Introduction to The Hard Path: Becoming an Inner-Dimensional Man
When you take the leap and really live your life
and walk your path, you come across all sorts of bump and turns, surprises, challenges, detours, and distractions, especially if you are an ADD case like myself. The leap in this case means letting go of control to let yourself fall and see where you land. For better or worse, my life has been punctuated by improbable situations, meetings, and circumstances that collide nonetheless. Just as I never could have planned or really prepared for the major love relationships in my life—and the crazy directions they would take me, internally and externally, all aspects of my life have turned out in ways I could have never planned or imagined. That may be predictable when you choose, at 26, to not have a straight job and somehow survive for over 22 years and going on an ever-changing vision—sometimes a naïve vision, but a vision nonetheless. The circuitous and sometimes exploratory nature of life is actually along the lines of “all who wander are not lost.” In other words, the unexpected elements in life can be the very things that keep you and guide your path.
As a punk rock kid in the 1980s, meeting my music heroes in tiny clubs and community centers, dreaming of being “on the road” in the Kerouac sense, and trying and failing to be a musician, things have their way of working themselves out as long as you take the leap. We (David Copeland and myself) never expected the How to Succeed with Women dating and relationship coaching brand to be as popular as it was, nor did we expect to have our own 10 minutes of fame on MTV, CNN, Issac Hays radio show, and the rest of the blah impressive things that we did on paper. But then again, I never expected to be so incredibly disappointed by being on TV and radio, or interviewed in print media, either — seeing how shallow it really was to be on TV, what a waste of time it was, how it ended up trivializing anything important to me, and that it reduced everything into an overly simplified sound bite. I had thought like most people, “if only I had x then I’d be happy and successful.” But the problem of this way of living is that it suffocates like a stranglehold when you start achieving some of those things and you’re still rid with anxiety, frustration, and disillusionment. One of my blind spots has been to romanticize things I do not have, and that has gotten me into trouble throughout my life. Being an idealist and the troubles it has caused has taught me a lot as well, but when it was unconscious to me, it sure resulted in a lot of pain and suffering.
But here I am today. At 48, I’m the oldest surviving man in my family. My mother died 11 years ago—we were all holding her in our arms as she peacefully died. My uncle (her brother) died almost six months later. I was my father’s caretaker until he passed away three years ago. And in the grief, numbness, and confusion of losing parents, and having to step up to the plate and become some sort of responsible man, I found myself without a roadmap and an uncertain path in front of me. Maybe it’s called reinvention, or transformation, or something fancy, but it feels like going through a dark tunnel for days upon days without any light, or like pushing a boulder up a hill for years and not seeing the top of the mountain. It’s confusing to really understand how to be a man today, and the twists and turns of my life have forced me to dig deeper into looking at this question. After feeling stuck in a tunnel and pushing so many boulders up hills and mountains related to the expectations of me as a man, at this point there is some peace, acceptance, and comfort in the areas that were hardest, most stressful, and caused me the most anxiety. Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity, or integrating so many of the lessons from the past 20 years and as a man I feel these lessons are significant in shaping and influencing how I work with other men.
My life, by design, has been messy; the one thing I can say with some certainty is that I’ve always been a risk-taker and life-long learner, and eager to push into my edges. In my early 40s, I decided to go back to school to earn my doctorate degree in education and focus my work on ayahuasca as an individual and social change agent. I am an improbable person to pursue doctoral level work, since my academic background is sketchy at best. But we were improbable men to write How to Succeed with Women as well. The project was born from our personal struggles and failures with women and relationships and was more of a road map of how we figured out a model for dating and personal growth for men that actually worked—a model that didn’t require you become someone else, lie, manipulate, or become a douche bag (And maybe that is why we succeeded at succeeding). I wasn’t a professional writer at the time. I had no idea how to write a self-help book. I was broke, sharing a small apartment with David Copeland and before I wrote the book I could hardly get a date to save my life. I was broke with no career direction. I hadn’t finished college at that point, was pissed off at women for being so impossible to deal with, and I was afraid to talk to them to begin with. The whole women/sex thing seemed overwhelming to understand. It was like imagining I could speak Chinese, or something so foreign to my Western mind. Through many years of trial and error, I found my way as Ron Louis, and found freedom with women that I could have never imagined. Freedom in this sense means freedom to be myself with women without having to pull out some fake, gamey bullshit act to meet them, or some faulty pretense to have sex with them. Freedom to date and approach women without hesitation or intimidation. Really, freedom to not need to impress them, or hide from them, or deny my sexuality, or have to be an asshole with women.
So here we are, you and I, entering this new chapter in what we can call the movement towards becoming an Inner Dimensional Man walking the Hard Path. This book is a working theory about what it is to be a man based on some of the ways I have found meaning in my life. It’s a roadmap open enough for you to construct your own personal meaning and looks at how we can live our lives from the inside-out, and how all areas of our lives (body, mind, spirit, relationships) can all become authentic pathways for our unique vision and self-expression.