Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet & Salty: A Mutt's Hand Guide

A Myth of Devotion 
by Louise Glück

When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.

Everything the same, including sunlight,
because it would be hard on a young girl
to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness

Gradually, he thought, he'd introduce the night,
first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
In the end, he thought, she'd find it comforting.

A replica of earth
except there was love here.
Doesn't everyone want love?

He waited many years,
building a world, watching
Persephone in the meadow.
Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
If you have one appetite, he thought,
you have them all.

Doesn't everyone want to feel in the night
the beloved body, compass, polestar,
to hear the quiet breathing that says
I am alive
, that means also
you are alive, because you hear me,
you are here with me. And when one turns,
the other turns—

That's what he felt, the lord of darkness,
looking at the world he had
constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
that there'd be no more smelling here,
certainly no more eating.

Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
These things he couldn't imagine;
no lover ever imagines them.

He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
First he thinks: The New Hell. Then: The Garden.
In the end, he decides to name it
Persephone's Girlhood

A soft light rising above the level meadow,
behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you

but he thinks
this is a lie, so he says in the end
you're dead, nothing can hurt you

which seems to him
a more promising beginning, more true.

I have always felt sexiest naked, and most creative in pajamas.  Creativity is sexy (damnit).  Maybe even the sexiest.

Sex & life go together like thunder & lightning, but I won't be walking out of the house in the nude anytime soon.  At least, I hope I won't.  On late cold evenings, however, I will sometimes walk the dog in polka dotted flannels. 

In any case, what feels sexy is obviously different for every person.  Equally reassuring is the fact that what someone finds sexy is also different for everyone. And yet, I find myself trying to BE sexy sometimes - some version of it, anyway, that has been dreamt up by my fabulous mind...which sometimes loses track of beauty and openness.  These times of effort-full sexiness pull in no external attention.  What does pull in attention is a sly little smile on my face - a real one, unrehearsed, irresisted. From males and females (and animals and children) alike, the secrets I keep with myself end up being my greatest accessories.  Because emotions project, and joy is visible.  It is also magnetic.  All emotions are. 

Because of this, I like to be very aware of the state of my emotions because that is likely the state I will be magnetizing in my life - in the mirror of friends, strangers, animals, and projects.  But it is awareness that counts - not the emotion.  We can be in a weird place emotionally but still totally radiant as a whole. 

The key to this is acceptance, intention, and presence.  In other words, as Jennifer Loudon says in her book The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life, "Surrender to your inner process instead of trying to label it.  Jung said, 'What is not brought to consciousness comes to us as fate.'"

This is all another way of saying: what kind of sexy do you want to feel?  The effortless, the grounded, the resilient, the pure?  Or the affected, the harrying, the no-pain-no-gaining, the unsustaining?  In moments when I am owning and delighting in the flow of my radiance, I have everything I need: delight, self-assurance, playfulness, humor.  My soul is full and beaming.  That's the sexiest - proven, period.  Even when I'm wearing the most wacked-out mish-mash of clothing patterns, differing styles, and plain uninspired non-styles.  Which is maybe why I find nudity such a lovely state.  Because it takes away the illusion that I must wear something or drape myself in a certain way to be attractive.  It is bare-bones honesty: physical, emotional, spiritual.

When I was growing up, my mother coached: Beauty is as beauty does.  Which is true.  (She also urged: Stop walking in front of windows without clothes on!  So I did.) 

I would like to amend her first advice to: Beauty is as beauty IS.  Vapid?  Zennish?  You decide!

To me, the sexiest people are the assured ones.  The grounded.  The open.  And the sexiest moments are the tender ones.  The curious.  The mysterious. The playful.   

And while it is way fun to dress up and be wild, or playful, or short-skirted, skin-baring, and I loooooove it when people do this, I find that, for myself, writing letters to my friends or receiving cool night air on my face makes me feel just as sexy, if not more so, than working on my image of sexiness.  Because what we project all starts inside, in the feelings behind our choices.  In Sanskrit, this is called the bhav: our state of being.  In English, this is called...what?

I write a lot about dogs because...what can I say?  I love 'em.  I love 'em for their comical personalities and fickle decisions, for their elegant animation of the mutt in all of us.  They remind me how adorable a dusty, bad-smelling beast can be.  They remind me that our core essence is capable of commanding the heart of the world.  They remind me of what truly makes me happy: the shaggy, the comical, the spontaneous.  In other words, our million rough edges. 

So, I now dedicate this post to comfort queens and beauty queens, to purists and slow-spinning honey bees.  To crooked teeth, fractures, scars, to the bald spots my friend has had since his twenties, to my one grey hair, stiff and blanched, that I found to my delight when I was 24, to every "ugly" foot ever made in the womb, to the racoons in my neighbor's yard that march across her roof at dusk, to the leaves she rakes from her garbage cans trying to keep even the dirtiest place tidy, to children still living with their parents, to the courageous adults moving out of their parents' shadows, to memory's cracks, to crumpled bow-ties, to our bewildered, hopeful, rampaging loves.

Wildfires. Winds. Confessions we cannot hide. The way my husband's hair wakes, fluffy and thick. 

At.this.very.moment, count the ways to love: perfect perfect perfect perfect.  Tell everyone you meet: We are Home.

With love and sunlight on your path,



  1. You're one brave woman!!

    re: wearing short skirts. I am reading a book about MFK Fisher's early years and came across this little paragraph about her on a train trip from CA to Chicago that I think sums up my experience with wearing short skirts/ myself quite perfectly... "She wanted everyone to notice her and find her mysterious and fascinating, but said she died a 'small hideous death' if anyone stared too hard in her direction."

  2. you know what i admire about you? your ability to take about a million seemingly-unrelated concepts and thoughts and weave them into a tapestry that makes perfect sense; all the different colored threads cohabitating so naturally. it makes me go "ahhhh, yes... so *those* are the individual chords that make up the fleshed-out harmony."

    ha - sexiness isn't something i've thought much about before (though maybe i should?) but have always been similarly happy in my own skin and not particularly fussed about whether i was clad or not (i heeded my own mother's warning about exhibitionism & windows about 50% of the time).

    and oh yes, exactly once, on a night when i couldn't sleep, i tried that 'ole wander-out-the-backdoor-naked-to-look-at-the-stars shtick... about 10 minutes before my housemate got home and locked the door. it is based on this experience that i *do not* recommend it.

  3. Hi ladies! Thanks for your inspiring comments. I responded last week but don't see the comment, so hello again.

    I think I talked about how disgusting my backyard is with weeds and dog crap and I would not dream of venturing out there without the sturdiest of clothing. But I love the story of you getting locked out of the house in your birthday suit, Whitney!

    Amelia, that is a FASCINATING quote from MFK Fisher! I think allowing yourself to be really seen is one of the bravest acts you can take. Go for it! Short-skirts (at Whole Foods), here you come!