As I sit here filing my nails, I wonder what it is to be a true man. Maybe some Hollywood wisdom can help me answer the question.
In the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, the wealthy but wheelchair-bound Big Lebowski says to the Dude (who shares the same last name): "Funny, I can look back on a life of achievement—on challenges met, competitors bested, obstacles overcome. I’ve accomplished more than most men, and without the use of my legs. What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski? Is it being prepared to do the right thing—whatever the cost? Isn’t that what makes a man?"
To which the Dude replies, "Ummm...sure. That, and a pair of testicles."
Speaking of cinematic humor, this weekend I saw the new Marvel adventure movie Thor: Ragnarok, in which the theme of masculinity is thoroughly explored, with plenty of laughs along the way. For instance, on the planet Sakaar, where Thor manages to get stranded, there are intergalactic portals literally dropping out of the sky. To leave the planet, one merely has to fly a spaceship through the portal of their choice, and voilà—the ship will be rocketed to another dimension. The most intimidating portal on Sakaar is a swirling vortex of red, chaotic energy, and it catapults space voyagers farther than any other portal, so for those wishing to zoom extra far into the universe, the risk may be worth the reward. And what is the name of that dangerous but powerful portal? It is none other than: the devil's anus.
Ultimately, Thor must bite the bullet and venture into the devil's anus so that he can return back to his home planet and save his people from the clutches of an evil sorceress (who happens to be his sister). The film is full of other innuendos and self-deprecating quips that get uttered by Thor and the other male superheroes, so that thick layer of humor balances out the more macho and aggrandizing elements of the movie. The influx of comedy and humility into the ever-expanding Marvel universe is a refreshing and well-rounded approach to satisfying the market's demand for ongoing sagas of epic proportions. We, the audience, still yearn for big muscles and superhuman strength, but we also want to see the characters get humanized and brought down to our level. Fortunately, Thor: Ragnarok accomplishes the paradox splendidly.
But, life is not exactly like a Hollywood movie, obviously. There aren't any clever editing cuts or tricks of cinematography that can conveniently bundle up our experience into a well-packaged, 2-hour performance that disappears when we leave the theater. Our experience is ever-present, unedited, unbroken, and very long...much longer than a couple of hours. Real life is far more complex than a fictional story on screen, and that is why real life is truly miraculous, because our continuous passage through space and time is filled with unfathomable depth, substance, and meaning. And what a joy it is that we get to navigate and decode the movie mystery that is our life!
Anyway, going back to the theme of masculinity, I am finding that what gets me in touch with the divine masculine is to strive for integrity, autonomy, value through service, exquisite skill in my profession and other endeavors, and yes, to cultivate self-deprecating humor and humility. This package of enlightenment is surely diverse, and at times, the ripening of one's character requires a softening of the heart, while at other times, a hardening of personal will is what's called for. Sometimes, as a man, you have to be silky smooth and flow like water. Other times, you have to stand firm like a mountain. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
As we can clearly discern, the divine feminine is also soaring into the visible foreground of not only Hollywood, but our culture in general. A wise man will integrate this rise of Shakti, and use that renaissance to kindle his own vitality and self-worth.
Thank you for reading. Be still, and flow.