One of the fondest memories I have is when my sister & I were kids & used to play in our backyard & pretend we were Pocahontas. We created teepees out of pine trees with low hanging branches—we each had our own designated spot—& the the two of us would get on our hands & knees in the desert dirt to nurture the little plants (i.e., weeds) to grow with water & song.
Our stuffed animals were the woodland creatures, our clothes (old rags & blankets my mom didn’t need anymore) were animal skins, & we would dance in our fortresses in our bare feet, stomping ceremoniously on pine needles & dirt clumps. We’d make mudpies & leafy vegetable soups, & pretend to stoke bonfires with tiny twigs as kindling & a magnifying glass to create small billows of stinky smelling smoke.
Once, a sunflower randomly sprouted in my teepee, & over the next few months I watched with wonder as it transformed from bland stalk to brilliant blossom. One day, out of sheer curiosity I crouched down & plucked one of the tiny black seeds out of bloom & ate it. It was so delicious, unlike any sunflower seed I had ever had, & I spent the rest of the summer lying underneath that sunflower & slowly eating its seeds one by one right out of the bloom.
Those moments I spent in my “teepee” as a child, making up songs & nibbling fresh sunflower seeds, were some of the most sensual of my life.
I was never taught about sensuality as a kid. I was familiar with my senses, that was a lesson I was given at great length, but what it meant to be sensual was never touched on. I can’t even recall hearing the word sensuality until I was far older (& when I did it was attached very sloppily to sex).
But clearly, I was a sensual girl, naturally; I didn’t need to be taught, it was innately within me—all I needed was curiosity explore & time to play, & I had more of those things than I needed. Especially time. Minutes traveled much slower when I was a little girl, & I seemed lose myself in every second of what I was doing—playing, creating, make-believing—while savoring every single moment.
Fast forward to now. . . Gone are the days of lying on my belly to watch ants commute to their homes. I find myself moving so fast in a world that moves even faster than I, & time is of the essence. There’s shit to be done, commitments to fulfill, & deadline to meet. My to-do list often tries to dictate the way I live my days.
Of course, in these moments of fastness, self-care gets thrown out the window. I forget to eat. My temper is short, my patience sparse. Everything feels hurried, detached, helter-skelter.
When I am disconnected from my body & senses, life merely becomes a sequence of events rather than rich, well-savored moments.
And I deeply desire the well-savored moments.
I want to get my hands dirty. I want embraces to overwhelm me with love & warmth. I want to lose myself in moments of creation, without distraction. I want the sex I have to transfigure & swoon all of my senses. I want spaciousness & pauses & sighs of pleasure.
I want to taste every note of sweetness in moment, in the same way I nibbled tiny sunflower seeds in my fortress as a little girl—with slowness & indulgence.
It’s very clear to me: The enjoyment of my life depends very heavily on my ability to slow down, to embody, to feel a connection to the world around me.
That, in essence, is sensuality. And I believe that it is my birthright. Yours, too.
So, how do we get there? How do we, inhabitants of a fast-moving world & participants in a culture that doesn’t always foster living with our senses, get back to our birthright? What does that look like in practice?
I’ll tell you. In the next post.