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Being human (2022)

You can listen to this musing here, or read it below.

I’m at the Ängsbacka Tantra Festival, and there is a new structure this year, a new movement of different ways of being, from consciousness, thoughts, and awareness to being human and, later on, being divine. But being human, it stuck with me. It’s so simple. But what is it to be human? It’s the destruction of the planet, all the wars, the capitalistic system spinning out of control. It’s the predatorial sexuality, the inconsiderate loudness, the overconsumption. Yeah, you get the vibe. But it’s also the perfection of a modern ballet dancer, the vulnerability between lovers, and the technological innovations saving lives every day. All of this is being human in its grandness and its flaws. And there is one thing that brings us together: a common determinator. That is death. If it doesn’t die, then it’s not human. I think that is true. So on the day of the being human, I suggested doing a death meditation. A simulation of death. Death sounds so negative; it’s like the skeleton man with burning eyes coming for us. While I think death is the catalyst that keeps us going. If this human beingness was endless, I could just do it tomorrow in a forever procrastination.

So two hundred people in a much too small room. Everyone got a number and the instruction to leave the room when theirs was called. No goodbyes, just stand up and leave. And until death comes for you, you are free to do whatever you like. But no words. Maybe your experience will end five minutes after it started, or will you be the only one left after the three hours? I’m curious what people will do with this aliveness as I look down at the list of two hundred numbers to be called one by one. A realization strikes me; I’m the randomization algorithm for this experiment. Do I have a preference about who goes when? Of course, I do because I’m human. I have an idea of how the last hours of life should be. My taste is slow, tragically romantic, and choreographed beauty. Like the scene in the first part of the final Harry Potter movie when Harry dances with Hermione, the impossible love as Hermione is together with Harry’s best friend, Ron. But the world is ending around them, so what is one to do? Nick Cave’s song Oh Children perfectly captures it. 

We have the answer to all your fears

It’s short, it’s simple, it’s crystal clear

It’s round about and it’s somewhere here

Lost amongst our winnings

And I’ve looked forward to playing that song as only a handful of people remained. Together with Arcade Fire’s song, My Body is a Cage.

My body is a cage that keeps me

From dancing with the one I love

But my mind holds the key

But what happens instead is some people burst into an explosion of silliness and start to play. They want to have fun dying. Others pull together, by a magnetical sexual force, in one last expression of intimacy and horniness. But most meditate, eye-gaze, slow dance, and cry in a hug. But there is a lot of loneliness also—a lot of desperation. Maybe someone was never loved, never kissed, never embraced by intimacy. And if it never happened in my entire adult life, then it has to happen now, right, in the end? So I need to make it happen. This is my last chance. CAN’T YOU HEAR MY DESPERATION ROARING?

I’m standing on a stage

Of fear and self-doubt

It’s a hollow play

But they’ll clap anyway

All of a sudden, all I see are desperate men and frightened women—incels and rape victims. I ask myself loud over the microphone; is this what it means to be human? And inside of my head, is this how I see humanity? I feel for these men. They are most likely not the ones hiding behind an anonymous avatar on Reddit. Not the ones who are spreading hate propaganda, fascism, racism and conspiracy theories. Instead, they consciously chose to join a tantra festival to face their fears. They are actually courageous.

You’re standing next to me

My mind holds the key

My body is a cage

I close my eyes and read another number. The next time I open my eyes, I see two men making love. Slow and tender. Exactly the way my humanness likes it. Just let it happen in the flow. From fingers lightly touching, eyes meeting, leaning into each other, skin melting, lips touching, bodies pulsating together. Plenty of time to feel. To be vulnerable and brave at the same time. Every time I read another number, I see the jolt of anxiety in their bodies. A temporary tension from the impermanence of this movement in time, and then relaxation and release of energy. If faith would make them into the last two survivors of death, would I have the heart to break them apart? But they are not; life is rarely as romantic as my mind.

I’m living in an age

That calls darkness light

Though my language is dead

Still the shapes fill my head

Every time I close and open my eyes, another filter, another slice of humanity, reveals itself. In the end, there is one young man left. He is sitting on a meditation chair, gazing into the void. His eyes are tearing. I asked him if he was okay, and he said yes, and that in the end, when it was just a few left, it felt pointless to engage after his friends and lovers were gone. So he decided to sit down and wait. Somehow this echoes my fear of being the one left behind when everyone moved on, to the cosy cafe golden milk, the good-night lullaby concert cuddles and the social chatter around a bonfire. But also to the loneliness of walking the cold dewy fields of Ängsbacka at night. And the hurting cries and roaring anger from having boundaries pushed and maybe even crossed.

My body is a cage that keeps me

From dancing with the one I love

But my mind holds the key

Is it worth it? Creating these experiences gives space for this humanness in its darkness and light. And maybe most importantly, to see the darkness in the light, and the light in the darkness. And their constant transmutation into another. The ying-yang symbol theme. I think so; I heard that tantra means to expand (tan) and collapse (tra). It’s expanding into new territories that aren’t entirely safe and require our bravery and resilience to deal with. Check out my musing on aftercare, self-care and resilience for more on the topic in detail. But it’s also collapsing into safety, integration, and recovery. To reap the fruits that we harvested from bravery and resilience. So the key is to make it more transparent if the goal is to expand or collapse, to tan or tra. And this I will work on.