"Preface" from Expanding Your World
"Actually, what I'm really good at is making love."
The effect of Barry's words on the participants in our modeling seminar was the same as that of a magnet dropped into the midst of scattered iron filings: instant alignment. Following lines of invisible and irresistible forces, the previously jumbled roomful of people instantly oriented to Barry. All eyes fixed upon him and followed his every movement as he gently swiveled from side to side atop a bar stool. Barry smiled shyly at us. He was the only person in the room still breathing.
Every person is a repository of both delightful and useful human abilities. Furthermore, the set of abilities that each of us possesses is only a portion of the infinite kaleidoscope of abilities to be found among humankind as a whole. The authors' goal - our passion - has been to explore those abilities, to discover new experiential territories for ourselves, and to learn how to open those same territories to others. We explore these territories of experience through modeling.
Modeling is a process of transferring the ability of an "exemplar" - a person who is particularly good at doing something - to the modeler. For example, a modeler who wants to "create successful marketing programs" will identify the significant patterns of experience and behavior operating in someone who is excellent at creating such programs. The modeler then uses those patterns to replicate that same ability in herself. This book is about learning the perceptual and interactional skills needed to identify and acquire significant patterns of experience; that is, to do modeling.
The participants in our first modeling training had been working long and hard to acquire those skills. We wanted to give them the opportunity to test themselves with someone from outside the group, someone fresh. After a few inquiries we had snared a couple of volunteers, Joseph and Barry. This would allow us to divide the seminar into two smaller information gathering groups, providing more opportunities for participation. In addition, for the investment of the same amount of time, we would end up with two models. We began by perching Joseph and Barry in front of the group to ask them a few general questions.
Joseph was there to share his unique ability to make speculative investments that result in big returns (returns of 40% or more). The possibility of making a lot of money through investments certainly put an avid gleam in many an eye in the group.
In Barry's case, we were set to model his ability to plan a project, a gift that held him in good stead in his work as a professional carpenter. As we asked for examples of his planning abilities, Barry grew uncomfortable. He finally confessed that he thought there was something he was much better at than planning. That was when he admitted: "Actually, what I'm really good at is making love."
Barry's ability to plan projects dropped off our neural radar screens in an instant and forever. We asked him a number of questions to assure ourselves that there was some basis for his claim, then sent him and Joseph to separate rooms to await their modelers. After our participants pondered their choices for three or four nanoseconds, the stampede for Barry's room was on. A few participants joined Joseph, but only after being reassured that what was discovered in Barry's room would be shared with the entire group later.
For the next two hours Barry gamely answered questions from the semi-circle of eager men and women. This is some of what we heard:
"I'm willing to release any kind of barriers to be in a relationship...My being open fosters openness and vulnerability in the woman...The result is not just a sexual experience but a powerful emotional experience. That's what I like and choose in any kind of relationship."
"The being in love thing is so misunderstood. To me it means both of us showing up as who we are, no pretenses, no facades, not holding back, giving all of who you are, one hundred percent."
"I can't drag someone there...Recognition and willingness to go there are crucial because the will to do it is a large part of having it be done. If there's a willingness to enter in, a synergy develops."
"I treat her like someone I've never met. I don't know what will please her - the process of discovering is so much fun... What I do then is begin a process of putting myself in the woman's experience with the desired outcome of a form of giving... I want to give her an experience of me and experience of herself that she hasn't had before...It's a process of discovery...No rules, no specific direction. With that in place it doesn't matter if anything happens. It's a goalless moment. An unforgettable sexual experience has nothing to do with orgasm."
"Vulnerability is a big one. Some pretty primal emotions I have difficulty putting words on that have to do with safety and security - just feeling so safe and protected in the midst of open and vulnerable."
"It certainly stimulates a sense of well-being in me, a sense of belonging, of meaningfulness. I experience my life has meaning. There's nothing in that moment more important... There isn't anywhere else to go. It's an acknowledgment you are in process."
"The important thing again is the connection...experience that connection."
And so it went. For two hours he shared with us his world when making love. Undoubtedly, many of us in that room had secretly harbored the hope that Barry would reveal "The 3 tricks to being a great lover." Barry had no such bag of tricks. Nor did he have "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Satyrs," "The 10 Secrets of Sexual Ecstasy," or "The 14 Day Perfect Sex Plan."
As we explored Barry's experience and behavior, it soon became evident that, for him, being good at making love is not simply a matter of knowing what to do. It is not the result of mood music, murmured endearments or a skillfully executed list of whizbang moves. Being a great lover is much more than that for Barry. And much deeper.
For Barry, being a good lover is the result of an intricate web of perceptions, experiences, and behaviors. We heard about external behaviors ("eye contact...I have an intensity and I show I have that..."), feelings ("joy, liberation"), strategies ("I also ask myself about making love to a woman as a woman. I put myself into that. A woman would know how to make love to another woman."), and beliefs ("Everyone has the intuition what it would be to [fall in love]. That's what we're here for, though we hold ourselves back"). He told us what mattered to him and why.
We were nearing the end of the interview when someone suggested that Barry and his partner "have a willingness to go to that special place," and then they just go there. As if grabbing the arm of a friend who was about to step off the curb into unseen traffic, Barry jerked forward:
"It doesn't just happen. I move myself there. It's an action I take. I believe that the magic of falling in love is due to a belief that I can and do. And if people fall out of love it's because they've chosen to not make romance stay."
In speaking those words, Barry was throwing down the gauntlet of modeling: That it is possible to choose to manifest any human ability. This is a notion with far reaching implications. This is a notion that challenges us, a notion that conjures possibilities and casts an inquiring light into the cupboards of arcana where we store human potentials for generativity, paradigmatic shifts, and the evolution of consciousness. Can we - can anyone - learn to make romance stay? Or effectively negotiate, tell a joke, empathize with others, manage a large group, compose music, write a book, promptly pay bills, be thrilled by an abstract painting, plan the future, learn from the past, or ease the fears of a child?
Can we learn from Barry or anyone else how they do what they do and then make those abilities a reality in our own lives?
This book is an answer to that question. We are about to pick up the gauntlet of modeling... and discover some of what we are made of.