Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

As Quietly as a Mouse

One evening, as quietly as a mouse, I crept into stand by the side of my twelve year old son’s bed.  I just stood there, stock still with the night air enveloping me.  I felt to be dissolving into the space and swirling colliding molecules in the air around my body.  For those few moments, time stopped, as I quietly as possible inhaled and exhaled, breathing in my son, his frame barely silhouetted by the light from outside poking in from the space between the Roman shade and the sill.  Quiet.  Night.  Air.  Breath.  Body.  Love. Mother. Son.

Then Aidan said in his still young boy voice that will, no doubt, soon to be changing, “Hi mama.”  Those two simple words spoken all over the world were felt more than heard, reaching into a place inside of me, a place that words cannot touch.  It was the eternal connection between mother and child, as ancient as life itself on this earth.

I climbed into his bed and nuzzled into him, inhaling his boy scent at the nape of his neck, and no other moment mattered but this one.  Time suspended and the only truth for me was our two bodies touching, our hearts loving one another.  A few moments later I asked, “How’d you know I was here?”  He answered without a second’s pause, “I sensed you.”

It is winter in Western New York, cold with snow falling from the vast sky above blanketing the February ground.  Our winter has vacillated from snowy and blustery and freezing, to warm snaps and rain and full melting of the snowy blanket.  Some say it feels strange and I suppose it does to me too.  But it is what we have.  It is our reality in this moment in our earth’s temporal history.

My boys and I like to ski and snowboard.  We went out recently and my oldest, Kailen, sometimes feels a need to leave us so he can really cut loose and practice his snowboard finesse.  I am a skier and my youngest, Aidan, is a boarder.  He is still developing his skill and likes the slopes that are quieter.  He and I found a slope that is shaped in a bowl virtually free of other people.  There is always that one run that sticks with you after a day of being on the slopes.  The sun had just set, and the night time had closed in around the day.  All was still except the sound of our edges meeting the slope, making a crisp swish.  The air felt fresh in my nostrils, the trees were standing guard as we made our way from one side of the bowl to the other.  The experience felt precise and fresh and alive, and it only lasted a few minutes as we traversed that run together in harmony. 

Standing by his bed quietly that same evening, it felt as if we were one, we had perfectly paired on that ski slope and also in those quiet few moments in his bedroom.  The pairing of two human beings happens rather magically and ordinarily.  It cannot be orchestrated.  It simply happens when it happens. And yet these moments of creating something from nothing, from an emptiness to a moment in which the heart feels full and free of preferences and agenda and concepts and stories, are with us throughout our lives, actually throughout our days and moment to moment existence.  It is in being still enough and receptive enough to notice that the gift of oneness is experienced.  Paying attention to our life takes practice. 

Human beings feel a need to protect each other.  As I consider more about this basic instinct to take care of each other, I realize that it takes a certain combination of gentleness, kindness, courage and vulnerability to make ourselves available to both being protected and protecting. 

As a woman, I have made my way in my life after mostly looking after myself and have only in recent years, in my forties, come to see value and a desire in letting myself drop my stories and defenses in order to be protected by another, specifically by a man. 

I think all human beings at their core have a natural instinctive propensity to guard those they love, particularly when we think of mothers and their children.  This is not singularly unique to humans as there are many mammals that fiercely protect their young. 

I am also contemplating the male protecting his loved ones and how this instinct is something so beautiful and tender, and yet possibly something we have pushed away over the last four or five decades as our world changed and women became as prevalent in the work place and our economy as men, and often even earning more than their male partners, and leaving the “mothering” to the fathers in certain circumstances. 

We naturally want to partner and be with others, at least most of us do.  What would account for all the dating sites and new forms and formulations of late 20th and early 21st dating?  I, myself, have come to see very clearly that allowing myself to be cared for, protected by and loved by a man is something that I not only want, it is an innate need of mine, to pair up with someone, the right one, of the opposite sex.  It has taken me years and decades even to admit this, to drop my guard to say this out loud, and inside my own head and heart.  It has taken me a long time to let my vulnerability and tenderness open me to the love of a man, to trust a man enough, to have faith in his stability and constancy, however impermanent; it has taken a lifetime to say I want to grow old with someone.

I see clearly now that as much as men, at least the ones I am honored to know, want to protect their loved ones, with fierce and fearless hearts, they are vulnerable themselves, and they must trust in their tenderness and strength enough to offer this to another person, a woman, their beloved.  To protect, one must become vulnerable to their own hearts, they risk being rejected and pushed away; they risk losing the one they love as impermanence is a certainty as surely as we live and breathe.  And yet the urge to pair is so primordial and transformative, that we if we risk and see clearly our own self and the other self that wants to be loved and protected, then pairing becomes quite possible and quite lovely. 

And, listening, deep profound and abiding listening, is the fertile ground that loving, good, protecting relationships need.  We have a yearning to be loved, and it nourishes us.  It nourishes our primordial beings.  And I sense in my atoms and molecules and nuclei of my being, that surely as I return to my breath, I wish to return to someone’s loving embrace and protectiveness.  For me there is this visceral feeling of coming home to a primeval forest, an ever-moving stream in the fresh mountain air.


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