From Plato’s ordered system of ideal forms, Eros corresponds to the subject's yearning for ideal beauty, as well as the harmonious unification not only between bodies, but between knowledge and pleasure.
So how’s your EROTIC LIFE? Notice what comes to mind. I am speaking about EROS here, not about classy porn. We are a Puritan culture, including the shadow that comes with it. I am addressing the passionate, mysterious, connecting, often transcendent, deeply human….yes arousing experiences of daily life, which involve the senses; those experiences which take you out of your head, into your body.
I want to share my investigation of EROS with some stories that name and define a relationship to Eros which many us habitually ignore. Two things began this inquiry: the first one is the theme of Sacred Body which we are exploring in the Painting Circles and the other is the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. In the book, Michael Gelb delineates Seven Davincian Principles, which support and nurture what I am calling the EROS of LIFE. They are: demonstrazione---experimentation without fear of failure, curiosita---curiosity, sfumato, Italian for smoke---the enigmatic mysterious quality of life, arte/scienze or whole brain thinking, coporalita---embodiment, connessione---inner knowing, and sensazione. Sensazione, or sensuality in the English dictionary gives the first four definitions as negative: licentious and lustful, while the last one is of the senses.
An intensity of focus with an availability of response is required for the experience, as well as an element of peril, even if it is existential. The danger element can be as subtle as the possibility or walking off with a stranger.
This brings to mind an experience that I had sitting in my garden watching a bee which landed on me. Instead of shooing it away, I followed it as it explored my foot, slowing me down time and increasing my tactile sensitivity. The bee began to investigate the space between my toes by backing into the each space one after the other. Some were roomy and others a tighter fit. It was an indescribable experience, almost some kind of interspecies exchange. For the duration of that experience I developed an acute awareness of the senses, through my curiosity, and vulnerability.
Do you remember, an experience in the last few weeks in which you were engaged, connected and transported in a way that took your breath away? When I asked my mother, who is an artist and writer, and also eighty-eighty years old she responded with this story:
|Creating the Red Ladder|
When I shared this story in a painting circle, a young woman responded with a story not so unusual, but I had never thought of it in this context. She and her siblings were present at her dying mother’s bedside. Everyone was tense and exhausted, her mother did not want to go. And when she died the woman experienced an incredible joy. She said that she herself was suddenly filled with light and it was as if all the weight had been lifted from her. No one else in the room felt it, but for her is was somehow confirming and uplifting to the degree that it changed her. It transcended her social conditioning of death as separation, lost and grief. This experience too represents many of the Davincian principles, but in particular sfumato, enigmatic or mystery of life with the willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty that I would call transcendent.
This last story is an example of the Plato system of union of knowledge and pleasure. I had recently arrived in Japan, speaking little Japanese language and because little English was spoken in this pottery village of Shigaraki, I had no idea what was going on and what was expected of me as I sat in a small thatched roof building which served as a teahouse. While the sons of the potter were having a tea ceremony lesson, the hum of the cicadas and distant temple bells made it feel like I was in a samurai movie, complete with shafts of light coming through the high woven bamboo window onto the tatami mats. The tea instructor folded the traditional red silk cloth in her hands to wipe the tea implements. Sitting there mesmerized I was transported to a deeply peaceful state of well-being, followed by a state of ecstasy stimulated by sips of powered green tea. The interesting thing was that I made a connection that the many Catholic masses which I sat through as a child were designed as ritual transformation, although it was not my experience. Later I found out that the tea ceremony had some abstruse connections to Christianity. The principle that comes up here for me is in Italian, Corporalita, which I translate as embodiment, as well as, Connessione, inner connectedness, or system thinking.
So I invite you to consider this well-spring of life that feeds your creativity, empathy, connection and passion with nature, others and even things, Try paying more attention to what I am calling the eros of life, because there is a transport through arousal which returns you to yourself. I am continuing to hear extraordinary stories of daily experiences which brings new insights and connections to life in a body. You are welcome to share your stories; email@example.com ,