to connect with in ways I hoped could last; it’s just that I didn’t know how to do this. It was frustrating. I could never understand why I couldn’t satisfy the ones I cared for the most.’

‘Do you think it might have helped if you had loved their souls as much as their bodies? However, you could only offer your body because you didn’t know how to offer your soul. And so, James, you moved from body to body, yet never to their spirit.’

‘Yet, that’s what scares me about Julianne; what if I set myself up for another fall as happened with Cynthia while I was a student in Canada? 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 that your soul might shine through when it awakens. She also wants to help heal your body so she can connect with your soul. Then maybe, 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 just projecting your insecurities onto your lovers by assuming they had a problem? Remember, we don’t see others as they are, we see as we are.’[6]  

‘Do you think so?’ I asked. ‘If that’s the case, I might need to find a good shrink to see what’s going on in my head.’

‘But what if there’s something even deeper within you that prevents you from making a strong soul connection that leads to a lasting relationship?’ Mo asked. ‘Something in the depths of your psyche that has nothing to do with them.’

‘And what would that be; what possibly could be holding me back?’

‘That’s something only you can find. So, let me first ask you, in all honesty, what do you think it is that makes you fear women, even as you love their bodies?’

‘I’ve never really thought about that before. I just know it’s the really beautiful ones I fear the most, perhaps because they make me feel the most vulnerable.’

‘What’s behind this vulnerability, and why is it just the beautiful ones? 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. Perhaps 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.’

‘Still, I never considered myself to be 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. Perhaps 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. ‘Yet, 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, that sounds like a rather unhappy situation, both for you and them. What if some of them wanted to draw close to you, still, you wouldn’t let them because you feared rejection. So now you wonder why they came to despise you. Surely you must know the line; hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.’[7]

‘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, however not with your mind. It doesn’t know… but your heart might. What if there is some dark hidden secret it’s harbouring within?’

‘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, I would. In fact, your life is a bit hyperbolic; just consider where you are. It’s even more dramatic than you realise, which is why you now need to hear me out. Prepare yourself, James… you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.’

Mo certainly had my attention now. Whatever this was, it sounded serious. So, 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 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. Is that not perverse; is that not insane? Unfortunately, you can’t seem to help yourself; it’s a psychosis festering very deeply within you. And it will continue because you have no awareness of it.’

‘That’s a most interesting, if not disconcerting hypothesis, Mo. But you know, I’m rather sure there are no fiery dragons lurking under the floorboards of my mind. Whatever issues I had with women in the past, I doubt they are much different from what most men experience.

‘You know, if men were honest, they’d admit to how intimidating women can be. With a subtle pout or response such as fine, they can easily undermine a man or at least 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.’

‘Still, if it’s so simple,’ Mo said, continuing, ‘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 in your life? You know, those you hide behind whenever the dragon breathes its fire.

‘Until you’re ready to confront this monster, there’s not much we can do for you. If we told you what this beast is, you would deny it. Then you would never find it because it would have consumed you before you dared to look.’ 

‘Those are harsh words, Mo. Regardless, if you don’t wish to tell me what this dragon is, you don’t have to. Yet, if it’s true that there is something I’m hiding from, then at least give me a clue. 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, Mo 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? 

No one spoke up for a long time. I looked at Eli, who remained silent while Mo had been working me over.

Finally, he spoke up. ‘You need to listen to what Mo is saying, James. It’s something you’re going to 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 as it lunges out at you. However, as you look upon it and see it for what it is, you will know what to do because you will have prepared for the 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.’ 


[1] Publilius Syrus (85–43 BC), a Latin writer and actor. 
[2] Certain Existential Philosophers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, often had this effect on me. 
[3]William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, Scene 2
[4] 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.
[5] Misandrism or misandry means a disdain for men, the counter to misogynist or misogyny.
[6] 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.
[7] 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.



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 




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: 





The ELYSIUM’S PASSAGE novel series is projected to be released as follows: 


THE ASCENT fall 2021

THE SUMMIT fall 2021 





THE RETURN sometime in 2024


With the exception of the last novel in the series, the last three have been written but still require more editing before publication.





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

"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  

BLOG POSTINGS: or the Elysium's Passage website



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