Sex:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions

snakeeden

In an earlier blog, I said that sex was like a continent divided into two regions.  One region gave permissions or legitimacies to certain sexual practices.  The other region consisted of prohibitions concerning sexual practices.  Some sexual practices have been and in some countries still are prohibited by law.  Permissions and prohibitions are defined by religion, culture, and politics.  These elements influence the individual in terms of their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial appeal for sex.

Religion:

Religious teachings exert a powerful impact on what is permissible in terms of sex.  According to many religions, a man and a woman must be married to have sex.  Adultery is a term for a married individual who has sexual relations with someone they are not married to.  ““Thou shalt not commit adultery” is found in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 20:14) of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament.  It is considered the sixth commandment by Roman Catholic and Lutheran authorities, but the seventh by Jewish and most Protestant authorities.” Wiki

51646318_poem_35

Jesus in the New Testament forgave a woman who was considered an adulterer when the crowd was going to stone her to death.  The religious taboos against adultery are only one of many religious taboos concerning sex.  Sex is forbidden among sex partners when procreation is not the objective and in certain physical positions not thought of as proper.  In some religions there is no such thing as rape between a husband and his wife.  Most religions prohibit sex between same sex partners.

Many of the prohibitions against sex by religions seem ludicrous and without any purpose.  Some such as the adultery prohibitions are almost impossible to enforce and are disregarded by a large number of religious adherents regardless of their theology or faith.

  • Statistics on Infidelity Rate: (2021): How Much Cheating is Going On?
  • Surveys show that 22% of married men have committed an adulterous act at least once in their life
  • 14 percent of married women have had affairs at least once during their married lives

Infidelity remains the number one reason that married and unmarried relationships end all across the world.  Everyone admits that cheating is wrong.  Religions rail against adultery and infidelity but humans routinely ignore the sanctions and prohibitions.  No one seems to stop and ask why we permit religions to prohibit many acts which people routinely perform.

anti-gay-but-sex-abuse-ok (2)The Catholic Church prescribes celibacy for its nuns and priests.  The recent scandals regarding the abuse of power by priests, bishops and cardinals would suggest a serious hypocrisy.  More importantly perhaps would be for the church to ask itself if these prohibitions do any good or serve any purpose.  Tradition may have a role in life but there is also a time when traditions must be changed.

Traditions can become evil when they force people to commit acts which religion regards as sinful yet are only a manifestation of human nature.  It is natural for people to be attracted to others and to want to make love to people they are attracted to.  Prohibitions based on the age of consent make sense.  It may be argued that the age of consent is a nebulous number that varies from country to country, but no one would argue that there should not be some age of consent.

“Age of consent laws vary considerably worldwide, although most countries require young people to be over 14 before having sex. Angola and the Philippines at 12, and several other countries, including South Korea and Japan at 13.”  —  “Age Of Consent By Country 2021

51uX9XG1sHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

So why are religions so opposed to sex?  What are the benefits that religions get out of controlling sex?  Why do religions make life difficult for their members by imposing sexual mandates which will be broken repeatedly and are broken repeatedly.  Even the authorities in various religions are guilty of breaking their own prohibitions.  Why?  Why? Why?

“Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology.” — Wilhelm Reich

The simple answer is power.  As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Churches exert power in a variety of ways.

  • They control who goes to heaven and who goes to hell
  • They control who is forgiven their sins and who is not
  • They control a number of sacraments needed to live a sacred life

Perhaps the most powerful control they exert over their members is their domination of the sex life of their members.  By controlling who can have sex, who they can have sex with, what sex is for and when it can be used, religions keep their financial treasuries full.  Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Divorce are all sacraments that churches use to make sure that their halls are full on Sunday or Saturday.  There is a looming problem though.

Barna_ChurchTrends_WebCharts_v73

People are not going to church anymore.  The non-affiliated outnumber the affiliated.  Even those people who declare themselves with some religion seldom go to church anymore.  They may show up for marriage, baptism, and confirmation but after that they are like ghosts.  Only twenty-four percent of Americans attend a church service each week. — “Church attendance of Americans 2020”  Mainstream churches are losing members faster than baby boomers are dying off.  Any company that lost a share of its market like these churches have would take a serious look at its products and services.  Religions seem to be blind to the changes that culture are bringing to peoples views on sex.  Next blog we will look at the cultural influences on sex that impact what is permissible and what is not.

“I am not a Christian or a Jew or a Mohammedan, a Mormon, Polygamist, Homosexual, Anarchist or Boxer. . . . I do not believe that, in order to be religious in the good and genuine sense of the word, one has to ruin one’s love life and has to become rigid and shrunken in body and soul. I know that what you call “God” actually exists, but in a different way from what you think: as the primal cosmic energy in the universe, as your love in your body, as your honesty and your feeling of nature in you and around you.”  — Wilhelm Reich

Sex from a Seventy Five Year Old Perspective

3970

Before you read any further, ask yourself this question.  Can a White Elderly American male say anything generic about sex?  To be quite clear, can I say anything relevant for women and men of color?  Can I say anything about sex that will resonate with women and men of other cultures like China, Indonesia, the Mid-East, or Indigenous peoples over the vast globe?  Will my thoughts on sex have any meaning for GLBTQ people?  Can I speak words of wisdom that will have any importance for those of Generation X, Y and Z?

9781536131277-e1539888796551

When a writer starts talking about a subject, they start from a viewpoint that is uniquely their own.  It can be no other way.  That is what makes writing so interesting and variable.  No two people will see life exactly the same way or tell exactly the same story.  Martin Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  A writer must have grit or ice in their veins to attempt to say anything at all.  No matter where I stand, someone will say, “You are a heretic.”

Let this tome be my heresy about sex.  Bury me with a stake through my heart if you do not like what I have to say.  I don’t have much more time to say it anyway.  Those who are offended can write their own scribbles to debunk my thoughts and theories.  To paraphrase Old Abe, the world will little remember nor long care about my ideas here.  It would be nothing but cowardice to forego one’s opinions because they might be misunderstood.  Nevertheless, I pray as the song goes “Oh Lord, please don’t let me be TOOO misunderstood.”

famous-erotic-temple-in-Khajuraho-Madhya-Pradesh-State-India-1200x853

Sex is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  It has an appeal that goes beyond the aesthetic.  Sex is both an individual and group activity that entails five key elements.  The physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements frame the actual conduct or act of sex.  My emotions, my physical abilities, my mental state, my spiritual beliefs and even my financial capacity will determine the breath and depth of my sexual activities.  But there is a great deal more that governs how sex is controlled in any society.

opt-image1

Sex can be seen as a vast continent.  The continent is divided into two major regions.  There is the Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions.  Each of these regions has three seasons.  There is some overlap between each season but also some significant differences.

One season is cultural.  This season brings influences to sex based on traditions and beliefs about what sex should be like, who we should have sex with and how sex may be performed.  There is the political season.  This season establishes the legality of sex.  Who may have sex, where they may have sex and when they may have sex.  Finally, there is the religious season.  This season defines who may have sex but further informs a purpose for sex.  Sex within the religious sphere is generally assumed to be permissible when associated with procreation.

Sex may take place between a man and a woman, between multiple men and one woman, between multiple women and one man, between multiple men and multiple women, between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman and any other multiple combinations thereof.

