“…as the young always have,…” It is intrinsic to our being that when we are inexperienced at something and we have a desire to be more able to do that act, that we seek out information to help us learn how to do it.. If the people who are older than us, our role models don’t help us learn the things we need to learn, we are left to try and learn them on our own. But that presents a problem.
We are supposed to know everything about functioning in life. How to shower, clean and yes, how to have sex. But we often dont get taught what it is we need to know. If we could not learn those things on our own, we have to deny that we don’t know them. If we couldn’t know ’em, but had to act like we did, we would put our inexperience and fear “behind,” us and act like we knew something we didn’t. Those parts of me went into my shadow.
In other words, those things that we would label as “shadowy,” we would try and deny not understanding. This sets up the conflict that for many of us, gets acted out later in life when the shadow comes out. Many call it a mid-life crisis. For me it was that I could no longer continue “acting,” like I wasn’t the scared, alone man walking around acting like I understood and knew everything.
I was set up for failure from my inexperience with sex when it came time to be intimate with a woman, to my not knowing how to cook, clean or anything domestic, since I was never taught anything about those things. But it is easy to make light of the “domestic,” things because those are not in our shadows and we can hire a maid to do our “cleaning.” But the touchy subjects, the ones where “you don’t talk about those,” things were things I needed to know but was not taught.
Now I dont know about you, but my Dad never told me about what I was supposed to do around sex. The things I learned from my Dad were when I found his books and magazines that he had put away in his bottom drawer.
“…and we elders do them a disservice when we withhold the shadowy parts of our lives.” Now I am not looking to have anyone feel uncomfortable with the subject. But it is the fact that most of us are uncomfortable with the topic of sex that makes this subject go right back into the shadow.
I dont know about my sexuality because I was left to learn about it by trial and error and even worse than that, by looking at images of sexual activity that at best commodified the participants, male and female.
But more than anything else, I was not taught how sacred the expression of my sexuality is. Not in any sort of religious sense, but in a sense of reverence for life, because the act of sex is how life is created. It cannot get any more intrinsically important than that to our existence.
Quotes from Parker Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. p. 18