One of the fondest memories I have is when my sister and I were kids and used to play in our backyard and pretend we were Pocahontas. We created teepees out of pine trees with low hanging branches—we each had our own designated spot—and the the two of us would get on our hands and knees in the desert dirt to nurture the little plants (i.e., weeds) to grow with water and song.
Our stuffed animals were the woodland creatures, our clothes (old rags and blankets my mom didn’t need anymore) were animal skins, and we would dance in our fortresses in our bare feet, stomping ceremoniously on pine needles and dirt clumps. We’d make mudpies and leafy vegetable soups, and pretend to stoke bonfires with tiny twigs as kindling and a magnifying glass to create small billows of stinky smelling smoke.
Once, a sunflower randomly sprouted in my teepee, and 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 and plucked one of the tiny black seeds out of bloom and ate it. It was so delicious, unlike any sunflower seed I had ever had, and I spent the rest of the summer lying underneath that sunflower and 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 and 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 (and 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 and time to play, and I had more of those things than I needed. Especially time. Minutes traveled much slower when I was a little girl, and 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, and time is of the essence. There’s shit to be done, commitments to fulfill, and 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 and 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 and warmth. I want to lose myself in moments of creation, without distraction. I want the sex I have to transfigure and swoon all of my senses. I want spaciousness and pauses and 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 and 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 and 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.