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Feminine Fragrance

Bull hornWe met by design, although, not of our timing.  We met in a situation certainly sordid if judged, and under circumstances avoidable by more level heads.

We met perfectly; with heart valves wide open.

She was, in the moment of our meeting, a stranger.  Still, her essence wafted like sweet fragrances over defenses that stood to repel love, and all its emissaries and meddling spies.  I had prepared welcome in my parlor, but this angel, this precocious ghost scaled walls beyond my bedchamber and commanded of me my deepest presence.

My presence drank of her: beautiful, delicate, desirable.  Her feminine fragrance was in stark contrast to the musk of my masculine.  Her essence sparked in me a vision: of a beautiful girl child face to face with a ferocious bull.  A vicious beast with his sheen black coat absorbing the sun, his horns rapier quick to gore, his nostrils flared by fumes of imminent destruction.  Yet, here, in the fixed gaze of innocence and beauty, he stood transfixed, stilted, disoriented by a desire to be touched by her, impaled by a strange and peculiar pain, his want for love.

I sank easily into her pools of cerulean blue, this stranger, woman, with her fixed gaze of innocence and beauty.  So close was she that I straddled her waves, the rhythm of her breathing, and I welcomed falling into an intimacy reserved for a lover.  She, a stranger still, nameless, faceless, powerless to move me, was moving my world, shifting from under me my foundation of fortified walls.

In a room of souls freshly practiced – for a few hours at least – in the art of human connection, time descended like a stringent parent.  Time would have scattered us like bothersome fruit flies, but for her invitation to play outside of time.  Without her I would have slithered back into my lonely world to shun again my feelings of vulnerability, rage, shame, weakness, desire, want, need of acceptance, and the joy that she – feminine – took my hand to draw from me the one word my masculine heart has so longed to scream: YES!  Goddamit YES!

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7 Days to 77 Friendships

WomanMan

I once believed what I observed to be true – headlines and lead stories insisting the human condition is predisposed toward segregation and separateness.

As a prototypical “only child” I believed my true power to be insular, yet there lingered a yearning for connection.  Intimate partnerships I thought would suffice, however, a call to community persisted.  My community came in the form of a seminar: one hundred and seventy seven strangers from places far-flung as China, and Uruguay, to neighbours Canada and U.S.

For seven days and seven nights we lived together on a rustic ranch sprawled over lush, green valleys and rolling hills in Northern California. We came for all reasons, some known; some yet to be discovered; some private, others to affect change in our world.

My change for the world, and my purpose, is to write on topics that embolden women to claim ownership and champion their greater strength: their authentic feminine.

Briefly on that.

Fact, we live in a patriarchal world and in most cultures masculine principals are so ingrained that the void of feminine influence merely register as murmurs over gender inequality.  Nature, however, is mother to balance.  Yin and yang bound light to dark, hot to cold, water to fire, life to death, and yes, feminine to masculine.  All in nature is interconnected and interdependent, a cycle where contrast is revealed as a compliment creating a whole always greater than either force can be on its own.

Patriarchy, as a man-made social construct, and as practiced in Western culture, is a monopoly where feminine energy is squelched to a frequency so low that women must source power through masculine means, either from within themselves, or in men, as a tactic for self-preservation.

My belief is that feminine and masculine energies, in harmony, are the most potent force on planet Earth, though without balance, we humans, as a species, can never fully realize our full, divine potential.

So, how does a week, on a ranch, at a seminar relate to all this?

It came down to a wall: a 14-foot high, 8-foot wide sheer surface with no handholds or footrests to grip or climb.  The challenge given to the group was to bring everyone, 32 men and 45 women, over the wall without the use of tools or props, and to complete the task together, in stark silence.

The wall, of course, represent life circumstances seemingly too imposing or insurmountable.  Silence is isolation – segregation and separateness – and the neurotic human tendency to suffer burdens alone even though friends and family with equal challenges surround us.

Metaphor be dammed, we did it; every body came over that wall. However, it’s what came next that most moved me.  In triumph, I saw smiles leap from face to face like tinder sparks in a wildfire of emotion that consumed all desire for separation.  A rain of tears flowed as we collapsed into each other’s arms with a joy I suspect is usually reserved for walking through the open gates of heaven.  In a single moment one hundred and seventy seven once perfect strangers surrendered to falling unconditionally in love with one other, and with all of humanity.  I – gratefully – was one with them.

