The Creative Energy of Difference
When systems fall apart suddenly our challenge is to act from a place of wisdom and clarity rather than from fear. Reactive solutions based on fear or greed tend to bring forth polarized approaches each with inherent flaws. On one extreme protectors of old paradigms push for a return to the harshest of their principles such as fundamentalism in religious institutions or increased militarism the world over. On the other extreme are those whose solutions are born out of pure reactivity and judgment of the former paradigms, limiting their vision as well. It is important to remember that differences can be a source of creative energy and innovative solutions.
In the natural world biological diversity has been long understood to be an indicator of the health of an ecosystem. The broader the range of flora and fauna, the more stable the system; not stable in a static way but stable in the dynamic way that the ebbs and flows of natural variations in rainfall, climate, feast and famine are gracefully accommodated. Yet our human systems have tended to be by comparison rigid and static; far less adaptive and responsive to change. Nature also hedges her odds by providing a variety of DNA within species, offering a breadth of potential adaptations if needed for survival.
Just as a variety of species provides the diversity needed for survival during changing times in the natural world, diverse perspectives, analytical styles, and human talent is what is needed to provide the innovations that can help us survive or thrive in a time of global change. But to utilize the capacities inherent in diversity we need to be comfortable with those who act and think and see the world differently than we do and we need to know how to harness the energy inherent in those differences.
Clues to how to do that are inherent in our experience of sexual energy. What draws us to each other is difference. In the biological world of attraction, when we enter a room of strangers, our pheromones draw us to the side of one whose DNA is pleasingly different from our own. While personal preferences, vows of fidelity, class differences, personality and unmet needs from our family of origin might contribute to whether we give that party the time of day, biology draws us to each other. Chemistry is also helped by the contrast of anima and animus, masculinity and feminity. As writer on the art of passion David Deida observes, “Feminine and masculine attract each other, creating a whole. ”
At its best the sexual crucible, the tension of opposites, excites us and provides fodder for creativity. The compliments inherent in love and freedom, embracing and letting go, radiance and presence, help each gender to balance and mature energetically and spiritually. It is not until we can stand naked in our own truth that we can experience the joy of being fully seen. Hiding our differences and melding into a homogenized amorphous state diminishes our creative potential and sacrifices self. Differences damped down or denied provide temporary homosasious, but there is a seed of destruction when any aspect of true self is denied. Sooner or later that self emerges but by then too often in the dark shadow form of its manifestation.
What doesn’t fly apart expands human experience and potential. Deep sex has the potential to transport both lovers to a sacred space. Yet sex that violates has the potential to fragment our soul. The challenge in the bedroom or the board room is to master being present and fully engaged within the context of difference. As a therapist it is always been an honor to witness the sacred space created when two people figure out how to have the courage to show up in their uniqueness, greet one another with the spaciousness that allows the other to be themselves, and to have their truth be witnessed without projections muddying the clarity of the experience.
Angeles Arrien observes in her book The Four Fold Way, “Indigenous peoples have long recognized that the only constant is change, and that the principle of interdependence is essential for survival.” To devise interdependent solutions we need to be comfortable with difference. To be comfortable with difference we need to be at ease with ourselves. To be at ease with ourselves we need to acknowledge and own our internal diversity; when we have been the hero and when we have been the coward, where we lead and where we rebel, what we nurture, what we deny. From the spaciousness created by owning our light and our shadow selves we are less threatened by people who are different us and can collaborate more effectively with them.
Creative collaboration requires from us the willingness to express ourselves impeccably: with clarity but with respect to others who may not share our view. It also requires us to be curious and open to someone else’s truth. To give birth to a new era…to become the change we want in the world…we need to honor both ourselves and each other.