Falling in love (even for five minutes)

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PART ONE

I have a personality something like a nice mellow golden retriever. I quite simply love to love. Love to love you, Baby. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Wag, wag, wag.)

If I had my way, I would openly love anyone. I’m aware how unrealistic that is on our troubled planet, but in my dream world, loving openly, freely, and enthusiastically would be a brilliant way to live. I have a natural inclination to look for the good in people; it simply feels better to me to look for good than to look for bad.

I think it would be great not to have to censor my attraction for people. If I liked something about someone I would like just to say so. I could talk about anything without filtering for political correctness or worrying how the other person might misinterpret my words.

The love that I speak of is not always nor not even necessarily romantic or erotic. Yet for the most part social forces have dumbed down love and sex to the level of a Jughead comic or a Hallmark card. If a comment can be taken as a romantic compliment, it becomes one. So on the slight dangerous side, for example, if I, a male, were to tell a female that I loved how her pink, fleshy lips looked, oh, my, God!

Some people would be threatened or instantly offended by such a remark, no matter how innocent and complimentary it may be in my mind. It would automatically be taken as a suggestive sex wish or a come-on. It would be cast as erotic or romantic because in the Jughead world we talk about physical characteristics of people we are attracted to when we want to share an experience with them. In the old days this would translate to the ever-ubiquitous “Va-va-va-voom!”

“Who, me?”

Then comes the issue of appropriate versus inappropriate behavior, the definitions of which are becoming much murkier these days. Appropriateness is not objective. Excluding flat-out illegal harassing activities, what constitutes inappropriate behavior fluctuates from person to person and from situation to situation.

One woman in a committed relationship might like to hear compliments about her pink, fleshy lips. Another may hear it as disgusting. She might think or say “You can’t say that because I’m taken” as if any possibly flirty comment is invasive and needs to be met with a strong defense.

Imagine a world where a golden retriever is put through human scrutiny whenever he or she  comes up to people to ask for a pet. “I can’t pet you because I am taken. Go away! Shoo!”

For the most part, I keep my yummy-thought-spewing mouth shut. I have learned the art of not sharing those wonderful, delicious thoughts I have about people. There are many unopened gifts gathered underneath the consciousness tree because I have such an active beauty-seeking mind.

PART TWO

When I am attracted to someone for whatever reason, what’s happening psychologically is a process called mirroring. Admiring something in someone else reflects something inside me that I feel good about or that makes me happy.

We’re brainwashed to think that when we are attracted to someone, or to someone’s qualities, that it’s all about who and what that person is. We’re taught how that person bewitches us or drives us crazy or casts a spell on us or is even better than us. Our love songs, romantic movies, erotic movies, and countless other sources lull us into giving the object of our affection huge gobs of emotional control over us.

Yet the truth is that feeling admiration/desire is as much a reflection of who we are as individuals. It reflects our inner landscape—what’s going on inside our minds. If I have loving feelings for a woman whose creativity I admire, it’s as much about my creativity as it is about hers. I notice her creativity because I value mine. And that goes for any other trait I am drawn to.

So the feeling of falling in love (even if it’s for just five minutes) is as much a world of inner discovery as it is being charmed by another. It’s a concentration of energy inspired by someone yet also generated from within me.

I can fall in love at the drop of a hat—or virtually any other article of clothing. I look at someone and appreciate something about that person and feel a burst of energy which I associate with the falling in love phenomenon. It doesn’t mean I need to “have” them (whatever that means.) It means that they are stimulating my neurons.

Although most of our culture thinks of love in physical terms because that’s what we’re taught, love for me is also an energy burst, an upward mood swing, a sense of delight or creative stimulation. This welling-up of energy loves to be expressed, which in this case means communicated or shared. When that crosses into the area of “inappropriate” in the land of romantic boundaries, I just love privately within my inner nature park.

People often wonder why I am so quiet. Perhaps it is because I have too much good to say.

PART THREE 

After having thought about mirroring for awhile—years—I have come to see it as a way we love and express ourselves. So how does that work if I as a man am particularly attracted to a woman with fleshier lips? Does her physical anatomy have anything to do with me? Strangely, yes!

