A time for fierce fucking love

It has been challengjoseph_pulitzer_3c_1947_issue_u-s-_stamping for me to surrender into my pleasure lately, as I know it has been for many. It has been hard to find inspiration to write. How do I find peace in my heart, at the dawn of a new cycle of hatred in the world? One answer keeps coming to me: love. Humility like never before. In this moment of history, pleasure and love are acts of resistance. In every touch, in every sigh, in every orgasm. I am listening more carefully – what more can I learn in order to live in a good way? I am offering my gifts – trusting my gifts. I am committing – that I am an ally, a friend, a lover. Believing I am the change. I am calling on myself to step up, to find the leader and the lover within. I am enough.

Yesterday I read an impassioned and wise plea that we all take time, right now, to write. Remind ourselves of our core values and dreams. What are we willing to let happen? What are our boundaries? Because a systematic attempt is about to be made to change who we are and what we are willing to stand for. We won’t even feel it happening. So today, we write down who we are now, so that next year, or five years from now, we can read about that person and check in to see if we are still that person. And behave as if we are still that person. Do not let them strip away our courage, our values, our beliefs.

Love is the movement. Fierce. Fucking. Love.

 

 

Who will speak up?

I walked the “Freedom Trail” in Boston yesterday. At the Holocaust Memorial, I read this:

holocaust-lessons“They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by the that time no one was left to speak up”
~Martin Niemoeller, Holocaust Survivor
Will you speak up?
#notmypresident

For whom the bell-curve tolls: the dose response curve of hedonism. Part 1

heroin-2I am walking down a street in a busy city in America. This particular street is known by some as the “methodone mile”. As you can imagine, this name reflects the nature of those who spend time here. As I walk, I find myself facing person, after person, after person, disheveled,  underweight, broken down, deep lines etched into faces that appear in permanent sadness or anger or despare, warn-out fabrics falling upon boney shoulders and hips.

I want so deeply to lock eyes with each and every one of them, hoping that through my eyes they might see my compassion, my empathy, my love. I wish that, just for a moment, they could tap into the sensation of oneness and know that they are enough, vital, important, loved. At the same time, I feel so out of place here, too clean, too healthy, too young, too energetic, too purposeful, too ‘part of the system’. I have no idea what they see in me, and I feel shameful at how privelaged my life is and how unjust the world can be.

I know many people who use substances recreationally. Some who have used the same substances as these withering people before me. And for those friends of mine, they remain: clean, healthy, energized, purposeful, educated, high functioning, happy. In fact many of them would swear their lives are infinitely better on account of some of the psychedelics and other ‘medicines’ they have explored.

I can only imagine a major reason for the difference is the dose-response curve. If you don’t take any, or don’t take ‘enough’, perhaps your life remains understimulating and personal growth is limited. Experiment, dabble, develop a relationship with these substances: perhaps you find the ‘sweet spot’ where the world opens up and you find bliss beyond your wildest dreams. So one’s good, two’s better, right? Take more, more, and more: eventually, you get to a place that you didn’t expect, eventually the rollercoaster starts taking a dive. For some, we don’t have the ability/skills/awareness/desire/drive to go to that edge, recognize it, and back away. For some, we dive in with reckless abandon, at first enjoying the thrll of the ride. But eventually we might realize that our relationship with the substance is no longer healthy, our lives are no longer joyful and we may no longer be in control. And sometimes we go so far, that the damage caused is not reversible.

bell-curve-dose-response

To me, hedonism fits this same bell curve, and  substances fall within the class of hedonic experiences.

They way I define hedonism, is I seek out experiences that bring me pleasure. Pleasure can be of any sensuous nature (pertaining to any sense), and sexual energy lies within the spectrum of sensuous experiences.

Therefore, like substances, if something brings me pleasure, I lean into that pleasure. If something helps my life feel good and joyful and connected and loving, I receive it!

Of course, truth be told, I don’t always receive it. Sometimes I outright avoid it. Why is that? Do we each have our own ‘methodone mile’?

 

A spiritual hedonist’s thanksgiving prayer

On this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I find myself about an hour’s drive from Plymouth Rock. I don’t know much of the history, but from what I can find, this land was looked after for thousands of years by the Massachuset peoples, whose language was part of the Algonquin language family. There were about 3000 of them in 1614 when John Smith visited. By 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived, their numbers were already down by at least 3/4 due to a combination of illness brought from overseas (leptospirosis and small pox) combined with war from northeastern tribes. By the time the Puritans settled in Boston in 1629 there were only 500 Massachuset left. No organized tribes of Massachuset are known to have survived past 1800. In 1869 the state of Massachusetts unconstitutionally terminated the status of the Massachuset as a sovereign nation (by then it appears to me that these people were a mixture of many tribes who were amalgamated and moved around as part of John Eliot’s missionary work). Today there remains only one tribe that is recognized federally in Massachusetts, they are the Wampanoag peoples who live in the areas now known as Gay Head and Martha’s Vineyard. However I can find dozens of names of Tribes who once lived here.