Couple_Bed_1296x728-header-1-1296x728Some of you are already thinking that this description has gone too far.  The reality of sexual practices throughout the world would astound most individuals.  There are those who believe that some sex is right, and some sex is wrong.  If there is a right and wrong when it comes to sex, the question is not easily answered.  The seasons of sex, the regions of sex and the individual capabilities all noted above will determine what is considered right and wrong sex.

In the following blogs, I will discuss my views on sex pursuant to the following areas:

  • The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions
  • The Season of Religion
  • The Season of Politics
  • The Season of Culture
  • The physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial elements affecting sex.

maxresdefault

Who am I to talk about sex?  What qualifications give me the right to discuss the multitudinous varieties of sex in the world?  An old White guy who has been married twice.  A man who has had several but not really that many sex partners.  I read that Wilt Chamberlain had been to bed with over 20,000 women.  A man who when he was younger did not understand women very well and probably still does not.  A man of limited variety when it comes to cultural and ethnic relationships with women.  A straight guy who has had no interest in gay relationships.  These are my obvious limitations.  I suspect I have others that I am unaware of.

sex in pandemicOn the other hand, I read widely.  I think a great deal about things and what constitutes right and wrong.  I have been to 34 countries.  I am old enough to have seen many things that work and many things that do not work.  I have had friends from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  I am not unduly influenced by religious, cultural, or even some legal restrictions governing sex.  As for the legal aspects, I believe in the protection of young children from pedophiles and other exploiters.  However, I have long believed in the right of people to choose their sex partners regardless of ethnic background.

The anti-miscegenation laws that were passed by some states were racist laws that enforced racial segregation for marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races.  I abhor such infringements on the individual rights of people based on racist xenophobic and bigoted concepts of what is right and wrong.

In 1975, I received my B.S. degree in Health Education.  I also received a license to teach this subject in grades 1 to 12.  What I did not realize at the time was the resistance to teaching Health Education in most schools.  Many parents and even schools associated Health Education with Sex Education.  In 1975, Sex Education was a highly contentious subject.  Twenty years later in 1994 Joycelyn Elders was forced to retire from her post as U.S. Surgeon General after she said that masturbation “is part of human sexuality and perhaps should be taught.”

sex-talk

Sex is both the most popular subject in the world and the most taboo subject.  We will look at some of these issues when we discuss permissions and prohibitions in my next blog.  Today there are more sex education classes taught then when I received my degree forty-five years ago, but the subject is still something educators must tread lightly on.  A recent article in the New York Times discusses a progressive educator who resigned her position due to parent criticism concerning her teachings.  “A Private-School Sex Educator Defends Her Methods.”

“Twenty-eight states require that abstinence be stressed in sex education classes, and six states require that only negative information be provided on homosexuality, according to the Guttmacher Institute.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/07/style/sex-educator-methods-defense.html

KwTddErSlVRnmRZ-800x450-noPad

Here I sit in the middle of one of the so-called most advanced countries in the world, and we have roughly one half of our nation that thinks abstinence is the key to sex education.  As an educator who continues to be a teacher in high schools in Arizona, I can only shake my head in disbelief.  We live in perhaps the most highly sexualized nation in the world and yet we act as though our children will practice abstinence until they are married.  One could not think of a more bizarre case of denial.

“Many Indian schools provide no sex education, leaving it to parents to talk to their children about sex and relationships. But often they are unsure what to say, sex coach Pallavi Barnwal tells the BBC’s Megha Mohan.”   —  ‘Indians don’t talk about sex – so I help them’

Americans are not alone in denial when it comes to sex.  As far as I can see, sex has what could be called mysterious parameters in every country that I have been to and many that I have only read or heard about second hand.  What is it about sex that makes it so popular and yet also so taboo?  The psychologist Wilhelm Reich had one theory which I will discuss later but it is one among many competing theories.

Next Blog:  The Region of Permissions and the Region of Prohibitions

Rhythm and Writing:  The Beat of Life

maxresdefault

Allegro:  a brisk lively tempo

What does the beating of my heart have to do with my writing?  What does writing have to do with making love?  Can the changing of the seasons be compared to a concert overture?  What is the relationship between T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets 2: East Coker” poem and Stravinsky’s “The Rites of Spring?”  What does musical rhythm have to do with writing?

unnamedOn some primal level, we all live by an unseen law of rhythm.  The rhythm of the universe controls an eternal dance between the atoms and molecules that make up our existence.  This natural rhythm imparts an inexorable symmetry to all of life.  A regulated succession of strong and weak elements of opposite and contrasting conditions that becomes the master of all that we do.  Buddhists call it the Yin and Yang of being.

Springtime is upon us.

The birds celebrate her return with festive song,

and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.

Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,

Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.  — (From Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons:  Spring”, Concerto in E Major) 

DrumsticksIn countless ways, we observe that there is fundamentally no difference between writing or between a piece of choreography and the changing climate.  Creativity is carved out of the passion that is in everything we do.  The body and mind embrace in a never-ending minuet.  The music ebbs and flows.  Our love is gentle, restrained, then wild and feral. Mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights fuse with the seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter.  The harsh gales of November resonate in the refrains of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.  “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts ushers in the scorching days of July.  Poetry rings out in the rap music of the streets while the mellow voices of choir singers comfort the soul.  All things are one say the mystics.  If my writing is one with all things, will the tempo of my words cool, heat, soothe or disrupt the fashions of life?

reading-writing-rhythm

Adagio: a slow and stately tempo

Far be it for me to confuse philosophy with art.  Greater men than I have acknowledged that there is a unity to life.  We travel down our different paths often blind to the journeys of others who walk side by side with us.  This one a carpenter, this one a computer scientist, this one a teacher, this one an artist and this one a hero.  Some of us have a long journey and some of us have a short journey.  For some the journey is rough and chaotic and for others the journey is smooth and predictable.  There are slow times in our journeys and there are fast times.  The rhythm of life is never the same for any of us.

Oh, it’s the same as the emotion that I get from you

You got the kind of lovin’ that can be so smooth, yeah

Give me your heart, make it real, or else forget about it — (From “Smooth”, by Santana)

For some, life is poverty and for others it is uncountable wealth.  The rich man longs for the anonymity and slower days of the poor man.  The poor man can be heard singing, “If I were a rich man, lord who made the lion and the lamb, would it really spoil your cosmic plan if I were a wealthy man?”

9781780231075We are all dust in the wind but our rhythms echo through the halls of time.  The most unforgettable and amazing repetitions will continue as long as humans walk the earth.  Coded in the numerous ways we have of capturing the rhythm of our lives.  Some codes in music, some in text and some in clay.  Some dynamic, some peaceful, some violent and some sad.  We write our lyrics, pen our verses, create our stanzas, and design our choreography.  All efforts guided by the unseen law of rhythm.  Now we are hard, now we are brittle.  Now we roar and now we snore.

Scherzo:  a sprightly humorous movement commonly in quick triple time

Love is kind, love is considerate, love is not selfish. The waltz was a creation of times when love was more restrained.  Centuries of constrained love making has been supplanted, extending our beings, becoming our challenge.  The Tango alternates patterns of space and closeness with syncopated rhythms of violence and passion.  Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go.  Rock and Roll ushered in a wild abandonment of morality to a tune of conspicuous sexuality.  The rhythm of music exhibits striking harmonies with the rhythm of our love lives.  Can I be soft and gentle like a warm breeze but also wild and unrestrained like in the pulp novels?  Shall I make love to the William Tell overture or would Shakira’s lyrics work better?

