A Strategy for Midlife…For Men Only

A Strategy For Midlife

 for men…only

By: Robert William Case, Adventurer With a Pen

“Why? Why am I still working at this predictably stressful job to earn money to live in a house that no one but us wants to live in?”

These are the questions that I found myself asking of Buster the Boston Terrier and Fatima the cat, after driving home from work one wet and dreary December evening to an otherwise empty house. Midlife does have its challenges, to our health, our relationships, our careers. So many tipping points. For me, it was the kids growing up and leaving home.

nietzcheBy midlife, it feels authentic to question our path. Unfortunately, the popular media is little help. It bombards us with options: ads about miracle drugs, exercise programs, fabulous abs, seductive cleavage, treatments, therapies, diets and destinations…often marketed by aging celebrities who just don’t appear to show any of those tell-tale signs of wear and tear…and all exhorting an aging population with the same message. Get YouthfulNaturally, we start considering different activities and priorities…but, wait a minute. That’s a setup.

This cycle of life, this mid-life experience, is particularly challenging for men. (That’s according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in their most recent report which tracks suicide statistics in the US. Sadly, its the same scenario in the UK and other industrialized nations.) We men need some specific attention, some guidance. So, I offer this blog post and this advice. Forget about getting youthful,

Follow Your Moustache

For me, middle age has been a time for many changes; one of them, the appearance of hair follicles on my upper lip like never before. Inconvenience? Or moment of destiny? It took years for me to find the answer,and so much better than a tattoo. These days, everybody and their brother has a tat, or two, or even twelve. Sorry, fellow midlifers, that ship has sailed. No individuality. Thankfully there is another way. Follow your moustache.frederickdouglass1

Always a matter of individual choice, here’s how several prominent leaders of western literature and philosophy have answered the call in their time. (If you can identify even one of them after first consulting your web browser, then you are welcome to subscribe to future blogs on my website.) Men of distinction have been experimenting with the moustache phenomena for a very long time. Today’s grower literally stands on the shoulders of leaders like these.

For the first time grower, it is an act of creation; one that evolves with time. Beginning is easy. Just don’t shave. The result, I can assure you, will be different from what you might have produced in your twenties or thirties. One of the benefits of aging? Find out for yourself. Certainly the experience of growing your own is something to be savored. Particularly when you discover that – like your handwriting or your fingerprint – your moustache is like no other. Errol Flynn’s was thin and precise. Charlie Chaplin’s, a bushy rectangle. Where would Tom Selleck be today without his stache? So many positive examples out there. With summer coming to a close, I encourage you to start right away.mark-twain

Still don’t see the moustache as a legitimate expression of masculine creativity? Here’s another reason for growing one. Historically, we men tend to deny symptoms of declining health, until things get dangerous. How’s your heart and lungs function? Your digestion? And, especially for men, how’s the prostate? It’s a timely question. Next month happens to be Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. To support this effort, men all over the world will make a choice and grow their mustaches. Movember is a fine month for holidays, elections, and now, for growing your moustache.

Why wait?

Get a head start on yours. Start some growth on that upper lip! If you’re like me, you’ll have had so much fun that when December comes around, you won’t want to shave it off. And, if you’re like me, you’ll also have your prostate numbers checked at your next health screening or medical exam.

Till next time, stop shaving and start growing!


Heroics Long Forgotten

 Daedalus Rising

Who Was Daedalus?

Just a long forgotten hero from the distant past, one of the greatest of his age. To this day, he stands for the mythological archetype for the way of thought. It is a kind of heroism accomplished without a sword or double-bladed ax. It often goes unnoticed in the tumult of our video-enhanced modern age. Unfortunate, I believe. It is on many levels a story about spreading one’s wings in order to face the winds of change. Because Daedalus’ greatest achievement was the invention of working wings.

It was the Bronze Age, a time of legends and myth. But, Daedalus was neither warrior nor king. He was an ordinary man, quite possibly the original geek. Someone who wanted what most of us want, a safe and stable place to raise a family and to work at their chosen craft. Daedalus wanted to know himself.

