Category Archives: sensualism

Eye-Candy Time

It all started when I exclaimed to my sister about just how DELICIOUS Josh Holloway looked as “The Black Rider” on Community last week, and how shocked I was because I found him repulsive as Sawyer on Lost.  I was explaining that I found Sawyer, as a character annoying and trite, and that turned me off on the actor’s obvious beauty.  But as “The Black Rider” he was sultry and mischeivous, not annoyingly petulant. As a result, he looks absolutely awesome to me.

Then somehow our conversation devolved into me finding pictures of other celebrities I find yummy, and posting them to my sister. It quickly became apparent that they ALL LOOK THE SAME.







I seem to have a thing for dark, rugged, fuzzy faced men with full lips, a big chin, and a intense gaze. Oh, and former Lost stars.  What the heck is up with that?  Well, at least I am consistent.

Caves and Red Dust Redux

My Mom read my earlier post and emailed me this picture. Its old and grainy, but its from 1983, so that should be expected.

The oldest girl in that picture, in the yellow shorts and pigtails is my sister, Jen. The girl in pink next to her is me. The other kids are my cousins, goofing off.
What I find interesting, if you look closer at the picture, you will see that I am looking down at my upraised hand, within which I am holding a pile of white sand.
I KNEW my memory was not playing with me!!!
My mom tells me that this was at Capitol Reef National Park, and I was actually 4 years old.

Caves and Red Dust Redux

My Mom read my earlier post and emailed me this picture. Its old and grainy, but its from 1983, so that should be expected.

The oldest girl in that picture, in the yellow shorts and pigtails is my sister, Jen. The girl in pink next to her is me. The other kids are my cousins, goofing off.
What I find interesting, if you look closer at the picture, you will see that I am looking down at my upraised hand, within which I am holding a pile of white sand.
I KNEW my memory was not playing with me!!!
My mom tells me that this was at Capitol Reef National Park, and I was actually 4 years old.

Caves and Red Dust

One of my favorite places is a distant memory. I had visited it only once, as a small child, but it remains indelibly in my mind and my heart as a place I would love to visit once more before I die.

Deep in the southern reaches of Utah, there is a desert. Much of this desert is National Parks, such as Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Zion. Somewhere in that vast orange and red desert spotted with shrubs and cacti, there is a cave. It is more than a cave, really; it is a cavern. Its vaulting ceiling was carved out of stone by water and wind and time. The floor is filled with fine white sand, and the smooth orange rocks provide blue shade against the bright yellow desert sun. Inside the cave, the outside world is lost to the sun, and there is nothing except the vast shadowed emptiness and silent echos. There is a peace in the stillness, a submission in the echos, and a joy in the chill shades hidden under the crevices of stone.

Even though I was not alone in that cave–surrounded by chattering people and echoing feet–the vastness of the shadows drew me in towards a stillness in myself. I found a quiet spot near the red rock wall, where the shadows were most purple and cool, and the sand soft and deep. My five year old hands (or was I four or was I six?) plunged into the warm powdered earth. My entire world became consumed by the grit in my palms. I cannot recall if I thought anything–perhaps I had no thought. But for the eternal instant we occupied that cave, that cave’s flesh occupied ME.

There is a life to be found outside of life. Its easy to forget that stillness and emptiness is just as much alive as any action or form–and just as crucial to our wellbeing. I sometimes look back on that cave with longing, for even now, I wish I had more time to enjoy that handful of silent white sand.

For some reason, I am just now reminded of a verse in a poem by T.S. Eliot: “The Wasteland.” (This is also one of my most favorite bits of poetry in all the english language. I am now struck by a wondering if my longing for the cave of my memory and my fondness for this obscure poem are linked?)

A heap of broken images where the sun beats
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no water. Only there is this shadow under this red rock.
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock).
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you,
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you.
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

The Problem of Sexy.

My last post and the subsequent comments got me thinking about sexiness, to wit: what is sexy anyway?

The thing is, I have never thought of myself as sexy and so my mind rebelled against the notion of that term being applied to me. And even though I know myself to be a sensualist, I have never equated sensualism with sexuality. In my mind, they are two different things: sexiness is a part of sexuality, the art of attraction and copulation, and a sexy person has the knack of attracting sexual attentions. Sensuality, on the other hand, is taking pleasure in the experience of the senses and is by nature a personal, internal phenomenon, and is largely asexual. One thing they do have in common is the taking pleasure in the experience of a thing, but the way the experience is gained and internalized are two different processes.