Body parts turn out to be tagged with symbols. Usually unconsciously, sometimes not, we assign symbolic meanings to things including body parts. This symbolic meaning will accompany any interaction that takes place between people. Perhaps I imbue a woman with thicker lips with the symbolism that she is very sensual, would be lovely to kiss, has a more generous personality.

Of course, this is entirely subjective and, as they say, subject to change without notice. My first impulse may be to be attracted or not attracted to a feature for a given reason which could instantly change with the flow of circumstances.

Meanwhile, any given person is much more than one body part or attractive feature, so this symbolic interaction is happening in many realms all at once. Everything we do involves working with the symbols that we have assigned to countless physical and metaphysical qualities—and with those other symbols people have created in their lives.

PART FOUR

The irony will always be that each individual has his and her own symbolic context through which everything is filtered. The outside reality is inwardly perceived.

Realizing that not everyone likes a golden retriever personality in a human being, I know to control my behavior in an affection-neutral style. I know not to express myself without editing for generally accepted standards of appropriateness.

It makes me incredibly dull. Sometimes it means putting my tail between my legs.

 

 

Beyond orgasm

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Modern sexual mythology poses that orgasm is the big kahuna of erotic bliss. Well, I say, isn’t that a ticket to disappointment?

OK, yes, orgasm is delicious, at times deeply delicious, sometimes even a fully-puffed-out peak experience delicious. No question, no issue, no complaints. But as long as we focus on that orgasm as the main event, the whole point of the show, the goal line, we could be missing out on some amazing, life-altering experiences.

I had a friend whom I joined once on a trip to Paris. She had two main goals to see at the Louvre: the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Goals accomplished, she was ready to leave, not terribly interested in everything else the world class museum had to offer.

Well, this is how I think many people view orgasms. Come, take your selfie coming, and think you’ve experienced the cream o’ the crop of everything sex has to offer. After all once you’ve had the mighty orgasm, it’s downhill from there … until the next ride.

Maybe it’s time to re-think that flawed premise. While we’re at it, it’s also time to think that maybe the mighty orgasm you have come to know and love and worship is almost like a decoy or distraction from the true depths of intimate pleasure.

THERE’S MORE

I’ve loved orgasms ever since I first discovered what they were, but fortunately I learned along the way that sex is a multi-dimensional experience—provided you choose to go there. If you think outside the jail of habit, porn conditioning, and other depictions of sexuality, and if you find change and creativity more fun than annoying, you could broaden your horizons.

If diversity of experience isn’t good enough of a reason, you might consider this: bodies age and change. This includes orgasms. While for me they still are quite pleasurable to experience, physically they are mere shadows of what they used to be forty years ago. If orgasm was my idea of the main event, the raison d’etre for sex, I would not be wildly happy about my inevitable physical decline.

But sex is a journey with a buffet of goodies to enjoy before and even after the destination most people seek. Here are a few suggestions in brief to consider.

Expanded Sensuality: In the hunt, race, and habit of bringing on orgasms for self and partners, people often miss out on the luxury of pure sensuality. It’s mostly just a mind set. We’re conditioned to take the most direct route to achieving orgasms. Stampede the clitoris or attack the penis straightaway. We often ignore other ways that the body delights us if we give it the opportunity. A slower build-up of sensual energy can 1) make eventual orgasms more intense, and 2) be a grand reward on its own.

When broken down analytically into named activities like cuddling, spooning, stroking, soaking in a hot tub, stretching, whatever, it may not sound too thrilling. But each of these activities offers the mind/soul an experience of sensual consciousness. It’s what you make of it. Cuddling can be anything from a major bore to the grand entrance to a peak experience depending on the mental and emotional chemistry happening.

Energy Orgasms: There is a type of full-bodied orgasm that is very pleasurable yet most people in Western culture have not heard of it. Under certain circumstances, full-bodied orgasms can create a more powerful and intense release than a traditional genital orgasm. As the name implies, full-bodied orgasms involve a shuddering sensation felt throughout the body, and are often accentuated through various relaxation, breathing, and visualizing techniques. While they often also involve genital stimulation, it’s nevertheless different, usually not involving male or female ejaculation or penetration.