Like many of us, Daedalus had a special gift, a quality that made him stand out. His fate and his fortune was to be an inventor and a builder. He had a gift for taking ideas and turning them into useful tools and gadgets, things that might benefit himself and and his community. History credits him with inventing the saw, and then using it to build the first dance floor on the enchanting island of Crete. Minos, the ruler of the island was so impressed with his creation that he retained Daedalus to be his builder and architect. How this engineer and inventor found his voice, was the subject of my first book. The title: Daedalus Rising.

My goal with with this post is to kick-start this blog, giving it a proper name…something to symbolize positive masculine energy. If you’ve read this far, thank you. Some readers may recognize Daedalus’ tragic figure from their high school mythology class. Then you must also recognize him as the first person to design and build working wings, or at least something recognizable as an early prototype for the hang glider. He should be enough to qualify him as the greatest inventor of his day. For many years he and his son Icarus lived comfortable lives, working for Minos the king and living in his city. It lasted until Icarus grew up and began that process of becoming a man. Daedalus was in his middle years and something happened to them. Something to make Daedalus turn from being a builder of stone and wood, in order to become a builder of wings. The story of that eventful day can be found in my latest book, Icarus and the Wing Builder.

This legend, their story, is for me a way of making sense of this chaotic world and our individual struggles to learn, to grow and to succeed. Like the ripples from a pebble thrown into an ancient pond,the story grows, resonating right into the present. That’s what heroes and myths are for, to awaken the spirit. It is my intention to offer it as a metaphor of the renewal that can happen in mid-life…if one is open to the possibilities.

If you enjoy the writing, please consider following at: www.itsallaboutthemoustache.com.

Wishing you all the best,

The Adventurer With A Pen


The Call to Adventure

It begins with a boundary, an elemental piece of the landscape. It could be as fixed and massive as a great stone wall surrounding an elegant castle, or as amorphous as the forest at the edge of town. Anyone of us might spend an entire lifetime within the secure predictability of our routine behind those walls. Until, something happens. Until, a ripple on the surface of our lives causes a shift in perspective and the walls becomes boundaries become barriers, limiting access to some formless and nameless delight that seems to be just out of reach or sight. This shift can be a call to adventure, the first step in the journey of the hero with a thousand faces.
For Daedalus, the archetypal artist/scientist of Greek legend and myth, his call to adventure began as a blunder. For the first half of his life, this famous Bronze Age inventor, was content to live within the walls of his hometown, the city of Athens. Within it’s walls he was a respected alchemist, well known for his experiments with the extraction of molten metal from native rock to invent tools and create jewelry.
That is, until the day of the earthquake. A zealous youth died in a fall from a roof top. It was an accident, a blunder. Somehow, Daedalus was blamed. After that, nothing within the walls of his home seemed to fit anymore. Even the king had outwardly turned against him.
Yet, the inventor’s disgrace was a calling in disguise, a summons to change the course of life. A misstep on a roof top became for Daedalus, an awakening of the self, directing the alchemist toward the power of his own destiny. The ideals and ways of his home city no longer fit. It was his call to adventure, a time for change, for passing through a threshold and into the unknown.

To Be A Good Father…

To be a good father, is a high aspiration for any man.

