March 9, 2018

Finding Meaning in Meaningless Sex.

Well here it is, Sunday morning, and I am once again waking up to a nagging feeling of emptiness.

All of this is okay. I don’t expect to live out my time on this planet unscathed. But waking up feeling disconnected from all that is good and holy on a Sunday morning seems to be what I do best these days. Except for driving home alone on a Saturday night. I do that with a flair for the dramatic as well.

As I lumber to the shower in the morning, I try to make sense of it all. Is this why I left my girlfriend and kids to once again become a bachelor? For a string of one night stands that always leave me feeling there might be a deeper connection somewhere else? Should I just keep looking? I turn the hot water on and my brain, almost in an attempt at self-preservation, tries to find some halfway believable silver lining in the cumulonimbus I have recently been passing off as a life.

I don’t do well with sex that lacks emotional connection. I learned that with the first affair I had after I moved out.
There is this thing that happens in life that is so difficult to deal with. I fight it with every ounce of my being. I think most people refer to it as change.

It means that the feeling I used to get laying in bed next to the mother of my children after we had connected in that special way…that’s over. If I think I am going to find someone to fill that void for me, I am setting myself up for a life of disappointment. That uncomfortable transition into learning to feel okay with a different connection, that is what I am tasked with right now.

It reminds me of the sand mandala. The whole reason Tibetan monks spend weeks making beautiful sand mandalas and then ceremoniously praying over them and destroying them as soon as they are finished, is to celebrate the inherent ephemeral quality of life.

Almost all pain in our lives is borne from attachment. In other words, if we are not down with the fact that everything dies and everything changes and two-year-olds eventually become angry teenagers, and puppies become withered old dogs that limp when they walk—if we can’t get with the fact that we won’t be passionately in love with our mates for all eternity, well, that’s going to hurt.

They don’t call this The First Noble Truth because they were at a loss for a more compelling name. This is where it all begins and ends. This is the shade that colors suicide attempts, drug addiction, and bad Sunday mornings. It’s serious business.

Whether your pain is coming from your inability to let go of what is no longer present, or your inability to accept what arrives in its place, does not matter. It is two sides of the same coin.

I’ve always loved this beautiful and rarely told story of the Dalai Lama at the Buddhist-Christian conference at the Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky. The Holy One, right in the middle of a speech he was giving where he was lauding the monastery for supporting itself financially with homemade cheese and fruitcake, interrupted himself to confess his disappointment with not being offered a piece of fruitcake.

“I was presented with a piece of the homemade cheese, which was very good, but really I wanted some cake.”

This admission was followed up directly with uproarious laughter and he reiterated, “It was so unfortunate! I was really hoping someone would offer me cake, but no one did!”

Now some may have seen this as the absent-minded ramblings of an awkward old man, but there was a definite purpose for him bringing this up in front of a television audience and various important dignitaries. Aside from the fact that he may have likely been the only human on planet Earth to ever crave fruitcake, he wanted to make sure that he freed himself of the attachment he was feeling in that moment. Not even the great Holy One is free from the clutches of humanity.

As Sunday morning fades into the afternoon and finally gives way to evening, it all starts to clear up and become less hazy. When I was driving out of that hotel parking lot the night before, I was disappointed in myself for my myopic need to try to fill a void that no other person can fill for me. I was making the same mistakes I made 25 years ago when I went through a similar loss and coincidentally, the results I received then were the same as now.

I guess Saturday night’s activities can only be described as “meaningless sex” if I fail to realize the Samsara—the cycle of making the same mistakes throughout my whole life. Realizing this and changing my trajectory; well—there’s meaning in that.




Author: Billy Manas
Image: Michelle B./Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
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