Thoughts on pinecones, ripening babies, and fast and slow energies.
One summer morning at Black Hill, a mother and her girl and boy walked towards me down the uneven shade-dappled slope, the small boy’s gaze fixed on a huge pinecone in his dimpled hand. “That’s a big pinecone!”, I said as we drew level, my thoughts turning to the small forest encoded in the seeds of the spiky brown marvel in his grip. He nodded shyly as he passed, and his mother turned back to grin and say, “He’s calling it a grenade”. I smiled, recognising how early the differences between masculine and feminine ways of being emerge. He wasn’t thinking about a potential forest. He was thinking about how he could repurpose it into a weapon that works quickly.
The little boy’s ‘grenade’ spoke to me of the often fast, externally expressed problem-solving masculine energy that wants to get things done fast. To find a tool, or linear way of doing things that brings about a conclusion in as expedient a way as possible. An energy that’s beneficial, that gets things done when well-directed and -manifested, an energy women appreciate, value and incorporate, even if they don’t always identify with the explosive power and speed of its extremes.
Yesterday I spoke with a dear friend whose daughter, hospitalised with mystery pain and contractions at the end of her seventh month of pregnancy, is now comfortable at home and stable. Her worry was over. The slow, steady days of the pregnancy are restored, the pace of her grand-child’s growth re-established.
A sense of the relieved, slow energy of my friend’s daughter awaiting the baby now safely ripening within her flooded through me too, as I remembered the long satisfying wait for my own daughter. Female bodies, with their fertility cycles, their potential for the slow swelling of life, are joined with minds capable of less hurried ways of reaching conclusions. There’s something innate in women in touch with themselves that can slow them, guide them to subtle signs that reveal the rightness of timing.
I’m noticing women friends, and women I know via the web, who’ve tipped – in increments they’ve barely registered – into fast, eyes-on-the-prize male energy that wants action and results right now, and who feel like exhausted failures when progress doesn’t fit the accelerated timetable they’re working to. Who can blame them for feeling this way; they’re saturated with carefully designed messages from a cacophony of web touts blaring strident definitions of success that often don’t match female other-directed ways of doing things. And yet, dismissing the benefits of ‘male’ ways is regressive – there’s balance to be found.
The pervasive mid-2oth century second wave feminist idea that differences between men and women were for the most part a result of cultural and social conditioning was a pernicious disservice to both women and men. The evidence for fundamental differences in the way we think, feel and do things – found in fields like evolutionary biology and psychology, and neuroscience research – continues to mount. Women and men are yin and yang, complementary and interdependent, rather than opposing forces.
A woman doesn’t need to become like a man to succeed. Her ancient intuitive feminine energy waits patiently within her. By paying attention to the wordless knowing of her body, she can learn to pause awhile before deciding whether outside advice is what she needs. She can welcome spacious internal gestation periods before what she wants to do is either expressed or not expressed, rather than rushing herself to premature or unsuitable outcomes. She’ll find herself in a wide field of creative possibilities. She’ll honour and nurture each ripening’s own patient internal energy – seed encodings that bloom in their own way and time – energy that guides a woman to feel into her own depths about what’s right for her.
Women’s bodies hold space for the slow growth of emerging life. Holding the necessary space for the maturing and emerging of our desires can be deliberately slow too. If we allow it.
© Susie Surtees. All Rights Reserved.
Clarissa Pinkole Estes’ book, ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’ is a fine guide for reuniting women with the feminine.
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