Love is life’s biggest virus of the mind. We live and die for it. Make major decisions because of it. And completely don’t understand it. “It’s complicated” is an understatement. We’re handed a script about what love really means and should be from the time we’re children. Our fairytales are pretty clear: you’ll meet someone and be swept off your feet, have babies and live happily ever after. But by the time you’re in y our 30s if this hasn’t happened for you, people think you’re misdirected or in the closet. Then by your 40s, the jury is out and clearly something’s wrong with you. Even if you did get married, where the hell are the kids? Let’s face it, we’re all following the same recipe for love— even if it doesn’t fit.
If you’re like me you might ask, where has imagination gone? We seem to have forgotten that muscle. How to even tap what’s really inside us. It’s sort of amazing when you think about it, we’re born into a world where there are tuning forks on any topic that pump out a story about what that topic should be— how we should think, feel, and behave when it comes to marriage, love, money, work, religion— or really any topic.
So we find ourselves trying to adjust our harmony to those other tuning forks. We’re reacting to them. We’re trying to make them happy. We’re trying to satisfy all of the demands that those containers and shapes are asking us to conform to.
It’s almost impossible to get in tune with reality. There’s a lot of guests on this show that have talked about how fake everything we’ve created really is and certainly that is true when it comes to one of the most fundamental topics: our sexuality. How we encounter and express intimacy— physically, emotionally, spiritually, and cosmically— with someone else. How we share it and what it should look like.
It’s amazing when you stop and think about how much we’re told about what shouldn’t be lovable. So much is vilified. It could be our own feelings, other groups of people, different faiths, or distant countries. There’s so much that falls into this unlovable category— so many stories where, “those people are the bad ones.”
Now imagine you’re someone who decides to unravel those narrative containers. To build bridges to them and shine lights on the kinds of families, emotions, places in the world that keep us apart and keep us from understanding them. That’s exactly what this week’s guest, author Andrew Solomon, has done with his life. He’s a writer and lecturer on politics, culture, and psychology as well as a very important activist and philanthropist and behalf of LGBT rights, mental health, education and the arts. He’s won The National Book Award, he’s a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and he was included in The New York Times list of 100 best books of the decade.
All of us can relate to covering up something in our lives. For many of us, that can end up being a huge part of who we really are. We can find ourselves living as outsiders pretending to be something we’re not whether that’s at work, with our friends or in our relationships. These lies can literally destroy our life. “Coming out” isn’t something sequestered to the LGBT community. Coming out means bravely uncovering who you really are and it’s a practice that we can all learn from. In this case, Morgana did it in front of millions of people. In front of co-workers. In front of absolutely everyone she knows. And she did it more than once. When you listen to her story you realize just how much keeping secrets can hurt and just how powerfully becoming outwardly authentic can be.
Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever wondering what sex therapy was or who it’s for but after my conversation with somatic sex therapist, Elizabeth McGrath, I realized I could have saved a million sessions with my therapist and a lot of time and money if I just would have started with someone like her. Sure, there’s plenty of other non-sexually related issues you can chat with your Counsellor about like facing mortality, how your parents were total assholes, and your fear of meat but at least for me, most of my issues have had to do sex and relationships. If I would have spent time unraveling those, I would have known so much more of myself, so much faster and that would have leaf blown a million mental boxing matches. Just have a listen to this conversation with Elizabeth McGrath and you’ll see what we mean. We cover a massive range topics and really helpful advice that will, no doubt, lead you to the same conclusion I had: Sex-therapy is the new must have.
We might think of our culture as progressive, but I’d argue that shame of the human body has never been higher, in part thanks to a global culture forming around Facebook’s censoring of breastfeeding Moms, nudes in classic art, and pretty much anything that even resembles a nipple or even your kid, naked under a sprinkler. As we shovel more and more of this imagery from our consciousness we’re telling a dangerous story to the world.
Before this was an issue, there have been many decades of the religious right beating down what they see as inappropriate. Either literally or monetarily burning them at the stake. In the early 90s, this happened to this week’s guest, Jock Sturges, who had been shooting controversial fine art images of naturist adolescents and their families for decades. His studio was raided by the FBI and his photos and equipment was seized. While the grand jury declined to bring an indictment against him, and the French government flat out laughed at the charges and instead told the right that they were huge fans of his work, it was no less ruinous.
There are two kinds of people: those of us that are domesticated and those that feel strangely out of place. The ones that feel out of place, might not be able to communicate why, but know in their gut not only that our world is toxic but that the systems and traditions we’ve created don’t feel even close to natural. No matter which camp you fall in, both feel depressed, frustrated, anxious and flat-out unsatisfied as they get dragged through our culture’s unfriendly demands just to stay afloat. Have you ever asked yourself how and why we’ve sabotaged ourselves like this? Author and Psychologist Chris Ryan, has tackled big parts of the Matrix through his and his wife’s book, Sex at Dawn, his podcast Tangentially Speaking and his forthcoming book Civilized to Death.