But the problem bothered me: is it possible for someone to be sexy without being sexual? Surely, it must be so, for did I not name 2 of 3 bloggers as “sexy” whose blogs are not in any form, sexual? So what then, was it that made them “sexy” to me?

My sister helped guide me to some persective on this matter: that some people would find sensualism itself to be appealing, beautiful, attractive, and sexy. And that this is likely what Puss and Pool mean when they say that as a sensualist, I am sexy (I am still flummoxed by
this notion, however!). That realization then made it obvious that the reason I named Franki, Kara, and Dawn as sexy is because they each have some characteristic I find endearing and utterly beautiful–that makes me visit their blogs every day. Franki has boundless exuberance and humor, Kara is witty and clever and snarky, and Dawn is smart and kind and wise.

So, I must say, thank you Puss, so much, for teaching me something I would never have thought about otherwise. I truly am honored to know you.

How Autumn Comes (to Me)…

Last week, a spectacular autumn leaf fell right at my feet. Bright red and veined with summer green, the colors glowed and sparkled in the sun. I was immediately struck by the beauty of it: the intricate lacing of the veins, the veridian hue of the chlorophyll, and the darkening oxidation of dying cellulose. I tucked it into my sketchbook for posterity. It is dry now, and the colors have lost their sparkle and their intensity, but it still carries the memory of the spark that caught my eye. I am looking upon it now, and I suddenly see the parallel of this single fallen leaf and the grander milieu that is Autumn itself. All the seasonal progression of Fall is echoed in the microcosm of this single leaf.

I knew autumn was coming early in August. Though the temperatures were still exceedingly warm, I could sense it: a gradual change in the light, a shift in the shadows, and a leeching of color in the trees, the sky, and the waters. All this: a distinct sensation of the sun’s waning power.

Ever since my mid-teens living in Idaho, I could sense the light shift before the temperatures fell and the trees turned. It is always the same. First, the intensity weakens: even though the heat is strong, and I sweat and long for ice water to drink, the sun doesn’t seem quite so bright, and it takes a few seconds longer for my skin to feel the burn.

Then, the shadows lengthen and become bluer. Intangible fingers reach for the hidden spaces that a few weeks before could not touch. The shades scattered within the leafy boughs of the tallest trees grow darker and more mysterious. The sky begins to pale. At the height of summer, early in July, the heavens are a bright, clear, glorious cobalt blue, thick and saturated, soft like a velvet blanket. But come August, weeks after the Solstice, the velvet lifts, the blue grows thin, perhaps transparent. It pales to a weaker, whiter blue, like cerulean. The soft velvety thickness of the color is gone, replaced by a thin gauze: wispy and fluttering in the breeze–the blushing veil of Winter’s Bride.

It’s all so subtle, so delicate, and so slow, this progression of summer into fall, that I often wonder if I am imagining it, romanticizing the cycles of Life and Nature’s call. But when the forests turn to gold and scarlet, and the temperatures fall with the leaves, I know that somehow all I see is true, even if I do romanticize my perceptions with some spiritual awe.

I speak of this, because Pool suggested I write about some of the things I notice that others may not see. I have a hard time believing I am alone in my observations, but no one I know speaks of this. Perhaps it is to subtle and too gradual a change for anyone to pay much attention to, and perhaps also too commonplace to make note of. But I notice it every year, and every year I feel blessed to witness this soft glory, for the shifting of the seasons is probably the most beautiful thing on this Earth.

And that little red leaf with the summer-green veins, so bright when it fell and now dim with death, encapsulates everything I’ve seen around me within its fragile, delicate form.

How strange! An ocean wave, a dragonfly, a grapefruit, and an autumn leaf: how do I always seem to find life’s deepest meanings in the smallest of things?*

(*I will post hyperlinks to relevant passages once I have access to a computer. I do the vast majority of my posting via cellphones.)

I like grapefuits.

I’m having a grapefuit for breakfast. I didn’t always like grapefruit,
but that was before I learned how to eat it. Grapefruits are a very
sweet and sour fruit, and full of juice; a perfectly ripe grapefuit
plucked from its tree and eaten in the sun is a very calm and peaceful
experience–and in its own way, symbolizes the act of living itself.

