Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ruminations on Sexuality Part 4: Chiron's Wound

Beyond just being a nice guy, I see myself as nothing special. My music may delight others, so I offer it, but it is enough that it pleases me and some musicians who have become friends seem to like to sing along. I write because I love the feel of ink spreading across the page, so often surprised by what unfolds.

While I was sprawled on the couch in the first weeks after my scaffold collapse, I learned about the mythological character Chiron. An immortal, he developed his human nature through a compassionate encounter with a wound he could not cure, a face to face battle and ultimate embrace with something he could not control.

Accepting his condition finally, he sacrificed himself to Zeus and was transformed into a constellation so that Prometheus could be set free. The Centuar in our starry night, Chiron reminds us that our afflictions do not have to be impediments, but may, in fact, be the instruments of our good fortune. I need only to look around to find several friends who rise above conditions more adverse than mine to understand the true meaning of acceptance and reverence.

Still, this is a most unique wound to a most universally private and predominant part of our anatomy, a shame to miss the opportunity to look at…the shame that surrounds it. Chiron learned it was useless to ponder why, but was transformed through his acceptance. My injury seems too perfect a conjunction not to imagine the man who always yearned to write has at last been given his subject, so willingly I leap into the void.

Men teaching men is the only viable way to end far more than one half the cycle of shame that permeates around sexuality. No one wants to be hurtful, yet pain is inflicted nevertheless most commonly as a reaction to deeper pain, wounds conscious and otherwise so deep we despair of ever being healed. Bullishly we hack our ways forward, often in ignorance, lacking a healthy model in our formative years.

Each man, one man at a time, and all the time, can make the difference. We are all Chirons of our own sweet milky ways.

Research proves that most of our attitudes and beliefs are formed at the earliest stages. The influence of our fathers, therefore, is critical and profound, affecting the remainder of our lives and the way we teach our sons. The way we treat our women is directly related to how we saw our mothers treated whether our fathers stayed or left. Our sons will fall not far away, blown very little distance in a wind that stays so calm.

My father was an excellent provider and successful architect who was deprived of no praise nor affirmations from my mother, but stood largely distant and aloof from his children until just these final years when my mother could no longer speak in his defense or translate the arch of his brow. I have no real sense of the man beyond his biography, whether or not all of his accomplishments were as easy as he made them appear or if there was any kind of struggle for him internally.

Lacking a strong message, one looks around for confirmation and support, often landing upon his chosen peers or substitutes. I found a man my grandfather’s age who comforted my falls on skis and an artist my father’s age who talked late into the night of his struggles and joy around creation.

As young men discovering the pleasure of blood flowing with passion, we have already become red-faced, heads down in the locker room, and choose to push and shove each other in a macho dance rather than continue the exploration our pre-pubescent bodies had begun with brothers and sisters. Those mysterious creatures in the locker-room next door seem exotic and seductive, but so far out of reach, so difficult as they head inside not to stare at their uniformed blouses that become transparent in a rainstorm revealing so many wonderfully different sizes and shapes.

At dances, we feel their bodies press against us, and our own body reacts, but we have been told love must be present before the chaperone can be withdrawn, yet we still find ways to sneak away into the darkness to carefully reveal our lust. In movie theaters or the back seats of cars, in our friend’s home when the parents are away, we hesitantly reach out, half-expecting our hand to be slapped away or patiently removed at best, even if she breathes with equal heat, pushing, probing and daring to go just a little farther into that breathless state that feels so good. In attics and alleys, young men share our stories like soldiers wearing medals.

Until finally, in some less than perfect circumstance, awkward and inconclusive, those cool, slender fingers encircle the pulse of our desire and we are captivated forever. For the rest of our lives, we flirt from one to another (or wish that we could) like bees tasting pollen, yearning for wholeness and connection, yet challenged to be satisfied, no sooner spent than arousing ourselves to spend again, dancing with a partner we hope will last a lifetime and constantly sabotaging ourselves with a roving eye.

Chiron looks down from the stars with a sympathetic glow, illuminating our humanity, inspiring our commitment to be better.

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