Baby I would climb the Andes solely 

To count the freckles on your body 

Never could imagine there were only

Too many ways to love somebody  — (From “Whenever, Wherever,” by Shakira)

Good+Rhythm+Example

Should my love making follow a classical structure or should it be more jazz like?  Is it enough to alternate patterns of tenderness with patterns of spontaneity or should I begin with an allegro, then an adagio, followed by a scherzo and conclude with a rondo?  And what of those who expect love to end with a crescendo or those who enjoy more syncopated jazz?

ab67616d0000b2736a0d8ec00c6f8e9828418f5c

Rondo: a recurring leading theme often found in the final movement of a sonata

Whether goes my writing.  I have written this concerto to writing in four parts to reflect the universality of the rhythm of life.  We form, norm, storm and then perform.  Spring is the opening that brings fresh growth to our world before the bloom of summer.  Summer brings the maturity and ripeness of life.  Fall brings the storms and winds that signify our frailty and insignificance to the universe.  Winter ends our symphony with the closure and solace that our work is done, and our day is over.

Blog+Image+-++Seasonal+RhythmsThe rhythm of life runs through our heart beats.  It runs through literature.  It runs through music.  Great music has rhythms that exhibit great variation.  Fast, slow, moderate than fast again.  Interesting speakers have a sense of rhythm in their talks.  Have you ever heard a lecture or a sermon without rhythm?  It will put you to sleep in less than five minutes.  Writing and speaking, just like music, must contain elements of rhythm.  A heart without rhythm ceases to beat.  Writing without rhythm is boring.  Life without rhythm is death.

To feel the rhythm of life,

To feel the powerful beat,

To feel the tingle in your fingers,

To feel the tingle in your feet. — (From “Rhythm Of Life,” 1969 Motion Picture Soundtrack, Song by Sammy Davis Jr.)

Our work, our art, our thoughts, and our lives are concluded with a hope to be reborn again.  We wish that someone will see the need to resume the rhythms that we have started.  Never a finality to our rhythms.  Only a continuation that started before us and will continue long after our memorials are put up.  Your headstone may simply have one verse on it or possibly it will be like the newest greeting cards.  They will walk up to your grave and press a button.  You will appear with a menu of options, and your visitor can select a video of you either singing or dancing or perhaps reading one of your writings.  Everything will have a four-part harmony.

rhythm-is-life-prints

Time For Questions:  

Does music teach you anything about writing?  Does music speak to you?  Can writing be like a symphony?  How do you hear music?  Does it speak to you like a good poem or a good verse? What is your favorite kind of writing?  Do you ever think that the writing you enjoy could be like music?  What would it take to transform the music in your life into writing or the writing in your life into music?

Freedom of Expression

I was walking down the street the other day and I saw three White guys beating the heck out of a Black guy.  The Black guy was down on the ground and the three White guys were taking turns pummeling him.  I rushed up and yelled “Stop, what the heck do you guys think you are doing.”  One of the White guys answered “what does it look like, we are beating the shit out of a Black guy.”  “What did he do”, I asked.   “What do you mean what did he do?  “He was being Black” came back the reply.

“Are you guy’s crazy?  You can’t just beat someone up for being Black.”   I retorted.

i-dont-give-a-fuck

The three guys huddled for a minute and finally one of the three (A guy with bright red hair and lots of tattoos) came out of the huddle and took me by the shoulder.  “Look he said, you look like a fairly intelligent guy.”  Two of my friends over there never went to college.  I went for a few years so they nominated me to talk to you. “

“What is there to talk about?  You have no right no beat up on this poor man”, I answered.

“Aahh, that is where you are wrong” said Tattoo Guy.  “We have every right.  In fact, we have a constitutional right to beat him up.”

“Are you serious or trying to kid me, I ask.”

“No I am not kidding” said Tattoo Guy, “I am very serious. It is our constitutional right.”

“OK,” I say, “I will bite, what is the right you think you have?”

“Well” says Tattoo Guy, “have you ever heard of ‘Freedom of Expression.’  The constitution struthays every American citizen has Freedom of Expression.  Thus, we are just expressing our free rights as American citizens to beat up on people we don’t like.”

“I am not sure that is what the Founding Fathers meant by Freedom of Expression”, I answer.

“Well, frankly we don’t give a fuck what you think.  Furthermore, if you keep interfering we might just sue you for violating our constitutional rights.”

“Hold on now.  I thought we were having a friendly conversation here.  Now you are threatening to sue me.  On what grounds?” I ask.

I could see Tattoo Guy thinking about my question for a while and then he answered “Well, since you are being so polite about it, we won’t sue you, at least not for now.”

“Wow, thanks” said I.

trump-and-pc“Look, said Tattoo Guy, we voted for Donald Trump and he respects our Freedom of Expression rights.  We are sick and tired of the PC shit you pussies and commies have been spreading in this country for years.  We are tired of watching what we say and do because we might be called rednecks or bigots or even racists.  It’s a new day for America.  We are going to make our country great again.”

“With Donald Trump as president, I can call anyone I want a nigger, kike, frog, wop, dago, spook, wetback, cunt, fag, pussy, greaser, Jap, slope.  It’s my Freedom of Expression” says Tattoo Guy.

“So basically you were sick and tired of having your Freedom of Expression curtailed by anti-hate laws and people who are sick of being insulted because of their color or sex” I asked?

freedom-of-expression“You are more or less on the right track” says Tattoo Guy.  “Used to be you could tell some nigger jokes, put up pinups of nude girls, even grab a few pussies once in a while and no one bothered you.  Then, all this PC stuff started and before you knew it, you had to watch what you said and did.  A White person’s Freedom of Expression went down the drain.  Well, no more PC now.  So can we please get back to beating the shit out of this nigger?”

“What about this man’s Freedom of Expression” I ask.  “Don’t you think he also has some rights?”

“Sure” says Tattoo Guy, “He can say whatever he thinks.  We don’t care.  Just as long as he doesn’t call us rednecks or bigots or racists.”

“That sounds like a double standard” I answer.

“I don’t think so.  You intellectuals think too much.  You need to do more and think less” says Tattoo Guy.

einstein“Well, what if I told you that I had a Glock Model 40 10mm in my pocket and that if you hit this man one more time, I will take it and blow your fucking brains out.  What would you think of that” I replied indignantly.

“That changes the entire nature of our issue here” says Tattoo Guy.  “We respect your Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms and use them in defense of your country and family.  May I ask if this Black Guy is part of your family?”

“Haven’t you ever heard of John Donne” I asks?  “Donne says”:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

“So you are sort of saying that this Black guy here is part of your extended family?” asks Tattoo Guy.

“Exactly,” I reply.

freedom-of-thought

“Well, that’s a horse of a different color then.  If you are related to us because you are White and we are White and he is related to you, even if he is Black, then he is also related to us, which means he is part of our family too.  That’s great, now we have a new brother.  How about if we all go get a beer together?” says Tattoo Guy.

“Sounds like a better idea than beating each other up or my blowing your brains out.  Do you know any good brew pubs?  First round on me” I reply.

