Friday, March 29, 2013

When Do We Go "Deep"?

"That was a pretty lightweight start to the retreat last night," said the moderator.  "One of the other members came up and told me it was "forum-lite."

"Really!"  as I noticed my defensiveness wanting to come out.

"Well, we just talked about ourselves and our stories.  We didn't really go deep."

My defenses relaxed.  I knew how to guide this one.

"So, what does "deep" look like to you"? I asked.

"Vulnerable.  Talking about real stuff.  Speaking our truth.  Challenging ourselves to take off our masks.  We rarely get there.  We need your help."

"Perfect.  Because my belief is that until we determine that it is safe here, we will stay on the surface.  Only when we judge that it is safe to really show up will we expose ourselves.  So, what makes this a safe place?"

"Well... okay.  Maybe it's not so safe.  I get it.  We tend to fix each other.  That's not safe.  We also tend to use humor if anything gets uncomfortable.  So, if someone cracks a joke, vulnerability stops."

"That pretty well sums it up," I said.  "What are you willing to let go of in order to get what you want here?"

And on it goes!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is it Fair to All Concerned?

Been reading quite a bit lately on the history of sexuality and how various societies have treated gender and orientation differences.  Turns out that prior to the last couple hundred years or so, there was far less angst about who slept together.  Native American societies had the “berdache” who were generally men who had a spiritual awakening to their gender bender-ness and often lived as women, including marrying masculine men.  Some societies have believed that ingesting male semen was right up there with mother’s milk as a vital ingredient for healthy development.  And, the all-male societies throughout history have accepted the reality of male sex... pirates, cowboys, war parties in all their forms all have stories.  Not too many women around.  Fascinating.   Virtually every early society has evidence of gender and sexual diversity beyond the polarized "straight or gay" labels we find ourselves with today. And, in many cases those men who identified as homosexual or similarly oriented were given high status as mediators, educators, shamans, and damn good homemakers.  It’s also interesting to look at societal laws around homosexuality… sodomy laws put in place in times where population increase was desired and eliminated when population decrease was desired.

I'm also intrigued by the general absence of sexual instruction in the Bible.  Makes me think that maybe it just isn't the big deal.  The sexual references in the Bible seem to have more to do with rampant sexual debauchery (right up there with drunkenness) and rejecting pedophilia than the acceptance or rejection of homosexual orientation.  It was only a thousand years or so after the Bible was written that some Europeans decided to use their religion as a way of rejecting those who were different.
So, here we are today.  I’ve got to hand it to the smart folks who shifted the argument from the moral question of “legalizing gay marriage” to simply “promoting marriage equality.”  Brilliant move.   One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Tough to argue against that.
More?  "Sex at Dawn" by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, and "The Spirit and the Flesh" by Walter Williams.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What do you mean?

A friend came to me after his 14 year old son asked him… “Dad, am I gay?”    To which I asked, "What do you think "being gay" means to your son?"

"Well, I don't really know, now that you ask it that way," said my friend. 

So, he went back to his son and asked him “What does it mean to be gay?” to which I learned later the son answered… “I don’t really know.  Just some guys said that I was gay because I don’t do all the things they do.”  My friend took a deep breath, and realized that the meaning his son was attaching to being gay was very different from the meaning he was attaching. 

Which, I find quite often to be the case.  What I make something mean and what you make something mean aren’t necessarily the same thing.  So, before jumping to conclusions, it’s almost always a good idea to ask… “What do you mean by that?”

Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...