“I cannot be the whole for him. I can neither exist nor be in his place. But I can perhaps give him a livable place, prepare a space around him, contain myself: approach myself while drawing away from myself. Return in me without scattering or dispersing myself.
Only your existence helps me to be born, to move out of my placenta. I discover the divine between us, conceived by us but not combined with us, existing between us of each. We give birth to it, adults at last.
Between us is something which will never be mine or yours.
If transcendence is between us, recognizing you as other perhaps implies giving you up to your solitude, and also to your volume, to you, an incarnate subject: in you, outside of you, other than me, with air and perspective between us. Thus we are body and soul for each other.
I want to live in harmony with you and still remain other. I want to draw neared to you while protecting myself for you. It pleases me to protect for you the freshness of unknown flesh and the discovery which brings awakening.
To foster growth in difference: tender happiness. This grace flickers across my lips, my heart, my thoughts. I love you upon the threshold of this permanent alterity, offered to my attentive senses and spirit. I wish that the flowers themselves could be in such fidelity.
How can I speak to you: find the words, discover the tone, touch you without losing myself?”
excerpts from To Be Two by Luce Irigaray (pg. 13-14)
The above passage I believe encapsulates the conflict we, as sexual humans, run into as we join with other(s) in our becoming adult, in our sexual journey. We build relationships, sometimes sexual, many romantic, and often intimate (desirably so). We can lose ourselves at times so uncontrollably that we no longer recognize ourselves in the mirror.
When I was first getting into drinking alcohol, I remember looking in the mirror and becoming fascinated with the blurriness of things. I distinctly remember identifying that when I started to see trails of images when I turned my head, I knew I was getting to a drunk state of fuzzy. Have you ever had this experience?
Losing ourselves isn’t so bad in some situations. It has taught me about the limits of myself and the places I can go. In fact, losing ourselves I would venture to argue is the pinnacle of our existence. But, you know, just kids. I’m adult now, or so my birth date says so. I’ve been through many experiences, I’ve experimented in most aspects of life, I’m reaching the age where I can now recognize traits that exist within and without body that tell me things, that warn me. For example, I can recognize the difference between a torn muscle, a sore muscle, and a tight muscle. I can recognize when I am in a bad mood, or when I’m in a good mood, and I can even starting to recognize what puts me in said moods. I can recognize that feeling of anxiety in sweaty palms and quickening breath. I can recognize hunger.
These are my limits, my edges, and by pushing up against them, perhaps through them, I can learn what is on the other side. What I once thought was severe, was actually natural and something time would heal.
Becoming an adult means that we become into ourselves. We’ve taken the step from not enough experience, to now I have or am ready for some experience. It is roughly understood that our western culture ignores the sacredness of this becoming, and chalks it up strictly as a legal thing. We lack any ritual or initiation rights that would recognize the importance of this, which would really go a long way to solidify in our minds the sacredness and responsibility that the becoming adult necessarily implies. Without this ritual, we’re almost floating in the abyss of adolescent adulthood, where the expression ‘I don’t give two hoots’ lives. Adulthood isn’t – or shouldn’t be – this though, adulthood is filled with important responsibilities: with gravitas, with the weight of our decisions, with the power of stepping up, with honor, with respect, with the understanding of all things being sacred. With adulthood, we must recognize the repercussions of our decisions, we must recognize the long and short term effects of what we do, that stops at no boundary or border. For we are all one, we are whole. It is here that I would like to place sexuality.
Categorical thinking is a habit that most of our western world exhibits. My yard, your yard. My car, your car. My lawn mower, your lawn mower. But it also leads to my feelings and your feelings, my image your image, my storyline your storyline. It leads to the me vs. you mentality, which leads into a competition, which can lead to isolation and lack of will. When I believe that my thoughts are separate from yours, even though I’m sitting right next to you, a disconnect begins to grow which nurtures a lack of empathy.
I challenge this. In reality we actually have the potential to be of one mind. It’s our mental blocks and categorical thinking that restricts this natural flow of understanding.
Have you ever sat with an intuitive friend who completes your thoughts? Have you ever been in a sharing circle where the person before you shares the exact same thing you were going to share? Or perhaps they didn’t share what you were going to share, but what they have said resonates so deeply with you that your entire being has been enveloped with their conscious and unconscious thoughts?
This speaks of the potential I believe we’re capable of. This is also where I believe sexuality exists.
Luce Irigara speaks about this in the passage above; how do we lose ourselves in this tricky territory? There is hardly anything on earth that exists to captivate our body, minds, and souls like sexuality, yet this is probably the aspect of most of our lives that has the least amount of energy put in to. Those that do put lots of energy into sexuality are often shamed with names and not taken ‘seriously.’
