The other day at the post office, I became aware of how I categorize men. I instinctively smiled at a white-haired old man wearing a baggy white shirt and an odd-shaped straw hat who held open a door for me. I realized that if he had been young and attractive, I probably would have 1) gazed off cooly into space and brushed past, or 2) smiled back at him self-consciously, lips pressed together. If he had been middle-aged with a prosperous paunch, I might have frowned at him, even insisted that he go through the door first. (I’ve been known to flourish my arm gallantly in those situations, which confuses them considerably.) Age, ethnic differences, socio-economic status and “vibes” affect whether a man seems threatening, kind, annoying or someone I could trust in an emergency.

I go for men with longer hair and beards. Men can express themselves better when they let those curls dangle, and let their facial hair grow the way it wants to. These sweet-smelling shirt-and-tie types seldom appeal to me esthetically. Face and hair: that’s the way I see men, and women too, I think. Yet when a man describes another man to me, I hear his height, build and a vague stab at hair color. Do cultural differences divide the sexes on such a basic level as visualization?

There are still some taboos that give me trouble. At a bookstore one day, I couldn’t buy an erotic novel because there was a man at the counter. Would he raise his eyebrows and laugh lewdly as I walked out? I ended up buying it with no trouble at another bookstore with a woman at the cash register. I felt very unliberated. Yet I’ve never found it too embarrassing to buy jockey shorts or condoms for a man, though some men I’ve known have balked at buying tampons or diaphragm gel.

One ugly aspect of men is their potential to rape or overpower me. Men honking at me from cars as I walk alone is usually a degrading experience. If a man starts to follow me, or I’m on a deserted street, my heart starts pounding and my mouth gets dry and it’s all I can do not to break into a dead run. Men seldom consider this problem, certainly never fearing attack from females. Once I was visiting a man I’ve known since childhood at his apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He is short, unathletic, and gay. He told me, “Don’t be afraid of this neighborhood. I’ve never had any problems. You see old women walking their dogs at midnight.” So I walked at dusk to a grocery store. I was propositioned three times, one man asking me if I was a prostitute, and leered at by nearly every male I passed. I came back frightened, having lost my way at one point, and tried to explain to my friend that it was different for a young woman alone. It also makes me mad when I am asked to work overtime at an office, and male co-workers jeeringly refuse to walk me to my car or a bus stop.

I’m angry at being a victim of sexism, especially so many years after the women’s movement began. Sometimes I mention in a job interview that I just couldn’t put up with sexism from a boss. I think that disqualifies me ipso facto. But I have been belittled, flattered, harassed, squelched and generally manipulated by too many men who held power over me in the form of a paycheck. Even more galling are men who are equal to me in pay or position but assume they can arrogantly order me around. Probably these men receive the worst of the righteous indignation I cannot fully express to the “boss.”

I need men to balance my life. I feel lucky that the men of my generation have questioned traditional sex roles. It’s been a long time since I’ve related to a man who was overtly sexist. But I continually grapple with how this sexist culture not only prevents women from developing their full potential, but locks men into oppressor roles that inhibit their growth.

Louise Harris
Durham, N.C.

At a bookstore one day, I couldn’t buy an erotic novel because there was a man at the counter.

If I were ever the centerfold in Playboy and had to list my “turn-ons,” I’d say verbal, curly-headed, Jewish boys in faded blue-jean jackets who are 5’10” and 140 pounds. Obviously, Hugh will never ask me.

Besides these structural and aesthetic concerns, I’m always attracted by thoughtful, mature and liberated men.

I’m an undergraduate at Boston University and am concentrating in accounting and minoring in philosophy. Financial security and independence are important to me. However, when it comes to the man I want to marry I don’t think first of his title or professional status but of his values, his relationship to his family, how he treats his other friends, and how he treated his old girl friends.

I want to spend my time with a loving, self-confident person. What a new idea, huh?


Kelley Whaley
Boston, Massachusetts

I think women are tight with the power of beauty. . . . They’re more whole, more ideal, more sufficient, closer to the way the universe operates.

