Monday, December 20, 2010

My self-discovery journey unravelled as my desires were tugged - I yearned to feel a kind of freedom, to know myself, to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel empowered, to have answers...I wanted to gain access to one community or another, to possess one virtue or one skill or one talent. Looking back, there isn't one consistent goal or focus I can say brought me to where I am - those shifted over time - which often left me feeling like I've been failing, flailing until I noticed all my seeking and striving had been always fed by my desire. Unquenchable, ravishing desire. It was always there moving me, having its way with me.

And in realizing that what I have been truly following is my desire I understood that all my efforts and pursuits and lessons served a much more focused purpose than i could have set out with. I though I was fixing what was broken, augmenting what was lacking, and so on. I was only ever learning about what was really there so I could have a wisdom for it - an instinct for how to hold all of who I was and navigate my place in things.

That wisdom allows me to see now that being guided by Desire works very differently than an action plan for change - the motivations of the mindrealms - for one thing, aside from the instinct I gain for myself, I also gain a wisdom for Desire itself - how to let it move in my body. Desire, to me, is a way of feeling my own life course through me. We each desire differently and for different things - but where I find my desire I find my portion of life moving in its own way. The same for desires I find crushed into crevices in my body to be hidden away or tamped down. Sometimes rejected not even for the content of the desire but just for the intolerability of feeling desire at all. And when I find those constricted places, no amount of thinking could soothe that desire back to its fluidity.

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
- Jalal al Din Rumi

Only Desire itself can really show you how it unfolds, how to contain it, stand its agonies and ecstasies, and then to release it again for a new rush. Knowing this I let my focus become how to let more desire in without restricting it or tensing around it - I want to learn my courage, integrity, honesty and wholeness from Desire.

Thomas Moore refers to this as 'Erotic Intelligence' which he points out "begins with familiarity with one's own soul - with its strong desire and inclinations, its cycles and phases."

Of course the question is then, how to find desire, follow it in to your soul, and then find your way back out again. He suggests: "Living from a deep place may require periods of quiet and silence, when we can hear the soul speaking. Long, honesty, and open-minded conversations with good friends can often reveal what the soul wants. Dreams give many good hints about developments in the soul and about the ego's defenses. Diaries, walks, retreats, hikes, and certain kinds of travel are traditional ways for keeping in touch with the soul, and they are as relevant today as they ever were."

I used to start with where I felt pain - where I felt a lack - because that was where Desire spoke the loudest in my life - where it wasn't satisfied. Now there are more places where Desire speaks directly as pleasure, as a winking approval or playful nudge toward something. And i know that to really hear what it can teach me I have to take as much of the pleasure in as i can - through my senses, in as many subtle layers as i'm able to perceive. And life provides many opportunities to do this. And the more of them I take the more I find myself in an intimate communion with my own soul, often the souls of others and certainly life itself as it is, including the ability to stay plugged in when it isn't pleasurable at all.

In this way, following desire is more than the gratification of transient cravings. Desire isn't selfish, built on taking in - Desire inspires me to be an open vessel - taking in as much as I am pouring out. In fact, it's impossible to take it all in without remaining widely open. Desire is a wild force that I feel I have been taught or encouraged to fear and tame.

But I have been rewarded for refusing to be taught such a thing and unleashing my desire.

Here is a short video of the beauty we love being what we do - the sounds, the sensation of the paint, the experience of being the canvas between an artist and her expression, having her devoted attention to my jaw be a part of her devotion to her art - where we normally can be a witness (sometimes during though usually after).

The light was low, part of the charm, but makes it hard to see what she has created so i'll include a still shot of the art that lived, ephemerally on my skin that night.


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