Yes, I did just say coitus. No, my name is not Dr. Sheldon Cooper.
Let’s face it. We live in a society infatuated with sexual intercourse. I can’t see a movie, watch a TV show, listen to most songs or even open most books written in the last ten years without being hit with either a sly innuendo or, more commonly, a blatant, detailed portrayal of intercourse. And you know what? It’s flat out annoying. We see coitus depicted anywhere and everywhere except where it’s supposed to be: in the marriage bed (or on the marriage couch/floor/whatever. I don’t pretend to know what it is married couples like). Even worse, having intercourse is considered a “coming of age”, a “self discovery”, not the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of giving love and life. Day in and day out, we are fed the lie that we won’t actually know ourselves until we’ve had carnal knowledge of someone else. Bull.
1. Go for a walk in the woods – I always find I can hear myself think better out there. Actually, hearing myself think isn’t the problem. I hear that all the time. Hearing my heart speak is the hard part, but I can hear it a little better wandering out in nature.
2. Read a good book –Read lots of good books! What you read affects how you think. If you read good things, you think good thoughts. If you think good thoughts, you feel good feelings. And who doesn’t want to feel good?
3. Have a beer with friends – Or a glass of wine, or some other beverage. Just remember, drink to the point of hilarity… and no farther.
4. Paint something – If you’re artistic, do a picture. If you’re not, paint a room, or a house. I’m not what you’d call Michelangelo, so I stick to painting walls only one shade. And hey! I learned that about myself through painting!
5. Cook something – If you can read, you can follow a recipe. Not Emeril? That’s fine, make something boxed with only a few steps. Feeling ambitious? Make something up with whatever you have on hand. If it comes out bad, feed it to your little brother.
6. Go to the park and swing on the swings – What better way to find yourself than to remember your inner child. Close your eyes and pretend you’re flying. Jump off and crash land on the wood chips. Have a contest to see if you can swing higher than your friend/significant other/brother/sister.
7. Learn a new language – Igpay Atlinay ountscay. Seriously, what a way to stimulate your mind! Even if you only learn a few phrases, it’s a great way to see the world from a different angle… or in this case, hear the world from a different angle. Plus, it might come in handy if you want to impress someone.
8. Travel –Speaking of seeing the world from a different angle! Someone once told me that traveling is the best way to learn, and I’ve found that to be totally true. Travel out of the house, out of town, out of state, or out of country. Just go somewhere out of your comfort zone.
9. Make music – It doesn’t matter if you prefer a guitar, a piano, a ukulele, a kazoo, or your own vocal chords. There is nothing quite as satisfying as jamming away in your own little world. The only person who gets to decide if it’s good or not is you.
10. Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while – Let’s face it. We learn a lot about who we are by the friends we choose and the friends who choose us. A good conversation with a buddy who’s known you a while can be really enlightening.
11. Visit a nursing home – Want to know what life is all about? Ask someone who has 70+ years of experience being alive. They know what’s up. Give them your time and your ears for an hour, see what they give back.
12. Babysit the little kids down the street – Their mom and dad loved each other so much that their love became little persons! The best way to appreciate the gravity and the sublimity of these expressions of love is to spend some time with them. Believe me, their mom will appreciate it.
13. Clean out your closet… and then visit Goodwill – How you dress says a lot about who you are. If you need some help remembering who you are and who you were (yes, you really wore that shirt. It was only six months ago. And yeah, you thought it was cool then), go through your clothes. Give away what you don’t wear anymore. OR, give away something you DO like to wear and realize you’re kind of giving a part of yourself to someone else.
14. Memorize some Shakespeare – Okay, it doesn’t have to be a work of The Bard, but memorizing something gets your mind working, and theater is a great way to express yourself. There are so many plays that capture the human experience. Even if you just read it out loud with a friend, you’ll learn something about what it means to be human.
15. Volunteer – The only way to fully express ourselves is to give of ourselves. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman) Do what you like to do that will benefit another person, and do it for free.
16. Go rock climbing – There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of reaching the top of a mountain, or a cliff, or a climbing wall. You’re sweaty and out of breath, your forearms are killing you. You look down from where you started and a million metaphors fly through your mind. After a few moments of fancying yourself a philosopher, you wonder how you’re going to get down… These are life-defining moments, my friends.
17. Stay up late talking about the meaning of life with another person – Speaking of philosophizing… I realize this ties in with #3 and #10, but it deserves its own category. There are questions about life, the universe, and everything, that seem common to the human experience. When you sit down without distractions (hence I say do this late at night, when all reasonable people are in bed and can’t bother you with their nonsense) and hear someone else’s speculations about these questions and then articulate your own, see if you don’t discover yourself a little more. Then just drink coffee in the morning.
18. Build a fort – No, you are definitely never too old for this. Constructing something with your own hands that you can actually step inside is an incredible accomplishment, regardless of whether you use stone, wood, cardboard, or blankets. Just, if you use straw or sticks or something, watch out for the big, bad wolf.
19. a. Write something – A poem. A story. An Essay. Words may only be a small percentage of communication, but they are potent things. Choose them wisely. You have something to say. Say it.
b. Get a small group of people, have one of them pick a prompt, and then have everyone spend an hour writing on that prompt. After an hour, read what you’ve got out loud. –Believe me, there are few better ways to spend an evening (or a bus ride...).
20. Make a movie – If you don’t own a camera, ask five friends. If none of them have a camera, you might be in the wrong century. Make sure you save the bloopers; those are the best part.
21. GO TO MASS – Okay, I realize you might not be Catholic. I still say go to mass. Earlier I wrote that the only way to fully express our sexuality is a complete self-gift. Well, mass celebrates the ultimate self-gift, when God who became man gave His whole body and all His blood for us. If we want to fully express our sexuality, we need to learn from This Guy!
That’s all for now. Feel free to add your own ideas. Actually, don’t add them. Do them.