Tuesday, August 3, 2010

with all of your self

Perhaps "fancy" is a misleading title for this blog. So far it has been fanciful; but often I fancy things that are philosophical, thoughtful. When these things grab hold of my brain and churn around for a couple of days without letting go, I release the pressure by blogging. So maybe "Rosemary's Obsession" would be more honest.

In any case. Welcome to this blog's first "philosophical" post.

On Sunday I got together with Kim and Nicole, two writing friends from college who I hadn't seen from graduation. We went shopping at Target (clothes! silverware! cereal bowls!), ate at Steak and Shake, and got coffee at Eat'n'Park. We talked about writing and undergrad and life and love.

Love. As a Catholic, I think this may be the simplest truth about the universe. We are all held in existence by Love. But we are fallen, broken, and our souls are full of jagged corners and rough edges that complicate things.

I asked Nicole how she defined love (and the context here was romantic love), and she answered: love is when you give yourself completely, your entire heart, everything. (This is my paraphrase, not her words.)

That answer struck me as wise. Nicole and I have different ideas about relationships in many respects; and yet I agree with this.

I believe in saving sex for marriage. To those who know me as thoroughly Catholic, this comes as no surprise; but I it's not just a "Catholic" thing. In fact, as I mull over Nicole's definition of love, I find that it is reason enough to save sex for marriage. Not that love (emotional, platonic, sexual, spiritual, etc) is a subject I can plumb in a blog post; but explaining my own decision from a standpoint that makes sense to non-Catholics? Perhaps I can touch on this.



Human beings have a body and a soul (or spirit, to use a less religious term). I am well aware there are people out there who disagree that we have anything beyond a body; but I don't think this is a religious difference. I know very few people, religious or otherwise, who don't believe in a spirit on one level or another: this mystery of having a personality, of being a Person. If we don't have a spirit of some kind--if we are mere bodies driven by elaborate instincts--then love is not a reality at all, beyond a chemical trick to get us to reproduce. (And one that isn't doing a very good job in these days of Pills and "protection," I might add.)

BUT. This is not a blog post about whether or not people have souls. My argument is that these two parts of us--body and spirit--are not two separate entities, but equal parts of the same person, and thus inseparable. Now there is, of course, death. You may believe that, after death, the spirit passes away with the body; you may believe the spirit is born in another body; you may believe the spirit wanders around without a body, ghostlike; you may believe that both, eventually, will be resurrected. You may, sometime in your life, even have an out-of-body experience. But as you walk around the world, eating and talking and laughing and crying--as you read this--they are equally you.

This is something we take for granted, without thinking: we get tattoos and piercings, we dress a certain way, style our hair, and so forth. Our bodies are means of expressing and revealing (or hiding) our spirit.

There is also music. Its creation is a very physical thing: strings and wood and air rippling in sound waves. So is our experience of it. We have nerves and ear drums and cells that transmit chemicals and folds in our brain that store the memory of it. And yet music is not a mere physical phenomenon--it isn't even strictly necessary. Some people love music that others simply call noise; we type our favorite bands in our Facebook profiles. Our connection to music is emotional, and at its highest a spiritual experience. We make and receive it through our bodies, but it speaks to our souls. (I think art in general is one of the best proofs that 1) we have a spirit, and 2) it is irrevocably tied to our bodies, these concrete parts of us.)

The key to being whole and at peace with ourselves is to be at peace with our bodies and our souls. They are meant to function together, to compliment each other.

I think that Nicole was right: that love means being able to give all of your heart, your self, everything. And sex is the physical expression of that reality. Not just symbolically, but literally, because your body is just as much a part of you as your spirit, your heart. Your body--including, of course, your sexuality--is part of the everything that makes you up as a person.(And true love involves giving ALL of your sexuality--not withholding your fecundity. But that is yet another subject.) Sex divorced from love is, at worst, a lie to the other person; at best, it's a lie to yourself that your body and your personality are disconnected.

I see so many young girls (and some older ones) who can't stand not being in a relationship. They are addicted to romance. They must always be "in love." They are ridiculous. When they give their hearts, it isn't real, because they are simply sating a thirst for romance, and deceiving themselves in the process.

It isn't always easy to wait for sex. Of course not. And for some people it is even harder than for others. But it's just another form of unreality, like using the word "love" for every boy you've dated for a week. It isn't true.

And so I am waiting for the point in my life when I can honestly, fully give that everything, to one who can and will give his everything to me. Reaching that point, I believe, is part decision and part circumstance. It is not at all passive--not any more than abstaining from sex until marriage is prudish. And it's something much richer and deeper than I have captured here; but these are the thoughts in my head tonight.

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