Challenge What You Think You Know – Part 2

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I am happy to say that I have FINALLY finished the book ‘Sex at Dawn’. I’m not entirely sure why I put it down, ADD and restless energy perhaps. It was an amazing read and I highly recommend it for those who are interested in love, sex, relationships, and learning about the evolution of our Ancestors (or DE-volution as the book would have it) from an anthropological perspective. This book challenged what I had previously thought about intimate monogamous and polyamorous relationships and shed light on many topics that are rarely discussed in Western culture today.

Before finishing this book – I was convinced that I would never marry again. What’s the point? Marriage is an outdated social construct originated from a religion that has only brought me grief and hardship. By the end of the book I realized there is no single correct blue print for a successful happy marriage. A successful relationship or marriage is an open honest discussion between that couple – or multiple people if that’s the case.  There is no right or wrong way to conduct a relationship. When it comes to the vast spectrum of human emotion, our sexual nature and desires, and how we interact with each other – the opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve are endless. You can choose to repeat the same mistake and be equally shocked and hurt when the outcome remains the same, or you can learn from your mistake and change your approach, whatever that might be for each person and each situation.

Although I have no desire to marry again – I’m not vehemently against it like I formerly was. Was a monogamous relationship successful for me? No. There was cheating involved on BOTH sides. Yes, that’s right – BOTH sides. Some of you may know the details of my marriage and divorce, but only 2 or 3 people knew that I cheated too long before we were married – a secret I held onto for nearly 6 years. This might change your opinion of me but I believe in full disclosure and honesty, especially since this detail is important for what I’m about to say next.

I do NOT believe in monogamy. I think it’s unnatural and shameful to suppress our sexuality and to control the sexuality of others. Whether that is through discrimination of homosexual relations, psychological control through religion and abstinence, physical castration and hormone therapy, taking away women’s rights, healthcare and access to abortion, or a partner telling you that you are bound to them and only them sexually forever until death do you part.

“No group-living nonhuman primate is monogamous, and adultery has been documented in every human culture studied- including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death. In light of all of this bloody retribution, it’s hard to see how monogamy comes “naturally” to our species. Why would so many risk their reputations, families, careers- even presidential legacies- for something that runs against human nature? Were monogamy an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, as the standard narrative insists, these ubiquitous transgressions would be infrequent and such horrible enforcement unnecessary. No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature.” – Christopher Ryan

I have never been in a non-monogamous relationship – I may not be able to speak from experience, but I do know what didn’t work for me which opens the gate to try something new. A reoccurring message that I have been stumbling upon throughout the many books I have been reading simultaneously (once again, ADD and restless energy) is “By choosing to repeat the past, you are keeping life from renewing itself” – Deepak Chopra ‘The Book of Secrets’.

Or as Ryan Holiday might say, “It’s been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Yet that’s exactly what most people do. They try the same routine and hope it will work this time. Hope is not a strategy! Failure is a part of life we have little choice over. Learning from failure, on the other hand, is optional. We have to choose to learn. We must consciously opt to do things differently – to tweak and change until we actually get the result we’re after. But that’s hard. Sticking with the same unsuccessful pattern is easy. It doesn’t take any thought or any additional effort, which is probably why most people do it.”

At the end of ‘Sex at Dawn’, Christopher Ryan points out several options people often opt for after a failed marriage or relationship due to infidelity:

  • Lie and try not to get caught
  • Give up on having sex with anyone other than your wife for the rest of your life. Maybe resort to porn and Prozac
  • Serial Monogamy: divorce and start over

Pretty shitty unsustainable options to choose from if you ask me. A vicious unhappy cycle of lies, hurt feelings, and insecurity on repeat. Therapists make thousands, no millions globally by selling couples therapy where they FIRMLY shut down any notion of an open or polyamorous relationship. A steady flow of income ….

