An Unremarkable Scrotum

Two weeks ago, I had a routine CT Scan (X-Ray) as part of a scheduled series of tests after my cancer treatment in 2020. Marking two years since diagnosis, the scan and all my blood work indicated continued remission of any disease and is an encouraging sign that I have moved beyond a significant window of risk for recurrence. I will likely do one more exam in six months or a year and then say goodbye to the treatment center for good.

As I walked out of the cancer center and towards my car in the brisk winter air, my celebrations were cut short: I glanced at the printed copy of the scan results, and my eyes jumped straight to the last line:  “The scrotum is unremarkable.” Not to take anything away from the more relevant statement earlier in the report: “There is no evidence of pathology, no evidence of disease,” but my scrotum (and my prostate and seminal vesicles too) labeled as unremarkable – was very upsetting to me and I found myself quickly deflated! I personally always assumed my scrotum was, in fact, quite remarkable. More on this later. First, an update:

I’ve shifted locations from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, to Mazunte, Mexico. Mazunte is a small (but currently very crowded) pacific coast village that I first visited in 2011. It is one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever been, with endless beaches, rocky cliffs, and wild nature everywhere. One of my meditation teachers is here, Sahajananda, the founder of Hridaya Yoga, and a few friends who are here for various reasons. Unfortunately, I arrived a bit later than expected – I missed my flight (for no one’s fault but my own) for the first time in a long time. Clueless that the plane had already boarded, I was hanging out at the gate drinking water, eating a snack, and even taking a selfie (which I’m far too embarrassed to post) with the open gate and agent behind me. In the end, I had to fork out $250 for a new last-minute ticket and spend a sleepless night in the Mexico City airport, all the while going through a wild shame spiral for being so careless and unaware. I notice I am very hard on myself when careless actions cause me a significant financial loss. This feeling is related very much to my relationship to control and a masculine-oriented view of life. I used to think and say, ‘how can anyone miss a flight,’ sitting in a café or whatever. Now I understand – and a story I have been unfolding for myself that I referred to in my last post is shifting from a masculine-oriented worldview to incorporating more aspects of the feminine worldview. A friend even reflected that I feel more like I’m allowing myself to be penetrated (feminine-oriented) by the world, which is new territory. I’m not saying that missing a flight is feminine, rather that there are more non-linear aspects of life that take on more aliveness and make things like time and money less interesting.

And this brings me back to a conversation about my scrotum, as it symbolizes masculinity. I know I speak a lot of masculine/feminine polarity, and I will continue to because of its connection to my life, interests, teaching, and mission. And a significant goal in my life is to be in a partnered, committed relationship, so I feel my life path and this goal are aligned. I’m currently involved in two Men’s programs, a Couple’s intimacy course a tantric consort course for couples. And my mission consists of this desire for healing, depth, and healthier, more alive relationships. A word that summarizes this is wholeness. I seek wholeness in myself and want to be in a position that invites others into their wholeness.

And from here – I feel some vulnerable words about to come forth. I notice an imposter syndrome as I navigate this sphere of my life. I’m helping men with their purpose, their sexuality, and their hearts. I’m teaching couples how to communicate better, AND here I am, 42, unsure of where I will be living in a month from now, single, and with an insecure income stream. Despite now wanting to admit it fully,( even to myself), COVID and CHEMO were like putting on a weighted blanket that I am trying to crawl out from underneath. On the positive side, they significantly strengthened my resilience, brought me an incredible amount of humbleness, slowed me down, helped me narrow my focus and goals. However, it also left me slightly dizzy, with 15 extra pounds, decreased vitality, and more financial burden and stress than I would prefer.

This imposter syndrome manifests specifically in the lack of relationship/partnership in my life. I am teaching men and couples how to IMPROVE – intimacy, sexuality, communication….and I know myself to be a confident lover and excellent communicator, yet lacking clear direction and stability. Therefore, I often feel unattractive to potential partners.

For me, there is a crux, an edge that I am exploring related to staying authentic, congruent, and in integrity with my values. The values of simplicity, non-materiality, freedom, and service. The importance of a quiet, meditative life of practice and contemplating my scrotum.

