The Tea Cup
Note: In case you missed it, this is the first in a series of posts exploring Life Unity through masculine and feminine principles. See the post here for more information.
I would like to invite you over for tea.
I'm sure we would have so much to discuss (as long as you don't mind the kids running around and the dog who may or may not jump on your lap). We're very informal and welcoming here so don't feel as though you need be anyone other than who you are.
As the water begins to boil, we sit down to finally partake of the tea.
And here - here is where I bring the conversation around to the concepts that have been making my soul boil...that infamous "masculine" and "feminine" that either intrigues you or makes you cringe.
Masculinity is form. Structure. Line and separation; distinction.
Femininity is space. Openness. Receptivity and wholeness.
Lest you think one is better than the other, that one is more necessary or perhaps more desired, I bring your attention to the boiling water and the tea cups sitting nearby.
The tea cups are form. The delicate curve of the glass as it rides away from the countertop and then slides back into itself, curving into a vessel.
Within the tea cup is space. Space that rests within the walls of the cup as well as space that spills out and around the form.
If I were to pour the boiling water simply into space, I would make quite a mess (and depending on where it landed, our visit and friendship might be over).
If, however, there was just form; if there were no space within the tea cup, there would be no room to pour the boiling water; no room to receive the very essence that the cup is meant to hold.
In order to enjoy our tea, we need both the form of the cup and the space within it.
Such is with life.
We tend to focus on the form - building bigger, stronger tea cups with thicker walls...even decorating them to appease our drive for beauty. Our days are structure, our homes are structure, our disciplined workouts are structure, our cubicles are structure, our schedules so nicely outlined in our fancy planners are structure.
We build stronger structures and celebrate those whose structures seem the strongest. (Ever notice how it is almost (ironically) socially desirable to be "busy" these days...as so many utter, "Oh, work has been so busy!" or "I've been too busy to get around to it!" We all smile and understand.)
Even vacations and retreats are structured. Think of those times where you've been on vacation and returned, only to feel like you need another vacation from that vacation.
We try to focus on the form, that which we falsely believe we can control, that which we falsely believe to be permanent and everlasting. We do this because often we are afraid of the space, the unknown, the darkness....death.
That space is often forgotten or delegated to frequently-disappearing "free-time". Space to sit silently in nature; space to care for ourselves when having an "off-day"; space to simply be without the pull of work or the t.v. or rampant thoughts that want to pull us back into the doing.
When the space is brought into life, it is so easy to feel guilty about it. Personally, if I am practicing creative exploration that I know no one will ever see (and thus isn't earning me money or accolades or assisting with building my business or ego structure), I feel twinges of guilt.
It is hard just to flow with a day that has nothing planned - I feel the pull to fill the space with doing and accomplishing (get the laundry done, get 5 paintings started, get a workout done - or two...).
But without the space, the essence of life has no room to flow.
We build the walls of the tea cup so thick that there is only an ounce of space in which the tea can be poured.
We are dehydrating.
We need both discipline and freedom. We need structure and flow. It may seem paradoxical, but this type of existence is possible in the practical world.
I do not pretend to have the answers how; only the burning desire as my no-space tea-cup overflows and the water boils within, to encourage us to be aware. To acknowledge that we need this space alongside the strict "must-do's" in today's world.
To acknowledge that all we can do is take responsibility for our own cup.
So as I approach with the tea kettle full of boiling water, I ask you to take a look at the cup you brought with you.
Are you ready for me to pour?