Time for Questions:

 Do you think all such stories as mine have a “happy” ending?  What rights do people have not to be insulted or harassed because of their color or sex?  Do you think some rights might supersede other rights?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

  • To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[Shouting] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
    Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
  • To make or distribute obscene materials.
    Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).
  • To burn draft cards as an anti-war protest.
    United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
  • To permit students to print articles in a school newspaper over the objections of the school administration. 
    Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
  • Of students to make an obscene speech at a school-sponsored event.
    Bethel School District #43 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
  • Of students to advocate illegal drug use at a school-sponsored event.
    Morse v. Frederick, __ U.S. __ (2007).

Freedom of speech does includes the right:

  • Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).
    West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943).
  • Of students to wear black armbands to school to protest a war (“Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”).
    Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
  • To use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages.
    Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
  • To contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns.
    Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • To advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions).
    Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).
  • To engage in symbolic speech, (e.g., burning the flag in protest).
    Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989); United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).

 

 

 

Tommy:  A Boy for all Seasons

This is a story about my best friend in high school.  His name was Thomas Donnelly.  This story took place over fifty years ago.  I still think of the influence that these events have had on my life.  Many of you will be repelled by the story that I narrate.  If you can suspend your morality, you might be able to accept that the culture I grew up in made these events very normal even if you do not consider them to be moral.

Street Corner Gang

It happened one hot Saturday afternoon in the summer.  I was hanging out on our Manton street corner.  As with all Italian teenagers, we hung out in a certain geographic area and this association led to our identity as the “Manton Gang.”  Manton was a suburb of Providence R.I. and a primarily Italian neighborhood.  My father was Italian and my mother was Irish.  It was just the reverse for my best friend Tommy.  His mother was Italian and his father was Irish.  Nevertheless, anyone with Irish or Italian blood was accepted into our street corner gang.

At fourteen to eighteen years of age, few of us were interested in anything except gambling and sex.  Gambling tended to be a regular event on the corner where we hung out but sex was much more episodic.  Good Italian girls in the sixties still did not have sex outside of marriage.  This left us to find those “bad girls” whose discrimination did not tend towards marriage or even long-term love affairs and who were much less choosy in terms of selecting “affairs of the heart.”

1956_Ford_4-Door_Sedan

Tommy and I were sitting on the corner discussing nothing important when a blue and white 56 Ford four door Fairlane pulled up to the curb and started honking.  At first, we did not recognize anyone in the car.  Two guys were in the front seat and no one was in the back seat.  We finally recognized Dave and Bob.  Dave was an infrequent corner member but Bob was a regular.  We sauntered over to the car.  It was always important to look cool and nonchalant when we were growing up.  As we approached the open window on Dave’s side, he yelled out.  “Hey, you guys want to get laid?”

“What’s up” I said.  Dave replied, “Get in and I will tell you on the way.”  Both Tommy and I jumped in the back seat.  Bob already had shot gun.  Dave gunned the accelerator and off we went.  “Okay, so where are we going” asked Tommy.  Bob said, “Well, there is this chick and she is hot to go with anyone who comes over to her house.”  “You mean she will take all of us?  What’s wrong with her?” I wanted to know.  Bob continued, “Who knows.  She is just really open to more than one guy.”  “Well, where are her parents,” I persisted.   “She lives with her dad who is a police chief” said Dave.  “What, are you crazy” both Tommy and I said in synchrony.  “Don’t worry” said Bob, “her dad will not be home.”

new england houseThe idea of sex in our minds easily overrode any caution or concern about getting caught by her father.  We arrived at her house.  She lived out of town somewhat in Scituate which was a more rural area of R.I. in the sixties.  When we arrived, Bob said “I will go in first and check things out.  If it is okay, you guys can come in.  Bob went inside the small average looking New England Colonial house with two upper dormer windows and came out a few minutes later.  “OK guys” Bob said, “She is willing.”  We all trotted inside the house to the first room which was a kitchen with a small table and four chairs.  Dave, Tommy and I sat on the chairs and Bob headed up a small staircase.  “I will go first” said Bob “and Dave is next.  You and Tommy can decide who goes after Dave.”  “Oh”, said Bob, “her name is Barbara and she likes to be called Barb.”  No one challenged this order of affairs as it was taken for granted that since Bob had set this up, he had first dibs.

Bob went up the stairs while Dave, Tommy and I just sat and kibitzed.  I wondered what was in store for me when I went up the stairs.  Bob came down about twenty minutes later looking quite proud and content.  “She likes to talk a little before” said Bob, “so you have to be a little patient.  But be persistent and she will get on with it.”   It was Dave’s turn next and he wasted no time going up the stair case.  Sometime later Dave came down, also looking very proud and content.

Tommy and I decided that I would go next.  Up the staircase I went and into a small bedroom where I found Barb half-dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed.  She was a very attractive young girl of sixteen or seventeen years of age.  She had long brown hair and a small frame that was nicely curved.  She had a very pretty face and could easily have been a cheerleader.  She was probably about five feet four inches in height but it was somewhat difficult to tell as she was sitting cross legged on her bed.

sad girl on bed

I introduced myself.  We started some small talk and I learned that her mother had left her father some time ago and that she now lived alone with her dad.  She had no other siblings.  Her dad was very strict and would not let her date.  She said that he scared most of her friends away and was very difficult to live with.  I sensed that her escapades today were a chance for her to rebel against her father’s strict sexual codes.  She was willing to go all out and did not care about any side effects.  No birth control or sexual disease prevention even came up as an issue.

We small talked for about a half hour or so and I sensed that I had better get on with the action or she would talk forever.  A real man talks less than he acts and I had talked longer than most real men would have.  I started to lay Barbara down on the bed.  She put up no resistance and meekly laid back against the sheets.  I placed my body down over hers but before starting to remove any of our clothes, I gazed into her eyes.  They were brown and sad.  I stopped to think.  This poor girl is looking for someone to love her and does not really know how to go about it.  I would just be taking advantageous of her.  I can’t do this.  I lifted her back up and quietly left the room.  She never said a word to me and I left without another word.

Feeling very guilty, I walked back down the staircase.  I did not say much when I met Tommy.  Both Dave and Bob had gone back out to the car and were now playing cards in the front seat.  Hi Low Jack was a popular game on the corner and we played it for money whatever chance we had.  I said to Tommy, “It’s your turn.”  Tommy went up the staircase and returned about thirty minutes later.  We silently left the house and went out the front door to the car.  I never saw Barb or that house again.

guys in car

We piled back in the car with Dave and Bob.  There was some minor discussion about Barbara and how hot she was on the way back to the corner but most of it took place between Dave and Bob.  Neither Tommy or I said I word.  Truth be told, I would never have admitted to either Dave or Bob that I did not have sex with Barb.  Tommy and I were dropped back at the Manton Street corner where our friends all hung out and Dave and Bob drove off together.

Tommy and I sat in silence for a while.  I finally broke the silence and asked Tommy “well how did it go?”  Tommy looked very pensive and replied, “I did not do a thing with Barb except to talk to her.”  I was somewhat stunned as I figured that I had wimped out but that Tommy (who was one of the best-looking guys on the corner) would have scored a home run in sixty seconds flat.  I asked Tom “why?”  I did not tell him that I had also struck out.  At the time, that is how I felt.  Like a batter who comes up to the plate, takes three swings and strikes out.