Christopher Ryan doesn’t tell us what we should or shouldn’t do – he simply presents the facts and lets the reader ponder and decide for themselves. Along with obtaining new information, I also learned how to reason and think more logically. Once you remove your ego and rationalize as an observer, it’s much easier to see facts over feelings.

We are so much greater than our preconceived notions of ourselves. To quote myself from Challenge What You Think You Know, “… humans have a unique capacity for deeper understanding, this is exhibited through how we communicate using verbal language, how we express ourselves with body language, the arts, philosophy, and so much more. We are complex creatures. Limiting our magnitude to love is a disservice to our species.” Why should we limit our capacity to love? To express ourselves? To be happy?

I can honestly say I have loved two men at the same time. At first it confused me. Did I love one less than the other? Did one mean more or less to me? No. I loved them both equally in different ways. My experience with each of them was remarkable and beautiful. I learned and I grew from each one of them. They opened parts of me that no one else could have opened and they will forever remain special to me. Though time has passed and we are different people – I love them still and look back on memories of them with fondness.

People are constantly changing. I’m not the same person I was yesterday. I don’t expect the person I love to be the same every day – in fact I would encourage them to grow, expand, challenge themselves, and become a better person than they were the day before. Love is like the seasons – it comes and goes. The best thing you can do for the person you love is to grant them freedom.

“Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away …” – Louis de Bernieres, Correlli’s Mandolin

Challenge what you think you know ….

~Jess

Less is Freedom

One year older and although I feel the same in most ways – I can feel change on the horizon …

I’ve spent the past few years lost, a discord waging between my mind and my soul. Throughout my life I’ve become accustomed to a nomadic lifestyle, growing and moving from place to place, from groups of people to the next, taking notes from my life experiences and counting each interaction as a blessing.

But the past few years I’ve become domesticated and comfortable, ultimately creating the restlessness and anxiety I suffer from day in and day out. I tell myself to be thankful, think positively, and take away the lessons from each obstacle I encounter. I AM thankful, but what am I thankful for? My position in life, my character, what I have? I could tell anyone my life’s story and they would say, “Wow, you’ve come so far! That’s incredible! Look at where you started and everything you’ve done and what you have now.” I wouldn’t disagree, but nothing I have earned has been achieved on my own, and although my life looks great from an outside perspective, I still hunger and crave for something more – or maybe something less.

Most of you have heard my story, but at age 16 I left home with just the clothes on my back. Of course there were challenges, but I took each day as it came – that’s all you can do. I also didn’t have “things”, bills, or responsibilities. Everything I owned fit in a single bag. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t come with me. Although responsibilities are inevitable, we do have control of our possessions before they begin to possess us. Sometimes less is more. Less is Freedom. If you haven’t seen Minimalism on Netflix – it’s a great documentary worth watching. It will change the way you think about your material possessions and perhaps inspire a new lifestyle.

Our Foraging Ancestors shared their resources, constantly moved from one location to the next, and took what they needed as they needed it – no more and no less. The development of agriculture, property, and capitalism have been disruptive events throughout our Human timeline.

“It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor.” – Seneca

We live in an age where overconsumption is encouraged, we are hoarders of material possessions, we want the newest product on the market, we see what the next person has and we want it – hell we want something better. We are collectors of “things” instead of experiences.

I will admit, after my divorce I felt so empty and tried to fill the void by buying stuff. Half my house was empty, so naturally I “had to” buy a couch and TV for the living room. I was engaged at 19 years old and shared my money with another person for most of my adult life. Once I was free to spend my money how I wanted to – I went rogue. I bought mountains of clothing (some of which still have tags), so many pairs of Converse, a $900 camera I didn’t even use, so much weed without a weed budget, and I let people take advantage of me and my money. All I want in life is the freedom to travel – but I jeopardized that freedom spending my money on frivolous shit because I was convinced I “needed” it and it would make me happy.

Now that I’m a year older and hopefully wiser, I plan on making life changes that will enable me to travel, meet like minded people, and create unforgettable experiences.

