It’s come to light recently that I’m celibate. This is a *pretty* new thing - before, I just wasn’t getting laid. And before that, someone had broken me into itty bitty pieces. And before that, I was chasing all sorts of tail and not really catching most of it. Or finding it to be really not worth catching after all.
When I say that I’m celibate, people react in one of two ways:
- as if I’m the crazy guy on the bus who’s trying to show them his, whatever, toenail clippings or something. Their eyebrows rising slightly and their mouths making perfect Ohs, their internal voice saying, move slowly, don’t make a big deal about this and the subject will change soon.
- as if I’m tragic, like, “oh, don’t worry, you’ll find someone,” as if this celibacy thing is some kind of reactionary, “fine, I didn’t want to get laid anyway” type of response.
See, the thing is, I’m not crazy or tragic. I mean, I am, but only at select times, and rarely both at one time, and never moreso than the average person.
I’ve been in love. I’m in love all the damned time. I had this long conversation with some backstage crew at Pickathon about how the Greeks have three words for love - agape, philos, and eros. In the PNW, we have something like 12 words for rain, and only 1 word for love. Which, as you can imagine, really muddies the waters for us. But to get back to the original point of this paragraph, I’m in love with the universe, man. It’s such a frickin’ head trip, this existence of ours that has happened against INCREDIBLE odds. I am constantly infatuated with the stupidest things - like, whoa, the opposable thumb! What’s up with that? That’s a beautiful thing! The amazing filtration of a bog! AMAZING! Beautiful! We are so lucky to have these amazing systems that have just evolved around us and within us.
And the human condition! God, it’s messy. But it’s so humbling to bear witness to it. Even the really heartbreaking stuff is just…so beautiful in its giantness.
These are the kinds of things I fall in love with. So I guess I’m prone to agape and philos, as much as (and, in some cases, maybe more so) than my peers.
I am also prone to eros…the male body - Jesus, talk about a beautiful thing. Wocka wocka. But I’m not driven by it.
So, the question always comes around eventually: why am I celibate?
To tell you the truth, I don’t have a pat answer. Part of the reason is that I’ve spent most of my life without a mate, and I’ve become very self-sufficient, so the practicalities of my life rarely require that I NEED someone else to be around. More often than not, when I need someone around, it’s to hold the other end of a board up, or to spot me when I’m up on a ladder. I have come to build my life around the framework of a solitary individual. It’s selfish in the nicest way possible - I come and go as I please. I make life decisions based on how they will impact only my own future.
Of course it gets lonely sometimes. Of course it would be nice to have someone around now and again to split a bagel with and to take languid weekend trips with and to talk about art with and to be quiet with and to accuse me of stealing the covers when, in fact, it’s him who’s stealing the covers. When I am a mate, I’m a good mate. I am actually, uh, Us-oriented, even when Us is making me personally miserable. It’s just the process of getting to that point that is unbearable. There are very few things I dislike more than going on a blind date, and most of those things involve insects and/or a terrible smell.
So there’s all this dating anxiety going around these days - at least for me, and maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s the demographic here in Portland that I’m attracted to - and anxiety is pretty much the unsexiest thing I’ve ever experienced.
AND it’s demoralizing, and it gets in my way.
See, there’s this thing that I was put here to do, and that’s to connect with people using images. The energy that it takes to feel something that I can share doesn’t come from nowhere, you know - it comes from a place of overwhelming gratitude, or humor. And when I spend my time being anxious about ANYTHING, I feel less vital, and I don’t have that internal inspiration to make, to share, to give. Survival mode (for me, anyway) rarely yields any kind of good art.
So I’ve been working on removing sources of anxiety from my life. And one of those, as I mentioned earlier, is dating. So, well, you do the math.
It’s a conscious choice. It’s not a reaction. And if it means that I end up without a lover when I’m 70, I guess that’s just my dharma. But I can’t worry about it anymore, because I have got Shit To Do.
With any luck, this’ll be the last time I talk about my sex life in a public forum. The idea here is that I’m declaring intent. Let’s go make a bunch of amazing art and not worry about whether or not we want to have sex with each other.