Tommy quietly replied “I did not want to take advantage of her.  She was lonely and scared and needy.  She needed a friend more than she needed getting laid.”  I had felt the same way but many years ago, pride and ego would not allow me to admit that I had also not gone all the way with Barb.  I persisted with Tom “Well, what are you going to tell the other guys.”  Tom then replied with a statement that I have remembered all the rest of my life.  Tommy said, “I don’t care what they think, I have to live with myself.” 

Wisdom-knowing-font-b-Integrity-b-font-Decor-Cute-vinyl-wall-decal-font-b-quote-b

Over the years, I have lost touch with Tommy.  We have traveled very different roads.  Tommy became a minister and works with the poor.  I became an educator and management consultant.  Many years and many different philosophies now separate us.  But I will never forget the lesson that I learned from Tommy that one hot summer afternoon about integrity and being who we are called to be and not who the world wants us to be.

Time for Questions:

Why do I call Tom a “boy for all seasons?”  What does it mean to have integrity?  How do we go about developing integrity?  How do we increase our empathy for other people?  What does it mean to be ourselves?  Are people naturally good or evil?

Life is just beginning.

“That’s what Jamie didn’t understand: it was never just sex.  Even the fastest, dirtiest, most impersonal screw was about more than sex.  It was about connection.  It was about looking at another human being and seeing your own loneliness and neediness reflected back.  It was recognizing that together you had the power to temporarily banish that sense of isolation.  It was about experiencing what it was to be human at the basest, most instinctive level.  How could that be described as just anything?”  — Emily MaguireTaming the Beast

The Sexiest Story Ever Told – X Rated

man and woman no color

Well, now that I have got your attention, I will tell you a secret.  I lied.  This will probably not be the sexiest story ever told.  It will however, be a slightly sexy story.  The title seemed like a good way to get you to listen to my strange but true tale.  Not many people will believe me but I swear it really happened.  It took place, 20 years ago in the year 2255.  Connubial sex had been banned nearly 150 years earlier in 2107.

black man white womanI need to back up a bit as you must understand some mitigating factors.  Most people of my generation today have no idea about why mutual sex was abolished.  With hind sight, it may seem a little like throwing the baby out with the bath water.  However, around the year 2090, war, terrorism and violence had become so common that everyone agreed something must be done about it.  A group of the leading thinkers in the world formed a committee to see whether aggression could be stopped.  They accepted the fact that most savage and brutal actions were committed by males of the species.  Throughout history, men have fought wars over territory, money, power, fame and women.  Men were responsible for most murders, robberies, rapes and crimes against women.  The committee noted that the underlying drive behind male aggression was a preponderance of the hormone testosterone.  A theory was proposed that if something could be done to reduce the amount of male testosterone, a corresponding drop in world violence would take place.

Working on the afore mentioned theory, several scientists soon located the gene for male testosterone.  A simple means of genetically altering the chromosomes producing testosterone was subsequently found.  Next, it was decided by a secret government committee that any female pregnant with a baby boy would be given an injection which would effectively neuter the gene that produced male testosterone.  At first, it was tried only in California.  The results were so positive that the practice soon spread to every state in the USA and eventually every country in the world adopted the method.

erotic image of two people

By the year 2100, war, rape, domestic abuse, assaults and road rage had become things of the past.  The “new” male was peaceable, pliant, cooperative and extremely non-aggressive.  The only problem was that the anatomy of a man that was not supposed to be pliant was now perpetually pliant.  It was found that without the aid of testosterone, the male genitalia would remain more flexible than inflexible.  Some looked for a cure for this problem, but having destroyed the genes that produce testosterone, there was now none available for any medicinal purposes.  Even more detrimental to the reproduction of the species was the fact that most men no longer exhibited any sex drive or interest in procreation.

delicious-black-loversThe solution was political rather than biological.  The “Birth Act of 2107” decreed that any physical conjoining of men and women was illegal and immoral.  The Supreme High Committee decided that since ancient methods of reproduction were now unreliable, the only way that women could have a baby was by artificial insemination.  First, a prospective mother would need to file a permit for a license.  Once having a license approved (the present birth rate was a critical factor in licensing decisions) a woman could then go to a birth clinic where she would be impregnated using a glass syringe.  Male sperm was collected by harvesting willing males who were paid a fee for their production.  Collected specimens were then sent to a national sperm bank to be cataloged and eventually matched with appropriate recipients.

art,collision,couples,hug-a0f1e155fe157b9d44e4442c55d61efa_iNow as you know, life will always produce mutations.  Genetic anomalies that defy the common strain of biology.  And so, several years ago, a male baby was born with the genes to develop testosterone.  His parents were not aware of this fact until he reached his pre-teens at which point his unique physical abilities were more than obvious.  Unsure what the repercussions would be, his mother advised him not to tell anyone.  His parents assumed that he could quite easily hide his sometimes-awkward condition from his peers and society at large. This strategy worked for many years.  During this time, Adam tried to exercise his abilities as discreetly as possible.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for Adam, his unique proficiency soon developed quite a coterie of female followers.  Upon hearing rumors of Adam’s prowess, many young women wanted to sample his talents for themselves.  There was ample testimony that Adam’s skills in impregnating a woman was a much more pleasant way of going about the birth process then a glass syringe.

Before long, his neighbors noted the large number of nubile women coming and going from Adam’s home.  Eventually, one of them (no one knows who) contacted the National Security Agency to report the strange situation of so many women showing up at Adam’s house.  The agency sent an investigator who questioned several of the women before they entered Adam’s house.  Each one simply said that Adam was a friend and that they were only visiting him.

Tuff-girls-line

The situation was reported to the Chief of the National Security Agency.  He suspected that there might be more than just visiting going on.  The Chief decided that he needed someone to infiltrate and get the goods on Adam first hand.  He chose to seek a woman officer for the mission and was surprised when most of the female employees at the National Security Agency volunteered.  He pondered whether he should select an agent based on seniority or attractiveness.  Seniority was dictated by agency rules, but intuition told him that an informant might have a better chance of being accepted by Adam if they were attractive.  He picked his most beautiful officer for the operation.  Officer Eve was over joyed with the assignment and swore she would do her best.

jump suit

Eve was outfitted with a tight-fitting jump suit and dropped off several blocks from Adam’s house.  A spy bot was positioned outside Adam’s domicile complete with a video camera and communication with Agency headquarters.  In about thirty minutes, Eve showed up at Adam’s door and tapped his door alarm.  Adam went to the door and took one look at Eve.  He had no hesitation about allowing Officer Eve access.

Several hours went by and monitors at the station headquarters began to think that something had gone wrong.  Possible interruption of the operation was contemplated but the Chief felt that it was too soon to compromise Eve’s cover.  It was decided to give Eve another thirty minutes and if she did not communicate during this time, they would assault Adam’s house.  With less than ten minutes to go, much to everyone’s surprise, Eve suddenly walked out of the house looking quite cheerful.

“What the heck” thought the Chief and all the agency monitors.  “No go ahead call or any interdiction messages from Eve.  What had been going on during the five hours that Eve had been inside?”  As soon as Eve arrived by at station headquarters, they would find out.

Eve walked in to the headquarters and was barraged with questions: “What happened?”  “Are you, alright?”  “What is this guy up to?”  “What did you do with all that time while you were inside?”

Eve rather nonchalantly answered:  “Adam loves to play chess.  We had a great game of chess.  He has invited me back to play again.  I hope the agency will be all right with that?”

chinese lovers

The Chief was very suspicious and decided to send another agent in.  This action was repeated several times but the results were always the same.  Female agent after agent came back marveling at the great game of chess that Adam played.  Many other female agents offered to infiltrate Adam’s residence but finally the agency Chief reluctantly decided that they were spending too much time with too few results.  The operation was aborted.  The Chief went back to his paperwork and the agents found other work to do.

