To love is to lose ourselves, and we are scared of that.
I’m in Brazil on vacation. There is a river just outside the eco-village. The tide pushes its water in and out of the ocean every day and every night. I love floating down that river, being carried into the jungle or out to the sea while watching the starry night sky above me. Surrendering to the sensuous experience all around me. Everything is calm, and I can relax, melt and let go. Will my window of tolerance expand or shrink over time? Looking at the other hippies who have lived here for years, I observe that their window of tolerance is very narrow. They seem to me more easily triggered than less outwardly calm-living people I know. Likely the hippies’ nervous systems are not tested very much in their groovy lifestyles, and therefore there is no need to train them to tolerate a wider spectrum of stress.
Is this what they call paradise?
Four weeks without looking in the mirror.
Four weeks of bonfires and birdsong.
Four weeks without glasses and shoes.
Four weeks of song and dance.
Four weeks without buying anything.
I open the internet but tire just as quickly. I have been trying to write this journal entry for six days but have lost the will and asked myself why countless times. Kind of to tell you that I’m alive. As a life sign to some who meant so much. But here in the rainforest, I have found a new tribe in flesh and blood. We sing and dance together. Eat and sleep. Cry and laugh.
I run through the rainforest. Weeds grappling for my ankles and moss filling the gaps between my toes. A wind of happiness blows through me, and I fly forward across the path. Lost in the jungle until it’s time to find a home again.
Four weeks of avoiding non-face-to-face communication. The internet is great for sharing knowledge, but for socialising, it’s utterly rubbish. Everything I need is around me. There is no reason to chase after it. No need to plan. It’s a tribal feeling. About a hundred people. Comparably the city feels lonely and anonymous. It feels so fucking luxurious to only now live here. The body unwinds. Relaxes.
Four weeks without distraction. Four weeks with a focus on emotions. To be open and be with my feelings. Make friends with them. Without letting them take over. Nestled in a rainforest that balances. Trying to write down how I feel is impossible because it changes all the time. When the feelings are seen, they disappear just as quickly. They comes and goe, just like the weather. The proximity to nature helps. Makes me feel a little less grown up and a lot more contained.
Nature is, by default, sensual. It stimulates my nerve endings in endless variations. Living on the beach in a tropical rainforest constantly caresses my nervous system. But my spoiled monkey mind ensures that my window of tolerance is narrow, and so I will always find some minor discomfort in my surroundings to magnify.
Cities In Contrast
In the city, the input is more monotone: air-conditioning, wind-blocking walls, shading roofs, and the constantly flowing LED lights. Here it doesn’t matter if it’s night or day. Rainy or hot. It’s always the same. The stimuli are always inside my window of tolerance and preferably so regulated that I don’t even notice it. The message is clear; I should focus on doing rather than sensing. Of course, there are some sensuous experiences in the city, but they are well-regulated as leisure and culture. Available when I have time for them or when I’m ready for my reward.
Living integrated into nature, I notice that nature is not so kinky. Or I am not so kinky when in nature. Instead, I’m busy being sensual with everything around me. It’s almost like softly making love with the warm ocean winds, surrendering to their presence. So when I was writing about how dominants should learn how to be served by their submissives, I now realise that it was a call to be more sensual with themselves. Just like nature is forcing me to.
So I wonder if sadomasochism is the mind being lost in a maze of passion, losing itself deeper and deeper, searching for something that feels more than the monotone cityscape. I often encounter sadomasochistic fantasies spinning out of control. They start small and innocent, like ‘I want to be spanked,’ but become more intricate and bizarre, like ‘being adopted into a cruel cult of erotic torture’. The lack of sensual stimuli makes the mind run wild without connecting to the real world. So people only being kinky on the internet forums tends to be far out there. This is not entirely true because experiencing sadomasochism also widens the window of tolerance for deviant desires. I want more, so I venture deeper into my maze of passion.
It reminds me of trying to meditate in nature while all the leaves are rattling, the wind softly touching my skin and sticking underneath my knees, constantly triggering my nervous system. Even worse is sadomasochistic play in nature, with all the mosquitoes, stingy pine cones and intruding moisture. But, of course, it makes a beautiful picture because it’s not how we are used to seeing sadomasochism. Nature makes it more exotic. However, in the end, sadomasochism is a meditation for me. So it requires the stillness of a held space, well inside my window of tolerance, isolated away from the sensuous nature.
I reflect upon reading de Sade and his feverish fantasies about overwhelming the nervous system to break free from the mind-numbing society around him. Of course, there is little to no need to break free in nature because there is little bondage. But I know that eventually, my restlessness will send me off on an adventure. Or can I forever stay softly surrendered to this sensuous nature?