“Luke…I am your father.”
Recognize the line? Nothing drives a successful movie like strong characters in conflict. Back in 1977, when Star War first flashed onto the silver screen the message seemed obvious, conflicts are external…and real heroes never give up.
Imagine my chagrin then, as a father with two small children and a geologist with several degrees and ten years experience, when our little family experienced layoff and divorce. The financial hardship that followed was an external foe. I had plenty of training to deal with that kind of adversity. It was the fear and anxiety – the kind that creeps in day by day as we went broke in slow motion – where my coping skills failed.
I was still young. Young enough to start another career, law school perhaps, or maybe computers.
Still, I didn’t know what to do with the inner conflict: the one waged between the unfulfilled dreams and goals of the inner man, and the stoic outer man that I showed to the world every day. What eventually followed was a bout of acute depression and divorce.
During one particularly long night, I found myself at a turning point, something like the man in the Robert Frost poem – two roads diverging the woods. The Greek word for such events is Kairos. It means a time of destiny. The definition is apt because on that otherwise uneventful night, I stood on the tipping point of a fulcrum in time and met my own future. The next morning I made two significant commitments: First, to stop being a tired and broke single-dad, and second, to become a nurturing, providing, and protecting father.
It was a long time ago. Ronald Reagan was president. Those two small children are now grown and living their own lives. Why even bother to bore you with the details of this story? One reason is because the economics of the present, with yet another collapse of the oil and gas industry, seem eerily familiar. I foresee many young parents being compelled by circumstance to play out the same dramas that we did. Second, it has taken me this long to find my voice and tell the story.
To address the financial situation I enrolled in an evening law school program, coupled with a series of low pay, no-benefits jobs. After a few years without much sleep, I graduated. I was even offered a job, as a lawyer this time. After all the years of just getting by, I had naive hopes that this would be the answer to all our problems. Life wouldn’t be that simple.
Trying to balance the practice of law with raising children as a single dad soon demonstrated that I still had lots of grieving to do, lingering issues from the divorce and that last chapter of life in the oil patch. That’s when the depression came, several years after the actual layoff. I needed help … and not the sex, drugs, and rock and roll that some associate with the late 1980s. I’m talking about individual therapy and men’s groups. With that support, I recommitted myself and eventually thrived along the journey of fatherhood, on a personal quest for healing and hope.
And you’re right. It’s not rocket science. Nor is it an easy path to follow, day after day, month after month, and year after year. It’s the time element that raises the bar and keeps it there. That’s why I believe the commitment piece is so essential. As long as the kids were young enough to be under my roof, I was able to stay on that nurturing, providing, and protecting path. It was a commitment to a higher purpose, my own personal guidance and accountability partner.
It has been a long road. It’s taken a long time for me to find my voice and tell this story. I hope that by sharing it, the story serves as a demonstration to other parents, that: It’s OK to struggle, and it’s OK to ask for help. And especially for other, younger men; that to be a good father is a high aspiration for any man.

Drum roll please…

To the many friends and readers who have encouraged me to create an audio book. I’m pleased to announce…the completion of the studio work for the audio version of Icarus and the Wing Builder. Using my voice for the narration and characters, the recordings were made at the Denver Media Center. I did all the narration and characters. Talk about fun, and immensely challenging. The files are still there, being edited and produced. Stay tuned for updates on the pending launch.

Where Do All The Heroes Go?

“Luke … I am your father.”

It’s the climactic line from the memorable and futuristic coming of age story, Star Wars. The words are spoken by Darth Vader, the formidable antagonist. They represent a dark twist in the story line that is Luke Skywalker’s, hero’s journey. He has left home and family, searched the galaxy for knowledge and experience, and after facing many trials and challenges, he has survived. After an epic battle with horrific losses, Luke finds and confronts the leader of the dark forces. It is both climactic and elemental, because this is the scene where Darth Vader delivers the classic line quoted above. Darth Vader steps out of the role of villain to become an elder. He honors his son for his heroic deeds; even invites Luke to join him on the dark side. In this way the words are a kind of blessing by the dark father. It is the only one he has to give…and it will feed the young warrior’s soul.

Where do all the heroes go? If they survive, young men can become fathers, and then – if they are fortunate or lucky enough – some may become elders. It is by definition, an influential role, one that can have profound impacts on the health of our communities. Sadly, events like Ferguson, Missouri demonstrate a profound lack of positive masculine role models. I believe that there is a critical need for balanced mature men to step up and fill these roles, to give back to community by becoming an elder.

It is my hope that the launch of my latest book, Icarus and the Wing Builder, is a step in that direction.



A river of voices flows out of the past. It is a timeless current, without impediment and true to its own course. An enigmatic Greek sage named Heraclitus joined into that flow about three thousand years ago. He lived about the same time as his more famous countryman Socrates, and long before the births of either Jesus or Mohammad.