Energy orgasms are entirely possible while fully dressed. In my personal experience, they have frequently happened during extended hugging, hugs in the ten-to-twenty minute range. All the emotional love and excitement of intimacy merge with sexual excitement until I/we start feeling waves of energy build and crash, build and crash, build and crash.  When this goes on for awhile, it leads to full-bodied shudders, and if you are prepared for them (i.e. not surprised or shutting down) the shudders increase in intensity. If you eroticize them, it can be some of the hottest sex ever (yes, still fully clothed and without ejaculation/penetration!) One nice feature about energy orgasms is that unlike physical orgasms which end things, at least temporarily, energy orgasms keep coming until you voluntarily just cannot have another wave. It’s a case of the middle being more intense than the end.

Meditation Adventures: Something I rarely if ever see described or depicted is the opposite of fifty shades of pain, bondage, intense physicality. That rare yet powerful quality is complete relaxation. One way to put it simply would be to meditate together while embracing each other either clothed or nude. The object here is not traditional intercourse but more of a mental and emotional intercourse, no-goal cuddling. The mind and heart do the merging while the bodies are as relaxed and quiet as any other kind of meditation. This kind meditation can be done without conversing or with one person guiding a visualization. For some this will sound dull as dust, but for others, the potential adventures in intimacy, energy, and sensuality will be overwhelmingly delicious. (This is different from therapeutic cuddling which is intended to be romantically or sexually abstinent.)

In a relaxed state, the body goes limp (although granted this does not always include erections.) The relaxed body absorbs pleasure in a more sensitive, profound fashion than a body engaged in pain responsiveness or wild thrusting. I think of relaxation as more pleasure, less work. It’s comparable to when listening through headphones to something and you turn the volume down very low; you end up listening more carefully to the whispers instead of the shouts. The meditation part opens the gate for streams of thoughts and feelings to flow, and this can lead to amazing adventures for the connoisseur of consciousness. You can end up seeing visions, hearing the inner voice, taking psychic journeys, basking in creativity. Bonus: Sessions like this can bring on unexpected energy orgasms as well.

Four Orgasms Theory: One time I played with writing a book (never published) in which I proposed that there are four types of orgasm: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. An orgasm could be described as a peak of excitement. Each type of the four is different enough from the others that focusing on any one kind will produce spicy variety. For example, a mental orgasm would be a peak of excitement for the mind. It could be a surprise, a thrilling sentence, a toy for the imagination, the right thing at the right time. Doling out mental treats leads to a mental orgasm. Kapow!

The four orgasms theory largely involves nonphysical stimulation, emphasizing that lovemaking is a blend of holistic arousal techniques, not just body part play. Make love with the mind, heart, and spirit to really experience the heights of arousal. Through practice and personal experience, one learns that orgasms as usually portrayed have their limitations and that there is a wealth of powerful experiences most people miss.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Western culture through its books, movies, and stories primarily and overwhelmingly tells us how important sexual orgasms are. We have dumbed down orgasms to the physical level. Ironically, if you decrease your focus on physical orgasm and increase your focus on nonphysical stimulation, you will have better orgasms of all kinds including those that can happen while fully dressed.

Woo-hoo!

 

 

The Purpose of Pain

LonelyI don’t know whether this is a new trend in spiritualism, or whether I am just discovering something I hadn’t noticed before. In various places the concept is arising that a major purposes of life on Earth for souls is to enjoy the experience of pain.

Sounds like another exciting episode of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The notion goes something like this: we come from a spirit world where love prevails. In that world we know that we are all one. One for all and all for one. There are none of the contrasts that so characterize life on earth. For example, no being there is regarded as evil. There is no pain, no deceit, no violence, no loneliness. The very atmosphere of life in the spirit world is love, love, love.

When we as souls live in that bubble, we wonder about the pain of being different.

Apparently during the course of events of eternity, some of us decided that all of this love, love, love wasn’t helping us grow, grow, grow spiritually fast enough. We didn’t like being sloths in paradise. We wanted to experience some contrast. Since what you get in paradise is constant ecstasy, contrast turns out to be conflict, resistance, pain.