In January I started downsizing my items, decluttering my house, and getting rid of clothing I no longer need or wear. Although I’m no where near where I would like to be on the scale of minimalist living; sustainable lifestyle changes begin with small steps. Over the course of the next several months I plan on doing the following:

  • Sell my TV
  • Get rid of duplicates (especially kitchen items)
  • Throw away most of my beauty products
  • Sell most of my clothing and shoes
  • Donate books I have read that other people may enjoy
  • Discard memorabilia, most of my memories worth keeping are in journals
  • Generate less waste
  • Make less material purchases and save money for travel, books, and education

Here’s to living a simpler happier life where less is more ….

~Jess

 

 

The Age of Instant & Self Gratification

A reoccurring thought I’ve had over the past year or so has been the concept of instant and self gratification. We live in an age where we can upload a pic to The Gram and *BOOM* you’ve got 85 likes within the hour. Anyone can share a meme someone else made and get a dopamine high off the likes we get. We live proudly by the motto “treat yo self” and wonder why the fuck we’re broke all the time.

The rise of technology has sped up the process for EVERYTHING. How are we supposed to know how to think or what to feel when we live in fast forward? So we use social media outlets to fill the void, burn through our own dopamine and serotonin, and are left suffering from existential anxiety day in and day out. We scroll, swipe, like, share, repeat ….

The age of instant and self gratification has been detrimental towards our ability to form meaningful connections with other people as well. We judge people on dating apps based solely on appearances, fall in love with the façade another person wears, and change who we are to become what others expect us to be (even if they have zero expectations). We can hop on a dating app, swipe, message, and have dick delivered within 45 minutes. Easy right? Try hopping on those apps looking for someone you want to be friends with on a real ass level – your messages are met with one line responses and then what the kids call “ghosting.” In the age of instant gratification, we easily become angry, bitter, and resentful when we don’t receive a text within the time frame we deem appropriate, become petty and childish and ignore people for days, jump to conclusions, create our own negative narrative, and act a damn fool.

The decline of face to face contact and the rise of social media usage has created a barrier not only in our intimate relationships, but our friendships as well. We compare our worst to everyone else’s best. We become envious and spend more money on more bullshit (thank you Facebook ads) and wonder why we aren’t happy yet. Our newsfeeds are constantly flooded with engagement, wedding, baby and travel photos, relationship status updates, #mancrushmonday’s and  #womancrushwednesday’s, and any other kind of hashtag that gains more attention and more followers. Social media allows us to lurk in the shadows gathering information on our worst enemies and toxic crushes before giving someone a chance. Everyone is a private investigator. Nothing is secret, nothing is safe.

Can social media be a positive tool? Hell yes. But like with everything else, moderation is key. Western society is built on consumerism – and boy do we fucking love consuming and overindulging. Treat yo’ self after all!

Instead of refreshing your apps every millisecond – try picking up a book. Reading not your thing? Try audible or a podcast. Instead of finding a robot on Tinder – go meet someone at concert or ask a trustworthy respected friend to set you up. Instead of turning on the TV and getting lost in a black hole of streaming – journal more, write more, and create more! Are you a shitty cook? I am and probably will be forever, but pick out a recipe and make a dank meal. Learn more. Instead of reading the news and articles tailored to you on your FaceBook feed – expand your resources and broaden your perspective.

There’s so much out there and I think the biggest problem with my generation is either a) we are immobilized by the overwhelming amount of options and fear making the wrong choice, or b) we have become passive about our own lives and future and have no sense of personal development or purpose. Well newsflash, there is no right or wrong answer. You pick one thing up and if that doesn’t work, you move onto the next.

“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action you experience. ” ~Deepak Chopra

For those of us who are passive about life without any goals, ambitions, or desire to contribute to the betterment of all – let’s pull our heads out of our asses, unplug from the matrix, and take our first deep breathe of somewhat fresh air. Actually live a little, and not vicariously through the image people elude to on Social Media.

Treat yo’ self in body, mind & spirit ….

~Jess