22. Progress is Not Inevitable, But We Can Do This!

The other day I had an epiphany of sorts. Although I get how and why things got all screwed up for us around sex, I still find myself feeling bewildered by the fact that we (at least the hefty mass of us standing midway to slightly left-of-center on the matter) are not further along in spite of all the healthy new data and ideas we modern, “post-revolution” people have.

Why are so many of us still quietly suffering less-than-ideal sex lives that lack intimacy, communication, exploration, discovery…? It seems that instead of having this really open sexuality in our lives, we’ve been led down the glossy (yet empty) path of the media’s view of what sex is supposed to be, swallowed by the dark shadow of our living reality that persists behind it. I mean, we’ve had books exploring this stuff in depth from every angle for decades. Magazines, movies, research articles, and the internet are infused with sex. It’s everywhere. And yet here we are, still barely able to wiggle our way through life in the mainstream with a modicum of ease and dexterity. So what’s the problem?

One of the obvious reasons is merely that progress is elastic (likes to snap back the other way when stretched to tension). The sexual revolution, with its radical in-your-face flair jacked up with all the drug use and deliberate depravity, put extreme tension on the rubber band of our puritan-bred culture, and as a society we’re still cautiously creeping out of that recoil over half a century later. Another conspicuous issue is just that not all of us are on the same page (to say the least), so there’s a natural friction between the moving parts that slows things down.

But there’s another piece that plays a less visible (and, therefore, more subversive) role. It’s the friction inside of us. I’m talking about how it feels to go against the grain of how we’ve been taught (socialized) from day-one to relate to sexuality. You know–that shy, hesitant, awkward feeling that keeps us from really looking squarely at the topic, approaching one another candidly, talking freely about sex, dealing directly with issues, and exploring our options a wee bit.

Eureka! …Simply put, our inner environment (that uptight socialization) is lagging behind our outer environment (that libertine media parade).

Carpe Diem! …But, listen, right here and now we stand in the perfect place to be wrangling out some real progress for ourselves. Right now we have a real advantage over that moment that began in the 60’s because as a culture we’ve already blown that cork, cleared that backlog of junk, and have gotten all the benefits of hindsight.

The downside that comes with that, however, is that we don’t have that same pressure behind us that will just shoot us out of the bottle giving us all the bennies without any effort of our own. The sixties happened because a number of things converged to create the “perfect storm” that exploded under those conditions, carrying the whole western world with it.

We don’t have that luxury now, so we don’t get to be that lazy! But that also means we get to use our brains a little more, think about where we are, figure out where we want to get to, and go at our own pace. Responsibly. Intelligently. With our eyes open (rather than dilated and bloodshot). Doing it this way means that we really own it. It’s personal; it’s powerful; it’s honest and authentic (not just the hippest fashion). When each one of us owns it outright, it’s durable–it ain’t going out of style. And this is the foundation of real change.

“Real cultural change takes real effort and time.”Ellen Burstyn spoke in a recent interview about the remarkable differences around race and gender in the Hollywood culture now versus when she began her career sixty years ago, when it was restricted to white males, conventional roles, and traditional storylines. Effort and time, she said. And that’s a fact. Thank god (NO, thank all those people who put their necks out and worked their asses off, actually) we’re able to enjoy a very different reality today. We all benefit from it.

So, my dear friends. This post is about cheerleading for the Cause. (There is, for most of us, no real “Team” yet. We are each sort of on our own without much, if any, direct support.) The Cause then, as I see it, is each one of us stretching ourselves from the inside out to reach beyond the default mode that society had pre-set for us, that comfort zone in which we’re still caught.

The workings of our social dynamics are stuck in that rut that was handed down to us by people who didn’t try (take the chances/put in the effort) to know any better, for their own sakes or for ours. And now, as a result, fear (of shame, guilt, embarrassment, abandonment…all part of our social biology and mentality) prevents us from choosing the better ways of functioning that everybody else isn’t doing yet. That fear is our pre-written, hand-me-down script. Our culture’s sexual legacy.

The only way our inner lives will catch up with the outer world is for those of us with enough vision, courage, and intolerance for the status quo to stick out our necks and make it happen. Otherwise, we’ll keep playing into the insanity of this sexual schizophrenia that is keeping us all from living real quality lives.

If you are one of the people who can see this, I beseech you. Gird your loins with me and step forward. Start changing your own script. Start small. Start anywhere. But please start. For you. For truth. For freedom. For life. Nothing is in vain, even if you fall on your face, because “the Cause” is so much bigger than that. You will grow and mature and blossom, and while you may not be appreciated (may even be condemned) by others, you will be carving a path not only for yourself, but one that may eventually lead us all into a brighter, happier, healthier (yes, smarter and sexier!) way of being.

Because we are not riding a gushing wave of revolutionary spirit to the peal of trumpets, we are rather lonely pioneers on this frontier. As such, we have to call up all the courage we can muster. I bow my deepest bow to such character.

I see you. I feel you. I love you!

Let’s do this thing.

(If you need individual words of encouragement or support or anything at all to help you muster courage and clarity on your path, please reach out directly to me here. I will offer whatever I can. Also, see my list of resources.)

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