Monday, May 2, 2016

One Seven Eight: Stones

I remember being once upon a time at a huge state park somewhere in the Smoky Mountains. I forget why I was there--- a vacation with my parents, maybe ---and  I recall hiking down through hills and thick woods. I remember that there was a stream, and that you had to cross it by going from rock to rock in the stream. It was easy enough to do. You just sprang from one rock to the next without a thought. But then, halfway over the stream, I stopped and looked around and then discovered that I'd lost my rhythm. I'd started to think about what I was doing, about how to make the jumps, about how much I didn't want to end up in knee-deep, chilly water. Once I did that, I just couldn't make the leaps--- however small, however simple ---any more.

The same is true of sex these days.  I've become afraid that I've lost my ability to just act. I'm afraid that I've begun to overthink that needs to be done.

Some of that may be age, or fear of age. I'm at a place in my life where I'm worried that some things will just be beyond me---- more precisely, worried that I'll make that discovery at some moment that will leave me open to derision and humiliation. I seem to spend too much time worrying over whether the last time for doing one thing or another has already happened. Haruki Murakami wrote in "I.Q. 84" that everyone secretly longs for some version of the end of the world. I have to hope that's not true. Or at least hope that I haven't made the transition from abstract speculation to actual longing.

It's not all age, though. Some of it is overthinking, taking counsel of my fears. There is a Zen kind of moral here: the conscious mind becomes a hindrance to true understanding. I look at a lovely girl and know what I should do with her while we make love. I know the things I'd like to do, the things my history and body say to do, and then I find myself paralyzed. Too much thinking, too much analysis of what it all means, of what could go wrong, of why whatever it is unlikely to be as good in the flesh as it is in my thoughts and hopes, of why fleshly bodies are untrustworthy and aesthetically flawed. A Zen moral, yes. The conscious mind gets in between things and trips up all your hopes and desires.

Maybe it's only that all desire is suffering, but I think that it's more. It is the Zen thing, the overthinking thing. I can't let a kiss or a touch or a taste be satisfying on its own, and once I stop to think about it, then my fears reduce it to being no good at all.  Needless to say, I also assign my own fears to whomever I'm with. I assume that she'll recoil in disgust at touches, tastes, sights.

I did once talk myself into being unable to board an aircraft for some years--- for almost a decade. Now I've talked myself into being afraid to touch or taste or caress or discuss any needs or hopes. Too much thinking. Too much taking counsel of my fears. Too much sense of all the things that are encoded into anything that involves the flesh.

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