Play is the exultation of the possible.–Martin Buber
Ever since I first came across that quote by Buber, I have kept it on one of my altars at home, a daily reminder of one of my core values. Play. Sex play is a cornerstone of my work.
We intuitively knew play as children
Remember, as a kid, the worlds you could create just by believing in the possibility they could exist?
I remember making tents with blankets around the dining room table and chairs and inside appeared a special world where all sorts of magical things could happen. Creating plays with friends where we assigned roles and played them out. Using my imagination as a writer, even as a young kid to tell stories. Daring and trying things that seemed wild and imaginative, just to see what would happen. This was a world of tremendously powerful fantasy.
When we lose play
What are your memories of play? More importantly, when did you learn to stop doing that? “Quit your playing!” Did you hear that one? I did.
As children we instinctively live in possibility. Possibilities are absolutely endless until someone comes along, (often well-meaning), and tells you to stop. They tell you it’s not okay to play, that you need to “grow up.” That you need to stop “fooling around.” You begin to internalize the idea that to play is to be immature. It’s not serious enough or smart enough, and most important, it makes you vulnerable, because people see parts of you that are tender and sweet, the parts of you that know how to dream, when you play. And you can’t dream that big because you need to stay safe or in your place, where ever that is.
Many of us forget how to dream and live in possibility in our lives at large, and if you’ve forgotten how to dream and be in the possibility of your becoming and experiencing, then your sexual life is also going to become very limited.
How to reconnect with sex play
I believe one of the most important secrets to having a joyful, fulfilling sexual life with longevity is play. Sexuality is not meant to be rote, routine or predictable, but many of us end up in sexual lives where we feel like that. Sometimes you feel bad about it, but you don’t know what to do about it.
I have had the joy of being a part of many sexual communities and events where people play: we live in possibility and we create elaborate plays or “scenes” where wild things can happen in a safe environment. I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and others by being in these playful sexual communities, where truly, anything is possible, and fantasy is encouraged and supported. Whether you do it in a larger community context or in your own private life, learning to play again will bring you the joy, lighthearted fun and creative expression that you are meant to have.
The benefits & weighing the risks of play
To have an intentionally playful sex life does many things for you. It also requires something from you. When you open yourself up to play, you get to explore and experience new things, new kinds of pleasure, new roles, new connection, new intimacy and lots of giggles. You get to bring out that little kid inside of you who knew how to do it. Most people feel pretty protective of that little kid. I know I do. So you might worry about what’s going to happen to your little one if you bring it out to play and you might fear they will get shut down again.
That kid is one of the best tools you have to keep your sex life fun, light, adventurous and playful. And, it requires that you take a risk and bring it out, let it explore new terrain or suggest things that might not feel safe. Ask yourself which is greater, the risk of introducing something new into your sexual life and being in a playful space with your lover(s), or keeping yourself from doing so and not shaking things up. Weigh your risk. And remember that without taking the risk, you’ll never truly know what is possible.
Your Sexual Empowerment Assignment:
Make a list of 5-10 things you would like to explore, expand on, or try on in your sex life. A role you’d like to play. A sex act you’d like to try. A power dynamic you want to step into. DO NOT sit there telling yourself all the reasons why you can’t do it or all the things you just know your partner will say about it if you ever spoke your list aloud. Just light a candle, come into the quiet or put on a piece of sexy music and let your fantasies run wild and make your list from a place of possibility. You can decide later how you can make it happen or whether you will take the risk. For now, just give this moment of sexual possibility and play to yourself.