29. Sex, Drugs, & Letting Your Hair Down

The morning after…

… Naked bodies passed out on the furniture… Empty bottles, half-snorted lines, half-eaten pizza… Sex toys and used condoms strewn from hell to breakfast….

In the post-lockdown-pre-variant window of our fleeting glimpse into pre-pandemic normalcy, I read an article describing the scene above. Some young Europeans had flung themselves back into the life of modern free love.

I believe in “free love”, in terms of having sex freely and liberally, so I’m kind of a clean-cut, twenty-first century hippy chick in that regard. I like the hook-up-culture attitude toward casual sex, so you could also consider me a middle-aged millennial in a way. I love the idea of losing oneself in the moment and entering the zone of abandon where inhibitions dissolve…. I even believe in the power of various mind-altering and psychedelic substances to free our minds, and sometimes actually help heal our hearts.

What bothers me is the fact that so little sexual adventure and abandon is happening sober. I see this everywhere I look. Sexual expression is not a binary choice between prudery and debauchery. I know that intoxicants are absolutely NOT a requirement for such a “coming undone”, they’re just used as a crutch to have the kinds of experiences that could be totally available with a little more courage of the non-liquid kind.

Intoxicants are the “lazy-man’s” free ticket to paradise. But the return trip is the real bummer because it just goes straight back to the same old boring place where we began…and where we start all over again looking for the next cool ticket to the hot mess. It’s just a trip, rather than a journey. On a real sober journey, you get a lot more out of it along the way. You watch, you listen, you see, you discover, you feel, you grow…because you are actually there.

But, ugh, it’s true…what you find at first ain’t so pretty. That’s why you’re dragging the net fishing for freebies in the first place. Because wherever you go, damn, there you are. Because the load of sexual trash we got saddled with in the world’s incessant effort to bust that wild mustang in us all is a hefty burden. It don’t fit right. It pinches, squeezes, distorts, and just plain hurts.

Oh, well, tough noogies! Get over it.

All we actually need in order to start the sober journey to sexual freedom is emotional courage. It may in fact be the one thing we need most in this world, from a social, humanist perspective–people who don’t just ghost out at the first hint of awkwardness and discomfort. It’s certainly what we need most at this point to achieve sexual well-being. If we really want to progress as a viably woke species, we’ve got to clean out the closet.

And that closet is filled not only with your very own life’s detritus. It’s stuffed with everyone else’s crap from generations past. I’m sorry about that, but somebody’s got to do the dirty work around here, and it may as well be us. We’ve left enough of a global train wreck for the kids to deal with. So let’s try to be adults for a change, roll up our sleeves, and stop whimpering into our wine and crying into our beer. Let’s get uncomfortable for a minute.

You know, there are a lot of thankless jobs out there, but for chrissakes, come on. This is not one of them! The rewards are sublime. Your courage to walk through the foyer of discomfort leads you into a sparkling ballroom where you can dance and party all night long without that blasted hangover, and remember it all in vivid detail the next day.

It’s easy to glance around at all the sexualized media and all and think quite otherwise, but we live in a very prude world. Very, deeply, incontrovertibly prude. That stuff gets inside of everyone, even those of us committed to raging against it. The reason you’re looking to tie on a good buzz before letting your hair down is because you carry the embarrassment of the ages on your very own shoulders. For that, I ache with you. But it’s also just about avoiding the discomfort of confronting those inhibitions head-on, and for that I offer the bitch-slap.

Life awaits in technicolor for those who take on the frightening responsibility of living with their eyes open and their pupils lucidly focused. It’s the idea of prying them open that scares everyone off.

You’re obviously not alone in this. In fact, you’re more alone taking it on. That’s why I’m here cheerleading. But hey, you wanna keep chumming around with the walking dead or do something badass courageous and reclaim your right to walk through life truly alive and awake?

Personally, I take fresh refuge in the following slap-around from psychologist, speaker, and author Susan David:

“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is fear walking.”

Will you walk with me through that fire? I’m feeling kind of lonely here….

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