Before I discoved the best way to eat the fruit, I disliked the
toughness and bitterness of the membranes and the white pith of the
rind. Eating it required the use of a bowl, a spoon, and a teaspoon of
sugar. So much waste! Juice and pulp would percolate in pools in the
bottoms of the emptied segments and cling to the membranes. The sugar
tasted so artifical next to the sweet earthiness of the fruit, yet it
was so necessary to offset the bitter oils from the rind and the
metallic acidity of the spoon. I stopped eating grapefruits, as the
rewards were not worth the effort, the waste, or the bitterness.

But one day, my mom, father, and I were helping some friends move in a
new place in California, and in their yard were two grapefruit trees
bursting with ripe fruit. Those trees gave me breafast and snacks for
the four days and nights we spent there, and shall always be the best
grapefruits I’ll ever eat in my life.

That first morning, I was handed one the size of a baby’s head and just
as heavy. A bowl and spoon were not given to me, and neither was the
sugar. I was dubious, but I was a guest and trained to be quiet and
polite. So I peeled it as an orange and proceeded to eat the segments
like an orange.

I hated that first segment. The membrane was tough and chewy and bitter
and full of thick seeds. But the juice was so sweet, so ripe, and full
of complex flavors that only a grapefruit can make. I had a problem:
it was deliciously inedible, and I had to learn to eat it. Somehow the
realization came that I did not have to eat what I did not want to eat.
So, instead of eating the next piece whole, I peeled the membrane off:
seeds, pith, and string came off surprisingly easy. What remained was
pure flesh, moist and soft, the tightly packed cells of juice glittering
in the Californian sun. When I popped it in my mouth, a rush of pure
flavor burst and sent my mind reeling. It was exquisite. Delight. Joy.
Passion for the sun and the earth passed from the grapefruit tree, to
the fruit, and on to me.

I do not exaggerate. This is not metaphor. Such is the only way I can
explain the sheer sensualist pleasure eating a grapefruit in that way
gave me. It was a spiritual event, and among those experiences I will
never forget.

So how does eating a grapefruit symbolize Living itself? Well, in order
to fully enjoy all that life has to offer, you must do away with
artificial tools and sweeteners–they only complicate matters with things
you do not need. You must peel away the bitterness and the tough
defenses, until you are left only with the substance of the thing. And
then you must consume that thing with the full awareness and passion for
what it is giving you.

Life is no more simple or complex than what you hold in your hands.

The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize all this until I started
remembering and writing it all down. Life is weird, sometimes, how the
oddest truths crop up in the most innocent of objects.

A faith in my senses…

Recently, in response to my comment on her blog, Glamourpuss called me a sensualist. That got me thinking, wondering if she were right, and it didn’t take much thought to decide that indeed she was. I have always enjoyed the experience of my senses. I never feel more alive than when
my mind is fully submerged in the waves of sensation that is day-to-day life.

I love to eat good food and taste new and exciting combinations of recipes. I love to touch and to be touched: I welcome hugs and fleeting social touches. When I go shopping, I touch everything with even the slightest texture, and if I enter Yankee Candle Company, or the deordorant aisle, I must sniff every item within reach. In art, my eyes linger on bright colors and engaging patterns and compositions, such as Henri Rousseau’s “Tiger in a Storm”.

Growing up in the arid mountians of the West, I would sometimes greet the rare summer rains with my face raised to the clouds. The gentle caress of cool water as it falls on my skin and drips off my hair….The smell-taste of ozone so faintly lingering in the back of my mouth….The scent of parched earth opening up to receive the gift of life…

My most cherished memory is of the day at the beach when I was about 10 years old, when I swam out beyond the breaking waves, and let the rolling waters lift me up and down, up and down, up and down….The dichotomy of the cool pacific waters under my back and the hot Californian sun on my face and arms and thighs…the taste of the water on my lips, and the scent of the salt and kelp in the breeze…

When I indulge in my senses, a feeling of contentment begins to swell within. The more deeply I let my mind drift upon the currents of reality, the more my inner essence quiets. The cares, the worries, the obsessions, the thoughts and wonderings, all drift away into a inner shadow.

Can it be any wonder, then, why I view Existence itself as my spiritual comfort? What I perceive through my senses is my reality, and it is that reality that gives me peace and joy. All that is external to that reality (i.e. “God” and “Heaven” and “Salvation”) is a disruption of that peace, a red herring that diverts and dilutes my focus, like a dam that blocks the river from returning to its source in the sea.