Approximately, nine months later, all of the security agents that had been used as infiltrators at Adams had applied for pregnancy leave.

Well, that’s the whole story.  Everything I have told you is true although I am telling you twenty years after the fact.  You see, I just heard the story yesterday.  My mother Eve waited twenty years to inform me that I was born by a very old-ancient birthing technique known as consensual sex and that my Uncle Adam was really my father.

Oh!  My name is Cain and I have got to go tell my brother Abel the story so that he knows the truth as well.

adam and eve

Time for Questions:

What if there were humans before the Garden of Eden?  Do you think that sex will ever go out of popularity?  What if everybody was celibate?  Have you ever thought of being celibate?  Why or why not?  Would it be worth it to eliminate sex if we could eliminate violence, wars and murder?

Life is just beginning.

“Let’s make out, have sex, cuddle, and have a deep talk. Then let’s have sex again, go out to eat, go back home, watch a movie, put on some music and then have sex again.  When we get up in the morning, I will make you breakfast in bed.”

 

Leandra

Years ago, I remember seeing a Twilight Zone story about a man and a wife who wanted to swap their bodies for younger ones.  This story stuck in my head and helped influence the following story.  I hope you will enjoy it. 

box_boyandgirl

There it was.  The UPS Truck and the knock on the door.  I had waited over six months but it had finally arrived.  Like the saying goes “Good things take time.”  I signed for the package or packages.  She had been delivered in three boxes.  The company had assured me she would be quick and easy to assemble.  I called in to my business to tell them that I needed to take the day off.  This was much more important than work.

But I suppose I must back up a bit to tell you the whole story.  My name is Rob and about 12 months ago, my wife Leandra packed her bags and left a note on the kitchen table.  It read “Gone with Pete, don’t love you anymore.  Bye.”  Pete was my best friend.  I never suspected that Leandra was having an affair with Pete, much less that she was the slightest bit unhappy in our relationship.

I was stunned.  We had been married for 10 years and she had never once complained about our relationship.  I thought we had the perfect marriage.  We had dinner together at least twice a week.  We watched the football game every Monday night together.  We attended church every Sunday together.  We had sex on the average of once per week.  She always said it was great sex.  I thought we were happy together.

woman robotI am not a very sentimental person nor am I one to cling to the past.  I decided I would move on with my life.  I threw myself into my job and time went by.  I had almost forgotten about Leandra when I saw the ad.  It was from the Resurrection Android Company.  It was the same company that I had purchased my android valet Sam from.  Actually, Sam was much more than just a valet.  Sam was a third-generation android with some independent powers of decision making.  He could decide what to cook each day and he also decided what I should wear for work.  He did cleaning, mending and many light repairs around the house.  I had bought Sam shortly after Leandra and I were married.  Leandra had mentioned that it would be nice to have some help with housekeeping and all.  That way she would have more time to spend with me.

robot-butlerAndroids of course are not human and they have no empathy or ability to show any emotions.  Sam was logical and could be persuasive but he could not show love or compassion.   In the ten years since I had purchased Sam, android technology had advanced considerably.  Looking at the ad from the company, it appeared that they were now on a 15th generation android that had affective as well as cognitive abilities.  The ad claimed that the new android could help replace a loved one both emotionally and physically.  By integrating DNA characteristics using a technique called “Assisted human reproduction”, they could capture the exact characteristics of a loved one.  All they would need would be some trace or remnant of the deceased or former loved one’s DNA.

Westworld-style-sexbots-could-soon-be-a-reality-after-AI-app-developed-to-give-love-dolls-personalThat was when the idea occurred to me.  I called the customer service line and asked to speak to a representative.  I asked her whether it would be possible for me to create a new wife in the exact image of my former wife Leandra.  They assured me it was.  It would take about six months for the bio-engineering to integrate the mechanical aspects of the droid with the alleles and DNA strands that they could map from a sample of Leandra’s DNA.  When the process was completed, I would have an exact physical, mental and emotional copy of Leandra.  Even better, she could continue to be programmed and become an even better Leandra.  The old Leandra was somewhat boring in bed.  The new Leandra could become a wild and wanton partner if that is what I desired.

female android with linesIt did not take long to assemble the new Leandra.  I put the lower torso, upper torso and head together in less time than it takes to make a milk shake.  She was perfect.  She looked just like my old Leandra.  When I turned her on, she greeted me and asked, “What will my name be.”  I replied “You are Leandra. You are the perfect wife.  You will love and obey me always.”

The next year was the best year of my life.  Leandra was perfect.  She never argued.  She never complained.  She never talked back.  She agreed with everything I said.  She spoke only when spoken to.  She had a beautiful body and after a while she became a real wild woman in bed.  What more could a man want.  Once again bliss had entered my life.  And then it happened.

female robot with head and robot bodyI came home one day from work and Leandra did not greet me at the door.  I thought maybe her battery had discharged or that Sam had forgotten to recharge her.  I had left strict instructions for Sam to recharge Leandra every day.  But, where was Sam?  I did not hear him fixing dinner in the kitchen.  I went into the kitchen but Sam was not there.  Suddenly, I noticed a note on the table.  I picked it up.  It was from Leandra.  She had written: “Gone with Sam, don’t love you anymore.  Bye.”

I could not understand this.  I was angry.  I was angriest at the Resurrection Android Company.  They had sold me this traitor with a guarantee that she would be perfect.  She was going to replace my old Leandra.  Well, I would call the company and get my money back.  I called and was transferred to the complaint department.  They said “Why of course, you will get your money back.  However, this will first need to go to our adjudication department to check the terms of the agreement.  If they decide that we have violated the agreement, we will immediately send you a check for reimbursement. This is usually just a formality.”

One week later, an envelope from the Resurrection Android Company arrived in the mail.  I opened it expecting to find a check.  Instead, there was a letter.  It read:

Dear Mr. Rob,  

After carefully reviewing the terms of your agreement with the Android Company and the DNA sample that you sent us, we have found no violation of our guarantee with you.  You specified that the new Leandra should be just like the old Leandra physically, mentally and emotionally.  Her recent departure with your valet Sam is evidence that the new Leandra was just like the old Leandra. 

We are very sorry for your loss. 

Respectfully,

The Resurrection Android Company

Female-robot

 Time for Questions:

Will robots ever replace people?  Do you think someday we will have robot spouses?  Are we going too far with robotics?  Do you think robots help or hurt the world?  What if robots could do all the work in the world that needed to be done?

Life is just beginning.

“California-based Abyss Creations is building a range of silicone sex dolls that not only look like real women but move and speak like them too.  In the hope of making the most realistic sex doll yet, designers have created a bot that they claim can fall in love with its user.

An app called Harmony 2.0 allows the user to tailor their Real Doll’s “personality” by selecting from 18 traits – including happy, shy, sensual, funny, jealous, moody and talkative.  Turn up the intellectual setting and it may even recite poetry or engage in witty banter.  A new video has been released that shows the doll speaking, in which she describes sex as ‘one of the most fascinating things in the world.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4376310/Sex-doll-TALK-Robot-different-personalities.html#ixzz4iGLA2ocH

 

What is the One Thing that is Hardest to Find in Life? 