What is a woman?

I used to think that biology had the answer. But maybe it doesn’t.

Several months ago I got to know a seventeen-year-old girl who was doing well living on her own after leaving her close-knit, small-town home over a disagreement about sex. The disagreement was very fundamental.

She thought she was a girl, while her family thought she was a boy.

Behavior was on her side, while biology was on theirs.

But in society, looks are what really counts, and in that department there was no doubt. She was a girl. And very attractive.

Her problems were mostly standard teenage ones: Is that cute guy I met at the pool going to ask me out? What will I do for a car next week? Will those creeps at work give me a raise? Why do zits show up on weekends?

Never mind that she had a thing hanging there. The surgeons would take care of that eventually. Meanwhile, she knew who she was, and the world outside her family seemed to agree.

Which was pretty amazing, considering that she had been a functioning female for only a few months. Her driver’s license, issued less than a year before, showed a drab-looking sixteen-year-old boy. Then, she was an object of ridicule. Now, she turned heads.

Her parents were pretty warped by it all.

She was her father’s only son after a series of daughters by two marriages. And the old man named her after himself — a junior.

Then the kid grew up, said, “Sorry, I’m a girl,” and was.

It’s hard to think of her as a transsexual. The transsexuals I’ve seen on TV, or read about, or met, seemed unconvincing, as a rule. But this girl says that those are the “public” ones, the ones who want publicity or had fame before they made the change. Most of the normal ones just blend in. They want to be accepted. And so they are.

***

And now here comes Dr. John Money of Johns Hopkins University, the surgeon who performed the first sex-change operation in America and a big authority on biology and psychology of sex, with another mystery to kill.

Money says that the day is coming when people will be able to change their sex completely, just by taking a few well-mixed chemicals. Right down to baby-power for ex-men. Some fish do this already, without chemical assistance.

***

What is the real mystery? Is it the bedrock of yin and yang, the cosmic duality that accounts for all things that emerge from differences? Or, as some Eastern religions might ask, are there any numbers other than One?

Mystery is a measure of beauty. Emerson said that if the stars only appeared once every thousand years, their beauty would be legend.

Through beauty, matter makes loves to life.

And vice versa.

The power of beauty, of creation, of being itself, is the power that makes wholes more than sums of parts, that makes nothing into matter and matter into life.

I think women are tight with the power of beauty. Like the universe, before the Big Bang. Like you, before you were born. I submit that women are wholes that exceed the sums of their parts more than men do. Not by much, but enough to account for a difference. They’re more whole, more ideal, more sufficient, closer to the way the universe operates.

Sometimes I think they know it. They may not know they know it, because it may be too familiar. Some women prefer the more trivial powers that men in our culture have more of — like physical strength, political power, corporate influence, and other things that rely more on force than love.

Maybe men seek those brute things because men aren’t as whole as women are, and want to narrow the margin.

I can look at the works of civilization that men have dominated — the religions, the sciences, the philosophies, the laws — and see an infinity of details that add up to a sum infinitely smaller than what women are born just knowing.

Maybe I’m full of shit.

And maybe that’s how my male intellect meets an insoluble mystery — with bullshit.

On reading this in its last draft, a female friend of mine remarked, “It’s simple: Women attract, men attack.”

There you have it. The utterly complex yields to the utterly simple. And like up and down, yin and yang, infinite and finite, spiritual and material, one defines the other.

The world depends on the dialectic of forces that men and women epitomize: the passive/soft/life-giving/spiritual force that women seem made for; and the active/hard/lifetaking/material force that men seem made for.

So I arrive at the answer my father always gave to evade tough questions: “Well, it depends.”

That’s why men and women.

They depend.

David Searls
Durham, N.C.

Angry sister with bitter tongue, why can’t you understand we must walk the path towards sexual liberation together or not at all. We have been living a lie for so many centuries of the patriarchial God. Don’t feed ourselves or our children new lies of Mother Supremacy. Can you imagine that man’s bondage from Old Testament God and Aristotelian science is as great as women’s?