Yet, I believe that to mate signal for a potential partner properly means I need to develop other values: physical fitness, financial stability, owning a home, etc., thereby defining myself through a career or capacity to provide to be marketable. Even if becoming more marketable means losing touch with my inner life and practice. As I type this, my heart knows the answer – it does nobody a service to be inauthentic to gain and enter a relationship only to find oneself removed from one’s values. I think the answer to my question is trust and patience. And the clarity that the very act of remaining true to my principles and values is the most attractive thing in the world to the type of woman I believe I am attracting. This feels like a good moment to pause.

Thanks for being with me.

Right Under my Nose!

I am winding down my time at Lake Atitlan, spending my final days in this magical, mythical and mysterious land. Two weeks ago, as I sat through illness and mild depression, I could not imagine this time coming soon enough. But now I feel like putting the brakes on, extending my time, and slowing down to take in the people and the places that I very much appreciate. I may be back; I may not. But, I most likely will be. I have always noticed how the appreciation of a place increases once I am away from it.

Today marks the 12th day my right ear has been blocked since the illness I contracted at the beginning of the year. It has added an extra layer of challenge to the last two weeks. Finally, after the body gained strength and energy, a friendly omicron leftover invited me to lean into a (hopefully) temporary disability to navigate, leading an event that deeply depended on my listening and speaking skills. With no success, I’ve attempted ALL of the methods to unblock this ear known to mankind and the internet. I have seen a doctor who diagnosed an infection and gave me antibiotic drops, which have also been futile. Continuing to cross my fingers that the pressure will relax before flying in two days.

Amid this rather significant impairment, I facilitated and led an Authentic Relating Training for 20 people. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work: marketing, following leads, promotional events, working with a challenging venue, etc. However, once the event began, I found myself slowing down, relaxing, and doing what I love – being with others and helping and teaching them tools to be more with themselves and others. With the blocked ear, I felt like I was speaking underwater. I had no idea how loud I was talking and found it took extended effort to stay focused. Fortunately, I was with my trusted co-lead, Ash, who helped ensure nothing was missed.

I guess everything above is a preamble for what I want to speak about today: A recent dissonance that has appeared in my awareness around my purpose and meaningful place in the world. I have had the good fortune of hosting a weekly brothers circle here in San Marcos the past two months, full of rich harvests and insights and a space of healing for many of the men, myself included. Yesterday we ranged in age from 20 to 65 and spent a good portion of the circle sincerely inquiring into each man to level him up in a specific area of life that he was struggling with. For one man, it was faith in light of a terminal illness. For another, his leadership in his intimate relationship, my inner conflict between what I have found deeply satisfying recently and my pre-existing story of what success is supposed to look like. Let me unpack this:

Recently, or more or less for the past three years, I’ve been contemplating, exploring, considering my purpose in the world, my search for meaning, which has shown up as a repeated theme on my blog. I now notice that I may have been missing something directly under my nose. The pain of not feeling on-purpose is due to this fixed idea of what being ‘on-purpose’ is supposed to look like: a pre-defined notion of what being satisfied in my purpose is. My ego wrestles with and opposes the idea that being on purpose might look very different than what it has gripped for so long: success in the masculine sense: having a significant impact, owning a brand or center, being in the limelight, earning fist loads of money changing the world.

When I measure my last couple of years against this idea of success, no wonder I feel like I have fallen short! Being diagnosed with cancer in the middle of a pandemic and spending most of my energy healing myself and nourishing my relationships and emotional intelligence – what a tremendous waste of time (from that vantage point)! But wait a minute – maybe there is something here that I have been missing? What have I discovered, developed, and nourished these past two years? One-one relating, small group interactions, esoteric body-mind-spirit practices, nature, deep healing, sensemaking, poetry, and mysticism.

But what if, just what if…the purpose of this leadership was in these inner realms, in the more feminine aspects of leadership: empathetic, intuitive, passionate, collaborative, instinctual, versus the more traditional masculine individualistic, analytical, decisive, independent, and logical?

Leadership in community, service and teaching are clearly part of my calling and path. However, I realize that while my WHY is clear, I may have been envisioning the wrong HOW and WHAT. As I transition away from Guatemala, returning to Colorado briefly before heading abroad again, I will ponder this possibility and continue to allow my lived experience to challenge my old stories and beliefs. Let’s see what unfolds next. Thanks for being with me.