Monday, October 3, 2011

The spice of life

I'd like to start today by giving a shout out and a big "thank you" to my readers in Russia.  There are 14 of you now, and that thrills me.  No less important are the readers in Germany, the U.K., Japan, China, India and Malaysia.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope that it has offered you some manner of support knowing that there is some crazy American lady on the other side of the world who is trying to do her part to foster acceptance.

That word, acceptance, has become all encompassing to me.  I had nagging little thoughts of it in my twenties when my mother-in-law from my first marriage tried my patience on a regular basis.  "Just accept that she is a strange lady who can be incredibly mean because you married her son," was what I kept trying to tell myself, to no avail.  I simply could not accept her snide remarks, no matter how hard I tried.  I knew, somehow, that if I could accept her, even in her mean-ness that I would be doing myself a favor, but it was just beyond my ability back then.  And acceptance of someone else's abuse, perhaps, is ill advised anyhow.

Acceptance of each other's quirks and differences, now that is a whole other deal.  This blog has addressed that very quality many, many times largely because it's a character trait I am trying desperately to cultivate in myself, and one I hope this blog inspires in others because my daughter's life and happiness may, at least partially, depend on acceptance from the other folks who coexist on this planet.  Last night, I had the pleasure of spending many hours in the company of folks who helped me have an even deeper acceptance, nay, appreciation of our differences as people.

The ocean, or lakes, hell even a man-made pool: most of us love the water.  Maybe we don't want to swim in it, but perhaps we like to boat in the water, or simply observe the water from a stationary vantage point.  Either way, the variations depend on the time of day, the wind, the plant life growing within it, whether or not there are schools of fishing swimming beneath the surface, if it rained last night, or if there was a hurricane 500 miles away; all these factors, and more, can change its very appearance and nature on a daily, or hourly basis.  Some of us appreciate the calm, aqua blue of the Carribean, others the dark, moodiness found in New England.  There is no way in hell I'll swim in the frigid waters off the coast of California, but the balmy tides of North Caroline suit me perfectly.  I'm picking a rather trite way of explaining acceptance, but I'm proposing more than that.

We glory and revel in the spectacular variation in the waters that our Creator has sprinkled over the face of our shared home.  We don't even attempt to make broad comments about any one type of body of water because no sooner do we try to describe it when it changes, or resists our categorization.  And isn't it wondrous, truly?  I would wager that most of us can recall an image right now of a body of water that inspired awe within us.  And we would all agree that you couldn't talk me into liking your image better than I like mine no matter what. I can, however, appreciate what you like about your image, even if it's not my favorite image.

And that is what my evening at a drag show inspired in me last night.  This drag show took place at a bar that would be known to most as a "gay" bar.    This is not the first time I've frequented a gay bar and won't be my last.   I think most homosexual people are way more interesting than straight people anyway, but that's probably because I find people with challenging lives more interesting than people who have had little challenge in their lives.  Simple can sometimes be boring.  Anyway, as I waited for the show to begin, I indulged in my favorite athletic activity:  people watching.

I had the most glorious epiphany-the spectrum of human gender, sexuality and orientation is wondrous.  It's not something merely to be put up with like swallowing a very large pill so that you can get over your case of strep throat.  Some of us are middle of the road in all aspects of life, and that deserves celebration.  But others provide a variety that is not only beautiful but can teach the rest of us to rethink the definitions of masculine, feminine, straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc., etc., etc.  We keep trying to define it and we simply can't.  Tell my husband, on bringing flowers home to his new daughter, that mothers are primarily the tender caretakers.  Try to convince me that I am not strong as hell, fierce even, when I don my work gear and haul myself up onto a fire engine.  And if you think that I'm not feminine because I enjoy my typical "male" work, well, we can have a hot discussion about it, name the time and place.  I find the female form stunningly beautiful and on some of my worst days, I just wish I could rest my head on a warm, soft bosom, but that doesn't mean I'm a lesbian, nor does it mean a lesbian who does, or doesn't, share that sentiment isn't a lesbian.  We simply cannot adequately define what is male, or female, or gay, or bi, so let's call a truce-let's just say we stop trying to define it, even for a day, or an hour, and see how it feels.

Most of us have seen the movie, "Mrs. Doubtfire" or perhaps, "Tootsie."  In both films, there are men who dress as women to achieve a purpose, not because they felt like they were women.  In both films, the male character became a better man in observing his more womanly attributes.  And as viewers, didn't we all just love Mrs. Doubfire?  I wanted Tootsie for my best friend.  It was almost disappointing when they returned to their less dimensional male counterparts. Why is that?  Because we are our best versions of ourselves when we can be fully who we are, honoring the traditional male and female qualities no matter in whose body they dwell in or in what proportion.  In fact, in some Native American cultures, transgender people are referred to as "Two spirits" since they often are a beautiful melding of the finest of both genders. And to traffic in stereotypes for a moment, this is why I frequently am most comfortable with somewhat "effeminate"  straight or gay men, or "masculine"  women, and lesbians, because they often seem to have many of the best male and female qualities:  protectiveness,  assertiveness, forthrightness, directness, passion, tenderness, gentleness, emotional forthcomingness;  and fewer of my least favorite male and female qualities:  dominance, cattiness, aggression and subversiveness.  I am aware that I am skating on a dangerously thin line in assigning traits by gender, but my intentions are benign, and let's face it there are some differences between the genders, we just can't figure out how to label them and maybe we shouldn't even try.

I read somewhere about opposite "energies" attracting and working well in creating a healthy couple or relationship, and I decided I like that word best of all in describing people.  They are neither male, nor female, or not even homo- or heterosexual energies, just that they are opposite and therefore attract, like magnets- a natural occurrence in the natural world where there is endless variety in all species of humans, animals, plant life, sea life, weather, you name it.  And isn't it glorious?