Life In All Its Boldness

Soul, considered collectively, has the care of all that which is soulless, and it traverses the whole heaven, appearing sometimes in one form and sometimes in another.

~ Socrates. Plato, Phaedrus

Excerpt from “The Temple of the Body,” by Thomas Moore:

Our society can be a friendly, helpful, and community-minded place, but in the area of sex especially it can hardly be called compassionate. Quickly we judge celebrities whose private sexual difficulties become public. We dispose of politicians and military personnel who miss the mark of our anxiously protected norms. Because sex is so full of life, it isn't easy for anyone to deal with it, and it is rarely neatly arranged. In general, if we want to live a soulful life we have to allow some latitude for the unexpected in ourselves and others, but this is especially true of sex. It is the nature of sex, maybe its purpose, to blast some holes in our thinking, our planning, and our moralisms—sex is life in all its boldness; it's not a hothouse of efficient repression.

Read the biographies of the men and women who have made extraordinary contributions to humanity throughout history. List their achievements in one column and their sexual idiosyncrasies in another. Notice the direct proportion between sexual individuality and creative output, between desire heeded and compassion acted upon. Then reflect long on your moral attitudes: Are they deep enough, humane, compassionate, and suitably complex?

Every day we could choose to be intimate rather than distant, bodily rather than mental, acting thoughtfully from desire instead of from discipline, seeking deep pleasures rather than superficial entertainments, getting in touch with the world rather than analyzing it at a distance, making a culture that gives us pleasure rather than one that merely works, allowing plenty of room in our own and others' lives for the eccentricities of sexual desire, and generally taking the role of lovers rather than doers and judges.