Notes on the Journey

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Keep An Open Mind

I watched the Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner and thought it was very well done.  Not only was there a lot of time spent talking with him, but there was also a lot of information given and time spent educating the viewers.  For most of us, these issues have been more recently raised, and there are a lot of questions that come up.  The program did a good job of trying to answer many of those questions.

Bruce Jenner, to his great credit, was very honest and forthcoming about answering all the questions Diane Sawyer put to him.  And, he kept his sense of humor about his journey, throughout.  I was also happy to see that he has a good understanding of the role he's playing for the collective, and how he's in service through the sharing of his experience.  He said that he thinks his whole life has prepared him for this moment, and I think that's true for all of us.  We don't know how all the parts of our journey come together while we're living them but, in hindsight, we can look back and see that, yes, everything played its part in preparing us for our now moment.  Maybe our "now" isn't as fully realized as Bruce's is at this moment, but we'll all get there, or have been there.  And, most of us won't be playing out our "nows" on the world stage the way he is, but that doesn't make any of our experiences in the living of our journeys any less impactful or important.

After watching the interview, I felt that I'd been given a lot to think about in terms of my own perspectives and understanding of the issues involved in Bruce's story.  One of the explanations that was given was in regard to what the word "gender" means.  Very simply, I always thought of gender as the thing that was determined by one's genitalia.  But, not necessarily so.  It's more a state of mind, a state of being.  Bruce has the genitalia of a man, and yet identifies himself as a woman.  He's been seen as a man, but is now in the process of a transformation that will allow himself to be seen as a woman, although his genitalia might remain the same.  He hasn't made a decision yet as to whether to undergo "gender reassignment" surgery.

Bruce is not gay, in that he's never been sexually attracted to men.  One of the questions Diane Sawyer asked him was, since he's sexually attracted to women, once he's gone through his complete transformation into womanhood, will he then be a lesbian?  He didn't have an answer for her and said to just consider him asexual for the moment.  For, like anything we do in life, we don't know the full ramifications and repercussions of it until we're in the midst of the living of it.  Things will continue to reveal themselves as his journey continues.  And, labels will change and need to be let go of altogether as our perceptions expand and grow.

Another thing that was said in the program was that sexual desire is not connected to gender.  Of course, as I think about it, that should have been obvious to me, but it wasn't.  Although, it would be something that a bisexual person would probably understand very well.  Desire is desire, attraction is attraction, love is love...irrespective of gender.  I think it's connected to the ability to be attracted to the essence of someone, separate from their outward appearance; the ability to look beyond the physicality of someone, and/or to accept it, and commune with them in whatever form they happen to inhabit.

Labels and definitions have also been called into question, which is always a good thing.  Our minds love to label and identify things, to figure them out and compartmentalize them.  When our definitions of things get challenged, it means we have to rearrange our whole way of thinking and perceiving, and humans don't historically like to do that.  We fight to keep our definitions of things in tact, sometimes literally.  There were examples given on the show of transgender people who've been physically beaten up and murdered because of who they are.  The embodiment of transgender, and the challenge to perception it represents, is so unacceptable to some people that they respond with physical violence.  Instead of rethinking to incorporate a new concept or idea, or at least opening up to the possibility that it's okay for someone to be different from them, they try to eliminate the evidence of difference altogether.  And, humans do this with many things, not just gender-related issues.

Why is it so hard for us to accept people who are different?  Why is it so hard to allow others to believe and live their lives differently from the way we do?  Historically, when life was lived in tribes in a wilder time, someone who was different might have posed a threat.  So, maybe it's our primitive brain that still registers "threat" when faced with anything or anyone different.  Somehow, it seems that we're hard-wired on some level to respond defensively to difference.  And, we still cluster in tribes of our own making.  Gangs are urban tribes and wear "colors" to denote themselves.  Within work environments and corporate cultures, people dress similarly and often think similarly.  There are dress codes and codes of behavior that we're expected to adhere to in certain cultures and environments.  Countries are the same way, there are established ways of being that are accepted depending on where we're from geographically and culturally.  But, slowly and surely, these types of definitions and boundaries are dissolving, and we are learning to become more accepting of our differences as we expand our awareness from a small geographical area to include the whole world.

As our tribe becomes all of humanity, our acceptance of differences among us becomes mandatory.  It can no longer matter if someone is transgender, because they're human, and their humanity is the most important thing.  No matter our differences, on any level of thinking or believing or being, we are linked by our humanity.  We are all the same at our core.  The Life that lives us is the same, no matter what we look like, or how we think, or what we believe, or how we live our lives.

At the end of the interview, Diane Sawyer asks Bruce Jenner how he'd like people to respond to what he's doing and he says he'd like them to keep an open mind.  Just that...keep an open mind.  That's not much to ask.  If we could keep our minds open instead of jumping to conclusions of threat based on ancient impulses, peace would have a chance.  We can acknowledge feelings of threat and realize they're baseless.  We can acknowledge the fight or flight response and realize it's unnecessary.  It's not about ignoring the impulses that are genetically hard-wired into our systems; it's about receiving them, listening to them, and responding to them in the truth of the moment with an open mind.

Keep an open mind.  Listen.  Consider.  Be ready to change and adapt and accept.  There's no singular correct response to anything that confronts us.  It's not about right or wrong.  It's about keeping an open mind about whatever it is that's presenting itself...being willing to receive...being empathetic...being compassionate...being respectful...keeping an open mind.


  1. Beautifully said. Being respectful and keeping an open mind; two of the things we humans should do a lot more of!

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