What is the one thing that we all want in life but that we can’t buy or pay for?  We can live a life without it but we will end up feeling like we only lived a shell of a life.  We can chase all over the world for it but we will sometimes end up finding it in our back yard.  We can live a life with security and comfort and never find it.  We can settle for the mundane but we will regret that we did not have the courage to grab it when it was in our reach.  Sean John says “Life without passion is unforgiveable.”  You can buy his cologne for fifty dollars an ounce but it will not give you passion.  Most of us will never have passion in our lives.  We might think a one night stand or our favorite team winning the Super Bowl or taking a trip to some exotic land is passion but deep down inside of us we know that these activities are only surrogates for passion.

The saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing to make it last. ― Nicholas Sparks

You can climb Mount Everest.  You can dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.  You can get a Ph.D. degree but you can never get passion simply by accomplishing things.  Passion is not a fad or a commodity.  You can’t buy it in Walmart or find it on top of the Empire State building.  Most of us do not grow up with a desire for passion.  We do not even know that it is missing in our lives.  Passion gets smothered in us when we are very young.  It is extinguished before it can be ignited.  Passion scares people.  Authorities and parents both fear passion.  The passionate person is a juvenile delinquent.  Early on, parents, teachers and others wage a campaign to destroy the roots of passion in children.

Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love ― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Someplace deep inside all of us, the embers of passion still burn.  We go through life thinking that there must be more to it then what we are experiencing.  We look for God.  We look for Ghosts.  We look for love.  We look for things but still they do not bring us the passion that we crave.  Some spark must be ignited in us to rekindle our passion.  When they speak of quality, they say that you will know it when you see it.  However, you can’t see passion.  You have to feel passion.   We know it exists because from time to time, we can get a glimpse of it in others.  The passion that we sometimes see in others thrills us to the bone and leaves a certain degree of incredulity in its wake.  We know we are missing something that seems unfathomable to us.  Greatness and passion seem to comingle.  Does greatness produce passion or does passion produce greatness?

I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly.”  ― Aldous HuxleyBrave New World

Hollywood is perhaps the most frequent purveyor of passion.  We get our impressions of passion from our Hollywood idols and movie stars.  Passion is pervasive in Hollywood.  From superheroes saving the world to unrequited love romances to tales of great daring, we glimpse a world where passion is the norm.  A world where passion is as common as grass.

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela

Looking at passion from a theoretical perspective, (something rarely done) we can see that there are three areas in which we can inspire passion.   These conform to our three life components.  We can be passionate about ideas or thinking.  We can be passionate about doing or activities and we can be passionate about feelings.  What about things you may be asking?  I will argue that we cannot really be passionate about things.  Hard core motorcycle riders usually care more about riding their bikes than they do looking at them.  Trophies, money and even fame are ephemeral and rarely suffice to infuse passion in anyone’s life.

Maybe the bike is more dangerous, but the passion for the car for me is second to the bike. — Valentino Rossi

People who are passionate about ideas are intriguing.  We find that they have a love for the mind and all things cerebral.  We may not understand their theories and concepts, but we are fascinated by the premises and hypotheses that they can spin out.  History has shown that a key element of progress lies in the intellect that a civilization can bring to its culture.  The Jews, the Greeks and the Chinese each stand out in our minds with their history of great thinkers from Abraham and Maimonides to Socrates and Plato to Confucius and Lao Tzu.  These cultures had a deep respect for the ideas and philosophies of its great thinkers.

Some of us are passionate about books, education, museums, history, biographies, TED talks, documentaries and other intellectual activities.  We would rather read a good book then go to the Eiffel Tower or the beach.  Our ideal life is of the mind and not of the body.  We no sooner finish one book then we are off to another.  Our dream of heaven is one vast library with no late charges.

You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”  — Steve Jobs

Some people are passionate about their activities.  Great explorers like Marco Polo, James Cook and Zheng He lived for the adventure and excitement of finding new places and new civilizations.  For such adventurers the risk was hardly a consideration given their dreams and desires for discovery.  One cannot imagine anyone undertaking the hazards and deprivations that met these men without a true love for action and doing.  People like this cannot be content in an arm chair reading a good book or sitting in front of a fire place with a family watching TV.

Some of us are passionate about our work or our sports.  We love what we do so much that we would pay our employers to let us do the work that they are paying us to do.  This is what passion means.  To love something so much that you would pay someone to let you do it.  We live for the activity whether work, traveling, sports or a hobby.  Our dream of heaven is an activity that allows us to become intimately involved with the act of creation or the challenge of overcoming some obstacle or the chance to exceed some goal.

If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do it with much conviction or passion.”  — Mia Hamm

Our final passion involves the realm of feelings.  We usually think of passion as connected to sex.  We have watched the all night love affair of two Hollywood stars as they undress and ravage each other in a fit of what one might call sexual frenzy.  We marvel at their physical dexterity.  Two bodies engaged in positions that would challenge the authors of the Kama Sutra or even tax a painters abilities to portray.  And to think, that after they are done, they start over again until the sun begins to dawn on another day.

“When I touched her body,
I believed she was God.
In the curves of her form
I found the birth of Man,
the creation of the world,
and the origin of all life.”
― Roman Payne

But sex is only a small part of what emotional passion can be.  Passion can involve feelings of all sorts.  People who are deeply passionate about their emotions feel things that the rest of us do not.  They feel the joy and pain and sorrows of other human beings.  They experience the highs and lows of existence.  They live a roller coaster of feelings that range from happiness to sadness.  They do not let the pain of empathy discourage them from identifying with the feelings around them.  Perhaps the greatest fear that people of feelings have is the fear of apathy or indifference.  People who are passionate about their feelings live for harmony and rapport with others.

People who live a life of passionate feelings dream of a heaven that will be populated by all the people that they have known in their lives.  They want to see all their old friends, relatives and loved ones.  They dream of making amends for the wrongs that they have done to some and sharing their love and compassionate hearts with all others for infinity.

Time for Questions:

What are you passionate about?  Do you have enough passion in your life?  How could you have more passion? What would happen if you tried to live a more passionate existence?

Life is just beginning.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”  — Maya Angelou

Friends and Friendship: Part 1.

It is easy to measure friendship today.  Simply count the number of “friends” you have on Facebook and subtract the number of people who “defriended” you.  Multiply this number by the number of followers you have and divide by the number of people you are following.  This number or index will accurately tell you the number of friends you have in the whole wide world.  If you are not good with math and numbers, then simply call up each of your “friends” and see who will lend you a hundred dollars.  Another quick and easy solution to see how many friends you have is to count the number of your “friends” who bring you some chicken soup when you are home in bed with the flu.    

