I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my earlier post about aliveness and flow, and it got me thinking more about the kinds of attributes required to get to such elevated levels of experience and connection. Obviously, as I pointed out in that article, we need to feel spontaneous and flexible enough to try new things, to be experimental, and to do so requires us to discard unnecessary dogma that may keep us feeling stuck and rigid. And what it all comes down to at the core is that all of these traits are simply different facets of a larger concept– creativity.
I think the subject of creativity and sexuality is an extremely relevant topic, especially in this day and age, since so much of current-day sexological concepts and research around sexual orientation and identity center around ideas of essentialism (meaning, our essential self that we are innately born with). On the other hand, most academic writing on gender is more social constructionist in nature (meaning that what we learn from society influences behavior), which makes for a very uneasy tension between these two schools of thought. (I’ll probably start a series in this blog on the science of sexology, which will address these core concepts and more). But I digress. My point by bringing up the concept of essentialism is simply to point out, that while we are certainly born with certain pre-determined characteristics, much of sexual behavior is actually much more fluid than we may realize. And I believe much of that fluidity may stem from a concerted merging of our sexuality with our ability to tap into our innate capacity for creativity.
I realize that creativity exists on a continuum. Some people have less of it, while others possess it in spades. But I’m also not referring to creativity in the artistic sense, but rather as a conscious decision to open ourselves to something new. New ideas, new behaviors, new experiences. Basically, stepping outside of one’s own narrative, which we may often without awareness experience as rigid and confining, and letting go of storylines and expectations.
Here’s a specific example that illustrates this particular meaning of creativity. Let’s say a woman, let’s call her Sarah, has always had sex with her partner initiating. As a result, she has learned to expect the same and has even come to identify her sexuality with this level of passivity. She may tell herself, “yeah I never initiate sex, that’s just not me.” So she has now created a storyline in which she never initiates, this storyline has become a core part of her identity, and to do something different wouldn’t even be a consideration since she would need to challenge her very identity to do so.
Without realizing it, Sarah has become so attached to her narrative that her sexuality has taken on a rigid quality, lacking all spontaneity, flexibility, and experimentation. In other words, her sexuality has lost all creativity. Sometimes the most important work I do with my clients is to help them identify their narrative and examine it closely. They don’t need to change it, they don’t need to do anything with it. But I at least want them to be able to identify it. Really see it. And then, since it is clearly and transparently on the table, decide if it still works. Maybe it’s outlived its expiration date. Maybe some of it still holds true, but other elements of it need to go. Or maybe it works just fine. But fundamentally, folks need to understand that they are far more than just the person they have defined within the boundaries of their storyline.
We can all step outside of our narrative sometime. And in this way create a new one. A more flexible and authentic one that corresponds more closely with who we really are. Let’s go back to Sarah for a moment. Let’s say one day she says, “you know why don’t I try something new, why don’t I try to initiate sex this time?” And she initiates and to her surprise, it works it great. Now through her act of trying something new, of introducing creativity to her life and to her sexuality, she now has an experience that defines her in a new way. She has essentially now redefined herself.
In this way, by examining our own old assumptions and personal narratives, and challenging them through playful creativity and experimentation, we are no longer controlled by old dogmas that have outlived their utility. We are no longer helpless before our fixed identities to experience choice and self-agency, we can identify anyway we choose in the moment that suits us, or rather, not adopt any identity at all. This reminds me of something a client told me recently that resonates with the theme of this entire piece. He was describing some specific sexual activities that he greatly enjoyed and wanted to find the right partner that would fit his desires. But then he paused for a moment and took a big breath, as if realizing something very important. And then he said, “Look, I guess what I’m saying is I’m not defining myself as kinky, I’m not really anything, I’m just creative. And so that’s what I need. I’m looking for someone who is also creative.”