HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated October 02, 2011
There are areas of our lives that need constant watching and evaluation, that need our attention in a conscious way. These are not duties in themselves although there are some responsibilities involved. We are instinctively and primordially drawn to them and so we cannot help but deal with them. I am talking of sex, God and time.
Our personal growth and evolution are closely tied to how we face issues related to them and how we navigate the stages and levels of understanding and accommodation of these powerful ingredients in our lives.
I remember watching the Ms. Universe Pageant with my daughter and her friend, who were both 12 years old, and I openly commented on how gorgeous and sexy one of the contestants was. My daughter and her friend immediately responded (jokingly) that they were going to “tell Mom” what I just said. I felt that their comment was a signal for me to finally but deliberately talk to my age-appropriate daughter about the birds and the bees.
One of the first things I told her was that sexual attraction is something everyone experiences and, in fact, is a mainstay in our lives. We will all be dealing with the sex urge for as long as we are alive. Sex is an unlimited, renewable resource, one of the key factors that make us feel alive. And we will always find people who are beautiful and even desirable, but we cannot always have access to them for obvious reasons. And so the earlier we find ways to control the sexual urge, the better for us.
As a grown man, I have a different view of sex than I did when I was, say, 14. At 14 and up to my 30s, my mind may have been preoccupied with it 90 percent of the time. These days, it preoccupies me less although I still feel it is one of the most marvelous things about being alive. I can still look at a beautiful woman and feel that rush. But now, I feel that more of the woman must be present. It is not just her physical attributes, but also her mind, emotions, conversation, life’s work or purpose, humor, passion, empathy, etc. that will make me even remotely want to get interested in any allowable intimate way.
A wife or a life partner can be continuously interesting because over time, all of the above can show up in them. And all of them are “on the table,” so to speak, when it comes to sex. The act itself can have a different meaning and flavor because the points of intersection are greater and wider.
When one is young, the physical aspect seems like it is everything. The urge can be “oceanic” and can encompass everything for a while. But as we get older, the struggles and phases we have lived through over the years may unleash new energies that make the experience of sex different. If the metaphor is wine, it would be less tangy, more subdued perhaps, and more full-bodied. Sex as a 10-, 20-, 30-year affair is way different than the one-night stand every young guy fantasizes about.
Does this mean that one is better than the other? The point is, sex is so wide an area of human activity that we will be meeting and dealing with it until we stop breathing. When we change, it too changes. And through the years, its pleasures can become more nuanced, or we may even choose to have less of it, depending on where we are at given times in our lives.
The same thing happens in our relationship with the divine. A man I met once told me that his faith had not changed since he was nine years old. The catechism he knew then is the same as what he knows now and he has never questioned it. My experience is the opposite of his. I do believe in God. I have never doubted His existence. The world and life itself are too awesome and there are too many questions that pop up which the rational mind cannot fathom.
And therein lies the rub. The more our knowledge grows and the more we fathom and solve the mysteries of the universe, the more we realize how much we do not know. With every step forward in our understanding of life, the divine seems to pull us deeper into its eternally spacious, vast and endlessly amazing mystery. The ground of God is endless and will never be fully covered. I feel that my understanding of God just gets bigger and greater and there is no end in sight. This leads me sometimes to realize that maybe there is nothing that is not God.
That may be a bit too pagan for some people, but one thing I know is, the more I question or ask about God, the bigger God gets.
From my personal journey on this subject, the topic of God is elastic. God can be as small or big, meaningless or meaningful, kind or cruel, etc. as we want Him/Her/It to be. It’s one of those topics one will never ever outgrow because, strangely enough, God seems to stop growing only when we stop growing.
Now, let’s talk about time. We are all born in the field of time and space. And while we may defy the limitations of space and geography through modern technology, like air and space travel and the Internet and other great new wonders, we cannot defy time. Not even Belo can do that. We are here for just a lifetime. And that is not the same for everyone.
When I was a child many years ago, time always seemed too long. Christmases, birthdays only arrived after months and months of waiting. The three days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday seemed excruciatingly long since my mom imposed a ban on music, TV, radio and other media on those days. School took forever and a day. Being “grown up” was never going to happen.
As a teen, it did not get any better. The angst that accompanied passions of lust, ambition and dreams made any waiting unforgivably difficult. It’s a “now” world for young people. I meet fewer kids today who are willing to put in extra years at the university to get more than just one degree.
Even as a young husband then, I felt that the nine months that pregnancies took were just too long. After about the sixth month, I would reach my limit of waiting and almost “forget” my wife was even pregnant. In my mind, I must have half-considered her state a semi-permanent condition and found an accommodation with it. Then I would be utterly surprised when the moment would finally come and she would deliver.
These days, time is an hourglass with the grains descending to the bottom faster than ever. There is little time left for the many things I still want to do. How much of the past should I concern myself with? How much of myself should I still invest in the future? Or should I just spend every waking hour being in the moment?
Truth to tell, that has been my strategy for some time now. When I think of my childhood and the small God I knew then, it seems like a time lost forever, a story told with judgment and finality, a closed book. The jury has spoken.
But when I review my life and everything else with the understanding of God as I know Him now, I look at the past as connected to where I am now and where I will be tomorrow. My life story is not linear in its narrative but spiral, ascending still in a continuing unfolding of new, expanded meanings and understanding. God is still revealing Himself and, yes, He is also still revealing me to myself in this limited field of time and space. I still love life and much of my libidinous energy continues to drive many of my life’s passions in new, creative ways.
I love it that the fascination, and accommodation with sex, God and time isn’t anywhere near ending.
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1) Join me in a Songwriting Workshop on Saturday, Oct. 8. Learn what comprises good songs and songwriting from melodic, structure, lyrics, arrangements, etc. in a very hands-on workshop. Students will actually write songs during class. It is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 0916-855-4303 or write to email@example.com for questions and reservations. P5,000.
2) The Art of the Nude — A photography workshop on Oct. 15 from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and reservations. Limited class.
3) Walking Photography Class — Explore a place and learn to capture light, tell a story, frame a photo, and more under different lighting conditions and settings. Class is on Oct. 22. Venue to be announced.