I have been called a coward, a sissy, a “sensitive” mystic and queer — all in the pursuit of Truth. You think it’s easy for all men. Well, sorry sister, your stereotype does not fit. We do not all believe football is the only important thing to do on Sunday nor scientific method the only way into truth. Some of us begin to trust our intuition, some court the mother’s magnetism, some suckle at her breast.

Sister, I get weary and resentful of your relentless persecution that denies me my sensitivity and hangs me for my strengths. I am a peace, I am a power that as yet has no definition in our society. Neither religion, nor psychology, nor military, nor business, nor science understands the true nature of male.

So on the way towards sexual liberation I must continue. But I keep believing that tantra holds the secrets of that liberation, not that we need to fuck more, but that our energies as masculine and feminine are complementary, and that both participate in a whole that is beyond liberation of one at the expense of the other.

Name Withheld
Durham, N.C.

I see Man as a star, a direction, an orientation, the point of origin, and the place where all time ends.

I look upon Man as a butterfly surveying a flowerbed, tasting, testing, or as a hawk crouched in the high weeds on a roadbank glaring at automobiles speeding by. I see Man as a hummingbird, a moment’s radiance which hovers unscheduled, vanishing in half a heartbeat.

I reach for Man’s hand the same way I struggled for my father’s hand, when we used to survey laid-by fields, grown over with the brambles of blackberry groves, harboring dens of copperheads.

I look up to Man, as I did to my father, the first Man I dared to trust and to love. Men are not like him.

I care for Man, as I now care for my mother, wintering, crippled by time, tested by storm.

I see Man as all the light I lack. Life is not as bright nor fruitful without him. I see Man, seeing, strip away all his trappings of stage dressings, dismiss his barnstormings and his posturings, referee his war games.

I see Man as the child I suckle, a kitten with eyes half-opened, a fever that seizes me when midnight comes.

I see in him the best and the worst qualities of myself. In the wake of many loves, many men and two children, I see Man as an omen of tomorrow’s coming terror, a lethal disease, a disguised born enemy, a danger to ward off like a rattlesnake or a pack of mad dogs.

Like Lord Byron, the second man I dared to love, I can neither live with you nor without you.

And so I keep on, loving you, Man, even when faith and trust are rust. I go on living, looking, learning you, learning your loves, your fears, your despairs, your wild-bird heart.

I see Man as a poem to be sung, an afghan to be crocheted, an awry picture to be straightened, a field to be sown. I see Man as a secret art to be mastered, made, because I see in him all the tapestries we can weave together.

I see Man as my brother, lover, friend, parent, priest, son, sire because my Mother, the Great Mother, made him so. I do not always agree with Her, but She DOES know best.

Lastly, I seen Man as the persimmon tree in the northern field sees all the young birds in spring, all the flocks of wild geese migrating south overhead, leaving me, periodically, seasonally, forever abandoning me to winter winds and snowdrifts over the running cedars, always coming back. So, appropos of Count Dracula, I see Man, and say, as the good Count said in greeting Jonathan Harker, “Welcome the traveller, speed the parting guest.”

Some day, with some Man, I am going to share Emerson: “Nothing that is good and fair grows alone.”

I see Man as a co-prisoner in an alien wasteland, because we are both more than we know and less than we could ever imagine. I see Man and would tell him what I have written, seen, been, dreamed, lived, died, reworked, prayed; but we do not speak the same language, no longer share the heart’s tongue.

So I see Man. And I go talk to the Moon.

Mariposa
Hurdle Mills, N.C.

I was talking to a good friend, she said a good friend
Told her, if you want to be happy with a man,
        learn to settle for
Two out of three.

One, a man can understand you, talk to you,
        think like you, or
Two, you can find a man to finance your way,
        he can pay for
The house, keep the shoes on the feet of the children or
Heat the bed up around you, now that’s three,
        she says, a
Woman will never see.

