Monday, May 30, 2011

More Thoughts on Feeling Un/Comfortable

I got a lot of feedback from my last post about not feeling comfortable being approached by men I don't know. The issue of public safety - for both women and men - coupled with the challenges of male/female relationships certainly struck a nerve. I received several anecdotes about being harassed on the street, on the subway or in movie theaters, and agreement about how difficult it can be to let go of those experiences.  

On the one hand, they can leave a person feeling hardened or scarred. On the other hand, they can leave a person feeling tough and  triumphant for having survived them. Either way, they inevitably help form our attitudes towards ourselves and the world around us. And how we let them impact us in the long run is certainly a part of every life's journey.  

Curiously, however, the real point of my post seemed to have gotten missed...

I've spent enough years hardened and scarred. I've spent enough years tough and triumphant. I'm tired of having the same old reactions in new places and tired of telling the same old stories to myself and others. As scared as I was  growing up, to a certain extent I always knew I could defend myself and fight for my life.  What I didn't know was how much it cost me to always be on the defensive.  Not that self-preservation doesn't have a place. It certainly does.

But  surfing has presented the opportunity to consider that there may be different ways to relate to the world - to dangers, real or imagined, and to men - that I haven't considered before.While I don't know what those new ways are,  I certainly know they exist. 

In the last year, I've identified the true passion of my life as transformation in all its forms, and I've identified transformation - whether overt or subtle - as the common thread running through all the pursuits and passions of my life. Surfing is just the latest embodiment of my life's quest for liberation, oneness and wisdom.  

My relationship to "strange" men is just the latest area to which I can apply that quest. And it never would have occurred to me if I hadn't been approached in the water. Not by a shark, but by some pretty average guys.


  1. Being more open to men is something I have struggled with to, probably less than you because I have five brothers and lots of old male friends -- plus, probably most significantly, I've never been attacked, except for something very minor. I think it is worth it for your spirit to bridge the gap; at the same time, there's a certain value in wariness. The guys in the surf were undoubtedly OK, but it makes sense to make them prove themselves, particularly since you were out there alone with them.

  2. Thanks Kathleen. A couple of men have pointed out to me that they understand they need to prove themselves with women, which frankly makes me annoyed at guys who don't realize or respect that. I'm still confused about how to tell the difference between a guy who's hitting on me and a guy who's just being friendly. And is there a difference? And does it matter?