I was asked recently about my interpretation of the divine masculine and the divine feminine. I’m not sure I’ve ever personally experienced those things. When the surface is stripped away, what’s left for me doesn’t really feel attuned to men or women. The fears, wants, and needs just become shockingly human. And sometimes not even that.
That feeling of neutral human commonality resonates with my own childhood, before I realized the societal differences between men and women. And so I watched closely, and then emulated it, and then forgot that it had even started as emulation.
After I came back from Peru two years ago as a bag of broken pieces (“muddy water”, as my friend described it), it was my friends that helped me piece together what those experiences had meant to me. One of those friends was Bill. A former Army Ranger, he was disciplined and bear-like. He was also one of the most vulnerable people I had ever met. He loved life. He loved people. And he loved Bill.
It was only in coming back from Peru that I realized what Bill had been to me that whole time. He was the father figure I had always wanted (if you had asked me, I would have said I didn’t need one). Up until Peru, my definition of masculinity had been based around a Northern-European tolerance for silently bearing discomfort.
It was like I had been trained for it my whole life. I even thought I was quite good at it.
Bill didn’t give a shit about that. He talked. He shared. He hugged. He optimized vulnerability as strength. Love as strength. If masculinity does exist for me, I would frame it around those things: the ability to be vulnerable, and the ability to show love.
It was the people around me who helped me put my life back together after Peru. To shape it into something more beautiful than before I had left. And as I compare this year to last, it’s the loss of being with those people that hurts me most. I often forget that these bags of goo are at their core social creatures. I’ve only been able to make sense of self, through the help of others.
Bill passed this year. I feel that loss all the time.