To get back on (Luce Irigara’s) point, how can we lose ourselves into another and still remain ourselves? How can we nurture the growth in difference?
There is no easy answer to this, I know that. We are each on our own paths, carrying with us our own set of truths. But, I believe there is something within the depths of our personal gravitas that can answer this. You see, if we understand the all encompassing effects of our actions, both physical and mental, it is easy to see the inter-connectedness of the world and every interaction we have within it. I can think of no other raw form of interconnectedness that both physically, mentally, and emotionally intertwines two humans than the ritual of sex. It is not so far to understand the importance of ourselves showing up completely to enrich this journey. If we’re passive bystanders, if we leave our efforts mainly in check, then how can we make this sexual journey its magic that it should be? When we go into church, do we half pray? One third pray? Do we not pray, even though we’re given this divine moment to connect with Spirit? I sure hope not, yet resistance still exists because of some apprehension. Understanding this apprehension is the sacred initiation of becoming into adulthood.
Perhaps in losing the importance of initiation in our culture, we’ve also lost the actual space for the initiation itself. Our churches are being converted into apartment buildings, our sacred ruins are being let go wild, our trees that house so much energy are being cut, and the animals that hold our spirits in them so effectively are being slaughtered and pushed to extinction. There really is something to the sacred ritual that has become lost.
Ritual is a way of softly leading us in the direction we have decided we really want to move towards. For example, the ritual of doing an asanas was technically to work us up to a climax that would then allow us to very easily flow (come down) into meditation that could last for hours. Whereas if we try and just enter meditation after let’s say driving in the car for five hours, we might find it hard to meditate for even 2 minutes. Imagine if every logger that came to a tree first came to his knees and deeply thanked each tree for sacrificing itself? I believe this ritual would change the world.
In all of this, we’re also becoming distant. Many no longer feel energies around us, no longer believing in that. But sexuality IS about that energy, that is the sacredness of it. And if we’re not sharing our energies, how can we fully let another absolutely be themselves and us be absolutely ourselves, all the while being absolutely together? It is becoming, in varying degrees, harder and harder to trust another human because we are being taught that we are different from each other. Our categorical thinking has led us to believe that the way we treat another being, sexual partner or not, does not directly reflect back upon ourselves, our beings.
A friend recently told me how kids these days are doing this thing called ‘ghosting’; they put on a condom, and then before they enter into a woman, they remove the condom. *surprise. This exemplifies the tragic loss of sacred union between humans we are experiencing in this world. I really do feel that both humans involved in this will forever be hurt because of this act to some degree. The boy will grow into a man and hopefully realize how disrespectful he has been doing this act and feel deep shame for doing it and being proud he actually pulled it off, and the woman will always be slightly inhibited giving herself wholly to a man for fear that trust will be ripped away in a moment of such exposed realness.
This stays as an example, or reminder, to never let a situation pass without being conscious of how our energy can mix, shift, and forever be entangled in the world around us, reaching a sacred pinnacle in sexual union, that will stay with us long ever after.
The raven sat for a while high up in the lush cedar tree clacking the most unique and beautiful sounds. The more I listened, the more I knew what its message was. It told me the journey of life, of rocky shores and sunny days, of storms to come and trees to fall in the woods. It showed me a trail to my wisdom and also the trail to my demise. Everywhere it went with it’s song, I went with it.
Then, in a moment, it leaped and spread its wide wings and flew off through the giant cedars it belonged to.
At this moment, a woman emerged from the forest and walked straight towards me. The more I watched her, the more I could hear her message. Her hair sang of the freedom of summer, a vision of the waves crashing on the shore. Her arms, a deep brown and long, caressed ten thousand children to her breasts and delicately soothed them away from all confusion. Her footsteps found each road that would lead a path to truth. The curve of her hips shared with me the vivacious nature that with every moment could spring upon me such excitement and fullness that the entire world seemed to exist within them.
When she came to my side, her smell brought me to a village, far far away, around a campfire with people that shared with me as if I were them. And her eyes, her eyes told me her own story, so deep and yet floating like the raven had went off between the cedars.
At this moment, I saw my world come to me, and I bowed down with the deepest respect. I placed flowers I had been holding at her feet and removed all of my clothes and folded them, placing them at her feet as a gift, a symbol of everything I had. I summoned the winds of my strength to shower my world before me with safety and strength I had within me.
At this moment, I understood gravitas, and I stood up and held her hand and looked into her eyes and she read in me everything she wanted to read, and she had from me everything she needed to have.
I invite you to reflect on the passage quoted at the start of this essay.