One lasting image: five men – the masculine – dug in at the base of the wall selflessly lifting five others over the wall to be the bridge for us all.  Looking up from where I stood I saw in these five faces courage, strength and a resolve fully owned and expressed.  These five champions – first over the wall, and unplanned – were all women: the feminine.  They would be the link; the selfless sprits to elevate others to eventually take their place – including men.

That visual is a metaphor for my purpose.  Literally hours before leaving on this seven day journey I saw a film and took note of words from Emma Jung, psychoanalyst, author, and wife of Carl Jung, prominent psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology:  “Life,” she said, “is founded on the harmonious interplay of masculine and feminine forces, within the individual human being as well as without. Bringing these opposites into union is one of the most important tasks of humanity.

Art viewable at: Janet Snell

Unsolicited: PSI Seminars is the longest running personal development company in North America, and a pioneer in human potential training. What I’ve discovered of myself in their care is ineffable.  These 7 days were a scratching post to shed old skin, and free a child lost within.  With gratitude and love – ck

FREE HUGS! No, really.

First EmbraceTo hug, or not to hug!  This should never be the question; however, it was the main theme on a night when 16 friends and I spilled onto city streets brandishing homemade signs that simply read – Free Hugs!

It’s amazing what can be learned when accosting a stranger on a street corner – whether by mugging, or by hugging.  Confronted with the unexpected there’s no time for a reasoning brain to process a scripted response, or plan a clever way out. What comes out is raw human nature, the truth – fight, err, hug or flight.

Here’s the setup: 16 friends split up as if invited to a Noah’s Arc theme party – pairs of 2, one male and one female: we are the predator. Our playground, a busy street in downtown Calgary known for steady vehicular traffic and more important, a steady flow of people drifting in and out of coffee shops, bars and restaurants: they are our prey.

In this exercise, the predators offer open love in the form of Free Hugs to the prey. The bait is an inviting smile and open arms. What happens between humans under these forced conditions is life changing.

The games begin the moment eyeballs scan our handcrafted sign and it’s understood a Free Hug is there for the taking.

As the evening unfolded three distinct characters appeared: lovers, tweeners and the indifferent.

Lovers approach, scan the sign, capture your eyes and instantly it‘s like a tractor beam pulling them right into your arms. No fight, no resistance, and they are all in for hugging.

The indifferent ones, they sense what’s on the sign and immediately their force fields engage.  They’ll do anything to avoid any eye contact. Automatically, they’re in flight mode and even vocalizing an invitation, or engaging them with an irresistible warm smile and an open gate to walk right in won’t entice them to change their course. They will walk around you like doggie stoop left over on the sidewalk.

The tweeners, they look, they read, they avert their eyes, they pretend to talk on their cell phone; however, try as they might, they can’t quite keep the muscles in their face from contorting into an impish smile.  All it takes is a little encouragement, “come on you know you want a little free love”, and it’s like putting a magnet into a bag of nails, they suck themselves right into your arms and cling on for the ride.

Tweeners – after they’ve lapped up their fair share of hugs and love – are first with questions that usually betray their initial resistance.  Questions such as, so, what’s this all about, really?  Where are the cameras? What’s the catch?  Can I take a picture for my Facebook?

The lovers, they don’t care, they’ll stop at a red light, fight with their seat belts, leap from a rolling car, or roll down a window for a quickie hug. They’ll come out of warm buildings and brave the winter chill in a t-shirt just for a hug; they’ll even circle the block and shamelessly reappear requesting a brand new pair of hugs.

One lover example was a native man, a stout human being over 6” tall with alcohol fumes rising off his frame like heat rays on a desert highway. He stood directly in front of me, an inch between us, contrite in announcing in a booming voice that he was a raging alcoholic with a history of drug abuse, but leave no doubt, he gave the best hugs, ever.  I called him on it. To which he wrapped his bear like arms around me, lifted me off the sidewalk and squeezed so tight I felt like I was going to die in the coils of a python.  For a moment panic set in, however, even that was squeezed out of me and for a brief moment, as he held me suspended in mid air, I swear I felt this man’s very soul touch mine. He shared the same power hug with my partner, walked halfway down the block, stopped and yelled at the top of his lungs, “you guys are great”, stopped again, walked back to where we stood catching our breath and squished us again with another epic grip.  “I haven’t been hugged by anyone in six months”, were his fading words as he walked away into the night.