We were thinking, well wouldn’t it be great to go to a place where we didn’t get what we wanted whenever we wanted it? Wouldn’t it be great to suffer? Think how much we would learn! Think how much fun that would be!

So we (or at least someone we knew) manifested Earth School. Some of us really wanted to be material girls and boys, so we eagerly signed up. Other souls thought we were crazy. I am not sure why, since they did not know what pain was. Maybe neither did we.

EMBRACE THE LOVE

Most of the time, what I used to hear was that we incarnate on Planet Earth to learn how to love. Our purpose is to love. That’s it. Love.

Then the message got a little more complicated. The notion then became that we were supposed to learn how to love in the face of trials and tribulations. We were supposed to love our enemies. And forgive them.

Many of those conflicts were the results of karma that we had created in our past. If we had cursed, bludgeoned, poisoned, decapitated our fellow human beings in previous lifetimes, we eventually need to pay the piper.

There are no free lunches.

So if in one life you thought it would be fulfilling to capture and torture slaves for a living, in another life, just to balance things out, your soul would say to you, “Hey, here’s a fun idea! It’s time you were born into poverty and raised by cruel, abusive parents. All right? Off you go!”

This theme has countless variations.

Spiritual teachers often insist that karma is about balancing, not punishment. You essentially experience the contrast in another life to what you do in this one. In the spectrum of our Earth lives, the whole kaboodle, we choose a bunch of different roles including playing the bad guys. We may actually choose to be a lowlife criminal during a particular life just to experience the pain of living that awful existence.

EMBRACE THE PAIN

In light of this trend in spiritual philosophy, pain is where it’s at. Embrace the pain. Enjoy the mental anguish.

What’s being taught is an extension of the spinach before ice cream mentality. OK, this doesn’t really work for me because I like spinach, but nevertheless, the idea holds. By completely experiencing the pain of life on Planet Earth, we will be overjoyed to return home to a sexless, immaterial world.

Wait! No sex? Well, everything is better than sex anyway, so don’t worry about it.

There is no pain in heaven. Just about anything that you find painful here in the material world is missing from the spirit world. That’s great, except that apparently some things you find delightful in the material world are also missing in action from the spirit world. A few of those enticements lure us back to this pain-laden wonderland.

Sex, for instance.

Spirits constantly tell us that there is a form of sex in the spirit world, but it is entirely ethereal. It is energy-based. It is merging with another being in complete awareness of who they are, what they think, what they feel. And very unlike life on Earth, people don’t form couples. You merge with anyone and everyone. But it is a fleshless existence, and apparently for us in spirit form, flesh is so compelling, so off-the-charts yummy that we can’t wait to come back here to enjoy it. Then we get here again and re-discover that sex dwells in a cesspool of insecurity, jealousy, deceit, greed, persecution, violence, etc. Just sayin’. We don’t even recognize what a gift we were given, and so we go about destroying it.

PLAN IT AGAIN, SAM

So before incarnating, we engage in planning sessions to design all the great pain we’re going to experience. Oh, yay!

I’m not sure yet how I feel about this idea that Earth School is Pain School. Part of me wonders if accepting that idea while we are here on this planet is a magnet for attracting more pain. It’s as if the universe says, OK you want more pain? Here, have a car crash. Want some catastrophic earthquaking? How about a swarm of locusts?

On the other hand, when I am in the midst of feeling pain, trying to responsibly deal with something yucky, it does help me to consider that perhaps my soul is growing more swiftly because I am enduring the life here. This thought helps me move from rage or angst to love and forgiveness.

Love the bastard. Forgive the bitch.

The Earth is for pain idea usually goes in hand with the life plan idea. Books like Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift by Robert Schwartz illustrate how different traumas, tragedies, and challenges helped people grow. People in his books often experienced enormous pain, but they also grew in leaps and bounds, both in Earth terms and in a spiritual perspective. They often end up thanking God for that blessing in disguise.

People often resist the idea that a tragedy was planned before incarnating. It seems weird and  unloving. Why would someone as a loving soul deliberately choose to step into harm’s way? Well, pain seems to be a great motivator and Earth School is about contrast, pain versus pleasure, bad versus good, light versus dark. No pain, no gain.

