And the scales fell

I can’t really say how it happened or even what exactly happened.  For the first time, I think, it was as if the scales fell.

I wanted to step back, to look at her, to look in her eyes.  I saw her, as if seeing her for the first time, yet it was vastly different from a virginal view.  My sight was enhanced – I saw her beauty, how she’d grown more beautiful since the first time I’d seen her body, notwithstanding the intervening years; I saw how she responded to me, knowing that I was responsible for the sensations she was experiencing and how she expressed them; and I saw her, all of her, all of the years, all of the growth, all of the laughs and tears, all of it, all at once.

I did not feel any self-consciousness – no desire to cover, to protect, to shield. There was no shame, no embarrassment. There was no agenda, no plan, no thought, no concern. There was nothing but me.  Although I had previously experienced wonderful connection, this time I was naked, totally naked, for the first time. 

Being there, naked, without filter, I was able to identify the change in the moment, but I was surprised when simultaneously she shielded her eyes from me and said, “I can’t look at you.  It’s too intimate.” She could tell. What I thought was just an internal release was externally observable.  It seems that scales are not one-way mirrors; in addition to preventing us from learning the truth about the external world, they also prevent the external world from learning the truth about us. 

The scales fell. Two souls, unclothed inside and out, merging.  Pure, beautiful and rare.  Cherished.

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Intellectual Porn

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.”
– Abraham Lincoln.

Internet porn is a feast for the eyes and the penis.  In the space of a few minutes, your brain can see hundreds, if not thousands, of tits and ass.  Your penis may even be simplistic enough to think that this spread of T&A is all available for mating.  It’s a lot to process.

The problem with internet porn is that it is not satisfying.  It requires ever greater novelty and numbers to maintain an interest, and even an erection.  And it lacks certain aspects of real sex that may, from a certain angle, even increase its appeal compared to real sex.  It presents an idealized version of a woman – a woman sans complaint, who never lacks desire for the viewer, who never requires anything for herself or who’s never un-showered or smelly or otherwise not ready to be taken in any environment, from any angle, at any time.  She’s PERFECT!  I’ll take two…thousand….per minute.  Got a delivery system for that?

The insidious thing about internet porn is that while it temporarily satisfies the penis, it does not satisfy the soul, and even worse, it lowers the viewer’s capacity for enjoying real sexual intimacy.   It is fake sex.  Real sexual satisfaction can only be arrived at via the process of real sex.  Real sex includes a real woman – a woman who sometimes can go for periods of time without complaint or needs (whether in the bedroom or out), but more often than not has unsexy real-world problems and stresses; who sometimes wants you and sometimes doesn’t; who sometimes is freshly showered and totally prepared for a rendezvous, but more often than not is busy doing or worrying about other things when the mood may strike.

Real sex also requires more time and energy than simply walking up to a woman, lifting up her skirt (who wears pesky underwear!?) and going at it for 30 seconds like a couple of baboons in the wild.  The foundation of satisfying real sex is an investment in a woman’s soul, which requires regular and routine maintenance. To the foundation, a framework of finding time in a busy life to focus on each other must be erected.  A roof and walls of sensual touching and talking finishes the basic structure.  Only then is the table set for the real feast to begin.   For more on this fascinating subject, watch an excellent talk entitled the Great Porn Experiment given by Gary Wilson at TEDxGlasgow, available at the time of writing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU.

Internet quotes are the intellectual’s equivalent of internet porn.  In the space of a few minutes, your brain can consume tens of quotes, distilling hundreds of years of wisdom into the space of a few sentences.  One might even be forgiven for a sense of smugness as one nods in agreement with this quote or that.  Using quotes as a reminder of former explorations is one thing, but trolling quote sites, such as Pinterest, as the main source of intellectual nourishment is wholly another.

The problem with internet quotes, as with internet porn, is that this is fake intellectualism, and it is just as insidious.  It robs the viewer of real intellectual pursuit, while leaving the viewer believing he has been edified as a result of an intellectual pursuit.  In the meantime, a pattern is born where the viewer spends less and less time actually thinking of the topics covered by these quotes while being spoon-fed stylized intellectual T&A.  It can be quite intoxicating, but only superficially, since no real learning occurs.

Much like real sex, real thought requires a build up.  It requires intimacy from foundation to framework to roof and walls.  Even the meandering or boring detours contain insight.  Fleshed out with a broader context, the thought embodied in a quote gains more meaning, not less. Distillation doesn’t give you “the good stuff”; it leaves behind the impurities that gave the thought its essential character.

More importantly, by meandering through real writing, like a disciple with a master, a reader learns a process – a process that can then be replicated when one begins to walk alone.  The nuance of one’s experience can be lost when one knows only how to seek the headlines.  The world perhaps becomes more black and white, and the reader loses the ability to see and accept the gray world as it really is and concomitantly loses the ability to navigate the complex thoughts, emotions or situations that will invariably arise in the real world.

Wisdom, therefore, is not a commodity, despite its widespread distribution.  It cannot simply be consumed via voyeuristic intellectuo-tourism.  It can only be arrived at as the product of a head-long journey into the unknown; otherwise it’s just some nice words in a pretty font.

My Penis

As a male, I am terribly offended by my penis.  It has the gall to try to think for me.  On occasion, it will assess the data stream from my eyes and ears and tell my brain when pleasing sights and sounds intercept me “I want to get in there” without regard for the social or personal implications of such an action.  When I was younger, this happened quite often.  As a brother of a high-school friend put it when asked whether he would have sex with so-and-so (who wasn’t considered to be an attractive specimen), “a hole’s a hole,” and so an unchecked penis would likely go foraging for whatever shelter would have it. 

Now, however, my brain is becoming increasingly agitated with my penis’ lack of discretion and discernment.  The reason, you see, is that my brain decided that mere copulation just wasn’t doing it any more.  I have been married for what I consider to be a long time.  I have had sex with my wife many hundreds of times, probably in the neighborhood of a thousand, give or take.  And each year it gets better.

How, you might ask?  Well, it certainly has nothing to do with our bodies.  Each year we get a little further away from the youth-oriented picture of perfectly toned sexuality portrayed in the media and voraciously consumed by penises all over.   No, it’s all in the eyes.

It took many years and many discussions and many fights, but my wife now knows me through and through, and I know her through and through.  I am not proud of each part of me, and I still do not enjoy when certain parts are brought into the light of day, but each of those parts, including those that are so, so socially unacceptable, have seen the light of her day and have been accepted with a minimum of resignation, even if not fully understood.

When I look into her eyes when we make love, I see her looking into my bare and naked and vulnerable soul, and I see love.  I see tender acceptance.  Her tender acceptance of me in her eyes in that moment is far more meaningful than the physical acceptance of my body into hers.  Caresses no longer touch only the surface, but signify fondness for my thoughts, my desires, my fears and even my shame.  It is a wonderful thing to lay bare your shame and to have it treated gently, with love and tenderness and understanding.  It is a far more powerful aphrodisiac than anything that can be drawn from the physical senses.

This is not to demean the art of the quickie.  Time, energy and biochemistry may all combine to require satiation of the biochemistry, which can do wonders to keep the engine of marriage from seizing, but to be totally consumed by the experience….to be consumed requires the connection.  It requires the eyes.

So, to my penis I say SHUT UP.  You may still be necessary, but you are no longer sufficient.  It’s the eyes that have it.