A tweener example were two young men in their early twenties, both looking fresh off a construction site.  One of the two seemed outwardly despondent, his companion compassionately egging him on into the arms of my beautiful partner.  He resisted silently only to finally relent, and melt. Literally, his eyes filled with tears, his body fell like fluid as though the weight of a planet had been taken from his shoulders. As he clung to the shoulders of my friend, time seemed to stand still as with joy I witnessed his disintegration and transformation from pain to gratitude. He said nothing, yet he said it all as he floated away down the street.

I believe I learned more about pure human nature, and honest one-on-one connection in one hour on a street corner hugging strangers than a shrink can gain from a patient months into couch therapy.  I know because I’ve been on that couch with my script prepared, my excuses polished and my defenses memorized.  When accosted on the street by a stranger there’s no time to prepare a script or craft an alibi, people can only react on instinct, be who they are without the mask.

If you ever do this exercise, and I highly recommend it, take at least one friend of the opposite sex as a partner.  It puts strangers at ease, diffuses any creep factor and takes the edge off any latent homophobic anxieties.

A few tips:

As the ‘hugger’ (the one offering Free Hugs) it’s critical you allow the ‘hug-e’ (the unsuspecting pedestrian) to take the lead during your brief dance together.

Some people will lean into a hug using only one arm, like you’re the dodgy uncle in the family and one hand needs to be free at all times just in case eyes need to be gouged, or some other escape tactic must be employed for a forceful escape.

Others hug like it’s a game of tag and after they’ve done what’s expected of them, which is to tap you quickly on the back or shoulder, they quickly disengage like a kid unsure just how long it actually takes for humans to catch cooties.

Still others hug as though their mimicking a stepladder – leaning in to connect with head and shoulders, however, all the sensitive human bits must be kept at a safe distance at all times.

And then there are those who just HUG!  They don’t give a rip about political correctness, or self-limiting social phobias.  They will pull you in like a well-worn easy chair and hold you until enough friction and heat has built up between bodies that you start to wonder – hey, do I know this person?  Well, you do now, and you’ve just made a genuine connection with another human being who’s telling you with actions not mere words – thanks, you don’t know how much I needed a hug.

ck

Art by Anna Shukeylo

Original FREE HUGS video

feminineA few years ago I ventured from Vancouver to Orlando, Florida for an Anthony Robbins seminar.  It was a ten-day marathon with a crazy man (…said with utmost affection).  2,500 people from all over the planet stuffed into an excessively air-conditioned conference room that vibrated day to night on raw emotion and a mercurial mix of tears and laughter.

It’s in this environment a foreign thought infected my mind.  Eventually it became my destiny: to write a book.

Wedged into the 100 hours of personal growth theories, self-awareness exercises, and introspective enlightenment, I recall a quick spiel on the dominant characteristics that define and seperate feminine and masculine.

The colorful adjectives used to describe each conjured animated avatars in my mind: a fair damsel, vulnerable yet resilient and loving, a valiant warrior chivalrous and incorruptibly loyal to her. I remember thinking; wow, nature got it right, merging two polar opposites to create one perfect whole.

My utopian vision was shattered shortly afterwards as women at the conference shared stories of paradox and personal pain. It felt like the slow unveiling of a mirror that revealed to these women for the first time how they were living from a place of masculine energy.

Beneath their haute couture, a majority of women wear ‘the pants’, and some pack brass balls as necessary accessories. Typically they are pulled on to cope through intimate relationships with weak or spineless men; to fill roles as De facto heads of fractured families, or to constantly prove their worth as professional equals.

Unsettling, too, was realizing how many women are unaware of their shifting from pole (feminine), to pole (masculine), and the internal conflict in attempting to accommodate the unique demands of each.  What is tangible and real, however, is the life crippling consequences: unfulfilling relationships, dysfunctional family lives, and dispassionate professional existence.

Orlando was Pandora’s box opening for me to see into the internal conflict of feminine, and this new understanding astounded me because I have also been privileged to know women who are not torn to exist outside feminine: women of power, influence, engagement and love.  For a strong masculine, no force on Earth is more compelling or divine.

Unfortunately, in a patriarchal world, ‘worthy-equal’ is not the legacy often passed to girls, or shared between women. Could I – a masculine – affect positive change in the confidence or self-belief of feminine?  It’s my desire to do so. Writing here, and eventually a book, is my avenue to that outcome.

I welcome your input and would appreciate your comments, starting with this question: what does feminine mean to you?

This is the final comment in a series exploring The Art of Love. Part IX “First Kiss”.

