Value#2: (Sex) Positively Sensual

After much thought and many doubts and some aha! moments, I struck upon my 2nd value. Something that means a LOT to me.

Before I go into it, I wanted to write about why I am trying to define my values. Values, as I understand, are important for a sense of identity and confidence. My values are rather broad and basic, and aren’t too restrictive, because for me, identity is rather fluid. It changes over time, and it should be allowed to – in the self as well as another.

So what do I mean by being (Sex) Positively Sensual? Much of our identity is tied to gender and intergender dynamics, given how we are all born out of the coming together of the masculine and feminine, whether in spirituality or sexuality. These polarities, often cause some level of conflict in our lives, our sense of identity, and our approach to the world.

I choose to be someone who acknowledges the importance of sex and sexuality in the shaping of these realms of our psyche. I choose to be someone who talks about it, especially the sensuality that comes along with it. No matter what, we all live in the physical world, and the physical experience matters extremely, as nothing comes close to ‘reality’ better than the physical. Or so I believe. The sensory experience of the physical world is a very surreal form of pleasure, that is key to creating memories and registering experience, in my humble opinion.

Sex and sexuality requires open communication. It requires debate and dialogue. It is in dire need of building trust and openness. If someone avoids complimenting another, or does not believe in the mutuality of pleasure in a sexual/sensual transaction, then I feel personally disappointed for them, for I believe in its necessity for the human experience.

 

Here’s the first post about my values: on Community.

I have come into my own.

I believed in grand things –

And when they didn’t come true,

I disposed away the facts that presented themselves to me as reality

And hugged my dreams close.

I was a dreamer. I built my dreams from scratch, brick by brick; I plastered them together painstakingly.

I built my fort. But over the foundation of pink, fluffy clouds. They were dreams after all.

I built my dreams. And today they are no more.

And I wonder what gave me this strength, but no longer does reality feel sore.

I have a capacity. A large appetite to bear risks and hardships, I can endure.

I am a good friend, a believer, a powerful soul.

I breathe, I deserve love, I receive love, and I win over my goals.

I have come into my own. I have come into my own.

Love, Attachment, and Memories.

Last month, my grandmother passed away. Just writing that feels like a meaningless observation. Over the past month, she has been living with me in a more potent way than when she was alive. Although I’ve been working and meeting friends before I move out of this city (yes, I’m moving out, but there is no cause-effect relationship between the two), every morning I wake up to the reality that she isn’t around, and it is just my grandfather. I call him to greet him in the morning, let him know that I’m on my way to work, have finished lunch, and am going into dinner. I’m simply going through the motions, living by the schedule. Every morning isn’t just a day that I’m going into, but a recovery from the vivid dreams that I’ve had of her the previous night.

Every train ride, every rote and mundane part of the day finds me trying to define reality. For instance the other day, I was waiting for a friend whom I was meeting for dinner. It was a crowded huddle of various offices and even for a Monday night, there was plenty of bustle with young people trying to decide where to grab a beer, or go on a date, or catch-up with their friends. Everybody’s existence felt so meaningless and impersonal, and yet everybody was alive, thinking, having opinions, taking their bodies and movement for granted, their hearts and all their internal organs, as well as their emotions. All of these people, complete human beings, felt useless to my own purpose and existence. It was unlike me to think this way, but I curiously followed my thoughts, wondering where it may lead. To no surprise, I thought of her, how she had been willful like me, but embodied everything opposite of my reticence and inhibited expression of feelings. Her soul, so eternally special to me, taught me true love. We had great moments of conflict and frustration as she insisted on making my choices her way, and I insisted on hers. But in retrospect, I see all of those moments with undertones of deep love and care- two beings, her and I, among several other members of our family, dealing with the facts of our existences – that she was ill and old and utterly open with her feelings- insisting on being engaged with her loved ones as she once could be; and I was young and precocious at the same time, reckless and reserved, with all conflicting expectations still smashing together to form a coherent fabric of being and becoming, and ideas of a world very different from the one that she only learnt about through reading magazines and newspapers in her bed – struggling to be close, yet still apart given our lives and perspectives, but always persisting in our individual attempts to understand the other. I can’t tell apart love and attachment in this case. I always told her that I loved her, and she always reasoned that she said/did what she said/did out of a strong attachment to me.

Today, I was walking down the road to catch a train in the evening, and I noticed an internal monologue about how she was no more. I was convincing myself that it was a reality that I must come to terms with. But then another part of me retorted that while it was true that she would not be in my future, it was also true that she featured prominently in my past, and continued to be in my thoughts in the present. So, what really what the reality that I had to come to terms with when truth is tinged with this sort of multi-dimensionality?

And so, whenever it feels unreal, I sentence myself to relive those three days during the course of which she lived on in a final spurt of pure willpower- breathing and making the most of her failing body, and we decided to rid her of her pain and let her go.