What I perhaps find most tragic in all of this is that I have asked a few very lovely people around here why I haven’t seen any indigenous people in the Boston area. The answer I get, is “I don’t really know”.

So as the winds from the edges of Hurricane Matthew howl tonight and the rain pours down upon us, my prayer is that human beings everywhere find the courage in their hearts to listen a little more carefully, make decisions a little more humbly, accept our shortcomings a little more gracefully, and to tread a little more lightly. May all beings know love. May all beings know safety. May all beings know peace.

A burner’s prayer – ground score poem

bowI found this carefully folded and tied with a bow on the ground in a dome at the burn this year. It brought tears when I opened it – finally, two days ago – and shared it with my beloved. Thank you, whoever wrote this:

May I burn the man at home this year
May I finally become a full participant
May I kick the consumption habit cold turkey
And get on with resonating funky genius
And vulnerable enthusiasm
On my own channel, 24/7

May I see every public space as center camp
And roll around on the ground with strangers
Lovingly and with worshipful presence
As we connect one-in-other

May I strut my feathers and leathers
And muppet cape
And naked benevolent childish soul
Everywhere I go
Feeling fully in character

May I trick out my apartment like a theme camp
And invite people in off the streetand lavish them with exorbitant gifts
Of presence and affection lovingly prepared
Because I can
Because I am rich and overflowing
And giving is why I am here

May I share shattering rock-bottom truths
With everyone, as casually as tea
Like old lovers with nothing left to prove or improve upon
In the utter safety of the silky oscillation
Between me and we

May I strip the locks off my heart
And hold open house
With everyone I meet on the bus
In line for groceries or at the gas station
Granting them the hallucinated embellishment
Of fur, goggles, nudity and dust
And allowing myself full excitement
And wonder at who they might be

May I look past the surface
And see into everyone
Recognizing pirates and alien ambassadors
Superheroes and translucent mermaids

May I cal my campmates
Or show up at their houses
As easily and shamelessly
As I might wander up to their tents
And never need a reason
For pressing my nose on their cheek
Or for flopping on the couch and snuggling
May I love fully, fluidly
Everyone who pulls me deeper into living
And put away any residual shame
About how my love looks

Remembering: we’re in the desert!
Remembering: we’re dusty and unkempt and beautiful
Remembering: we’re mad ones and saints and divas all
And there is no expectation of tidiness

Remembering: there will be grit and friction
There always is
But in the cathartic blessing
Of our meeting and self-discovery
No one notices

Remembering most of all
That my emotional nudity is my ticket to the event
Past the gate and greeters
To unity and a friendly universe
And is always honored and gratefully received

May I hallucinate freely
Seeing Volvos as mobile cupcakes
May I notice the installations
Of genius and wild vision
All about me

May I see the dreams made real
In my daily built world
May I touch the round belly
Of the pregnant possible
With both my hands

May I witness those around me
Strutting their beauty and hope
Their frailty and unfinishedness
And may I yell out my approval, and applaud
May I witness the gifting that happens
Every moment
In the grade of glances, smiles and kind words
That are as quenching and comforting
In this daily wasteland of formality and alienation
As popsicles and mist baths ever were

May I burn the man every day
May I take his idealized ass down
May I take the icon of who I am supposed to be
And gently release her to flame

May I take their her habits, opinions, head noise
Timidity, and ego-protective oarrogance
Lovingly douse them with gas

This is my religion
Humbly, devotedly and persistently performed
THAT MAN will BURN.

May I build the Temple every morning
And honor and celebrate
Those who have sung the song of my life
Who have held my life
Like their own dear infant in their arms

May I build the Temple every morning
Be awestruck by its beauty every day
As I smear it with prayers & tears
And then at dusk
Release it in holy smoke

May I smell it burn
And know that was it
This day was my whol life
And it is over

And if I am blessed to wake once more…
May I do it all again
May I do it all again more fiercely, more passionately
More graciously goofily and generously

Until my life measures up
To the love I feel
As I walk, bike, or ride an octopus
Through the eternal city of dreams
In which my soul feels at home.

 

Can we please stop talking about sex drive as an identity?

