First Week Of School

Steven Barnes
4 min readAug 27, 2021

First week of school — Jason is getting HIMSELF up, at meetings on time, and doing his homework at school. Wants to work with me, and study psychology at UCLA. We’re going to clear out the garage and build him a gym: weight bench, heavy bag, speed bag.

He has been 100% polite. We hug every morning. He loves the notion that he is The Nerd From Hell.

Be still, my beating heart.

He is acting just like a young man who wants to really embrace the world. What is the definition? A man is the male version of an adult. What is “male” and “female”? Well, different people will have different answers. Mine have worked fine:

An “Adult” is someone who takes emotional, financial and physical responsibility for themselves. This is, of course, why it is so painful for people to have to stop driving, or depend on others for survival. Loss of autonomy.

But “Male”? I will suggest he follow my pattern: seek to be respected by the men you respect, and desired by the women you desire. He may well choose another path or set of definitions, but his father has given him a clear Map and Model of a path that has worked beyond his dreams.

Then he has to take his daily Actions

He has to control and align his Emotions

He has to clarify his Goals (Intentions)

And he needs to believe that he CAN and SHOULD take these steps.

To the degree that he wants to be like me, and I give him a clear map, he will be able to leverage his energy to accomplish small goals, and then combine the results into large goals. As he does, he learns the answer to the question “Who Am I?” and “What is True?”

Boy oh boy. This…is a different point. So the pieces of the puzzle I’m stressing are:

Three Gates

Three Centers



Hero’s Journey

That’s everything he NEEDS, I think. I have another hundred patterns, at least. But the beauty of these five is that there is nothing I cannot connect to them, that they can expand outward from the center of his being.

And what IS the center of his being. Where is “Inside” Jason, and what is “Outside”? What is the “Zero point”, the center of the wheel, the eye of the storm? I could not get him to stay in martial arts — but he is a fighter…



Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.