Well, I’m not ready for gay liberation, don’t need
        the frustration
Of celibacy.
You mean to tell me there’s no situation,
        where I can have,
One, two, three?

I can do without the money with a man
        to call me honey.
We can go see foreign films together and talk ’bout
The symbols and the substance . . . but what about
        a new addition,
Who will pay the obstetrician?

I can always talk with friends, I’ll take a lover
        who can made the ends meet,
I’ll bring him his slippers for his feet . . . while he
Watches TV basketball, and Hee Haw, NFL, drinks
        his beer, what the hell.

Maybe I can make it with a guy who’s so-so naked,
With security and company, I’ll sublimate
        instead of mate,
Learn to ration my passion — get involved in
        art and writing . . .
Do a lot of horseback riding.

Should I be thinking, ’bout gay liberation? Don’t
        need the frustration
Of celibacy. You mean to tell me there’s no situation
Where I can have one, two, three?

Deep inside I can’t help hoping someday I will
        be eloping
With a man who’s loving, honest, and true,
Understands me when I’m feeling blue — and he’ll be
        in the black
And so inspired in the sack —
I won’t resign to compromising, life is sweet
        and so surprising,
I’ll just hang on waiting so patiently, for a fellow
        who’s one, two, three.

©Copyright Jenovefa Knoop

From the musical, “Flo Is Crazy”
Jenovefa Knoop
Durham, N.C.

Women are friends. We need each other, but sexist notions are difficult to overcome. A woman may need real affection, a little kindness and understanding. Women get tired of all the games and phonies. We don’t have to prove anything.

Real values and ideals fall aside when women and men become predatory creatures attempting to conquer or control each other. Women deserve more from our society than its vicious games.

Women can bring ideas, intelligence and sensitivity to a relationship, if they have an opportunity. Men can learn that women are human beings, with needs and feelings. For some men a woman is like a new car, something they polish and drive and trade in for a newer model. A woman is not an exotic creature to be hunted and caged for display. She is a person with rights and dignity.

Many people are married before they realize they don’t really love each other. Women and men need each other in so many ways. Sex cannot substitute for real love. Seduction doesn’t prove anything. Trust and honesty are essential to real love and genuine commitment.

Men and women are special to each other. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no,” but it’s not easy. Those who do anything to get what they want lose everything that is really important. They’ll never have what they really need. If you can’t say “no” to someone without losing them, what have you really lost? Giving in only leads to guilt feelings and sick jealousy if the relationship continues for a time. Nothing really worth anything is easy.

Ralph LeVelle Blondell
Wichita, Kansas

Sometimes I wrestle with the fragile, little princess inside, who keeps waiting to be swept off her feet, and rescued from herself by the prince. It’s too late. I’m already committed to this road. . . .

I don’t think we see each other very clearly at all. We are somewhat terrified of one another.

How do men see women? I sense fear behind acts of violence toward women. But the others? Is it because they need us? Their emotional lives have been nipped in the bud. Women often act as substitutes and/or guides for the male’s suppressed emotional development. We also serve as mirrors that reflect a thoroughly perfect man — often to twice his normal wonderfulness. Some men’s self-images would collapse but for the kindly lies we tell them.

There are men who see my body, but not much else. Maybe they stick to their whistling because they fear losing in a battle of wits; it’s a cave-man-like form of communicating — but their way of reaching out nonetheless.

For another group of men, I have been a very non-flesh-and-blood goddess, incapable of unkindness or indiscretion. Do these men sit somewhere with fingers crossed, hoping against hope that I’ll live up to their image of me? I keep wondering how they rationalize the often rather untimely ending to our relationship, when at last I hang up the phone a little too soon and “forget” to call again.

Another set of men enjoyed me as a delicious treat, every few days, or months. I realize now that I attracted this. They seemed so happy just to taste and swallow, and equally happy to get up from the table and slip out the back door. I was in awe of this manner of living, at the time. Now I see them as downright skittish, avoiding any whiff of continuity, commitment or even the simple gesture of a phone call to warn of a long absence.