For those of us currently existing in physical bodies, it’s not a pleasant thought to wonder if there are more great wallops of pain to come. Are we sitting on ticking time bombs? What else do I get to deal with on my life’s journey?

Yet to quiet that rant comes the idea that we have a team of guides, angels, and loved ones on the other side who help us negotiate any lesson we have on our learning plate. As we grow spiritually, we make wiser choices that help us deal with and even avoid life’s obstacles. Further, good stuff is in store to help balance out what we might see as bad stuff.

Spirit might see our lessons just as many of us watch a TV show or read a good book about someone else’s pain. We enjoy learning about someone else’s troubles, partly as a way to deal with our own. Many of us are entertained by someone else’s troubles. Could it be that our own souls can disassociate with us and our pain as we disassociate from other people’s pain? Hmmm?

In summarizing the main lessons of his book Seeking Jordan, author Matthew McKay, PhD (who co-authored the book with his murdered son Jordan who is on the other side) says in a YouTube interview [edited], “The reason we show up on this beautiful but difficult planet is because there is pain here. In the life between lives, there isn’t any pain. We feel known there. We feel part of things. We feel supported by this vast community of souls. And there isn’t pain in the sense that we know it here. But pain affords us opportunities to grow. Struggling with things that hurt is how we evolve and develop as souls. And perhaps the greatest pain we experience is loss, things that we count on taken from us. Our life here is learning how to love in the face of pain.”

Being different

being-differentI don’t know when being different became such a dreaded thing to be, a state that when taken to extremes is responsible for homicides and suicides. And I further don’t know why society hasn’t put its collective foot down and fought this condition with a vengeance.

Being different usually means becoming the object of rage, ridicule, torment, and torture. You’ve seen thousands of cases of it and have probably experienced some of it yourself.

There are bunches of flavors of how this gets expressed, but it all comes down to being different, and rarely do we proclaim “Viva la difference!”

THE CLASSIC DIFFERENCES

One of the classics, of course, is being a different race from the next person. I am grateful that I grew up in an environment that was relatively unaffected by racial hatred. I did not have hatred shoveled into my mouth like coal into a steam engine, which in turn left me shocked as an adult to discovered how cruel racism had shaped our history.

Being a different religion is another big one, often a bloody one. Again, I am grateful that in my youth my path did not include being taught to be vile and violent against someone else’s religion.

I was brainwashed in school — along with a bunch of others — that America is a glorious ethnic and cultural melting pot. Aren’t we wonderful? Yet if you watch any Ken Burns historical documentaries about American life, you see that our melting pot has been rife with racial or religious conflict. More like a melting pot crock.

Being a minority of sexual orientation is often a ticket to nonconformists’ hell. A gay friend once told me, “No one would deliberately choose this lifestyle if they knew how much pain it creates.”

Being from the designated wrong side of the tracks or wrong side of the country or wrong side of the law is another one. (What? Wrong side of the law? Well, sometimes being on the wrong side of the law is the right thing to do when the law oppresses people. That’s how the United States of America began.)

Zillions of smaller-scale differences have caused people great amounts of emotional pain, too, despite how insignificant those differences should be. One example is women who grew up tall. I have heard over the years stories of woe from tall women and the suffering their physical difference caused them while growing up (and up and up.) It is ironic for me because I have always loved tall women. To hear them bemoan the quality that I adore makes for brain weirdness.

Skip this paragraph if descriptions of female genitalia offend you: I once knew a woman who was painfully embarrassed that she was born with pronounced labia minora. Her humiliation was to the point that she disclosed this information way ahead of any disrobing to avoid a hurtful rejection scene; she apparently had emotional wounds from the past. She thought I was just being nice when I later conveyed my joy over the exquisite sensual experience her difference provided. Little did she grasp my true delight and fascination.

The list of these smaller-scale differences goes on and on. We’re amused by differences that others deal with yet seem especially focused with angst about our own. I’m often attracted to the very thing that others find weird or strange.

EARTH SCHOOL

I hate the suffering I’ve seen in people who have been vilified and abused for being different. It seems to be a rite of passage most of us go through at various degrees of severity—some through mild teasing, some through tragic torture—and perhaps it’s just part of life in Earth School as set forth by the cosmic curriculum designers. I still find it an awful state of affairs.

