tEXT WRITTEN BY iZYY hOWELL
Knowledge is power. That phrase was once irrevocably linked to how I carried out my life: it drove me to neglect most of the experiences “normal” teenagers had for the sake of academic excellence, and it pushed me to attend an Ivy League university even though my education would have very little to do with what I chose to dedicate my life to. I’ve spent years in the pursuit of knowledge – hungry to know myself and the essence of my existence. However, in the midst of this quest – of cramming for tests and the constant desire to uncover the “right” answer – I found myself simultaneously crushing my ability to feel.
The divide of masculine and feminine energies is present in many ancient religions. In Kabbalah, “thinking” is distinctly masculine, while “feeling” is associated with the feminine energy. Taoism is widely known for the Yin Yang – a symbol of the masculine notions of knowledge and power residing in perfect harmony with the feminine ideals of intuition and understanding. While both Kabbalah and the Tao mandate a balance of the masculine and feminine inside every individual, I have continuously found the masculine energies of victory, knowledge, and competition lauded over the feminine ideals of intuition, compassion, and feeling. So often, we are inundated with our society’s championing of individualism and winning. We are taught that are feelings are trivial, inconvenient, and flighty: intuition falls short in the face of the cold, hard facts. Simultaneously, we are losing touch with our most purely feminine selves – with our abilities to feel the deepest crevices of our existence.
After graduating from college and setting out to be a painter, I found that the ability to feel – something that I hadn’t explored for many years – was essential to the creation of my art. In the process of teaching myself how to be a good test taker and striving to beat out my classmates for the top grade, I never once was encouraged to ask myself if academic excellence was what I really wanted. I was never asked to pause, to breathe, and to place a hand over my heart while asking, “What do YOU need right now, wise and beautiful self?”
Honoring our intuition and making space to feel the moments of our lives as they occur allows us the honor of truly living. When we stop in the midst of our inevitable busy-ness and allow ourselves to feel everything – the good and the bad, the dark and the light – our lives open to something we never could have imagined. We stop chasing. We stop fighting. We lose our desire to continue to push forward because we suddenly realize that everything we’ve ever been after exists in this moment: in the expansion of our lungs, the drum of our hearts, and in the pulsation of every thought, every fear, and everything we love.