Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lunch hour on my back

The sky aches with blue. Golden light shimmers. A cool breeze pushes through curtains of heat. I'm stretched out under the shelter of a shade tree. The leaves are speaking to each other: it sounds like rain. The grass feels almost cold. They prickle my calves and arms, all those sharp little freshly-cut blades. I want to move, but I don't, I settle into the blades. They bend, forming a green-scented cushion. I cradle the back of my head in my hands and drift along...

And then the men go back to work on the water main.

I can hear them talking just before the machines fire up. Rumbling, and then the earth starts pulsing under me. Thump and scrape as the Caterpillar scoops up the earth. A moment of almost silence and then the clatter of soil into the back of a truck. A brief peace and then the thump and scrape again. Its an interesting rhythm, pounding up through the grass, vibrating me here, where I lay on my back, under the shade of the tree.

I could be upset. I could take it personally. I could consider my lunch break ruined. But I choose to I savor it instead, delving into the earth with my senses, body-surfing the shock-waves. Man can make an awful racket. But he can also make a symphony. It is my listening of it that determines my experience of it.

It is good to be alive.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Great wisdom through painful experience

Our day-to-day lives are a series of experiences chained together. Something happens, we respond, the next thing happens, and we respond, and on and on. Some of the experiences are memorable, and some are not. Some have a huge impact and some do not. And some impacts we are unaware of on a conscious level, but they are still there, powerful motivators in the unconscious realm.

Recently, a friend of mine has started facing some nasty past memories that have created blocks in life as well as a decade of nightmares. The memories are a decade old now, but they are resurfacing, fresh as new wounds, and consequently, my friend is experiencing crippling anxiety and self-doubt.

In an attempt to help my friend make sense of it all and choose transformation and transcendence over trauma and tragedy, I sent the following email. In re-reading it, I decided I would post it here, on my blog. I expect that what I've written might help others make the distinction between their experiences (ie what happened) and the interpretation of those experiences (ie the meanings we give them and the stories we create around them) and hopefully find healing as a result.

[...] From my own experience, I've realized that the memories of What Happened are not the worst part. No, What Happened isn't the worst part at all. The Meaning is. You see, when things Happen, we try to make sense of them, we interpret them, and in doing so we give them Meaning. We give the things that happen meaning, and when our minds fold those things away as memories, it collapses the event and the meanings we gave it together as a unit. And when we are reluctant to remember something, it is often not the event that we fear so much.... but rather, what we made it mean about ourselves and the world. It is not what happened that we fear. It is the meaning we gave it.
But why?
This is harder to get. Our ego-identities are founded on meanings. On the meanings we give our experiences, on the meanings we give our lives as a result of those experiences. Remember how I keep telling you that you are not the voice in your head? (By voice, I mean that voice that says, What voice? I don't have a voice in my head.) Your ego-identity is the voice in your head. And it likes being there. It wants to survive. In some ways its survival is dependent upon those fears and anxieties that have resulted from Its interpretation of your experiences and the stories its made up about What Happened. They feed it, give it things to talk about--all that negative conversation in your head. The ego wants to keep What Happened and The Interpretation of What Happened collapsed together, because if you actually realized that What Happened is simply what happened and has no meaning in and of itself except what you gave it---well, you might be free of those fears and anxieties. And then your ego-identity is uncreated. Part of its foundation is gone. And then what would it use to stay in control? Your ego-identity does not fear What Happened so much as it fears being undone. You are afraid to lose who you think you are. You are afraid to lose the identity you have fabricated for yourself out of the meanings you have made of your experiences. In those moments, it helps to remember that who you are is not the ego-identity that you've created as a result of your experiences. Who you are is that Consciousness that is aware of the negative conversation of your Ego.

Life is a conversation, love. It is a conversation between your Ego-identity and your Self. It is a conversation between the stories you've made up about yourself and the stories you've made up about the World. Its not Real. Little of it is. What Happened was Real. Your fear is Real. But the meaning you gave it is Not Real. So what you are afraid of is Not Real. And what you are afraid of, of losing yourself, is not real either. You are afraid of losing your illusions about yourself. You are afraid of losing the stories you have made up about yourself... you are afraid of losing all those reasons to think you are a horrible awful person, all those reasons to give your ego something to talk about, to keep its hold over you with all that negative conversation in your head.

Those who love you, we keep telling you what is Real: That you are a wonderful, amazing person worthy of love. But you cannot hear us, you do no believe us. Something in you, your ego, has convinced you that you've somehow snowed us. Deceived us. That some day the lies or stories that have convinced us that you are a Good Person will unravel and we will see you for what you think you are. An imposter. Something defiled. But in order for something to be defiled, it has to be sacred, too. And you are sacred. And one day--one day I hope you not only recognize that you are Sacred, but that you will laugh at the absurdity of it all. You are Sacred, and the one who is convinced that you are Defiled is you. You are Sacred, and you have Defiled yourself.