I hope it is true that younger people are growing up smarter about being different. I hope the message that diversity is a good thing is taking root. It seems to be more so as younger people are much more approving of such things as gay marriage and interracial marriage and even alternative lifestyles.

Still we see a steady stream of news stories about young people who have committed suicide because they were outed and bullied for being different. They could not take it. They felt their world was already doomed, so they ended their lives.

I wish we as a society appreciated differences more. I wish we celebrated them. I wish teenagers could get excited about being the soul they are that are dwelling within the bodies they genetically inherited. I wish they did not feel they had to jump onto the conveyor belt of conformity and mold themselves into the exact match of their friends. I wish they could wear their external and internal differences proudly.

DIFFERENT DIFFERENCES

These days, so many young people are getting tattoos. When I was growing up, only rebels and warriors were tattoo-prone. Like, join the Navy, get a tattoo. Later a few adventurous women got tattoos but usually hid them in intimate places well out of normal sight. Body tattooing now has reached the point where it is nearly conforming to be inked. Being different is not succumbing to peer pressure.

In my youth, long hair on guys was the defining difference of those who wanted to conspicuously conform-me-not. But that meant that males growing long locks were simultaneously being different and similar depending on who was looking at them. Long hair eventually became stylish in a more mainstream celebrity way, and something else had to replace it to denote uniqueness. Enter hair dyes in bright colors and new spiky dos.

NONCONFORMISTS RULE

So frequently society ridicules those who don’t fit in with the majority — including guys with hot pink hair. Yet time and time again, the nonconformists come up with the great ideas. Nonconformity often starts with being socially rejected. People somehow deemed as too different to be “in” go searching for their peace in some other venue — athletics, the arts, science and technology.

People who don’t make great clones often think out of the box better. Not so lured into being the same as the next person, they are more free to follow the beat of their own drummer. Independence is the essence of creativity — to look at what everyone else is looking at and seeing something different, often remarkably so.

Of course, some people with differences choose anti-social routes to seek revenge for their pain. Prisons are full of people who took their differences into a life of crime and punishment.

LOVE YOUR DIFFERENCES

The bottom line from me would be to love your differences — yes, even if they currently upset you.

It’s often challenging to feel good about those qualities that people say are weird about you, but give it a shot. Look for the gifts in your differences! Look at how other people have handled their differences.

I think there is a myth about the perfect life. We all seem to think that there is some special way to be where everything is peachy keen and mighty fine. Success! Triumph! We often look at our celebrities as examples of people living the good life. They must lead charmed lives and have everything. Well, yeah Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s and Annette Funicello died of complications from multiple sclerosis.

Spiritual teachers are more inclined to say that the life you are living now is the perfect one for you. All your imagined flaws and defeats, along with your advantages and successes, are part of a lesson plan your higher self provides for you.

The love letter mirror

Love-LettersAll the world is a mirror for me. Whatever I see and react to mirrors something in my internal universe.

When I respond positively to something, I am seeing something that stimulates my internal universe in a positive way.

When I respond negatively to something, I am seeing something that does not fit into how I think the universe should be.

Despite the fact that I can make split-second decisions on what I like or dislike, it’s actually an amazingly complex procedure to describe.

For example, what do you think of Miley Cyrus? Rush Limbaugh? Barack Obama? Sarah Palin? No matter where you go in your thoughts with any of these people, you’re making all your judgments based on your internal universe and the data you have fed into it. Unless you know these people personally and intimately, you are getting all your data through filtered, mostly opinionated sources. You may make snap judgments on them without even thinking. It doesn’t matter whether they are heroic or demonic to you.

THEN THERE ARE LOVERS

In a more subtle way, my relationships with lovers over the years works similarly. What I see and experience in the external world is a reflection of my internal world.

Every time I interact with someone, I see mirror images of myself through that other person. This also includes all the people real or imagined who stimulate thoughts about love and sex. It could be the stranger across the room who doesn’t even see me or know me. It could be a fictional character in a novel or movie. All of the stimulation, good or bad, is really occurring inside my brain because that’s where everything gets interpreted.