At the Genesis of his book The Art of Loving, Enrich Fromm asked me a life-changing question.  Is love an art, or is love a sensation at the summit of human emotions?  Here’s what I knew.  Love – romantic love – has brought extraordinary souls into my life, but these blessings have decayed into haunting loss.  In fact, suffering love is what compelled me to read Fromm’s book.  I was wounded and desperate for answers, but he challenged me with a question I never thought to ask, and one that no one in my life had ever asked of me. Is love an art?

I can’t remember exactly; I was maybe 6-ish when I first kissed a girl – correction  – a girl first kissed me. I recall the moment more for its sloppy awkwardness than for its fleeting pleasure. However, it’s worth recalling because it marked a seminal moment in my love education. Really, at age six, I was more emotionally invested in playing marbles than playing with girls.  Still, the smooch was empirical evidence that I was learning to mimic the behavior of adults in – what I believed was – love. What I couldn’t know is that the kiss was merely the tip of an iceberg.

It’s really remarkable how as babies we are born free of blinders or filters, and how as children we naturally pick up on the mannerisms, words, thoughts, even beliefs held by adults around us – be it family, friend, or stranger.  The crappy part of adopting someone else’s unfiltered, hand-me-down attitudes, belief, hopes and fears is that these characteristics – good, bad, and ugly – tend to eventually become us.

As if by design, some legacies we inherit shape our most sacred dreams.  Who doesn’t wish with all his or her heart to fall in love, to age like fine wine with someone special, and live happily ever after?  Marriage is the original Hunger Games, a tradition created to celebrate those who have managed to pass love’s most daunting test: finding someone  – not family – to love us unconditionally, for life.

Love is our emotional penicillin  – the universal drug for all things that ail the human heart, but the emotion we call “falling in love”… that’s a narcotic.  It’s the Pulp Fiction scene where John Travolta plunges a foot-long hypodermic needle into Uma Thurman’s heart to revive her from a coma.  I’ll say it, living a love-starved life is pretty much like walking dead.  Love will always stir feelings, but falling in love is a spiked overdose of the world’s most potent aphrodisiac.  The needle of choice is sex. Even if it’s but once, most adults have experienced the euphoria of falling in lust. The intense, addictive rush is so prodigious that we stake our own heart on believing that what we feel is love. The delicious part is that to reach that peak again, and again, all we need is our own “drug” pusher – a willing partner.

As far as partners go, everyone wants to take home tall, dark, handsome, or sexy and hot, but if not blessed with equal bits and pieces to horse-trade, then the default is to be loveable.  Social graces – manners and courtesies – are handy on first dates, but social peer pressures push the majority into designer clothes, designer cars and overextended bankrolls.  It’s a dog-eat-dog game and image usually dictates who gets to date – and marry – whom.  But when image and sex appeal overshadow personal substance and quality, love gets downgraded to a mere commodity.  Then a partner’s value is weighted on the security they bring to the table.  That might be financial, social, or genealogy.  If the investment doesn’t pan out there are always options to trade the principle – thus our 50% divorce rate.

Truly, I’m not the proverbial “dark cloud” raining all over love or romance.  In fact, it’s in this very jungle that I found someone to choose me, and in an instant I knew I was in love.  I felt it when the walls around my heart began to melt, like sandcastles in the path of an onrushing tide; I felt it when my deepest, most private hopes, desires and fears fell free from my lips into her lap like Sunday confessions, and I felt it in the sublime, child-like desire that made me believe in happy-ever-after.

Think back on fairy tales told at bedtime, or Hollywood films that left your heart longing.  These stories, their predictable happy endings, shaped our expectations for love.  I, too, wanted to be the hero who wins the heroine’s heart as the credits roll.  My home movies, however, didn’t quite manage to end happy.  With each flopped script though, I dared to dream again, to re-write a sequel with a new co-star.  But no matter what my intent, I found myself in reruns of the film Groundhog Day – where a weatherman is forced to re-live the same horrible day ad nauseum.

It’s in this revolving madness that I was drawn to the book title, The Art of Loving. Enrich Fromm’s words spoke directly to me but it’s his double-edged question that gave clarity to my self-destructive pattern.  Is love an art?  Or, is love a pleasant sensation?  Suffering heartbreak from the latter opened my heart to believe the former might be the truth.

Love  – as an art  – suggests a deep knowledge, an intimate understanding of a craft, and wisdom to mould the outcome we choose.  As a child I had no idea why I was pushed by curiosity towards my first kiss. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized my heart was seeking intimacy, a feeling that as a child, and subsequently as an adult, I had learned to think was love.

