Nature vs. Nurture: For All My Relations

This vasectomy–what I call my V-Day–marks a new chapter in my life story. And it’s an unapologetic HIStory. Aware that this is so much different than using contraception, seeing the smoke rise from my burning vas deferens solderised a new recognition and acknowledgement of my maleness.

I was adopted and later raised as an only child by two lesbian partners–my moms. I have a great relationship with my adoptive dad (who is sterile) who has always been in my life (along with his wife). I have a very good relationship with my biological family: brothers, parents, grandparents, et al. I have had a lot of caregivers. I have a lot of family.

I have never felt to have a child, to be a parent— or at least not biologically. When I was old enough to be aware of my egoic self, I considered that such a desire would be stemming from my mind, and therefore not entirely trustworthy. And so I stayed open to the possibility that a desire to have a child may be borne out of a relationship/couple/union that would be the wellspring from which a heart-based manifestation could offspring—a child born out of abundant love.

Now, at 40, I close that option. I have yet to have that shared desire with any partner. True, I’ve never been in a relationship for longer than two or three years. Nevertheless, I remained open. Of course, 40 is not that old. I have many years ahead in which that shared love could birth a desire to have a child. Yet, apparently I am ready for a different human experience.

Closing the door to the possibility of having a child does come with a certain chagrin. I won’t have that very basic of human experience, parenthood. I’m not alone in that, for sure, and yet I share here the context for this long-considered choice.

A Human Experience

Before my vasectomy—what I have come to call my V-day—I revisited the genealogical work that my biological maternal grandmother so generously and laboriously created in the form of a family tree album. As I traced with my finger the names of my ancestors as far back as the early 1700s, I imagined all the reasons they wanted to have children. I honour their decision with supreme gratitude in recognition that I am one of the direct benefactors of whatever inspired them to create more life. Perhaps optimistically, I imagine that it was love above all.

In the album is a photo of me at three months old. It’s a precious image, perhaps the only one of me in the care of a family who fostered my nascent being from my biological mother to the family that would later adopt me. A ghost-like sadness arose as I considered that an infant such as this, like me, in my likeness, won’t be appearing. This image—me—has chosen that this will be the end of a line in this genealogical fractal.

Seed Carriers

Before V-day, a lover expressed sadness when I told her about the approaching procedure. She would have carried my seed, she tells me. She would have, alone, raised a child that I provided the seed for, as if I were to give away a cutting of my own branch. All I could say, from a place of reason, is that we are planting seeds all the time, be they genetic or not.

In one generation, there will be 9 billion germinated seeds, all in various stages of maturity. The human family flourishes. The tree is enormous. Perhaps my vasectomy is a sort of pruning. Yet it’s not that what could have come from me is unwanted. I trust that the creative energy that manifested me will swell and collect and that the foliage and flowers—albeit sterile—will be as colourful and abundant as can be, even though this particular branch will not extend any further.

I don’t have strong opinions about menopause, impotence, contraception, infertility, abortion, etc., yet I imagine being able to soon relate to those who are not having children—be it by choice or not (my adoptive mom later had a tubal ligation). My family tree is comprised of branches that have no direct biological connection as well as those that do. I have been living the nature/nurture binary all my life as well as exploring the theories of attachment. The constellations of what ‘family” is to me are pretty unique and my relationships—with family members, friends, romantic partners—are somehow anarchical as a result.

The Will of One

This V-day marks a new chapter in my life story. And it’s an unapologetic HIStory. Aware that this is so much different than using contraception, seeing the smoke rise from my burning vas deferens solderised a new recognition and acknowledgement of my maleness.

I identify as cisgendered. The cauterisation of one of the most male of parts brings to my contemplative mind how we co-create our reality, not just together but in concert with the larger divine will. My considered choice to halt, from me, the flow of new prospective humans is somehow a very male-willed act. It is my personal will. And I’m a man.

I’m tempted to describe this act as a responsibility, though this may be interpreted as a moralistic stance. In any case, I think that my vasectomy is just as much a contribution to the human environment/story as is having offspring. I take responsibility for my choice to not be a progenitor by taking care of all my relations.

As I, as an adult, came to know my biological family, I realise that there was and is great care in having allowed this seed to germinate. It was nature.

