Happy Litha!

Merry Meet! (Greetings)

Today marks the beginning of the second half of the year in which the Dark God of the dying year overtakes the Sun God. The days will become shorter, but, in the meantime, the weather becomes warmer and brighter. The harvest is coming and the days are still long, bright, and full of potential adventure. Today, Light and Dark are in perfect balance.

This is a great reminder that we are the ones who label light “good” and dark “bad.” In reality, Light and Dark are both Good, and very Good. Both are necessary. Both are beautiful. Each one has its own work to do.

Likewise, all that exists inside and outside of ourselves – that which we brag about and that which we keep hidden – are all One. All of it is good. Everything that has ever happened has been stirred up and baked into the ongoing recipe called You and Me.  When we are living lives of Purpose, all things work together for our individual and collective Good.

So, enjoy Summer Solstice and all that it represents.

Blessed Be,

Raven

That Which We Resist Persists, a commentary on a passage from Nella Larsen’s Passing

Today I was reading Nella Larsen’s novella Passing when a particular passage jumped out at me:

“That strange, and to her fantastic, notion of Brian’s of going off to Brazil which, though unmentioned, yet lived within him; how it frightened her, and – yes, angered her!….

“He had never spoken of his desire since that long-ago time of storm and strain, of hateful and nearly disastrous quarreling, when she had so firmly opposed him, so sensibly pointed out its utter impossibility and its probable consequences to her and the boys, and had even hinted at a dissolution of their marriage in the event of his persistence in his idea. No, there had been, in all the years that they had lived together since then, no other talk of it, no more than there had been any other quarreling or any other threats. But because, so she insisted, the bond of flesh and spirit between them was so strong, she knew, had always known, that his dissatisfaction had continued, as had his dislike and disgust for his profession and his country…

“It wasn’t now, as it had been once, that she was afraid that he would throw everything aside and rush off to the remote place of his heart’s desire. He wouldn’t, she knew. He was fond of her, loved her, in his slightly undemonstrative way. And there were the boys….

“It was only that she wanted him to be happy, resenting, however, his inability to be so with things as they were, and never acknowledging that though she did want him to be happy, it was only in her own way and by some plan of hers for him that she truly desired him to be so. Nor did she admit that all other plans, all other ways, she regarded as menaces, more or less indirect, to that security of place and substance which she insisted upon for her sons and in a lesser degree for herself.”

Wow! I really appreciate the psychological subtlety as well as the universality of this passage. It encapsulates so well the common dynamics that go on between couples. It is unfortunate, but, in many long-term relationships, people are coerced into relinquishing pieces of themselves, aspects of their hearts’ desires in response to the selfishness and insecurity of their partners.

I have seen people pushed into giving up school, abandoning their dreams of entrepreneurship, dumbing down their talents, abandoning friends, and even family. This list goes on. But, for me – because I am keenly aware that I have only one incarnation that I know of for certain – I am not willing to do this.

I accepted long ago that my belief system necessitates certain trade-offs. What other people call “security,” for example, I do not have. But what other people view as security I view as minimum-security prison. I am also aware of my privilege to hold these beliefs due to the country and time period in which I live. In many parts of the world, people, especially women, still face dire consequences for not submitting to society’s plan for their lives. I plan to use my privilege to live my life full out, whatever that means to me over the years. I accept that this makes me an oddball. While other single women often look at couples with a sigh in their hearts and a lump in their throats, I view relationships as calculated risks, mostly ego-alliances, and socially sanctioned refuges from fear and insecurity. Such relationships often encourage mediocrity, consumerism, frustration, and stagnation.

On the other hand, I celebrate the fact that there are also vibrant, dynamic couples in which both parties are evolving, living their lives full out, and actively supporting each other’s dreams, goals, desires, and happiness. In these partnerships, each person feels free to be fully themselves and to pursue their deepest longings, free from emotional blackmail. I admire and respect such couples. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are couples in which neither party has desires outside the culturally-approved goals of a “normal” life, an easy retirement, and a gentle coast into the grave. These couples are traditionally-minded and very well matched. They are doing no one any harm.

But in the many cases in which people are clinging to each other in a desperate attempt to control the natural unpredictability of life, where one or both parties apply external restrictions and psychological manipulation in order to prevent their partners from growing and changing, where people have resigned themselves to an unsatisfactory life out of guilt or obligation, I would hasten to remind such people that Impermanence is an inescapable fact of life.

The protagonist in Passing assumes that she can beat back the passionate longing in her husband to explore Brazil, and pursue other career paths, with a barrage of threats, manipulation, blackmail, and fighting. She is wholly and singularly concerned with her own needs, comfort, and happiness, not his. She comes to learn that what we try to deny in ourselves, and in others, has a sneaky way of rising to the surface anyway. Then we are left not only with the original problem of Impermanence, but an even greater feeling of panic, failure, and helplessness.

The best way to deal with change is to get out in front of it and embrace it. (It’s coming anyway).

Peace and blessings,

Raven

The Story of a False-Alarm Booty Call

This story may or may not be true. In either case, all names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Betsy liked Frank. She had liked Frank for months. His dark, curly hair, his radiant brown skin, his intelligent, deep conversation, his commitment to social justice. She found it all so sexy. They had had one amazing conversation at her house that had lasted for hours. He had given her a ride home one night after a social justice group meeting, and she had invited him in. No flirting, no innuendo. Just two humans making an authentic connection. Nevertheless, by the end of that conversation, she realized that she would absolutely date him if he were even remotely interested.

