Let’s talk about sex for a moment. No. That’s not holy enough. The word “sex” doesn’t do it justice. Let’s talk about fucking. Let’s talk about making love. Let’s talk about the transcendent union of bodies hell-bent on collision amidst a tempest of sweat and passion.
I hear so many people complain about their lackluster sex lives. The number of women who have expressed their disbelief that sex could be anything other than the utilitarian expression of selfish lust outnumbers the fingers on the hands of my entire extended family.
And the number of men I’ve heard speak with equal parts exasperation, defeat and genuine perplexity of the ways in which his woman expects him to read her mind is equally staggering.
In my years of loving, which have been interlaced with reading, writing and generally living a sickeningly romantic life, no single work has been more transformative in my view of the world – and in this case carnal love – than the work of Paulo Coelho.
Dusted throughout his volumes are love stories from his hand to the Soul of the World – that eternal soul from whence everything comes and to which everything will return. From it we are delivered the messages sent in hopes of showing us the way to our heart’s truest desires.
But it’s not this hopefulness, nor the romantic personification of a force greater than ourselves, that has taught me about the deep, satisfying love I’ve come to know.
No, it’s a simple line nestled in the middle of what I believe to be his greatest work, The Alchemist, which reads, “The world speaks in many languages.”
But here he’s not merely praising the vast linguistic diversity of the world’s people, communicating their deepest and most shallow truths through the employment of countless languages and dialects.
No, in this statement, a thought from within the observant host of the story’s protagonist, Santiago, Coelho is speaking of the non-human communications which fly around us all the time, which few of us ever notice.
He’s talking about how the groan of a camel can suddenly come to signal a raid from warring tribes. How the desert can transform the experience of a man from one of taking water and life for granted to holding those very same things in deep and utter reverence.
But how does that intersect with love-making? It’s everything. To me this opened my eyes to the incredible variability present amongst our own modes of communication.
In essence, it allowed me to release my desperate hold on verbal language to tell me what I needed to know. And in this surrender of beginning to learn other languages – in this acceptance – I began to notice my teachers everywhere.
The plants in my bedroom communicate their needs through the appearance of their soil and leaves. So why should my lovers not also tell me what they need through the appearance of their skin, or the posturing of their bodies.
The smell in the wind and the force with which it passes by my face can tell me a great deal about the weather blowing in across the mountains I’ve come to call home. So why, then, should my lover not also tell me about her internal, emotional weather, through the scent of her womanhood and the force with which she presses back against me.
And if the food I eat can tell me whether it is safe to ingest just by the way it tastes, then should I not be able to also determine my woman’s state of trust by the taste of her lips?
But we’re never taught these things. Even the most progressive sex education tells us nothing about making love. No, instead, our ‘sex education’ is reduced to a mechanical explanation of a wholly spiritual endeavor, and we are told – at least now – to honor consent. But that’s where it ends.
And while consent is of pivotal importance and I in no way mean to undermine the critical necessity of consent between adults of sound mind and body (like, don’t fuck drunk people, right?) there are layers of consent which aught to be taught more expressly.
You wouldn’t be hard pressed to find a woman who’s consented to sex with a man only to have him completely fail to honor the subtle consent of her body to proceed at a mutually-enjoyable pace.
So what I teach to people who ask me about such things is this: Passionate love-making is born in trust, it grows in safety and compassionate attentiveness, and it blooms when both lovers abandon the need for verbal language in favor of the limitless potential of carnal communion.
But here’s the other part. This isn’t something you can read once and do immediately. It takes courage to translate the non-verbal into real-life, high-stakes conversations about love and lust and fear and insecurity and weakness and trauma. Trauma.
This doesn’t require you to heal your trauma overnight, but it demands that you be brave enough to step up and say “This trauma is going to impact our love together. But maybe if you see it and love me anyway, and if you tread carefully through my garden, I can begin to release some of its hold on me.”
Because we are not whole in spite of our trauma, we are whole because of it. And though it has no place in our most intimate moments, least of all when we are surrendered to the crashing waves of passionate fucking, it is always there anyway. So what that means is that to really reach into the depths of orgasmic bliss and that glorious afterglow – to realize the full capability of your body to leverage passion to deliver you unto your truest self – both lovers have to be safe enough to see that demon in the corner and continue to make unencumbered, wild love anyway.
So I believe it’s up to all of us to change the face of sex for the better. Because better is out there, and we’re doing ourselves a tragic disservice by ignoring it.
And I believe the way we can all do that is to tune into the innumerable languages spoken in the bedroom, and in the rest of our lives. We need to commit to learning ourselves, first and foremost, but we also need to commit to really learning our lovers.
Men, soften yourself (not that part) and shut off your analytical brain for long enough to recognize the cues she’s giving you with her body. Touch her everywhere with your fingers before you ever undress. But even before that, talk with her about what moves you, and learn what moves her. Because passion knows not the difference between the chills she gets when she’s listening to music and the arch in her back in the throws of pleasure. In learning her you will learn how to love her, so don’t skip that step. And for god’s sake, when she’s ready, when she has invited you, ravage her, not in a blind rage, but rather in a transcendent passion that consumes you both completely.
And Women, before you sleep with a man, establish that he’s worthy of your trust, because if he’s not, you’ll never have fulfilling sex. He might fuck you well and satisfy for a moment the part of you that believes you’re only worthy when you’re in bed, but you will find the emptiness returns with a vengeance when he inevitably leaves. No, if you’re going to open to him in your most vulnerable places, bestowing upon him the opportunity to love a woman well – something no man should take lightly – then you should first be damn sure he’s deserving of such things. And I know… discernment takes courage. But you are stronger than you know and wiser than you allow yourself to believe in matters of intuition. So learn to trust the language of your body so you can speak it loudly enough for his entry-level understanding of women to take notice.
This is what I’ve learned of love, and it has served me well. May you find your forests of physicality ripe with the fruit of well-earned pleasure.