As one who was adopted, the many members who I know as family all took great care of me. I was nurtured.

As one who is maturing amongst many trees in many places, I thank you for being part of my family.

May we nurture each other.

It seems to be a natural thing to do.

 

 

 

 

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a practice in dying

“If you would
die well,
permit yourself
to fill
with the rush
of breath,
playful movement,
stirring warmth,
and the clarity
of rest.

The angel
of death
bares no harm
to life
unresisted.”

What blocks us from evolving in a more satisfying or dignified way?
Perhaps fear.
If so, what are we fearful most of?
Perhaps the event that would be the end of all our perceived experience, death.
When we die, what happens? Yes, that timeless question.
Will anyone ever know?
Yes, I would say. I have witnessed hundreds of deaths. Not as a paramedic, an ER doctor, or soldier. I’m speaking of the clichéd ego-death. And yet, not the ones we’re mostly familiar with—the relative ones. But one that comes so efficiently and completely with this particular molecule that can help us die.

What are we free of when we die? What dies? Who dies?

In death, something gives way. Something is released. What is it? Well, amongst other things, all those fears that form much of our identlty—conscious or unconscious. All those barriers that protect us from discomfort, or hold us back from… evolving?

What if we could intentionally be released from all that holds us back, only to come back.
Come back from what? We may have heard the stories of near-death experiences. We may have touched on transcendent joy, ecstasy, bliss. It’s all hard to put into words. It can’t be put into words. It’s ineffable.

What’s not ineffable are the qualities that are linked with an ease—a real ease—of being, a wildness and an innocence that is beyond programming. Not so much a becoming something but maybe an un-becoming, a re-membering of all the disparate parts that would have us feeling broken and not whole.
What are these qualites? Compassion, joy, loving presence, forgiveness, curiosity, empathy, gratitude, grace….

In the full release with the god molecule, death—the temporary yet eternally accessible direct experience with all that is—reveals these qualities by way of helping us shed the patterned, conditioned self. Dying into the whole, into the One. It can be a practice.

Does taking this molecule just give us these qualities? No. However, it can reveal them as we’re released from the dismemberment of a life lived defended, unwitnessed, fragmented. A life sometimes agitated, other times sleepy, tame, perhaps numbed. Tamed by a status quo apparatus that is characterized by echelons of stratified society: separateness.
To separate us.
A sepparatUs.

Perhaps an antidote to this malaise could be a direct experience of unity. This is the reliable potential of the god molecule: it’s trans-personal, trans-human. And yet to be human—to be a cis-human—is to consciously choose to be that, to be here in that, to be here in that now.

And what kind of human do we want to be?
Hopefully not one that is clinging on to life for fear of losing it. Hopefully one that is open to the idea that life is here to be lived and it includes being fully human.
Beautiful human.
Be-a-yoU-to-full, human.
Feel all the feels. Think all the thoughts. Embrace all that there is to be experienced. But first, embracing this experience that is happening right now.

The present moment is eternal. Death, I would say, is that. It’s uncensored by time. And the mind’s ego is the time machine. But the present moment is held. Held in this body—for awhile. And held eternally in infinite awareness.

I don’t wish to embellish or glamourise death. Or make it profane. It is sacred. It is real.
With all due respect, I engage with death to revere even more this life that is being lived.

This is no frivolous adventure.
This is about embodying the freedom to live in an undefended way, in a way that is not fettered by the fear of losing it all. Bringing those heavenly qualities we all have access to and the capacity to cultivate to the forefront of our felt experience.
Because we feel here, with this body.
This wild, ephemeral body.
And we’re on earth.
I practise death to bring heaven on earth.
Sounds like enlightenment?

I don’t know but,

as I learn to die well,

I en-lighten up!

 

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embodied souls

let insufferable loneliness
be a wake up call
if you feel alone,
is it possible that
your exaltation
is limited?

if you can blow your mind
through the roof
and connect to what
we’re all a part of,

can you also blow your heart
through the walls
and connect to what
we’re all living?

let insufferable loneliness
be a wake up call

arise

for, waking up
is not to die
but to transcend
our imagined separation.

we are surrounded by
embodied souls;
may the felt knowing
of oneness
not be limited
to inner work.

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