QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sex

SEX

Sex is not always about reproduction or about love or about tenderness. All too easily sex derails from its species errand and becomes entwined with anger or guilt or fear, and thus the vast spectrum of human fantasies arise. This man needs to think of shoes in order to perform, and this woman dreams of spankings, and that man wants to wear and dress so his penis can engorge, and that woman thinks of whips and chains. In the darkness of his soul, this man wants little girls and that man wants little boys, and this woman needs an imaginary crowd to watch her movements and that one finds her satisfaction in piercings of the private parts urine, feces, animal costumes may all play a part in our fantasy lives.

Each sexual story has its origins in early years, in memories and wirings that we can hardly fathom, in our genes or in our nurseries or in our first experiences of our bodies, our own and those of others. We understand some things but just a few. Sexual preferences, some infused with hate or guilt, remain a mysterious continent open to exploration, open to spelunkers brave enough to follow the clues downward into our blackest hearts and our earliest memories. How good it would be to better understand the roles of shame and curiosity and pain and what part they play in our sexual lives. We have just begun to map our own complex minds.

But this list of sexual wishes, odd practices, less-than-dignified desires, compulsions is not confined to one sex or the other. It is a feature of sexuality that affects many human exchanges, and even more private dreams. Perhaps these rise from the efforts we make to control our lusts, or perhaps they rise from strange coincidences, stray moments that became electrified in our memories, or perhaps they are the result of the controls we must exercise as human animals who can restrain impulses but pay the price for that restraint.

Maybe as we think more about our sexual lives we will find better ways to enjoy them, to fuse them with love and release them from hate. Or maybe not. But, either way, the species needs the sexual life of both male and female in order to reach out into time, enduring civilization while dragging its discontents behind it.

–Anne Roiphe, “Order and Desire”

"Obscene" by Mel Bochner

“Obscene” by Mel Bochner

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Tea

TEA

“At the Tea Garden”

My friend and I mull over the teas
displayed in square jars
with beveled glass labeled by type.
Each name seems part of a haiku:
“After the Snow Sprouting.” “Moon Palace.”
“Mist Over the Gorges.”
I’m drawn to green teas
with unoxidized leaves that don’t wither,
hold their grassy fragrance
like willow under snow in winter.

The proprietor offers real china for the Chinese tea.
Animal bones, fine ground, give whiteness,
translucency and strength
to the porcelain that appears delicate,
resists chipping.
The rim of the cup is warm and thin.

My friend’s lips are plush: her lovely
mouth opens to give advice I ask for.
We talk about memory of threshold events,
like a first kiss or a poem published.
She can’t remember…

I tell her about my brother-in-law’s
chemotherapy—his third bout of cancer.
He wants his family to put a pinch
of his ashes in things he liked:
his banjo, the top drawer of his desk, the garden.

I wouldn’t mind becoming part
of a set of bone china that serves tea
in a cozy teahouse smelling of incense,
cinnamon, musk, and carved teak.
I’d like to be brought to a small table,
sit between friends’ quiet words,
held in hands so close that breath
on the surface of warm drink
makes mist rise over their faces.

— Margaret Hasse

TeaGardensBG

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Daring Greatly

DARING GREATLY

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly.

— Theodore Roosevelt

teddy roosevelt

Quote of the day: SAFETY

SAFETY

The norms for eye contact vary all over the world. Eye contact isn’t always a positive thing. It can be threatening, too. When you’re feeling safe, eye contact can seem friendly, but without a sense of safety, it can be perceived as aggressive. There’s good evidence that people who are depressed, anxious, or lonely experience fewer feelings of safety around others, and that starts a downward spiral in which they cut themselves off because any interaction, to them, seems threatening. They may want to connect, but their actions don’t support that desire, which reinforces their loneliness. Mindfulness meditation – in which the meditator is simply present in the moment without judgment – may help you begin to see a safe situation for what it is, instead of projecting your negativity onto it. After you’ve deal with some of that initial negativity and are feeling safer, lovingkindness meditation might help you experience more warmheartedness.

— Barbara Frederickson interviewed in The Sun

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: the birds and the bees

“Birds and Bees”

When my daughter starts asking I realize
I don’t know which, if any, birds
have penises. I can’t picture how swans

do it. I’m even confused about bees:
that fat queen and her neurotic workers,
her children grown in cells. I’m worried

by turtles and snakes: their parts hidden
in places I have never seen. How do they
undress? Long ago, awash in college

boyfriends, I knew a little about sex.
I understood the dances and calls,
the pretty plumage. Now, I am as ignorant

as a child. We have gone to the library
to find books though I know sex
is too wild for words. The desire to be

kissed is the desire to live forever
in the mouth of pleasure. My God
I can never tell my daughter the truth.

