I’ve been thinking lately about my deep, inexorable love for the French. I have not known one person from France well. I have never been to the land. I don’t even speak French (save for a few fun phrases). Something in that tone, though, of ecstasy and sultry delight, that fire tempered with softness, intensity balanced by the lightness of ‘c’est la vie’. I’m just plain smitten, really.
Here’s the essence of my love: Integration. Everything wonderful about being human seems to be integrated in the French way of life. Sensuality, Love, Romance, Passion, Artistry, Sexuality and Spirit (esprit). When I contemplate the French, and all the juiciness that emanates from their language, art and culture, I see connectedness.
A French love affair is never just romance without deep passion and spirit. Sexuality as well encompasses sensuality, artistry and spirit. They are whole-hearted, whole-bodied, whole-souled in their love. This aliveness of body/heart/soul also seems integrated into the various aspects of civil life: sensuality in their food and eating, romance in their language and music, artistry in their architecture, passion in their defense of civil and human rights for their nation. From my outside perspective, it seems to me that juiciness of living is Everywhere for the French.
As an American Sexuality Educator, I have, how can we say… concerns. I see disconnect in too many places. Our ‘film industry’ for example often portrays sexuality completely devoid of romance, of artistry or spirit. In the panic of that disconnect, there is often an even subconscious experience of violence. Disconnect does in fact breed violence. Yet… breathe deep. Integration.
As a woman, and lover of men, I also have, how can we say… a heavy heart. What it means for a man in France to be deeply connected to his sensuality, his romantic urges, spirit and passions… It seems to me, a quintessential man. Poetic, deeply alive and vibrantly male. For a man in America to live fully in touch with his sensuality, romantic urges, spirit and passions… [beware – cultural stereotyping ahead!] Possibly gay? Effeminate? Or any other of our demasculating terms.
How is this? Comment est-ce?
I know, idealizing another people while putting down my own culture is only a dead-end. May I then turn it into a prayer? An evocation? I want it to be safe for all of us humans to incorporate our hearts, minds, souls, bodies into all we do. With healthy boundaries, even more easily, because we understand it is truly within us.
We in America then have – an opportunity. This evocation underlies so much of my work with young people, older people, parents, educators and anyone else. May we integrate. May sexuality naturally be woven into the fabric of who we are. May it touch our hearts, our souls, our spirits as well as our bodies. May a juiciness and sensuality infuse the various aspects of our lives: our work, our recreation, our endeavors and creative pursuits.
I believe, if sexuality were so intertwined with our minds, hearts, homes, neighborhoods, wild lands, cities and beyond… we could come home. Back home to balance from the extremes of suppression and exploitation. From one swing of ‘it is not’ – to the other of ‘it is’ (to a distorted extent) – and then calmly, smoothly to center. Home to integration. I don’t suggest this would be easy, clean or all under control. Being fully alive in our senses requires tenacity, courage and fortitude. Liveliness thrives on clarity when all seems as a sea of so much raw contact with Life. But then, watch a French movie and see. Is this not the imperfect but vibrant, lively and mysterious essence of being human?
Quel fantastique la vie.