A few years ago, at the gym where I used to work out, a friend of mine said he was going to his men’s group that night. I asked him who the members were and he proceeded to name 7 or 8 local guys. I knew all of whom though none were especially close friends.
“What does it take to get invited?” I inquired.
“Oh, you wouldn’t like it – believe me – it’s just a bunch of old guys sitting around talking about their prostates.”
While I knew that wasn’t entirely true, I understood the joke since far too many men are diagnosed with cancer of the prostate every year, despite significant evidence that diet and lifestyle modifications, particularly reducing dairy fats and animal foods, reduces the risk.
But perhaps more than cancer, what many men fear most is becoming impotent.
Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that actually everyone shares this fear – but it has little to do with our bodies. Impotence is powerlessness, helplessness, and a pervasive feeling of being incapable of making something happen. Impotence breeds impatience, frustration, and anger. Social media is rife with impotent anger now. When we feel impotent, we have no agency – a loss of personal power — and suddenly, in the face of a global pandemic, hundreds of millions of people find themselves impotent.
The way in which we talk about “the act” between individuals has gone through a quiet revolution. The term “fucking” was always bleeped from airways, or censored from print, so we began to refer to that particular practice as “doing it.” Eventually, we even dropped the term intercourse from the lexicon and started to use the more romantic term “making love” even when love wasn’t present at all. Those who were physically challenged in some way, by a malignancy, hormonal changes, injury or other means can still participate in making love, and therein lies my point.
We are all challenged now, physically, and these changes are for the most part as unwelcome as a diagnosis of malignancy. But we are not impotent at all. We each have a choice; we can either voice our impotent anger and frustration, announce to the world how wrong it is that this or that is happening, place blame on everyone else, point to everything that coulda, woulda, shoulda been done, bitch and moan and stomp our feet.
Or — we can make love, alone, together, in bed, across the room, in the building, over the internet, through the mail, or shouted from the rooftops.
We have not lost our ability to bring love to the world, to share what is unquestionably the most powerful force of all. No doubt, there are many things we have to offer that can help make the world a better place, but right now, impotent anger is not one of them.
Love is – and making love is glorious, profoundly life-changing. It is divine.
So I offer here some ideas of how you might make love tonight, and in the days ahead:
- Call a friend. Just check-in and say hi, see how things are “over there.”
- Send a friend an Email. Go ahead, make it short – just drop a tiny love bomb in their inbox. Nothing special, just a “hello, thinking of you.”
- Forgive someone you know. Tell them, or don’t – it doesn’t matter, though if you let them know, it’ll be like a love letter to yourself as you lift the burden you’ve been carrying around for however long it’s been since “that thing” happened.
- Make an anonymous donation. $5. $10. $2 a month for a year. Get your giving going.
- Thank someone you know who made a difference in your life – that neighbor who dropped off your mail that time, the student who helped you study for that exam, that woman at work who emptied your trash, your mother. Anyone – there are dozens to choose from – pretty much everyone!
- Pay it forward. You’re probably going to go back for a haircut someday, or to that veterinarian’s office with your cat. Reach out and offer to send a small deposit toward future visits. So many “non-essential” businesses are hurting. Make love to the ones that are “essential” to you, and perhaps even some that aren’t!
- Surprise someone with a random act of kindness. Leave a good book you’ve read on the hood of their car, in the back seat of an Über, some stamps in their mailbox, an anonymous love letter, a late Valentine. Give something away you value.
- Chop wood / carry water – look around and tackle the most basic chore in your house or apartment that someone else has been doing and do it for them – just this once, or maybe twice. Clean a toilet, do some laundry, wash a window or two. Peel some garlic.
- Go outside and find a wildflower, or a four-leaf clover, and put it in a tiny cup and leave it on your partner’s desk, by the bed, or outside the door of the apartment next door.
- Record a silly song or find a joke and send it to some kids you know. Be zany, a little crazy – make them laugh with you, or even at you!!
Please use the comments below this post and add your own ideas of how you make love…..
Now — close your eyes and take back your power.
Put your hands on your own body, everywhere, over all your organs – one by one. Tell those eyes how grateful you are for vision, your ears for hearing, your fingertips for feeling. Tell your tongue and taste buds how grateful you are for sweet and sour, for salty – your nose for fragrance, fresh air, oxygen. Let your belly know how much you appreciate the unseen work of digestion, of sustenance, of transmutation of nutrients.
Look up at the sun and the moon, if you can. Send love into space, to anyone who needs it. And put your hands over your lungs, and heart, and breathe.
There is no time for impotence at all – not now, or ever. Make love to yourself, too!!