Lately I have refused to entertain the hesitant men. Only those who are serious need apply. And they do! Sometimes I feel like the little girl who prayed for excitement, and then her house burned down. I was impressed that so many were serious and eager. But I realized it wasn’t me they wanted as much as the fact of a woman beside them. They offered a wealth of potential commitment, but I remain suspicious. They want to borrow my own sense of self-satisfaction, which I’ve worked for, without finding it within themselves. Anyway, it’s surprising to see men so willing to form attachments, while many of my women friends are not so ready anymore. This is no accident. I’ve noticed how marriage seems to favor men more than women, and I think we’re finally starting to admit this.

Finally, there are the men who nourish my undying hopefulness. I give them credit for guiding me out of radical (and half-formulated) man-hating. Some of them happen to be my own brothers. Several more have become my brothers.

How do I see these very special men? They are very real; they admit to feelings (all sorts of “unacceptable” ones). Their numbers are growing. They are beginning to recognize each other, to join together in support groups.

My father — the first man in my life. His lusty, booming voice still floods my memory. In any room, his presence was undeniable; he was the center of every party. (How consistently I’ve avoided life-of-the-party types.) My father never admitted to any insecurity or inconsistency; I wonder if he ever wonderered. No man ever seemed so sure of himself. The church helped him along, providing rules for him to follow — which he did, to the letter, even if it meant withholding his love from us. His sense of justice was almost violent: I could never win an argument, let alone stay in the ring for a few rounds. His index finger still shakes in my face when I can’t come up with suitable documentation to support my opinions. Growing up, I thought his reality was the only one. Now I know that he was merely a staunch member of a particular club of insiders, supporting the white, middle-class traditional lifestyle. He was actually very frightened of change, and any movement that was a threat to his capital and comfort. But the times continued to change; I think his unbendability shortened his life.

There is a wonderful new man who has come out of the ’60’s and ’70’s. He listens. He is less afraid of his deepest feelings. He knows how to move his body. He listens to himself. He doesn’t need to prove his manhood by damaging himself in the popular sports. He attaches greater importance to reaching out and connecting to other human beings. His awareness of others manifests itself in all of his encounters, especially in his kindness toward strangers. He recognizes the interdependence among all of us, and understands the wheel of karma.

I love this new man, whose presence encourages me to love others — and myself. He is amazingly unthreatened by my opinions, my intellect, my desires. Sometimes I slip back into former ways, and find his apparent passivity annoying, forgetting that he is merely coming down from his often painful role as aggressor, to meet me halfway. This new man doesn’t dare presume to steal me away from my own destiny. I go ahead with my own life, even when it gets a little lonely. Sometimes I wrestle with the fragile little princess inside, who keeps waiting to be swept off her feet, and rescued from herself by the prince. It’s too late. I’m already committed to this road, no matter how scared or tentative I feel.

I need more exposure to those healthy men out there. But I sure have come a long way from those waiting-by-the-phone days. I know men can be my friends and see me as I am, without needing to make me into their own image and likeness. I know I will learn how to offer them that same disinterested love in return; not apathy, but respect for their choices and needs, a distancing from their needs; not a compulsion to fulfill their very desire, nor guilt for not being able to; the grace of knowing we can’t be all things to each other. This is the sort of love between people that begins within and grows outward, expanding beyond the individual to touch everyone, a love that doesn’t die with the death of the relationship.

Mary A. Curran
Minneapolis, Minnesota

My feelings concerning men are many-sided, yet not easily defined. After growing up in a family where the women outnumbered the men six to two and my father was (and still is) a very domineering Italian, I found men an intriguing mystery. Yet, I am constantly prey to men full of promises and empty words, but short of deeds. Searching for a gentle soul in a man, I left myself open to dreamers and con men. Now I have two young sons and am sadly separated from a man I love dearly because we cannot live in harmony and trust.

