My friend just finished reading Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the 4,200 page novel Proust wrote over 13 years as an allegory of his life. This friend, he set a goal a little over a year ago to read all of the top 50 classical novels of all time. This was his last. His White Whale (he read Moby Dick early on).
We’ve discussed many times the discipline and mindset you need to read a 4,200 page novel, especially one that is light on plot and storyline. You really need to slow down and immerse yourself in the experience. Let yourself truly be in those moments and suspend any desire to move on to the next thing. That’s really hard but I think it offers a lesson we can apply to other aspects of our lives.
Our relationships. In our busy lives, our relationships can become almost transitional. Who is going to pick up the kids? What should we make for dinner? Can you stop at the hardware store to pick up that valve for the hot tub when you’re coming home from the gym. Sex may even be awesome but there’s a bit of a routine to it – a little foreplay to warm up, brief orgasm, penetration, a couple of positions, better orgasm… done! When you think about it, we actually spend very little time in the moment of sex. We use foreplay to get ready for penetration and we use penetration to get ready for orgasm.
What if we slowed it all down and just lived in that sexual moment for a while, hours even. Where we are not just rushing to an orgasm but really staying in the moment of sex. My wife and I did this last Saturday. We’ve been very busy and cramped on our homes with our kids near 24/7 over these past months. Sex, while still reasonably frequent, is a bit of a rushed affair before sleep. Last Saturday our closest friends were away and offered us their home for a date night. It was wonderful. We had dinner outside and then hours of slow, drawn-out, immersive sex. It was the first time in a while we could just enjoy the act of sex, as opposed to the feeling of an orgasm. We had sex for about 2 hours before finally moving to a more frantic ‘finish’. It was wonderful, but only achievable because we were able to get into that mindset where we had all the time in the world and, concurrently, we could allow ourselves to be lost in the moment.
Pulling something like this off these days can be hard. Another trick I’ve heard from friends – and this may be controversial – MDMA. The ‘lovey’ component of the drug ecstasy can put you in this happy state of suspended time where you (a) feel nothing but love and happiness and (b) glue yourself into the moment you and in, with the person you are with. A close friend, who is an insanely busy doctor, swears by it as a once every few months way to reconnect with his wife.
This is a theme I may return to… slowing down our minds and our lives in order to better enjoy our lives and relationships. I really like the idea of it.