For some folks, the sex act includes thinking. I mean I don’t really know. For some folks, the sexual experience is more visual than it is for others. For some people, the ambiance of commercial pornography is part and parcel of sexual bliss. For others, it’s the tantra coach’s yoni massage. I imagine there are as many ways to experience sex as there are people on the planet. It’s not my place to yuck anyone’s yum; and my not knowing what all is possible is more because I don’t exercise my sexuality as a way of knowing stuff.
And this is not because I disparage the brain or information or knowledge or even thinking, despite the dicta of all the big religions elevating mystery and denigrating the tangible. As a source of mystical experience, I believe the brain faces some stiff competition from the sex organs. Good sex is spiritual in a way that synergizes its scientific assignation to the limbic system, brain stem and spinal column.
For me, the best and most blissful sex is a place where I have dissolved like a teaspoon of salt in the great broth of existence, where I am pre- or post-verbal, where I am released. I want to characterize this state as “abject,” in Kristeva’s sense, not Merriam-Webster’s. A place where I am not an object, but I’m not the controller, either. A place that rejects and is rejected by the world order, embodying all its taboo elements, freeing me from them.
I want to praise this place where my self is released from all constraint. I look to this place for healing and light and it is from this place I love and make love. And it is from this place that I will jump out of a plane, if I ever jump out of a plane.
A skydiver’s main chute, which they call the canopy, is folded up in the bottom of their backpack; the reserve chute is folded up on top of that. If, after the exhilaration of freefall, a jumper realizes that their canopy is not giving them any love, that it’s hopelessly tangled or behaving more like a colorful, silk-and-nylon potato, there’s no margin for surprise or negotiation. They must – if they want to become an undamaged, elderly skydiver – correctly and immediately – cut it away so they can release that life-saving reserve chute.
Fortunately, most challenging situations humans find themselves in don’t require this same immediate ruthlessness. We usually have time to hem and to haw, to fret and to worry, before decisive action is required. Still the metaphor is a good one.
You can liberate yourself from your attachments to all the festive, expensive, alluring potatoes of this world. You can. You can cut away from them all. You can leave your ladder-climbing big boy job (or the safety of a subordinate position, if that’s what floats you) and open yourself to the freedom of lively authenticity – no hamster wheels, no fleas – just respect for yourself and for the planet.
Give up your car and your dependence on the fossil-fueled narcotics of modern society. Ditch the artificial timelines of commute-consume culture. Stop being a doormat for corporate, with its built-in deferral of responsibility. Stop toying with and being played by the dominators.
They drain you of all that makes you creative, light, and car-free. You know you have nothing nourishing to say to your one uncle glued to Fox News, that jowly ex-tenant angling for a few more handouts, the shy kid from your middle-school who now works for Big Pharma, the once-upon-a-time artist who now excels at Birthday-Parties-by-Amazon – just cut them away. They really won’t miss you. They disappoint you and the feeling is surely mutual. Cut away now!
As it happens, what I know about cutting away is entirely accidental. The Navigator and I were recently hired to bring Sparky the giant rideable unicorn to a skydiving event in the Catskills. The venue was splendid, the weather ditto, the spiritual generosity lavish, and the drinks free. There were the people who made the event happen: organizers, clean-up guys, gophers, pilots, registration and manifest staff, performers, firework folk. Hondas and Subarus in the parking lot. We had met some of them at previous burns; others outed themselves as burners, either leaping up Immediately to make the construction of Sparky a truly Communal Effort or citing the principle of Leave No Trace. These people are seekers, lovers, doers – what a pleasure and a privilege to be invited into their warmth! What a treat to learn some of the words they use in their sport and to see them float down out of the heavens as ever-larger specks of fuschia and yellow and black.
Then there are the rich, some idle, some overemployed, many of them international, lofting the trains of their $1500 wingsuits, webcams on their helmets, Jaguars and Benzes in the parking lot. Focused on upping their jump counts and armed with Katanas and other high performance wings, this crowd emits a lot of ambient sexuality and has a high percentage of couture-clad, non-skydiving wives, languidly smoking cigarettes. Most members of this group have no reason to speak with me. One that did had a lot to say about cooking. Another talked about prison reform. A third, high on cocaine and dangling a cigarette from his handsome, fleshy lips, talked with me about marriage, of which I am officially the Apostle, having married the Navigator.
And then there are the sky bums – shirtless and bearded, beautiful, tattooed and barefoot, smiling blissfully, willing to help you with anything…until the next thing appears. All blue sky, even at night. Most of them are men and most of them do not have time for or interest in literature, relationships, or burns – three things I love. RVs in the parking lot (I wish I could say cargo bikes.) Partly or completely unemployed and husbanding their resources for this expensive sport, they spend their days either jumping, getting to places they can jump, or partying after a jump. Some of them have upwards of several thousand jumps under their belts. It was one of these bums, a fellow as beautiful and sexy as the young, golden Brad Pitt, that explains “cutting away” to the Navigator and me.
3. Sex and Skydiving
The next day, the Navigator decides to make his maiden jump. After the plane reaches its altitude, I can no longer see it at all. One of the organizers points at an aerosolized slick of condensation, burnishing a tiny fragment of silver cloud, translucent and shimmering, and says, “There’s the plane.” Suddenly, I do see it.
“They’re out!” she says. I don’t see anything different. No 185-pound human can darken a sliver of sky large enough for me to see it at two miles away.
Then they pull their ripcords, and I triumph, “I see them!”
The gleam of their colors and, after a few minutes, the swish of silk in the air sends shivers up and down my spine. My eyes stop seeing. My breath catches in my throat. I become a fierce and intolerant harridan of impatience. I melt with the intransigent, jet-fueled heat of being excluded from the only experience that matters, this, the face down with death on the ride to the ground.
With a lurch, I am once again capable of breath.
I feel the wetness run down my cheeks.
It’s over. It’s OK.
My love is striding across the field and into my arms – cool, safe, alive. Miraculous. Sexy.