I was talking to a friend earlier today, and said that I hoped to reach some sort of homeostasis, referring to it as a stage from which there was only an onward movement, in a while. She agreed, but suggested that homeostasis may be a process, and an ongoing unfurling of events as a result of a coping mechanism, a story we tell ourselves and live by, rather than just a Eureka-esque moment. That was both an easy as well as startling advice to accept. Easy because, perhaps, I have already achieved homeostasis, because I certainly feel like I’ve received closure. Startling because the suddenness of her demise will never quite ease in, because it has already been downed in a single, quick gulp.

I know she’s gone, I know she’s gone, but… I don’t feel what I know.

Here’s something I’d written close to a year ago, about her AND our battle with her illness.

Date a girl who reads philosophy.

I was 18, and I knew a guy who seemed interested in me; he was 21 or 22. Back then, he used to text me quite often. During one such conversation, I told him that I was considering studying philosophy after college. He was curious, as was everybody, about why I would choose to study philosophy after economics. I told him that any inquiry into political, social, or economic systems- systems that consisted of human interaction, needed to be approached with much forethought and a certain sort of discipline in this thinking. Philosophy would help me appreciate that, before I jumped into opinion-forming and decision-making. He thought philosophy was redundant. He said that if I spoke to a peasant farmer about philosophy, it wouldn’t make too much sense to him. There is no philosophy to people’s mundane lives; philosophy is a creation of the well-provided, gentility-bred, high-brow-esque mind.

Perhaps. Perhaps I did not understand what he fully meant. However, it seemed pessimistic to me. It seemed like an inability to believe in a magical life, where certain events were bound to happen and some things were meant to be- an approach to life that I readily subscribe to, and use to soothe myself after exposure to harsh realities of life, such as the consequence of rash decisions, and long-winding reactions to impulsive actions. The necessity of delayed gratification. The tendency of karmic energies to be subtle and mysterious in their working. Life is hard, but there is meaning awaiting those who persevere to overcome them. Right?- I asked him.

‘Are you an optimist?’ he asked, in return.

‘Yes, very much!’

‘Ah. Then I was wrong.’ he ventured.

‘Wrong about?’ I wondered.

‘Wrong about how intelligent I thought you were. Intelligent people cannot be optimists.’

This conversation is etched in my mind; partially because my younger self felt invalidated by the possibility of being labelled ‘not intelligent’. But, I’ve been a sucker for philosophy. It has shaped my thought processes, enabled whatever empathy I have, and helped me relate to a world beyond my mind. If the success and popularity of platforms like brainpickings and spirit science are anything to go by, then there clearly is a world out there that is hungry for meaning, a message that says that we are not alone as individuals in our complexity of thought and emotional build-up that leads to irrational anxiety, fear, frustration, and magical thought- the last of which is simply an extreme expression of our meaning-seeking, narrative-biased mind.

If you are wondering about where things went with the guy, the answer is nowhere. We were clearly bad fits, seeing how we lacked respect for each other’s minds, and therefore disallowed ourselves from giving the other the benefit of doubt. But the point of this post is to write a manifesto about dating a girl who reads philosophy, which is an extension of the ‘Date a girl who reads‘ manifesto.

Date a girl who reads philosophy. It means she is, in all probability, mulling over perspectives and the nature of reality itself. HOWEVER, she is given to strong opinions, and plenty of heated debates. She is melancholic and guarded, but feisty and won’t mince her words when you diss her favourite philosopher as not being a ‘real philosopher’ after all. Date a girl who reads philosophy because she is prone to retract, and will give you opportunity to retract. She will let you apologize, and allow it to do the trick. She will accommodate you your magical thoughts, but will pull you back to existential reality when you’re telling yourself that looking up at the clock at exactly 11:11 means something, because she’s been there herself and seen herself through and out of that phase. She’ll contemplate life- its purpose and meaning, and drag you down to the dark recesses of her mind to talk about death and will make you consider the humanness of inhumane tendencies. She will gaze at the stars with you, and her eyes will speak for the beauty she recognizes. Date a girl who reads philosophy, because she is likely to have a rich inner life, with her own personal mysteries and complex demons, fighting for expression and redressal, and therefore, always providing fodder for conversation. Date a girl who reads philosophy, because she will strive to understand, not just your mind, but your soul.

Date a girl who reads philosophy, especially when she only claims to try to do so. 😉

Not all great art must be intentionally “heavy”, but art with the kind of passion, authenticity and soul that might grant it cultural longevity always invokes deeper longings in us. Who can listen to Bach without feeling, even without putting it into words, the terrible tension of daily life interspersed with ecstatic moments of visionary release? Who can read Shakespeare without grappling with the human propensity for madness, vanity, lust — and the kind of beauty that can melt a heart?

It is human to err. Human to have the propensity to indulge in the extremes, sometimes manifesting in being a stickler for virtues, thereby projecting itself as a vice.