…or those we have resisted whose memory carries the greatest freight of longing, sadness and loss?
This question is more profound than you might immediately think!
I was going to make this post about relationships in the broader sense – but felt that the current ribbon of cynicism and hurt woven into the headdress of still-extant love and hope might produce a somewhat skewed piece.
So, sex – which we all know can exist without love – it is!
Robert Browning (he’s on the Family Tree somewhere, I believe!), in his poem ‘The Statue and the Bust’ penned these immortal lines on the subject of regret versus grabbing all opportunities life has to offer:
‘And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost
Is – the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin…’
In other words, although sleeping together would have been seen as a sin by some, the pale, wasted bloodlessness of the two would-be-lovers was, in reality, a waste of the life force – and, for those who do not see sexuality as inherently sinful, a crime against nature.
It is, I think, a very difficult one to sort out, morally, spiritually, emotionally. And, for all that I have neither practised, nor condoned, indiscriminate, thoughtless sex, I can also see that holding back can, at a later date, be seen as the sad slamming of a door which could, with a bit more courage, have led to a lovely relationship.
We all, I suspect, can think of liaisons which make us cringe, or cry; times when, perhaps drunk or stoned, we have tumbled into bed with someone we found attractive only through the mists created by grape and grain (or waccy baccy, as the case may be!) – only to wake up the next morning next to a slumbering warthog (of either gender) whom we could not boot out of the homestead speedily enough!
But there are also those times when, for whatever reason (some excellent; some more to do with cowardice than morals!), we have shied away from taking that irrevocable step with someone we fancy.
There are, of course, many reasons why we should not have sex with certain people: If they are already in a relationship (whether gold-banded or otherwise), this tends to be a door we keep firmly closed – rightly. If they are foot-loose and fancy-free, but known to be a bed-post-notch-collector, we may well decide that, no matter how much we would like to get up close and personal, we are not prepared to become a minor part of someone else’s slightly creepy collection of statistics.
So far, so good. Pretty clear-cut really. But what about those times when we turn aside from an approach (from a person we know, like a lot – and who is free to love and be loved) because we are scared? It happens. We all know that. Some of us run from even the merest whisper of the dreaded ‘C’ word (commitment); others, scarred by previous trysts between the sheets, are too frightened to trust anyone sexually.
But, scrolling the film of our lives as far forward as we can, and seeing ourselves about to pass on to the Alternatively Alive Condition, what would be the nature of our sexual regrets?
Would we be lamenting lost chances? All the orgasms we did not have through fear? All the potential we threw away through a rigid moral code which passed its sell-by date centuries ago? All the relationship-based happiness we could have had?
Or do we, rather, think of the tawdry one-night stands, the flings which hurt us in one way or another, the acts we wish we had never tried?
So, now, let’s move from the general to the personal:
You know what? I would far rather leave this life with my lamp lit and my loins thoroughly girt! Even if I have made a fair number of mistakes along the road (so far), I would still prefer to go out on a blaze of fiery life than sputter and become ghostly from donning a Chastity Belt and refusing to join in life’s wonderful dance!
But that’s just me!