20160929_223718These days we are moving beyond  the concept of traits, or labels. We see gender along a spectrum. We don’t have to identify as straight, gay, bisexual or pansexual: we can just like people when we like them. There are now so many different kinds of relationship styles, many of us prefer not having to choose which one we ‘are’.

So while we’re at it, I’d like to rant a little. Or perhaps confess.

I absolutely loathe talking about sex drive.

I hear so many people talk about sex drive as though it’s a ‘trait’ rather than a ‘state’.  Friends  tell me they have a really high libido, or that they are asexual, or demisexual.  And every time I find myself in the ‘sex drive’ talk, no matter what the context of the conversation, I cringe. I get triggered. I just can’t measure up, no matter what you say, or how you say it. If you ‘are’ your sex drive, then presumably you think that I also ‘am’ my sex drive. And that also means there are others like you. Which means you and all those other people have opinions about who people ‘are’ based on what you think about their ‘sex drive’. Well guess what? My sex drive isn’t a trait. And whether or not I happen to be aroused in this moment or that is none of your fucking business (unless of course, it is).

You see, I can’t win if I have to choose a single characteristic that defines my sexual desire, cravings, fantasies, fears, aversions, curiosities. It might please you if I say I have a high sex drive, but it will offend or repulse someone else, while others might think it means I will have sex with anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, and still others will think I must be insecure or lonely that I am constantly seeking out physical intimacy.  If I say I have a low sex drive, you might equally make assumptions about my sexual skills, capabilities, worthiness, needs, loneliness, interests, enthusiasm, energy, health, and more. Demi-sexual? What the hell? Really? Do we really think that because someone has desire in certain select situations with select people that they deserve to be called a half-sex?

I know we are all collectively developing awareness of the risks that labels pose. Labels create stories. They create judgement. They separate ‘us’ from ‘them’.

I sometimes tap into my sexual woundedness and shame, and sometimes I am in my sexual power. Sometimes sex isn’t even in my consciousness. And all of those states are beautiful, authentic, precious. There are moments when I wish the whole world would fuck me, others where I just want one lover to feed me a single strawberry for eternity, and still others when I wish I didn’t even reside in a physical body. I want you to love me no matter where I am on the spectrum in this moment. I want you to appreciate the many facets of who I ‘am’ and how I show up in the world, and to recognize that no matter how well you know me, I just might be morphing before your very eyes. I need to know that I am enough, no matter where my sexual desire is right in this moment. Sexual desire is not who I am, it is something I feel. I promise I will do my very best to offer you the same.

Dear metamour: a white paper

Hello, new person. Thank you for taking a moment to visit me here, in what a I hope feels like a safe place for you to meet me.


Pen-and-Paper

First, I’d like for you to feel welcome here. I am so grateful that someone I love dearly has met someone that makes their heart beat a little lighter and faster. Or maybe someone who gives them butterflies. Perhaps it is more carnal than that, and that is wonderful also. Whether you are visiting for a few hours or a few years, I want you to know that I care about your happiness, your health, and your heart.

The other reason why I am writing to you is to help give you some insight into who I am and to give you some suggestions about how best to navigate me and my relationship with this person you have just met. I don’t know what your background is, or how much experience you have with non-monogamy. Please forgive me if it sounds like I am making assumptions that you do not have a lot of experience with poly, I am trying my best to be a clear communicator here, no matter what your history is.

I believe that love is abundant. I believe that we love more than one person because there is simply so much love that our cups overflow. I prefer approaching relationships from this perspective, as opposed to the older paradigm belief that we look elsewhere when our primary partner does not meet our needs. I believe that you are unique and special and wonderful, just like I am unique and special and wonderful. I hope you feel the same way, and that we can appreciate each other for the gifts and talents and attributes we each have.

I believe that it’s only weird if you make it weird. So please, say hello to me. Look me in the eyes and smile. Reach out to me to acknowledge me and to let me know that you care about me, that you’ve got my back. Be prepared to be vulnerable and authentic with me. Ask me something to show me you are curious and engaged. Ask me anything.

It takes time for me to warm up to some people. I am shy sometimes, and I am scared sometimes. You are probably smart, funny, beautiful, and talented. It sometimes takes me some courage to open up to you. Please don’t take it personally. Recognize there have been people in the past who haven’t really honored me and my relationship, and this has left me with some trust stuff when it comes to new people. Again, it honestly isn’t you, you’re lovely. I want you to be here, I really am grateful that you bring joy to someone I love so dearly.