Don’t get me wrong, intimacy has perks, it feels good.  Unfortunately, as a boy, messages that filtered through my environment did a lot to build me up but didn’t prepare me to understand much beyond what I could feel – emotional and physical. When intimacy was taken away  – someone left me  – I never questioned my ability to love, I questioned whether I was lovable.

My chronic need for connection, my codependence on pleasant feelings, made me the proverbial fly dying on the windowsill inches away from freedom.  I failed to see that love required a slight shift in my focus, that the answer was to be more loving, to expand my capacity to love – not be consumed by a shallow need to be loved.

Fromm isn’t about reengineering how we love; he sheds light on blind spots we all have and can’t see to heal, he rephrases social stigmas that guide us away from our hearts, and he smudges the gloss people put on overhyped romantic lore – like love at first sight.  With clarity, he demonstrates with words what it is to love another person, and to love ourselves.  I can’t say I’ve mastered love – or that I ever will – but his book tweaked my attitude, habits and priorities.

No one book can ever peel love’s complexities down to seed, and at 130 pages, The Art of Love is hardly the WIki of all things love.  Fromm is conservative with his thoughts, but these words will stay with me through my lifetime.  “To love somebody is not just a strong feeling  – it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise, it is a commitment to a permanent state  – it is an art mastered only through diligence, daily.”

Amen!

Love, the Answer to the Problem of Human Existence – Enrich Fromm. 

Image by Erika Meriaux “Eros and Psyche“.

This series explores love as the ultimate art. Part VIII “My Summer in Love”.

This tale begins with me still a child.  Back then, on high school summer breaks, my best friend and I made visits to her family farm in North Saskatchewan.  It so happens my best friend’s family name is Love, and summer 2012 we road-tripped back to a familiar landmark, a tiny Canadian town also named Love.

If you took away the name, the town is just another blink-and-miss-it settlement straddling a highway to somewhere else.  Farmers, however, boast this area as God’s country.  Unlike the monotone flatness of Southern Saskatchewan, here the landscape bristles with vibrant trees sub-dividing lush fields blushing with hearty colors – yellow for canola, blue for flax and gold for wheat, barley and oats. It’s in this rich landscape you’ll find the farm of Maureen and Lyle, a couple I’ve known since childhood. The Love family name and bloodline runs through Maureen, but Love blesses them both equally.

In my youth I saw Maureen and Lyle as ‘any’ married couple – love was assumed.  No doubt forty-two years together speaks of commitment, but time can’t claim glory for a partnership that today radiates with grace, wisdom, charity and love. In them it’s easy to recognize love the way we all imagine, or imagined, it for ourselves.  Although, contrary to fancy, or fantasy, this is not a relationship built on “falling in love”.  All gardeners know four elements are vital to reaping a harvest from the land – seed, rain, sun and time.  They apparently are also wise to four elements essential to harvesting love from the human heart: care, responsibility, respect and knowledge.  In The Art of Loving, Enrich Fromm claims these four as necessary to all forms of love.

Critical yes, but we take these qualities for granted, yet without these uniquely human expressions we are merely animal. To evolve our health we exercise; similarly, to enhance our capacity for care, responsibility, respect and knowledge requires our conscious effort.  Simple put, where care, responsibility, respect and knowledge are lacking, so too is love.

At its most basic, what is love if not an active concern for the life and growth of the thing we love – be it a person, pet or plant.  Concern is the labor in love.  It’s not hard to discern care from apathy, nor is it difficult to differentiate people secure in feeling cared for from those who are marginalized or neglected outright (we pass them on city sidewalks daily).

The natural extension to caring for someone is responsibility.  In love, it’s volunteering for better and for worse, for sickness and health.  Alliances at this level are an instant antidote to human separateness – a cure for our natural state of feeling so very alone.  However, feeling dutiful, or indebted, can escalate to possessiveness, or deteriorate to childish dependence.  Keeping a healthy balance is only possible through the grant of respect.

Respect is a potent gesture, a gift paid forward as trust.  However, respect also has streaks of gray.  If you’ve ever been in fear, or in awe of another person, then you know what misguided respect feels like.  The antidote for misplaced respect is in knowledge – as in truly getting to know a person.

Knowledge equals time and time tends to contradict romantic notions of love-at-first-sight.  Romance is the child of Eros and it’s quick to disarm personal barriers and shed inhibitions like restrictive clothing. It’s only through knowledge – taking time to know and having the courage to be known – that humans born separate and lonely, can ever enter into the place we desire most to go – into the heart and very soul of another, the one we love.

