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Excerpted from Gods in Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Copyright © 1989 by Jean Shinoda Bolen. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Conformity to the stereotype is often an agonizing process for a man whose archetypal patterns differ from 'what he should be.'"

Jean Shinoda Bolen, Gods in Everyman, Part 2

Some men fit the Procrustean bed exactly, just as there are men for whom stereotype (or the expectations from outside) and archetype (or the inner patterns) match well. They find ease and pleasure at succeeding. However, conformity to the stereotype is often an agonizing process for a man whose archetypal patterns differ from "what he should be." He may appear to fit, but in truth he has managed at great cost to look the part, by cutting off important aspects of himself. Or he may have stretched one dimension of his personality to fit expectations but lacks depth and complexity, which often make his outer success inwardly meaningless.

Travelers who have passed through the Procrustean ordeal to reach Athens may have wondered whether it had been worthwhile -- as contemporary men often do when they "arrive." William Broyles Jr., writing in Esquire, wearily described how empty success can be:

Each morning I struggled into my suit, picked up my briefcase, went to my glamorous job, and died a little. I was the editor in chief of Newsweek, a position that in the eyes of others had everything; only it had nothing to do with me. I took little pleasure in running a large institution. I wanted personal achievement, not power. For me, success was more dangerous than failure; failure would have forced me to decide what I really wanted.

The only way out was to quit, but I hadnít quit anything since I abandoned the track team in high school. I had also been a Marine in Vietnam, and Marines are trained to keep on charging up the hill, no matter what. But I had got up the wrong hill; I just hated being there. I had climbed the wrong mountain, and the only thing to do was go down and climb another one. It was not easy: my writing went more slowly than I had expected, and my marriage fell apart.

I needed something, but I wasnít sure what. I knew I wanted to be tested, mentally and physically. I wanted to succeed, but by standards that were clear and concrete, and not dependent on the opinions of others. I wanted the intensity and camaraderie of a dangerous enterprise. In an earlier time, I might have gone west or to sea, but I had two children and a web of responsibilities.

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