He wasn’t.

So, they continued their friendship. Betsy tried unsuccessfully to get Frank to hang out again. Him – always nice, always welcoming. But no flirting. No dates. They did have some additional great conversations, but it never led to romance. Betsy was okay with this. She never minded having handsome, intelligent friends. She had quite a few. She and Frank texted occasionally, and all was well. The night in question was no different. Or, so she thought.

Frank was celibate. He had decided years ago that dating just wasn’t worth it. At first, Betsy thought that was a shame. But after a string of back-to-back dating disasters, she too had given up on dating. After making that decision, she told Frank about it. He was perfectly supportive. Partners in celibacy. Not Betsy’s dream scenario, but helpful nonetheless.

So, one night, after a series of texts back and forth with Frank, Betsy joked that, as a “nun,” it was almost her bedtime. This was her way of ending the texting session. She was surprised, but happy, when Frank kept texting. He had already agreed to give her a ride to their next meeting, so it didn’t seem out of place when he asked for her address again. The texts were getting a little flirty, which was great, but she was a Nun and he was a Monk. So, she rolled the dice and said that if he ever decided to leave the Monkhood, he should let her know. Betsy smiled at her own bravado and prepared for bed. It was almost 11 p.m. – later than she had wanted to go to bed, but still good.

Thirty minutes later, she received another text from Frank. “Here,” it said. Betsy looked at it and assumed it was an auto-correct boo-boo. She’d gotten many strange accidental texts from her friends, so she ignored this one. The next text from Frank said “Your roomy won’t let me in.”  Um, what?

She replied, “You’re not actually here are you?”

He was.

WTF? Betsy scanned her sloppy room and her own sloppy attire with dismay. What is he doing here? she thought. Reluctantly, she swirled a little mouthwash and opened the door. From the kitchen, Betsy’s gay roommate, Lloyd, watched with suspicion as she let a strange man into their home. Slut, he was probably thinking. She wanted to explain, but knew whatever she said would sound like bullshit.

So she and Frank walked back to Betsy’s room, sat on her couch, and talked. Or at least she talked. Frank slouched sexily and leaned towards her as she babbled on about whatever. He reached out and removed the pillows that were between them. Then, in one swift move, he cupped one arm under her legs and one arm behind her back, sliding her towards him and placing her legs over his. In this position, she was kind of cradled in his arms. She had never actually been this close to him before. It was both a dream and a nightmare.

A dream because she liked him. A nightmare because, if he had gone over there for a booty call, he was in for a hot disappointment. Betsy wasn’t the booty-call type. Her booty was reserved for VIP members of that place called the heart. So, while her mind raced, trying to figure out why this was happening, and how to get out of it, Frank continued to fix her with a sexy gaze.

“You’re so cute when you’re nervous,” Frank said. Oh, my stars. Betsy thought. What has gotten into this man? She subtly sniffed the air, testing to see if perhaps alcohol was involved. Frank didn’t drink.  But he also said he didn’t fuck. So…

“I’m just surprised,” Betsy managed to reply. Frank smirked and began tracing her arms with a lazy finger. Betsy stiffened and increased the speed of her babbling. The tracing continued. Eventually Frank’s audacious finger found its way to the top of her chest. That’s when Betsy’s clarity returned. She grasped the defiant finger, placed it back in Frank’s lap, and sat up.

“What’s going on with you?” Betsy demanded. Frank, as if shaken out of a dream, watched the change in Betsy’s demeanor as she sat up.

“I’ve made you uncomfortable,” Frank said. Well that’s the  understatement of the year.

Betsy lied and said “Not uncomfortable, just confused. What’s going on?”

Frank clearly didn’t know. Or wouldn’t say. He had come over “to see what Betsy would do.”

“I wanted to get out of my head for a while. But it’s not working. I’m still in my head,” Frank said.

No, you’re on my couch, motherfucker, Betsy thought, but said nothing. As Frank went on to try and explain without explaining, he conveyed a sense of being lost. He was dealing with a bunch of problems – which he wouldn’t specify – and was going through stuff.

“I just wanted to try something different,” Frank said, his demeanor conveying remorse and confusion.

As Betsy always does with misbehaving men, she forgave him. But on her terms. She assured him that no booty would be forthcoming, but that she was glad he’d come over. They continued talking. Normal. Like usual. After a few minutes, Frank stood up.

Betsy stood up with him, knowing that whatever had come over Frank was gone now. Maybe she’d never see him again. Maybe he would never hit on her again. Maybe this was her first, last, and only shot at having Frank. Nevertheless, she knew she had done the right thing. Allowing Frank to use her body as an escape hatch from his problems would have helped neither of them. If she never saw him again, so be it.

Betsy walked Frank to the door. Lloyd was no longer in the kitchen. She regretted that he would think something had happened between her and Frank when nothing could be further from the truth. She wanted to knock on his room door and tell him so, but restrained herself.

At the front door, Betsy held onto Frank. Frank held onto Betsy. They hugged for a few seconds. Then she sent Frank out the door, and into the night, with all of his worries and mental burdens intact. Why did she love the wounded type so much?

She shook her head at herself and shut the door.