If you aren’t sure how to navigate the situation, ask my partner, or ask me. It will go a long way even just to ask, because then I know you care about the pre-existing relationships and that your intention is to make things better for all of us.

If you aren’t sure whether you are non-monogomous, please be very clear and honest about your intentions. If you aren’t sure whether you can handle being kind to me or to my partner’s other partners, please be authentic and honest about your own fears, desires, and questions. I will do my best to hold space for you and to meet you where you are. We can learn together.

No matter how much experience we all have in relationships, we really are all just infants learning to walk together. I know we will all make mistakes. My request is that we all acknowledge each other, see each other, listen, and do our best to look after each others tender hearts.

Again, thank you for taking a moment to read this. It really means a lot to me to know that you are willing to take time to consider me. I feel better already. You’re neat. 🙂

 

 

Tracing bones

Muscles_and_bones_of_the_lower_limb._Pen_and_ink_drawing._Wellcome_L0025631
Wikimedia Commons

In the dungeon, tracing bones again.
With this pen.
This will end.
I just don’t know when.

Special lenses to help me sleep
Yet here I sit, and weep
What I’d give for these weary feet to be dancing in the street

Darkness invades my mind
Stillness in bones and in rhymes
There are no shadows in a room of this kind
And I have broken you from the inside

A traveller’s wife has no time
Just keep telling the world we’re fine
Getting better like aging wine
Softly falls a false lash from my eye

With a wish and a breath
Not ready for death
Where is my poet, picturesque
I promise, bones, soon we will rest

Sweet tears, sacred love

One 2812341774_c7095a7c6e_mmoment, our lips explore each other with delightful wonder. The three of us are playing, expanding, discovering new landscapes, greeting our edges gently and compassionately.

And then, sweet tears, sacred love. I see you. I hold you. I love you. Never before have I received such a precious gift, such vulnerable beauty. I am lying supine beneath you, and our faces are so close, the crystal water spills from your eyes and onto my face, into my own eyes. We are tear sisters, fluid bonded in a way I have never conceived of prior to this.

We gently lay you down, cradle you, receive you, hold space. There is nothing to fix, nothing to change, all is perfect.

Thank you, beautiful soul, for your divine gifts.

 

Compersion & jealousy: is that really all there is?

I often see compersion defined as  the ‘opposite’ of jealousy. I understand why it is tempting to do this. The experience of having a loved one sharing intimacy with another can bring up complex and overwhelming feelings. Intellectually, we strive to simplify this complicated emotional landscape in hopes of ‘overcoming’, or at least understanding, our jealousy.

The problem is, in my experience, it’s not so simple. Emotions are not binary.

First, there is the issue of ‘conflation’ (experiencing different emotions simultaneously). In one of my earliest experiences, a lover of mine had a particularly prolific period in which he connected sexually with seven different women in a month. Sure, it brought up some fears in me of loss and inadequacy. Yet when he and I entered intimate space together, to my surprise, my mind went to images of all these women finding ecstasy in the arms of my lover, and rather than shutting me down, I became incredibly aroused. So while feeling jealousy, I also experienced erotic compersion.  Opposites, by definition, would not co-exist.

Second, how I respond to a given situation depends in part on how my lover responds, or how I think they do, in that situation. What is the story I am telling myself, what am I making it mean?  I therefore decided to do what any good scientist would do. I created a 2×2 table:
compersion-2-by-2-table

You can see here that compersion and jealousy are not the only possible outcomes, since it also depends on what is happening, or what is being felt, by my lover. Let me walk you through it.

If my lover is having a positive experience with another lover, I have two quadrants in which I might respond, generally divided into ‘positive’ emotions (compersion) or ‘negative’ ones (jealousy). However, what if something happens that leaves my lover feeling not so happy? Maybe he gets in a quarrel with his other partner, or maybe they break up? Or maybe he has stuff come up because he loves you so much that he is worried about you so he holds back with his other partner(s)? In this case, you might fall into the other two quadrants. You might feel happy/elated/relieved: this could be considered a type of schadenfreude. Alternatively, you might feel compassion/sadness/guilt. The best word I have for this is empathy. Technically empathy can be positive or negative, however in my experience we often speak of empathy in regards to someone’s negative experiences.

Importantly, these quadrants relate to the x and y axes, meaning they fall along a spectrum of feelings. Also, with the axes themselves, it is possible to be in a place of neutrality. I remind you, it is possible to fall in more than one quadrant simultaneously (conflation).

I hope this table will help you identify feelings that arise in you in relation to your lover’s others, as a starting place to diving deeper into the work of uncovering core feelings and beliefs. I’d love your feedback.