Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Stepping into the void

I just spent three-plus days--mostly wonderful--at Easton Mountain, a spiritual retreat center for gay men in upstate New York, about 45 minutes north of Albany. (You can check them out at www.eastonmountain.org). Their annual new year's retreat brings together about 90 gay men to let go of the old year and welcome the new one. I've gone to Easton for the past 3 celebrations and find that I now have an answer to the rhetorical question, (which used to bother me)--'what am I doing for New Year's?'

The energy of the weekend was very positive and accepting, with less focus on having the perfect body, youth, etc than in most gay settings. In place of that was a sense of kindness and acceptance. After the past year and my medical issues--I was very conscious of struggling to hear on many occasions, since there was usually a lot of background noise--I took advantage of the weekend to have some fun, (play games like Scrabble), and collect a lot of hugs. In fact, I got more touch and affection, in a safe respectfull way, than I'd normally receive in six months or one year, all in the space of this long weekend.

And yet, I have a few regrets, too. The weekend offered a wide variety of workshops, including several that pushed the boundaries, (or would have pushed mine)--erotic touch, sexual mentoring--looking at gay men's roles and assumptions about sex-- and others. I erred on the side of caution and didn't take those workshops; after hearing about them from several friends, I feel I made a mistake and missed an opportunity to let go of shame and stretch myself.

Of course, it's easy to see clearly with 20/20 hindsight.


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