“Jamais le soleil ne voit l’ombre.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
I have been reading a lot about sexuality, courtship, marriage, and the like the past week, and a terrifying realization begins to take shape, yet remains lurking in the shadows:
I realized that the young people of my generation are good — and perhaps getting better — at initiating sexual intercourse, but their ability to engage in deep, interpersonal exchanges that pierce through the soul and render one’s internal world fully transparent to the other seems to have declined drastically. Let me therefore ask: after sex, what next?
I have never quite understood the phenomenon of what these scholars I’ve been reading call “hookup culture” — go to a bar, have a coupla drinks, go home with some random guy, have (unprotected?) sex, then continue life as before the following morning. Yes, I understand the rationale behind having sex for pleasure, but is this kind of indulgence sustainable? I highly doubt it.
Sexual gratification as an end in and of itself seems to me like an unfinished story, for carnal pleasure is like a stubborn beast that refuses to die: it simply knows not the meaning of endings. Sex — when divorced from “love” in all its multifaceted sense — may feed our bodily desires, but it cannot always offer the more immense pleasures of the soul we thirst for that comes from the simplest of things — that sweet caress of the human touch that comes from a sincere lover; that sense of security that blankets you when embraced by a loved one’s arms; that promise of tomorrow, renewed with every commitment made today.
In building friendships and romantic relationships with those around me, I tend to seek for things that endure across temporal and geographical distances; things that can stand the test of time. Sex is never at the top of my list (though if it is for others — whatever floats their boat); rather, it is at the very bottom, and he and I will take our time navigating our way through it to reach it, for as long as we need. And if a storm brings our journey to a premature end, this is a sign that our ship was perhaps meant for a different direction all along. And that’s okay.
Social intercourse for me must always, always precede its sexual sequel, for it would be bitterly unpleasant to have one’s bed warmed by another’s presence during the night, but to leave it the next morning feeling emptier than ever.
The photo above is of the Calleoni Chapel in Piazza Duomo, taken in Bergamo’s Citta Alta last summer. Shadows may indeed conceal things under the cover of darkness, but they do also help illuminate even more the things that already are within our vista.