The Confusion of Lust

So You Think You Can Dance is one of the rare reality shows that really inspires me sometimes, and in more than one ways.

Today I’m having my monthly visitor (ahem) so I’m all crampy on the couch, loving the dancing. This is the second time I’ve been quite affected by this scene in which this beautiful black man in his 20s dances this gorgeous, sensual scene with a woman. The man’s showing no passion for her, no lust, and it’s clear through the choreography that that’s what he should be feeling.

In the critiquing, the guy came apart and began to cry. Turns out he’s a minister by profession, so he’s all horrified at the thought of showing lust.

Unfortunately, due to the editing of the show, he was limited to what he could say to express that, but the tortured confusion on his face showed it all. He clearly, brilliantly understands the throes of passion in concept, because his routine showed lust and longing in all its languid ways, even if his face failed to convey it.

So we know he understands lust and longing, his choreography proved it (and it was his; Nigel absolutely loved the choreography and called it “brilliant” and him “talented”). Yet the prospect of demonstrating that longing facially and in his eyes just scares him to death.

And I don’t understand. Turns out his choreography was based on the Song of Solomon, in which it follows the courtship of a man and a woman, and the leaving of carnal relations till after the consummation of marriage. Thus, the lust and longing without acting that the fellow so struggled to convey.

That’s the part of religion I dislike, the part that puts such confusion into the mind of a young man like this, a man who is supposed to lead others to their own spiritual clarity but who cannot find his own.

How can it be wrong to simply showing the tortured pain of longing to be with someone you can’t be with?

I mean, ministers are allowed to fall in love and marry. It’s not like they’re priests. Feeling lust and not acting on it, isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that the restraint religion demands of you? So, what’s the problem, right? It’s a sin to convey that that occurs, though? What?

But there you have it. It’s no coincidence, I feel, that religions are executed and administered by humans, the makers of human error. Mixed messages are delivered through various ministers and their “interpretations”, then unrealistic demands are expected of us, and not enough humility is used in explaining the limits of being human in a realm of gods.

We’ll all make mistakes, but it’s how we move beyond them that define us, in religion and in life. Religions would rather leave us thinking mistakes can’t happen, and when you do make them, there’s no open book for how to move beyond them. You’re often left to fumble and fuck it up, or go through the tortured self-loathing that may follow.

It seems to me that the greatest teachers are the ones who’ve made the most mistakes and best understand the struggles faces by their students. Why can’t ministers see that it’s their very humanness that makes them best skilled to lead us?

It breaks my heart when I see a young guy like this so eaten up by the struggles of his cloth that he can’t express what’s in his heart and embrace the artful creativity he doesn’t seem to want to believe his creator bestowed upon him.

What a silly, silly troublemaker this religion thing can be. Or maybe it’s just people fucking up something that shouldn’t be as complicated as we let it be.

Maybe part of the problem with believing that people speak to god is, we’re taking their word for two sides of the conversation. Any conversation I’ve had usually can use a little clarification on both sides of the equation. But what do I know?

I’m just a silly person who thinks that love and lust and longing and intimacy are far too beautiful things for a creator to tell us to never do them.

After all, any maker of any thing I know tends to want you to use everything they make, right? Sony wants you to buy all their home theatre products, use all the fancy add-ins so you can brag to your friends about all the stupid, unnecessary, “but at least it does it” gimmicks your new gadgets perform.

So why wouldn’t this God guy want you to explore being human in all its random glory? From screaming sex to tender kisses in the moonlight, from the exhileration of a skydive to the tragedy of a lost friend, from the moment you see your new baby to the moment your lifelong love dies, from 8,000-kilometres-apart longing to the emptiness of unrequited love…

All of it is what makes being human such a write-home-to-mom experience, man. It’s everything we feel, everything we can do, the incredible network of wiring and synapses that make emotions and life such a rollercoaster ride for us to live through.

How can any god think the look of tortured bafflement on that young dancing minister’s face be the road to spiritual divinity?

Sigh. Once again I’m left in utter confusion about how it can be wrong to simply be who we are.