So let’s say that I am gawking at somebody I find uber attractive. Really gawking. Thoroughly entranced with that person’s presence.

We are conditioned to think that it’s that other person who is so fabulously gorgeous (or whatever other quality you want to assign.) We are conditioned to think that the other person, by being so gorgeous, has power over us, as when we are bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Many of us are conditioned to seek the approval of the people we see as gorgeous (or similarly attractive quality.) Our ultimate prize is to have them think we’re great.

THE BIG MIRROR

But here’s the thing: it’s not really that person! That person is holding up a psychological mirror for me. It’s me! It’s my brain chemistry. It’s my mental filtering system. It’s all subjective, and in that sense, it’s all imaginary.

Of course, our romantic traditions don’t conceive or portray it that way. Most depictions of romance show men and women swooning over someone. “You drive me crazy,” we’re conditioned to think. “You are so gorgeous!” “You make me feel so good.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

This phenomenon has become more intriguing to me as I age and can reflect on my life experience. I see more and more of my existence as symbolic interaction. Visions I pick up outside of me, whether a photo, movie, or something else my eyes see, stimulates an inner part of my psyche. Much of the time it has nothing to do with the actual person and everything to do with my internal life.

LOVE LETTERS TO MYSELF

The act of writing a love letter is usually thought of as an attempt to woo, persuade, enchant or in some other way influence another person. Many people write love letters out of the hope that they will get something back, be it adoration, a sensual reward, praise, or “winning” someone’s heart.

Yet apart from all that is the reality that in writing a love letter, the writer is primarily playing with his or her own inner universe. The writer is playing with symbolic interaction and conditioning. It’s often an ego thing. We sing the praises of someone outside of ourselves, having decided that winning that person’s heart or gaining that person’s approval would boost our life, our esteem, even our status.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Have you ever been in love and lost? Have you ever felt that your life was ruined because someone you adore doesn’t feel the same way about you? Have you ever felt really lousy because you feel empty and alone? Have you ever spent your life in what seems like an endless quest to win someone’s approval?

I’ve been through all these situations. They and many more could be soothed quite dramatically if I just stepped back from the drama and realized that most of it was coming from my own head. It’s coming from my own programming and conditioning. The best way to get my power back when I am feeling way out of balance is to remember how much of my reality I am creating.

Emotions charge like speeding locomotives. It’s like a trance. So when I feel myself swept away in a strong surge of negative emotion, I intervene with my intellect. I’ll say to myself something like, “OK, what’s going on here? Why am I so creeped out/pissed off/dejected and lonely?” When I slow down enough from the emotional flood to think clearly, I will recognize it as a story I am telling myself.

It is said that the outside world mirrors our inside world. If we tell ourselves stories, the external world will attempt to conform to that story. We see what we expect to see. That’s why if we expect to be hurt or betrayed, our external world will bend to help make that happen. Then we can say, “I knew I’d be hurt.”

SYMBOLIC INTERACTION?

If we expect to be hurt, for example, everything we see will appear to be evidence supporting the premise. Everything external will have a symbolic meaning inside.

Jealous lovers often look to their partner’s words, deeds, and activities to see signs of wrong-doing. They’ll look for the slightest reason to blame their lover for being flirtatious or inattentive. The last thing they will do is blame themselves for creating the reality they fear and acknowledge that their suspicious nature colors their every thought.

No, this does not mean that if someone cheats on you, you caused it. But it is to say that we have more control over our reality than we are led to believe. People seem to be much happier when they look to what’s good and right in their lives. Feeling grateful for what you like is the best way to invite more of the same.

LOVE LETTERS TO PHOTOS

I like to play with my internal world. Sometimes I will see a photo of someone and I will become such an emotional softy from it that I want to write that person a mushy love letter. I may know the person but these days usually not. The love letter I want to write is based on the feelings and fantasies the photo brings up for me. The process of writing is my way of playing with those feelings. I am not attempting to make anything happen in real life outside of basking in the creative joy of letter writing.

It is also wonderful to know that when I do write love letters to people in photos, I am writing to an internal part of me that is reflected in the vision. It’s no different than if I were to write a love letter to a photo of a beautiful cloudscape or water scene. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea.

Dear Beautiful Cloud …