So these were some of my carefree thoughts of summer, my impromptu schooling in the art of loving.  Sharing time with this rare couple gave a clear glimpse into this art.  As a boy, I believed love was one size fits all, but clearly love stretches, or shrinks to expectations.  Love shows up differently for couples “in love” believing passion is enough, different for those tied together through need, be it convenience, or habit, and different still for those who love free of expectations – the very few who simply share love as though always a harvest of abundance.

Image: The Somnambulist Garden Web, oil paint Syra Larkin, Ireland

This series explores love; the ultimate act, the ultimate art.

Of what do we know of a father’s love – be he Father of flesh, or “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” We, children of the Almighty Father, at once worthy of paradise – Eden, but broken rules drew father’s ire; disobedience his punishment: banishment from his Garden.  Adam and Eve, tragic tale aside, what lessons did we learn of Fatherly Love in Eden?

If earthbound fathers are, in essence, apples fallen, but not too far from the Tree, then Old Testament lessons of Fatherly Love seem clear.  Father carries keys to paradise; his expectations begat judgment, obedience earns his favour, disobedience his wrath.

None would argue that Patriarchal doctrines have long dominated spiritual behavior on the planet. Believers believe in a father who watches over all as children.  But questions, even paradox persist, such as why Father Almighty would allow suffering to afflict his children, or why an all-loving Father would show favor to one child over others – citing Genesis 6-9 – Noah being spared while all of humanity perishes.

Poetic Irony is that the paradox of Fatherly Love begins at Mother.  Before knowing even God, a child knows only mother. Her warmth and tenderness, her comforting attention, her selfless forgiveness, and her unconditional devotion become our genetic reference to the meaning of love.  But if this is love, then how can it also be conditional, how can it be tied to living up to the expectations of another who casts judgment, and how can it be justified that love needs to be earned, or must be deserved?

The heart within us may never draw attention to this perplexing contradiction – Mother’s Love vs. Father’s Love – it simply accepts that father’s love is by nature, conditional.  A father may lack nothing of warmth, support or nurture for his children, but psychologists such as Erich Fromm – author of The Art of Loving – share that the core principle of fatherly love is, well, biblical in tone: “I love because you fulfill my expectations, you obey my rules, and you tend to your duty.”  Obedience is the main virtue of fatherly love, disobedience its greatest sin, and withdrawal its most damning punishment.

Depending on perspective, the mercurial nature of Fatherly Love may seem like some oversight of nature, or a flaw in the parental code, yet the ability of father to disengage or engaged, dependent on a child meeting expectations, grants said child a measure of control.  Meaning, should son or daughter ever stray or disappoint father there remains hope of returning into his favor through future deeds.  In sharp contrast, a mother’s unconditional love is either fully on or fully absent.  Should love for her child not grace her heart naturally, there is no deed that can be done, no wrong that can be undone, to ignite it within her.

Around age five or six, even the child most secure in the all-enveloping love of mother develops a desire to win father’s praise, and avoid his displeasure. Whereas mother represents nurture in the natural world, father serves as authority on the manmade world of logic, thought and invention; of the impossible made possible through imagination; of risk and its rich rewards; of order out of chaos; of law and consequence, and of discipline and the release found in adventure.

In the pages of Art of Loving, Erich Fromm expresses the role of father this way: “father has the function of teaching, guiding a child to cope in the world, but though his love is guided by principles and expectations, it needs to be patient and tolerant, rather than threatening and authoritarian.  With father a child should feel an increasing sense of competence that eventually permits the child to become its own individual authority.”

I am not a parent, father or mother, but I, like you – I hope – am a child who believes the ultimate achievement of any loving parent is to have raised into adulthood an individual who has developed within their soul and character the core essence and principles of both motherly and fatherly love – primarily a capacity to love, a value for justice toward their fellow man, and a faculty to forgive…and to continue loving.

A metaphor for Fatherly Love is in watching a father play with his newborn. As mother, family and friends coddle the seeming fragile toddler in safe embraces, it’s father who winsomely tosses the tiny soul into the air to witness the glee and wonder in the child’s eyes as it comes to rest in his hands.  It’s father saying, my child you are safe; for you, the sky is no limit.

Let me acknowledge that in our modern would and in our modern wisdom, traditional behaviors/expectations of mother/father have shifted – fathers are stay-at-home while mothers discipline and teach commerce skills.  That being reality, human dna still and will always remain beneath human behaviour, immune to our social engineering.

Image by Erika MeriauxDaedalus and Icarus“.