Wake up. Wake up my friend. Come out into the Light. You are Sacred. You are not the meanings that you have given your experiences. You are Sacred, and you are Loved.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The tides of life take another sandcastle

More sad news this weekend. One I love is on hospice. I will likely be attending her funeral before the end of the year. It is agony, knowing this, knowing this on the one year anniversary of my failed attempt to commit her to medical care involuntarily. She's lived longer that I expected, though I don't think few would consider her existence anything resembling 'living'. Ah well.

The nice thing is that I had someone at hand to hold me after I'd gotten the news about her condition. He lay with me on my bed and held me, and kissed my forehead and my eyelids, and soothed me with his hands and his mouth and his words. Genuine intimacy in combination with vulnerability has been a balm for the pain of loss. It has opened doors within us both.

Elie Wiesel said, "When a door closes, another opens. It is the same door." Life, pain, death, loss... None of it has any meaning except what I give it. What will I make her death mean about her life, my life, the world, the legal system, the medical establishment? What will I make the love I feel for him mean, I wonder. Even as something ends, there is a beginning. It is cyclical, ebbing and flowing like that tide, and the lives we're building are castles of sand. It means nothing, in and of itself--it means only what I make it mean. Soon the tides of life and death will claim another sandcastle, and in that clearing, something new will arise. Let it be Hope, I beg. Let it be Hope.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Rock in a sea of change

It is August, and yet I can feel autumn coming, I feel it in the crispness of the morning air. I see it in the tops of the vine-maples, whose green leaves are just starting to blush yellow-orange-red. Autumn brings change and usually I welcome it. But these days I feel like I am under siege with changes. I feel like a rock at sea and yet in sight of the shore, with waves rushing and splashing around me. I know I am a rock, and I know that it would take a lot to undermine me, but being an island of peace in a sea of change is challenging. Those I love are thrashing about, battling issues of health, relationships, work and finances. And I have my own battles, too. Change is coming. I'm not sure where I'll be a month from now. All I can do is choose what comes, whether it is what I would prefer or not. Choose it, and choose to live powerfully in the face of the uncertainty, absurdity, and breathtaking beauty that is life.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stages of pleasuring

I have lived an interesting life. Before I reached puberty I witnessed a wider variety of sexual intercourse than most adults see in their lifetimes. As a child, I did not know that other kid's parents only slept with each other. I did not know that the limit was usually two adults to a bed--my parents always seemed to have friends in their bed--nor that sex is usually reserved for the bedroom. I did not know that boys having sex with boys and girls having sex with girls was taboo. I did not know that nudity in the home was uncommon, etc.

Masturbation was something we were very open about. When I was 4 or 5 and my mom found me touching myself in a sunny spot in the living room, she didn't slap my hand. Instead, she told me that if I wanted to do that it was probably best to do it in my room. I understood early on that sex was something grown-ups did, and it was not something I was eager to rush into. It did not have the secrecy, the shame, or the thrill of the forbidden for me that it did for most kids. In this environment, my sexual identity flourished, unfettered by the boundaries most people develop. I am free, uninhibited--my sexual self is fully expressed. But this does not mean I am promiscuous or indiscriminate, an assumption that mainstream, vanilla humanity tends to make when they catch wind of my lifestyle.

I am polyamorous. I date a wide variety of people. I have sex with two of them. Most of the ones who are not my lovers I have been dating for a year and more. I form deep, intense connections rather quickly, but I do not rush into sexual intercourse, or sexual intimacy for that matter. Without a mental connection, sex is just a form of exercise that may or may not result in orgasm, and if I want to cum, no one can do it better for me than I can.

Recently someone asked me what I did do with these people if I did not have sex with them. Heh. It depends. Some get kisses, which may not sound like much, but I have it on good authority that kissing me is better than some sex people have had. Kissing is wonderful, delicious, arousing. It makes me feel sooo good. It is its own journey and destination. Then there is frottage. I love to frot with people I feel connected to. I'm very good with my hands after so many years of practicing massage. I like pleasuring others with my hands and I love the rub of bodies against each other, both languidly and with rising urgency. I haven't dated a woman for a while but there is nothing quite like scissoring with a woman, rubbing together on a dance floor or in bed, lost in the tribadic subset of frottage. Mutual masturbation (to orgasm) and languissement is something I've experienced with two of the men who are not my lovers.
Lastly, there is the intercrural form of 'outercourse'. This is very intimate and little different from actual coitus save there is no penetration... just delicious friction and body movements that simulate coitus. I particularly enjoy it from behind, while spooning. There is someone I am dating that I am approaching this stage with. We had a frot session a couple of weeks ago that had my roommate convinced I was having some amazing sex, when in fact he was worshipping my back with his mouth and grinding himself against me in a way that had me moaning deliriously with pleasure. Or maybe it was the nipple-play that had me moaning that way? Its a sensual blur, to be sure.

The point is that there are many ways to enjoy others, many stages of pleasuring without sexual intercourse, depending on the level of mental, emotional, and spiritual intimacy I feel I have with that person. We each define 'sex' differently, and pleasure, particularly pleasure that results in sexual arousal, is so nuanced. So coloured by the experiences of childhood and adolescence. So limited and charged and judged by social mores and conditioning. I've thought about my sexuality, the stages of sexual arousal and pleasure, about intimacy and what it means to love and be with--to really love and be with--others. Have you?

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