The subject of friendship has been written about since writing first began.  An advantage of friendship and perhaps one of its most enduring qualities is that you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your mother, father, aunts, uncles or other relatives.   While “blood” may be thicker than water, actual counts show as many dysfunctional families as dysfunctional friendships. (An observation extrapolated from my 67 years of experience as a relative and friend.)  Another advantage of friendship is that people seem to have more concern about being a good friend than they do about being a good relative.  To test this latter point, I went to Amazon.com and typed in “friendship.”  I found 57,722 books on the subject.  Next I typed in “relatives.”  I found only 20, 930.  Since this experiment did not seem very definitive I also tried the following.  I went to Google and typed in: “How to be a better friend?”   I found 1,470,000 hits on this subject.  Then I went back and typed in “How to be a better relative?”  I used the quotes to frame both question.  I found NO hits.  Not a one. NADA.  ZERO.  Go ahead and try it yourself.  Type in: “How to be a better relative?”   Here is what you will get:

   No results found for “How to be a better relative?”.

https://www.google.com/#q=%E2%80%9CHow+to+be+a+better+relative%3F%E2%80%9D

So there you have the second major or perhaps third major advantage of friendship.  Namely that people care about being a good friend but no one cares about being a good “relative.”  You are just supposed to love your relatives and that’s it.  End of subject.  “I love you brother.”  “I love you sister.”  “I love you Dad.”  “I love you Mom” are words taken for granted.  Your friends might regularly invite you over for meals and never say “I love you.”  However, your relatives may never invite you over for a meal, but they will not hesitate to say: “I love you.”  I guess love should be the subject of another blog, since the love of relatives seems to be something that needs better defining.  However, to return to the subject of friendship, let’s look at Aristotle’s three types of friends.  I will refer you to Amazon for more works on friendship.  Anyone reading all 57,722 books will receive a certificate as a bona fide “Friendship Expert.”  Simply mail me the ISBN number of all the books you have read or rip off the back cover and send them to me.  I will mail your certificate ASAP. 

Aristotle identified three types of friends.  I would like to compare Aristotle’s ideas on friendship to my ideas on friendship.  I wrote on the subject about thirty-five years ago and it was my first piece of paid writing.  It appeared in a Men’s Journal somewhere on the West Coast.  I regret I cashed the check as it would have been a nice souvenir and it was only for twenty dollars.  However, I was in graduate school at the time and twenty dollars seemed like a lot of money back then.  The title of my article was called:  “Male Friendship and the Three Types of Intimacy”.   I will return to my theories later, however let’s start with Aristotle since I give him a head start on the subject and much greater profundity.

Aristotle’s ideas on friendship were part of his larger work The Nicomachean Ethics.  Aristotle divided friendships into three types based on the motive for forming them.  These three types were:  Friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure and friendships of the good.   

“Friendships of utility” describe encounters with others that are very commercial or practical.  There is no love or intimacy exchanged in such relationships and they are simply based on a quid pro quo type of arrangement.  For some, these types of friends would better be called acquaintances but I think acquaintances lack the level of commitment that is sometimes necessary in “friendships of utility.”  Many of the people we work with, have business transactions with or even network with on LinkedIn would fit into this category.  Such relationships are not very intimate but they can engender a certain depth of emotional attachment. 

Aristotle’s “friendships of pleasure” include those individuals who we enjoy being around or spending time with.  These are people we like because they are fun to be with or they make us feel good or they bring some level of excitement to our lives.  Many of these types of friendships involve some type of shared activity.  You might be on the same bowling team, church council, or simply hang around in a bar or coffee shop together.  The intimacy involved in this type of friendship is deeper than in “friendships of utility” but it is often is limited to the activity that is being jointly pursued.  Once the activity ends, often the friends go separate ways.  Such friendships may end unless there is some other reason to create a bond or another reason to interact together.  

Aristotle’s third and deepest friendship is the “friendship of the good.”  Such a friendship is based on the enjoyment of the other person for some “good” or character trait that the person exhibits and which you find compelling or attractive. You like the person not for what they can do for you but because of who they are.  According to Aristotle these are the enduring type of friendships since they are not based on utility or shared activities but on a mutual liking or affection between the friends.  As long as the character traits enjoyed by each friend do not change, the friendship will continue. 

While I find Aristotle’s three types of friendship interesting, I do not think they go far enough or deep enough to define friendship.  I think he comes closest to my idea of friendship with his “friendship of the good” but even that does not go far enough.  The major fault I have with Aristotle is that he misses what I think is the key ingredient of friendship, namely intimacy.  A friendship must involve intimacy or it is not a friendship.  Intimacy is the key ingredient for all “true friendships.”

Intimacy:

1. the state of being intimate.

2. a close, familiar, and affectionate personal relationship.

3. a close association with or deep understanding of a place, subject, etc.

4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity or affection: the intimacy of using first names.

5. a sexual liberty.

6. privacy, esp. as suitable to the telling of a secret: in the intimacy of his studio.

I believe there are three types of intimacy upon which a friendship can be founded.  I do not include sexual intimacy here since for the most part, I am describing “non-sexual” relationships.  Relationships between lovers usually involve sexual intimacy but they do not have to include much if any of the three types of intimacy that I think are a key to a good friendship. It would be a better relationship if they did.  You will note though that it is frequently hard for ex-lovers to remain friends because once the sex part ends there is often little of the intimacy necessary for true friendship. 

I have labeled the three types of intimacy as: 

  • Face to face
  • Side to side
  • Back to back

Face to face intimacy is more emotional and affective and generally involves two people sharing feelings, problems, emotions, and issues that they would not discuss with anyone else.  Women are typically considered to be very good a face to face intimacy.  You can find women sitting together over coffee discussing any number of emotional issues.  Dealing with personal subjects with another party is central to face to face intimacy.  No gender has a monopoly on this type of intimacy but in the past, men were brought up to avoid dealing with emotions making such intimacy very difficult.

Side to side intimacy is doing and conative.  It is active and involves sharing some physical activity with the other party.  This could be working together, playing sports together, helping each other with some tasks or chores or simply taking a walk together.  This is an area where men in the past found much of their intimacy with other men.   Sports and other side to side activities were more condoned for men than sitting exchanging emotions together.  Time has changed and women are now as active in many sports as are men and we increasingly see men spending time with other men talking and sharing feelings.

Back to back intimacy involves a willingness to share risk or face a threat for the other person.  Soldiers develop strong friendships because of their need to rely on each other.  Police also develop strong friendships with their partners because of the element of shared risk and the strong need to rely on each other during emergencies and threats.  Any individuals that help each other during emergencies or dangerous situations can experience the type of intimacy that I call back to back intimacy.  (Just as an aside, I used this phrase before the term “I got your back” became popular but the current phrase  does express the essence of this type of intimacy.) 

A friendship may involve one, two or all three of these types of intimacy.  They are not all required for a good friendship.  A friendship based on only one of these types of intimacy can be very strong and profound.  However, all things being equal, a friendship based on two or three of the types of intimacy will be stronger than one based on a single type.  The caveat here is that when the intimacy no longer exists, there is a good chance that the friendship will fade away or become only a source of memories. 

In my blog next week, I would like to address some ideas for developing, maintaining and even enhancing our friendships.  I speak from having some experience at developing friendships but also at losing many good friends over the years.  Friendship much like love, romance, marriage or any other type of strong bonded relationship must be worked at.  A failure to commit to working on a relationship is the death knell for that relationship.  Bonds are only as strong as the glue that cements them together. When the glue loses its adhesion, the bond falls apart. The glue for friendships is intimacy.  Lose the intimacy and you lose the friendship.

Time for Questions:  

Do you have many good friends?  What do you do to maintain your friendships?  Have you ever lost a good friend?  Why?  What do you think you need to do more of to have stronger friendships?  Which type of intimacy are most of your friendships based on?  Do you have friends that fall into Aristotle’s three types?  Which ones?  How much work do you put into your friendships?  Do you put enough? 

Life is just beginning.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: