How do we become exiled from the inner sanctuary of our own essence? How do we stay too long in situations, in relationships that bruise and scar. For so many of us, life becomes a bleak winter of lacklustre, habitual behaviour, where we respond like laboratory rats to cues that trigger the reward centres in our brains, numb to the call of our bodies, the weeping of our souls. Pinned on strips of green felt, like jewel-winged butterflies, frozen in long-forgotten flight.
In her exquisite poem, Wild Geese, Mary Oliver extols:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
In our guilt-steeped Judaic Christian culture, we dishonour our instincts, cage the soft animal of our body. Inhabit only our heads, blindfold our eyes, oblivious to our own specialness. From early childhood, we anesthetize our feelings; grow up, crippled by unworthiness, stunted by shame. As adults we live captive lives. Senses dulled by the drone of the hive mentality, the tainted taboos ancient repressions. Too often we deny the jalapeño desire that heats our bellies, sets our hearts aflame.
Here is a poignant story, told by Antoinette Liechti Maccarone, of an old Mexican woman whose husband lay dying. Her granddaughter had come to assist her beloved grandmother with the rituals of bathing and preparation for the finality of his death. The old woman was terribly distressed at seeing her husband’s frail naked body. And her granddaughter asked, “What troubles you so, Grandmother?” Her grandmother replied, “My beautiful child, from our wedding night we kept our bodies covered from one another, always wearing our long cotton night clothes. I feel very sad now. He is such a handsome man even in his dying. I wish I had seen him fresh.”
And so we wait, we harness, we restrain our lusty natures until it is too late. Freud believed that the Id lived in dark, inaccessible realm of our subconscious. It was Id that drove our archaic impulses, our unchained desires. Rumi knew this voluptuous, dewiness of appetite, as he wrote, breathless, “There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body. Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell. And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling!”
Many cultures have “inversion rituals” that overthrow the social norm. These manifest in the form of bawdy carnivals, gay pride parades. And so to unleash our desire, to touch the warm wetness of our own animal softness, we may need our own inversion ritual. A little transgression to encourage the seed of fecund desire to grow in the garden of our delicious delight. This may be as risqué as wearing no underwear beneath a silky dress, dancing naked bathed in moonlight, making love under the stars on the beach, licking melted chocolate from the soft hollows of the one you love…or staying in bed all day, decadently dining on strawberries and cream … Perhaps today might be the right time, the perfect moment, to break free from the trusses that tie us all to beliefs and customs that cover our smiles, hush our laughter.
What little transgressions can you conjure up to bring novelty and magic to your erotic nature…. what sublimely sensual pleasure, what wanton playfulness to nurture the red rose of your uniqueness and joy this new day? Allow the lantern of the imaginal realm to light the landscape of your unchartered desire. Gorge greedily from the banquet of life, with shining eyes and hungry heart. Climb out of the window, and feel the moonlight caress your skin. Says Rumi, “At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me. Close the language door and open the love window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.”
This is dedicated to Sophie: May you step onto the path of your own incredible beauty. May you press your brave heart upon the loveliness that is you. Maria McKee sings Show Me Heaven