It’s becoming clearer to me that any growth that I experience in terms of my unfolding human spirit, very much depends upon letting go of many of the signature behaviours that I had been taught to think of as essential to being seen as a “manly man”. I think that they did more to take me away from what was authentic about myself than anything else. As a person, small in stature, I spent much of my time trying to become essentially “male”, taking on learned behaviors, and not paying attention to innate characteristics of my being.
Joan Chittister writes “The sorry truth is that the world bequeaths standards to us that are ancient and unproven, hostile and exclusive, unfriendly but determinative. What has “always been” takes on the aura of truth and requires us to commit ourselves to maintaining the system that spawned them”
To step outside that system and to explore a deeper truth requires courage and willingness to experience vulnerability. So taking a step back I ask, Who am I? Attempting to look beyond reductionist notions of tribe and clan and nationality and any other conditioning that might block me from seeing the truth of that I contemplate what it is to be human.
Dennis and I went out for a day of kayaking today on the Otonabee Nature Reserve. We both share a love of nature. One of the wonderful things about being in nature is that I seem to let go of all that is not authentic in what I have become. It invites me in without question, assumptions or judgements. My opinions, beliefs and everything else that muddies and confounds my relationship with self and life seem to fall away and something more authentic emerges in absence of the external hindrances. There is no pressure to conform or expectations to meet or pressure to be what others perceive me to be. No regulations, time lines or appointments to meet.
These days I spend as much time as I can in nature in intimate rapport with it. It is so much larger than the “self” and more real than anything that my mind can imagine to be real. In some ways my awareness is expanded and mind is cleansed of debris and insight is illuminated. All this is truly unfathomable with the human mind. Here in this place I see more clearly where it is that I am lost and confused.
I walk into the forest a couple kilometres, not far from where I live here in the Kawarthas, to this spot where I am alone on the Otonabee River. I sit here as I do many days, listening to the birds sing, the woodpeckers working, the carp rolling in the shallows and the muskelunge splashing in the river. Occasionally a beaver swims by and the wild turkeys wander near. I have never seen another person here. Its a place where I find it easy to contemplate and occasionally write and sometimes paint.
We sometimes believe that we can accurately discern reality through our thinking, but our way of thinking renders reality in our own image. What we believe influences our perceptions and in turn our reality. In a world dominated by atomistic, mechanistic thinking the mind is conditioned to think small and within the confines of narrow disciplines. In such a world the imagination which is capable of producing new metaphysical designs atrophies.
There is great value in contemplating and exploring what it is that influences our thinking. Is it a servant of the old or is it an integral part of a creative evolution and unfolding?
Reality Unfolding Painting by Gord