Thursday, November 27, 2008

More on "What Does It Mean to Be and Feel Masculine?"

In the ongoing discussion over in the Gaiam Robert Masters pod - What does it mean to be and feel masculine? - Tom made the following contribution that I wanted to share with readers here. I thought it was a very useful addition to the conversation.
What does it mean to be and feel masculine?

What does it mean for me to be and feel masculine? Masculine qualities in my life look something like this:

Courage & Determination
An important masculine quality that has emerged in my life is courage and determination to go into difficult places to find what might be found about myself, about others and about life generally. These places can be inner places, they can be difficult life realities, and can be any of a variety of social situations and circumstances. In my 20s, I decided I would build in my life an attitude of facing squarely anything I might encounter, and to seek to the best of my ability to draw whatever implications might arise from what I saw and experienced. Seeing clearly is very important to me.

So what kinds of things have I faced and how? When I was in my early 30s, a feeling of shame began building in my life around incidents and happenings that occurred in my 20s. I began feeling I didn't want to talk about my life. At that time, I met a woman I loved dearly, and in the spirit of that love (!), I began in small ways hiding my life from her, which soon led to lying about aspects of my past. Six months into the relationship, she noticed this and reacted strongly to it. Through her reaction, which was probably exquisitely tailored to what I needed, I saw what I had been doing and decided without reservation for consequences to turn course, which I did. I had little guidance from others how to wrestle myself from a dishonest habit, so I bumbled through with a certain unremitting honesty about anything I'd covered up, and to people other than my girlfriend. I lost her trust, as I suspected I probably would, and the relationship eventually died.

In another experience, in my early 20s, I felt and saw clearly the element of death in life. An apprehensiveness, and sometimes terror, followed me in three years of examining the implications, and studying books I could find, about this life reality. The experience changed me permanently. I could not deny the truth of matters I saw and experienced. I turned toward them.

Focus & Directedness
These qualities relate to those above, and probably are counterpart, in some regards, to a woman's ability to multitask. As a man, I have developed a strong ability to focus, to disregard noise and irrelevance and to stay with a thread. An important guide arising on this value, for me, has been thinking. Thinking has led me, over time, and with patience and persistence, to see, experience and develop the value of feeling, which has in turn led me to appreciate my body, to listen to and care for body and feelings, and ultimately to see the unity of thinking, feeling and sensation.

Feeling is my guide. My feelings are my best friend. They tell me about me in every relation—whether to people or life—and their qualities make themselves known sensorily. Thinking helps unfold implications from what I might be feeling about areas in my life that need care and attention, or some adjustment, or just simple recognition or expression. My thinking, feeling and sensation are all friends in this unity, and work as a whole. Focus has tremendously aided this bridge-building and evolution.

Stand With My Values
My masculine aspect stands with my values, and protects my space and the space of others. I feel a real warrior element and charge even just saying that. Aided by courage and focus, I have learned the values important to me, which continue to evolve. My masculine element stands strong, with firmness and not without care, to protect what I have found, have grown and ultimately just am.

Hold Space
A related masculine value is to hold space, to hold a still, unmoving space and reference for myself, including my feelings and vulnerabilities, and for any who might appear in my life. In this holding, I desire to create a safe space in which others may show up—in who they are in fact, and in who they want to be. Important to this value is a respect for difference, which for me is a fundamental human, life and universal trait.

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