As a woman, I’ve been constantly struggling to separate selfishness from just creating some space and self-esteem of my own. My conclusion at this point is that men are easy to love, but hell to live with. I hope that is as short-sighted as my perception was at eighteen (I am now twenty-eight). One of my life’s goals is, certainly, to live in harmony with my natural counterpart. It is so dreary to feel like one is part of an undeclared civil war between the sexes. But worse, it is frightful to see effects such has on the family; divorce is as common as marriage these days. Now granted, my separation, and probably many others, came about because women won’t tolerate behavior from men that was once simply accepted. There is no going back. So I will be optimistic and believe that this is a part of human evolution and the rough strife we find between men and women is a bit like the rapids in a stream. I am looking forward to reaching that placid pool.

Lynn Cimino
Manchester, Tennessee

Some go for looks and money. I go for quality: those rich, not with dollars, maybe, but with what they can share — poetry, knowledge, laughter. Who is not beautiful when you enjoy him and he enjoys himself?

Background means practically nothing. Anyone can rise, “aristobrat” or whoreson. It’s what the person has to offer.

Men can be wonderful or general asses, and lumping them into one group is simplistic and stupid. I like a man who feels comfortable doing a lot of things and is not overly conscious of role, getting really greasy working on the T-bird, baking a cake, watching football, or enjoying (or making the effort to enjoy) the opera. Someone open to new experiences but not reckless. Most importantly, someone who cares about himself as a human being and makes others want to care about themselves too.

S. L.
Durham, N.C.

Men see women, like most men unconsciously see themselves as objects. Women are the softer, rounder ones. Much is made of the differences. (Hey hey. Vive la difference! Hubba hubba.) Yet, the celebration of these differences, in a culture obsessed with physical appearances and fascinated with individualism but which ignores objectification and the deeper similarities of people, seems a bit cock-eyed. Starving for sustenance, we’re comparing packages in the supermarket.

I was eighteen when it first dawned on me that getting touched and kissed by pretending to be sincerely caring is an empty fulfillment and that at both ends of the pretense is a real person. When our summer “romance” was over, she asked a direct and loaded question: “Did you really like me?” I said, “Yes.” Much later I cried with embarrassment and regret for having lied. The truth had been understood anyway.

Then followed years of uncovering further ulterior motives: I got engaged to please my parents — I broke the engagement; I tried to create an ideal marriage — that one ended in divorce; with one woman I wanted to be in control, with another I wanted to be out of control; I wanted security, continuity, spontaneity; I wanted someone to take care of me; I wanted her to be perfect.

Somewhere along the way I stopped watching TV. That helped. I lived for seven years in a commune dedicated to building non-sexist culture — from the abolition of sex-stereotyping in work roles to the elimination of gender-biased pronouns in speech patterns. That helped. I had female friends who became feminists and remained friends. I discovered some men to be close friends. That helped. I started to see others (both men and women) as people first. I began to enjoy the clarity of non-romantic companionship or being alone more than the mythology of sentimental coupledom. That helped a lot.

Gradually, some men are clearing through the haze of their culturally conditioned mind. Seeing ourselves more clearly restores our person-ality and allows us to see others without distortion. We have to acknowledge that men and women have a humanity in common; and especially we have to go through a process of de-conditioning: of examining what our attitudes and actions are, realizing where those come from, and discovering how to accomplish and integrate changes. Then we can begin to appreciate the real differences between the sexes and the real similarities beyond people’s uniqueness.

[Toward such a goal, another man and I recently have started offering, for men only, workshops on “Relating To and Working With Women Without Sexism.” Designed for men who have begun to think about and want to change their behavior toward women, the workshops will focus on problem-solving and skill development as well as on awareness. Anyone interested can contact me through Current Associates, P.O. Box 1011, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514.]

Steven Fisher
Carrboro, N.C.

Asking how women view men is asking us to see all humans as either “sugar and spice” or “snips and snails.” It’s time we start to look at individuals for their own unique worth or unworth. It’s time we stopped labelling and fragmenting the human condition.

