Aging & Dying, Life of Carmen, Uncategorized, Upaya Zen Center, Zen & Dharma

Attachment is the enemy of intimacy

 Scrawled in a toilet stall with a black sharpie: “separation -> anxiety”.  That’s it—dukkha in a nutshell. Crave it, grab it, hold it tight and make it yours. Never let it go.

But here’s the news: everybody leaves. Everybody dies. Everybody forgets, and everyone is forgotten. Time is fleeting and opportunity is lost. Opportunity isn’t in some theoretical future—opportunity is alive in this very moment, in all its deeply flawed perfection. Do not squander your life! Snatch that moment, hold it in your hand like a butterfly and then—set it free.

Intimacy is full presence. It is wholehearted engagement. It is release.

The mission is to to distill the essence of every relationship, no matter how casual or brief. To make the transaction as complete and self-contained as it can be. We can be intimate with the planets and the stars, with the dust and the bugs and the grass and the concrete. Intimate with the moon as it waxes and wanes. Intimate with our friends, intimate with the bus driver, intimate with the dinnertime telemarketer. Intimate with the work we do. Intimate with ourselves. And of course, in the most fraught and concentrated of relationships—intimate with our Intimates, intimate with our lovers.

My last lover was a guy I had met several years ago at Intention. A beautiful man, compact and strong. The night we met we simply kissed. We kissed for hours. It was perfect, and that was all. I didn’t ask his name.

He lived in Seattle, and after that, now and again, he would pass through Vancouver. If the situation allowed we would get together, and a couple of times we went to bed—but it was never as perfect as that one long night of kisses. I grasped for more. I told myself some stories, that cast a tinge of disappointment on the relationship. Our contact tailed off. Years went by without contact. And then, one day, he sent a message that he was coming to town. He came to visit. And I recognized then that something in me has radically changed.

Call it experience, seasoning, or age. Time on the cushion or time in the world. It all comes down to this: practice.

In our relating there was no longer a need for words. We danced, and our bodies conversed. We kissed long, deep, and silly. Pure tenderness, pure presence, slow heat. I let him stand in for the whole world and I shone on him all the love I could give, and I opened up so wide to receive all the light he reflected back on me. We fucked like playful tigers. In full caring and with absolute respect, I have never been so present, or so fully alive.

There is nothing to be lost by loving to the max. Damn the risk, screw the investment. The sun does not care where its rays fall. It is not diminished by shining. For a lifetime or a microsecond, love never goes to waste.

My friend if you are reading this post, wherever you are: hello! and sweet dreams. I don’t know if I will ever see you again but it really doesn’t mattter. Our time together was perfect, without future or past. Intimate, and profound.

<with thanks to Michael Stone for the title and the teachings>

4 Comments on “Attachment is the enemy of intimacy

  1. This post is something I’ve needed to read for a long time. It is so hard to put these ideas into practice due to fear and attachment, but I am trying. Thanks so much for writing this.

  2. I love this post Carmen. So close to the heart.
    I know this experience, ironically more from my work as a erotic bodyworker than from my personal relationships, of the deep presence which leads to that hot, playful and transformative fire. Then times up and they’re out the door, possibly to return, but more often, not.
    There is something about meeting a stranger that makes intimacy so much easier than with someone close. I guess it’s that you know beforehand that you’re going to lose them sooner than later so just might as well go for it.

  3. Yeah, babe! I’m so happy you put in the part about “time in the world”. Including time-in-the-world dignifies the role of experience in this whole tipping process. In my 20s i could have spent weeks and months in retreats and meditation but it would have done me little good. I was busy engaging with the world, doing what 20-somethings are supposed to be doing — mainly, slicing it up into definite bits getting messily attached, pro or con, to many of them. Thirty years later, though, i find i’m ready for an alternate view of things, one filled with mystery and uncertainty and the inconvenient beliefs/habits/existences of other people. I can celebrate you loving anybody and realize that makes the world a better place, and thus me to along with it.

  4. I love this entry Carmen. It speaks to me of how I’ve been and how I’ve wished to be and all the mucking around between. It also seeded an intersting notion I’ll ponder for a while and should I come to blog it I’ll be sure to let you know:) thanks for inspiration beautifully worded and peppered with great reminders about an excellent way to do life.

    xox EB

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