There’s really only one rule in life: balance. Think of the common image indicating Taoist thought, a circle with joined black and white “tadpoles” chasing each other. The whole is made of balanced opposites. Unbalance in one part affects the whole, no exceptions.
The past few months I’ve been tipping slowly off balance toward a slippery slope: addiction. Sexual addiction, in this case. I’ve always liked to play with fire. I knew what I was doing, but lost perspective in the heat of attraction. Lots of movies and operas feature this theme.
Sensual chemistry between two people creates a mystical bond which seems to blur the boundaries we all feel between ourselves and the world. We base our lives on protecting our bodies as separate from the world, feeding them, making them stronger, and finding pleasure with them. Civilization is based on these patterns of self protection. Rarely do we break free of this illusion of separateness, of “me” finding the way in a hard world, “fitting in”. To truly understand that we are not separate takes patience, forgiveness, self-understanding, letting go and proper knowledge of the truth.
One of the tools to learn this truth is love. Love brings us out of our shell and into the world. Caring for others and for life outside “ourselves” is the first step on the path to enlightenment. But sensual “love” is just as valid as a key to transformation, if more rare and dangerous. I felt physical magic, “Kama Sutra” love, for the partner in my affair. (I am reminded of Marvin Gaye’s song, Sexual Healing) But our lives had nothing else in common. So that’s all we did: too much of a wonderful thing. So much for balance.
From the inside, the healing pleasure of sensual love seemed to balance the risks. But my life became lopsided to maintain the amazing sensual stimulations I experienced. Using the image of riding a bicycle for balance, I was leaning to one side, not enough to fall over, but enough to spin in smaller and smaller circles. Being dizzy never felt so good! The funny thing about sex is that it’s natural. Such an ancient and primal drug is easy to justify with fuzzy logic. I forged ahead with my beautiful experiment.
Unfortunately, as much as I like to deny it, being a musician is more than a full time job. It’s a whole life style, a way of living, like being a monk. We are hothouse tomatoes. We are married to our instruments. Balance is crucial. My musical abilities flourished at first on the “affair”, stimulated by my flushed and vibrant mental and physical state. Little by little, however, concentration and composure at work slipped. The foundation of a delicate artistic state was eroding. But I couldn’t see the signs. Or didn’t want to.
In the end, some friends noticed my subtle decline. But this wasn’t enough to stop me. I’ve always been stubborn and independent. I tend to do things at a thousand miles an hour until I peter out or hit a wall. (gardening and blogging are other obsessions of mine) I was confident I could balance both worlds. It finally took a fluke, some food poisoning, to snap me out my my reverie life. (never eat salads at cheap restaurants) I got horribly sick for 24 hours, and had plenty of time to reflect on my ultimately foolish behavior. My career is the most precious gift I have, by far. Jeopardizing that for the continuing ecstasy of certain sensual pleasures would have been suicide.
Ultimately, I have no regrets. I am fortunate to have fate on my side, and a handful of forgiving friends who love me no matter what! My life is richer for having had the experience. I appreciate what I do have all the more. I am now more ready than ever to face my middle age (I’m 47) with grace and balance.
At least until the NASA Space Shuttle has an opening for a trip to the moon!