I love antiquities. In my opinion any words, pictures, or verse that can survive a three thousand year journey into the present must be very special indeed. Very little is known about Heraclitus, only a few scant lines of his works remain. Archeologists postulate that he lived from 535 BC until 475 BC, and probably a teacher of some kind. Reading his words today, I can’t help but recognize them. I’ve heard them all before. They resound into the present in the speeches of today’s motivational speakers. I see them resonating into the books of the latest self-help authors. Here’s the English translation of his best known verse:

• Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do – is who you become.

• No one ever steps in the same river twice: for it is not the same river, and he is not the same person.

Powerful words – and to see them echo into the present, I invite you to do a google search on the words, “what you think and do, is who you become.” When I did the search, I came up with such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ford, Napoleon Hill, and Wayne Dyer. After expanding the search a little more, I found Marianne Williamson, Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Is it possible that the same lessons appear in the Bible? What about the Quran?

Here’s two more, for the road…

  • The sun is new each day.
  • A man’s character is his fate.




The third half has begun. I declare my freedom; freedom to follow my hopes, dreams and visions, wherever they lead.

“The third half of – what on earth are you talking about?”

“The third half of life!” I joyously respond, “midlife is so long gone. I feel the need for another phase. I’m claiming another piece of time, air and sunlight.”

It is such a gift to have the capacity and the will to look back over the years, remember the journey, and smile. I see the fascinating story it has become. And what a gift, to live in this twenty first century, with so many e-vehicles for telling the stories, yet retaining communication and writing skills honed in the prior century. I do hope that others will hear the call or somehow be drawn to this blog, this message, and consider looking back on their own lives, reflecting, and then, telling their own stories.

A New Book Is Coming!

What do you think of the title?  Almost five years ago my first book, Daedalus Rising – The True Story of Icarus, was independently published. For the first few months after the launch, it was my baby.   I was a true believer, certain of its inherent beauty and wisdom, and confident of its natural and inevitable rise to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

To my surprise the acclaim was not immediate and forthcoming, and not for lack of effort.  I was regularly promoting and marketing the book by making regular presentations to local Optimists and Rotarians.  In the enthusiasm of those first few months I was speaking several times a week, and the audiences nearly always bought books.  Along the way though, I began to notice a few blemishes, things to change or correct in the next print run, maybe even a second edition. Finishing Daedalus had not quelled the passion for myth and storytelling.  And like of Kraken of old, the writer in me had awoken.

All the effort did not go unrewarded. All but a few souvenir stragglers from the first print run have sold. Daedalus flew from his original perch onto the shelves of the Tattered Cover, a local, well known, independent book retailer.  Along the way he splashed into the Amazon e-book pond, making it onto their e-book best seller list in the biography.  And all that time I had been promoting it as a novel.  Who knew?

I have always loved books.  As a near-sighted child I loved to read.  (a/k/a: nerd)  More often than not my Saturday afternoon hangout was the library.  And I often rode my beat up, hand-me-down bicycle there on Summer afternoons.  So there’s no surprise that in the autumn of my years, I now turn to writing.  And how comfortable it feels to create this niche of historical fiction, filled with the legends of the Minoan and early Greek civilizations.

So it was inevitable to discover several years ago, the motivation to begin the revisions for a second edition of Daedalus Rising.  Except that one idea led to another and after several years of emersion into the geology and history of the Mediterranean region, the second edition turned into a new book.  And the first book feels more like volume one of a trilogy about the Minoan people and their culture.  The manuscript is on its second trip to the editor.  Meanwhile, I’m easily entertained with ideas about book cover designs and layout.  What do you think of this title?  Wingbuilder:  A Tale of the Minoan Empire.  

The Sun Is New Each Day

Each morning the sun takes another course into the sky.   Light and warmth follow and the day begins, a common event of enormous circumstance.  The sunrise informs and actuates the present.  Each one is different.  And deep within that mystery lies a gift for anyone perceptive enough to notice, anyone willing to accept it.   It is the blessing for the day at hand, a fresh chance to create and to connect and to experience what it is that we were born to do.

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