It is a secret the way spring is a secret,
buried in February’s fields. It is a secret
the way babies are a secret: hidden

by skin or egg, their bodies made of darkness.

— Faith Shearin
birds and bees

QUOTE OF THE DAY: dealing with infidelity

In a recent issue of Psychotherapy Networker, author and sex therapist Tammy Nelson wrote a case study on “Women Who Cheat.” The article focuses on the kind of theoretically monogamous heterosexual couple for whom any sexual encounter with a third-party constitutes a potentially lethal breach to the marriage contract. I know from my experience and from my practice that many couples find ways to accommodate and negotiate for non-monogamous commitments. Still, I recognize that every couple is entitled to its own culture and ground rules, and the framework that Nelson offers to help this particular couple cope with sexual infidelity seems sensible enough that I wanted to share it with you. I especially appreciate her advocating the redefinition of monogamy from “blanket prohibition on outside sex to a search for deeper intimacy inside the marriage.”

women who cheat

“In my view,” Nelson writes, “infidelity recovery has three phases: crisis, insight, and vision. The crisis stage occurs right after disclosure or discovery, when couples are in acute distress and their lives are in chaos. At this point, the focus of therapy isn’t on whether or not they should stay together or if there’s a future for them, but on establishing safety, addressing painful feelings, and normalizing trauma symptoms.

“In phase two, the insight phase, we talk about what vulnerabilities might have led to the extramarital affair. Becoming observers of the affair, we begin to tell the story of what happened. Repeating endless details of the sexual indiscretion doesn’t help, but taking a deeper look at what the unfaithful partner longed for and couldn’t find in the marriage—and so looked for outside of it—as well as finding empathy for the other, who was in the dark, can elicit a shift in how both partners see the affair and what it meant in their relationship.

“Phase three is the vision phase, which includes seeking a deeper understanding of the meaning of the affair and moves forward the experience and resulting lessons into a new concept of marriage and, perhaps, a new future. In this phase, partners can decide to move on separately or stay together. This is where the erotic connection will be renewed (or created) and desire can be revived. In this phase, the meaning of monogamy changes from a moralistic, blanket prohibition on outside sex to a search for deeper intimacy inside the marriage. A vision of the relationship going forward includes negotiating a new commitment.”

You can check out the whole article here. Let me know what you think about this topic.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Change

In ancient India hunters developed a proven method for catching monkeys. The monkeys were quick by nature and clever enough to dismantle all kinds of traps set for them. The trap that they couldn’t dismantle involved a simple trick that trapped them in their own nature. A big coconut would be found and hollowed out. Then a hole would be made in it, just large enough to allow a monkey’s paw to pass through. The coconut would then be pinned to the ground and some tempting, fragrant fruit would be placed inside the hollowed shell.

Inevitably, a monkey would approach the shell full of desire for the fragrant food it could smell and almost taste. As soon as the paw of the monkey had slipped through the hole and grasped the food inside the trap, the poor fellow would become caught because the fist holding the food was too large to pass back through the hole in the shell.

In order to become free of the trap all the monkey had to do was let go of the prize that it coveted so much. More often than not, the hand that held the desired fruit would not let it go. Thus, the monkey was trapped by what it desired and held onto no matter how near freedom might be. Release from the entrapment was right at hand and just within their grasp. However, most would stay trapped and imprisoned, caught by a narrow desire, but also by a fierce and blind unwillingness to simply let go of what they held to be necessary or important.

People can be just that way. Many take hold of something and refuse to let go, even when they become stuck in one place, even if they can’t taste the sweetness they first reached for in life. Some hold onto another person and refuse to let go, even when each part of the relationship becomes a trap. Others take up an idea, a political belief or a religious notion that was supposed to set them free. After a time, they become trapped inside narrowing ideas or rigid rules. Next thing you know, they are caught in a trap made of their beliefs.

Change is hard because we hold onto what keeps us from changing; because freedom feels like losing something that we are used to clinging to; because real change means that we would no longer desire what others insist upon and no longer restrict ourselves to the game at hand. Fate may be what we wish to deny when claiming that we are free; but it is also what we unconsciously cling to in order to avoid letting go of who we think we are.

— Michael Meade, Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul

fate & destiny rev ed