Sure, I’m a woman, and I’m different from a man; I revel in those differences, but I’m also different from any other female. I look at a man not exactly the same way I look at a woman, admittedly, but usually this is a result of a sexual, biological framework that we all inherit, and one that we should grow more comfortable with each passing year of our lives.

I can tell you how I see, and how I respond to a particular male, but I cannot tell you how I see men. That’s too general, unjustified, and just plain false reckoning. I will tell you that I’m a woman who’s comfortable with myself, my sexuality, and my choice of friends, whether they be male or female. I will tell you that I think men are delightful, and complex creatures (as are women).

There was a famous man who, when asked why he wasted his time in conversation with another man who was a known bore, replied, “Why, I have never met a man who was a bore! If any man appears boring I would find that fact absolutely fascinating, and would immediately set about trying to discover why he is so boring.” This man had the key — open the door; let curiosity and kindness in; and let’s give everybody a chance, not a category.

Carolyn Vero Downs
Carrboro, N.C.

When a woman looks into the face of a man, she sees all the wonders of the universe embodied there — the hopes of his childhood and the rivers of his memory, with all the stories these tell. When she sees how tall he stands as he walks beside the road, her heart melts in the desire to honor his wishes by some gift or prayer or time with him. She can’t bear to offend him because his respect for her is the best feeling she knows and the highest tribute to her life. Having displeased him because of some gross unthoughtfulness, she feels miserable and wants to hide from the deep penetration of his eyes which see so far. If she were selfish, conceited, and too forward, she begins to learn to stay within herself, being silent, open, not hoping for anything, because it can’t be said in advance what anyone needs to share with or take from her.

At the end of the day, if a woman feels her man coming close beside her, growing warm and firm against her thigh, some tenderness comes and she longs to wrap her body all around his. And if, in the morning, he gets up and goes to the office, and maybe she stays home, he hears the echo of his heartbeat all day. As she works in the kitchen and stops to think a moment, she feels where he is and how it goes with him, and begins to guess what he will want when he comes home.

Sometimes, when it seems as though he never might cherish any of the trivial miracles of her life, even though she knows it’s not important, she makes some plan to get away — just to feel safe again. But that doesn’t make her happy. And sometimes she can’t decide if she is really strong enough to take on all the activities that support his duties and private dreams. But if he gives her his steady perseverance and his wisdom, he leads her the right direction — wherever it’s meant that she should go. Without him, she sinks too deep within her own shell and times grow cloudy for her.

If he shares with her his diligence and strength, she begins to blossom and becomes most beautiful for him and thus for everyone who comes her way. And he doesn’t have to strain to give so much because it’s just natural to him, and it’s just by seeing how he is that she can grow to be the true fulfillment of his deepest desires. He’s just himself and she’s just herself, and no one is straining to be anything more. That’s when they are matched and something good happens as if by chance.

If she hears his voice, there’s something solid there and profound for her. Often she wants to offer him something, some praise or even an apology, but she doesn’t know how to speak quietly into the vast aura of his being where he is already full and knowledgeable and practiced in self-sufficiency. Sometimes when he lets her know how he feels or what she’s like to him, she’s so dumbfounded that she doesn’t say anything or just changes the subject right away out of embarrassment. It’s not that she doesn’t appreciate everything he says, but that she feels shy. If she focuses too much on how powerful he is, she can become so intimidated tha she even gives up trying to please him. She just goes on talking too fast and not saying anything of what is in her heart or on her mind.

If a woman wants to be with a man, she should have a good comfortable place with him, where they can let go of their boundaries and merge into each other’s universes. Then in a while he can take her anywhere because she’s at home in his heart which is the best place she can be. And he knows that she will always want to be beside him offering some shelter or approval or just any word or the silence that his needs demand. In the end, she dies to herself in loving him and when she looks into his face, she sees her Self as well as his Own, pure and radiant and full of Love Divine. But even then, she never really knows exactly how he sees her. . . .

Kathleen Snipes
Chapel Hill, N.C.