Tuesday, 13 May 2008

In Flight Selves: 2

The negative bonding with the passenger on my left (see part 1) had kicked in within minutes of entering the aircraft. I wanted to escape from his energy and the unpleasant judgements and feelings I was having around him. Withdrawal rather than confrontation has always been my primary way of dealing with discomfort. Maybe I could move. There were three empty seats to my right and I had my eye on them. How perfect it would be if I could just slip across the aisle…. But just at the last minute a young family boarded and settled in to them. Damn! The flight was full so there was no escape.

As I pondered my predicament I found myself becoming interested in the family - especially the father. I guess he must have been in his early thirties. His beautiful wife was clearly pregnant and between them sat their little boy - probably around three years old. The father was good looking, wearing fashionably relaxed clothing that intimated a defined yet not overly muscular physique. His clothes - designer jeans, a T-shirt with some kind of biker logo on it and black leather boots - suggested a macho personality. Yet in his interactions with his wife, fellow passengers and air stewards he was soft spoken and polite. He also supported and hugged his wife when she appeared overwhelmed with the task of feeding or changing their son. I imagined him to be a perfect lover. With his son he was attentive, caring and patient. The perfect father! I also noticed that he had strong, powerful hands.

Having resolved my negative bonding with the passenger to my left, I now felt my attention shifting more and more to this wonderful man to my right. To me he seemed to embody the essence of strong yet sensitive male energy. I realised that in my fantasy about him I was putting him onto a pedestal and making him too perfect. What disowned selves were at work here?

On my wall at home I have one of Jan Saudek’s iconographic pictures called “Life” (www.saudek.com/en/jan/hlasovani.html?fid=20). It shows a young, muscular, working-class man wearing jeans and no shirt holding a naked baby to his chest. We cannot see his face or the lower part of his body. His hands are large and his nails are stained, indicating that he does hard manual work. The baby seems secure and safe in his arms - one hand cradling its body, the other protecting its head. The image is immensely strong yet tender and I have always been drawn to it. I imagined my neighbour to be exactly this kind of man.

My grandfather was a blacksmith - strong and with the kind of hands that Saudek’s man and my fellow passenger had. He left school when he was fourteen. He wanted me to get the education he never had and go to university. When I accessed his introject many years ago in a session with Hal, he said that he now regretted this because going to university had created a monster! He saw me as effete, overly sophisticated and much too intellectual. His injunction was simple: work hard, eat when hungry and sleep when tired.

As I grew up, I developed a very strong Rational Mind as a primary self and I have experienced a lot of my life through that Rational Mind. I have largely disowned my grandfather’s hands and his kind of practical, responsible masculinity. I have never had a manual job or taken care of a wife and children. My own strong, nurturing father and husband energies have been buried. I realise I was projecting these disowned selves onto the man to my right.

So what was the lesson here? As I watched this capable father across the aisle I could see that by embracing some of my disowned masculine energy I would have more confidence and presence in the world; I would be more balanced and grounded in my relationships; and, most importantly, I would be better able to nurture and protect my own Inner Child.

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