May 3 – Our Male and Female Energies – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

As it does no good to harvest if we can’t eat, it does no good to act if we can’t feel. 

There is so much talk these days of masculine and feminine energies and how we’ve been taught to be one sided in how we engage the world. I believe most of it to be true. When we are dominated by our male side (operational and stoic, never showing our feelings), our feminine side (our deeper creative, receptive energies) becomes strident and stifled, explosive when finally allowed to surface.

Not surprisingly, those who are contained and guarded – male or female – are somewhat frightened by those who are intuitive and expressive; just as those who are more readily impacted by what they feel find the unexpressive quite suffocating. Of course, we find each other, and the stoics grow nervous, while the passionate sweat more.  This is part of life; we find each other and pull. The spinning ever want the still to spin.  The quiet hush the drums. The crazed are ever fated to entice statues to dance.

We also struggle with these energies inside ourselves. My own experience has been quite telling. As a man who has always been quite active and decisive, I have also, as a poet, been deeply guided by the feminine, directed inwardly by the intuitive life of feeling. But clearly, in the outer world, I was well schooled in being practical, taught never to linger in my feelings long.

It is only after ten years of surviving cancer and a life of overachievement that I have stumbled in and out of joy. In becoming more integrated, more a single wave of masculine and feminine, I can see that I am learning to use my male energies differently, more in concert with my feminine.

Where I was taught to understand and name things, I now experience and feel things. Where I was taught to frame and articulate things at arm’s length, I now embrace and absorb what is before me. This framing and naming at arm’s length is part of how we have all been encased since childhood in a masculine way of seeing that, out of balance, is dry and uninformed by any passion for life.

The difference is between painting a bird and flying, between understanding the secret positions of love and feeling your heart pound. Too often, under the guise of being asked to be prepared and mature, we are seduced into watching over living, into naming over feeling, into understanding over experiencing. Yet, as two hands cup water to the mouth, we need both male and female energies to drink fully into this life.

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