An interview with Ali (a.k.a. Her Royal Cuteness), the mistress of this anthology of vignettes on the course of love
1. Why kissing? Is kissing important to you?
Kissing is loaded with plump red voluptuous connotations: first kiss, last kiss, sealed with a kiss, kiss my ..., etc. I'm not a believer that a kiss is just a kiss.
One of my favorite synonyms for kissing is 'to osculate' which is to "to come into close contact or union." In math class, you learn that to osculate is "To have three or more points coincident with." I like to think of this as heart, heart and gut. Like something that just feels so right it happens without a cognitive plan. This includes the notion that Wolff Bowden says: "May your lips refuse the kiss unless your heart is home." It's about moving on an inner volition, not always explainable by thought. A true Happening, really, and a tuning into the body electric.
In the space between self and other - the kiss is a boundary touched - and crossed. it changes you. Once you get kissed, a good one, can you ignore it? can you go back to how you were before? I'm not so sure I can. There's a great French film that circles around this notion called Shall we Kiss? which is super cute and well done.
All of this said: I'd be the first to sign up for some kissing lessons, or practice sessions! Good kissing is an art and should be practiced more, especially with someone you have a penchant for. My rolfer said to me recently: "the secret to kissing is to enjoy every minute of it." And I had to agree. What a practice of mindfulness that is, to stay in the moment for that intimacy - to stay present and just enjoy and play.
About a month ago - this was one of the notes from the Universe that was sent to me: "Just as it is with kissing - Let your life be measured and thoughtful. (PS. Actually, your entire life is like one very long, very sweet kiss)." That really resonated with me. So why kissing? I'd have to say it has to do with the practice of being present, about having an inner pull or knowing, and not always having a mental map -- but a focus on the spontaneity of the heart. Applied to life and relationships, this is a touchstone-cornerstone.
2. Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do - in a way. I think there is an uncanny magnetism that can bring people together instantly, as if they were destined to find each other or had a connection in a past life (or something equally wuwu). I've heard of so many stories of people who have found each other and have known instantly that this was it, this was the one. Something just felt so right -- there was instantaneous recognition on a non-cerebral level. And, maybe that's the secret - there has to be a non-thinky-centric aspect to this. And, I think there has to be some mutual resonance there, too, otherwise it banks on being sequestered in "Crush Status." (For example - the first time I saw Pete Yorn live in concert, it was pretty much love at first sight. But it wasn't necessarily mutual, so it doesn't really count.) Both parts of the equation need to be open to the possibility, the surprise, to feel it, so there's this element that the stars need to align for both points in the space-time continuum to find each other. It's serendipitous on some level. And, I'm reminded of my favorite line from Rumi: "The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lover's don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along."
3. What does it mean when you say: relationships are the new ashram?
Love and being in relationship is a forum ripe for lessons about self - and growing yourself. About becoming your best possible self in this lifetime and finding someone who is a suitable mirror for your personal growth and fulfillment of consciousness. It's about removing all the layers that are keeping you from love (all the ways in which you are standing in your own way). Being in relationship amplifies that personal exploration exponentially. There's a metric ton of inner work involved, and everyone has their own locus of lesson plans to unravel in order to become more of what they truly are. (There's no need to join an ashram for that experience).
4. Let's talk about sex: Are you getting some?
Ixnay on the exsay - LOL! Not so much in the traditional sense (but according to the laws of entropy - it's bound to happen...right?). I'm always working towards the tantric practice of being radically alive and plum tickled with the most simple delights of life, so I like to think that I'm functioning at some sustained buzz of bliss most of the time. There's no climax - just good vibes and a perpetual glow and pure enjoyment of life. Unless I'm having a crabapple day of the moodies. In which case, I rely solely on extra dark chocolate.
5. Why 'The Kissing Lessons'?
I think knowing how to be in relationship is important and frequently glossed over - yet there's so much to learn. It's about the energetics of being human. About having a body with a complex nervous system and what to do with it. So many signals, so much going on. But do we ever take time to learn about it?! Not so much. We learn about modern european history - and how to think our way out of multiple choice questions and thesis statements -- not about trusting our intuition and self introspection.
Also we have these out dated male models of sexuality floating around I think - expectations about how things work / fail to work in dating, relationships, sex - which don't always suit women and don't suit men either. Whether M or F - we're all emotional creatures - and I don't think the prevailing models address that enough. However, I see things changing and moving towards a model that stresses personal authenticity - which in a sense decentralizes the need for 'a model' entirely.
These issues of sex and body and healthy relationships with others need to be talked about early on - with family, with friends. We need to know how to handle situations of 'beings in relationship' - personal boundaries, trusting yourself, knowing what you need and how to ask for it, how to have clear intentions and pure actions, how to be honest with yourself and an other, and how to express yourself with words about all these feelings. That's what makes empowered actions so we're not fumbling around in the dark.
6. Can a healthy, loving relationship last forever? What do you think are the key ingredients to keeping the flame going?
There is so much to this, but I feel like it comes down to some deceptively simple things:
a. Doing your own inner work - being clear about who and what you are, what you desire, what you require. Knowing yourself is a big part.
b. Refusing to settle for what doesn't feel right and knowing how to draw those boundaries for yourself
c. Being real with your other and clear about where they are at and not taking on their 'stuff,' their projections
d. Being open the the mystery of the significant other self that is unfolding in front of your eyes every moment. Knowing that who they are and who you are is changing every day - growing and evolving. There's a lot of letting go of the past and not clinging to an image of them, nor holding on too tightly to past or future plans. There's also freedom in that practice - a freedom to be. This awareness opens you to the wonder and spontaneity of the present - and whatever shall arise.
e. Knowing when to let go of each other is equally important. When both people are suffering / shrinking under the physical-emotional-energetic weight of the other - the relationship is serving no one and is bound to become toxic. Once toxicity levels increase, it's difficult to handle things with clarity and grace.
Can a loving relationship last forever? I think so. It's about showing up, staying clear and open in the present so that you are able to handle whatever arises with grace, and about continually making the choice to practice this with your other of great significance. Once you say no to any of the above - things breakdown. This is neither good nor bad - breakdown makes room for breakthroughs - as long as it's a conscious decision to move away from the intimate space of that relationship.
I don't feel that every relationship has to last forever. We are all in beings in flux. We all can grow each other in different ways at different times. Some growth patterns are more favorable, more sustainable and healthier than others. Some relationships have lifespans - and some can last a lifetime. You learn to roll with it, see what comes up in the spontaneous moment, commit to taking care of yourself, delight in your other and (as Rob Brezsny says) "Pluck all of life's non-crappy treasures" while it lasts.
7. What's on your Man List?
I'll spare the 47 details, but it includes the essence of who I want to bring into my life and the muy importante aspect of mutual into-you-ness: someone who I adore and who adores me back with the same intensity. The nitty gritty preferences boil down to this equation: one divine partner = one part yogi, one shot brilliance, plenty of play, one part mountain man, one part artist, and one big pure heart.
8. What's your fantasy?
It involves a hot chocolate mess, with extra chantilly.