I have a client who shared some thoughts with me the other day that spurred some thinking of my own as to one of the reasons I am an avid environmentalist. I’ll have to paraphrase his thoughts due to confidentiality, but I know you’ll get the gist. A sexually reserved man by nature, and somewhat addled by guilt over his desires, he told me about how he and his girlfriend had been doing some traveling, and that in each location the sex had been different, to the point that it had both invigorated and somewhat frightened him, and he wanted to know if I thought he was “dabbling in zoophilia.”
On trips to Florida, Arizona, Maine, and Hawaii over the last couple years they’d spent a large portion of the time eco-tourizing – hiking, canoeing, camping outdoors. It’s what they like to do. It gets them close to beautiful and remote natural places, invigorates their bodies, and provides them with a challenging, immersive experience that they can share together.
He first noticed the phenomenon I’m going to describe in Florida. They’d just come out of the Everglades, where they’d experienced an incredible plethora of plant and animal life, the most exciting of which was a lagoon full of manatees. As they kayaked quietly in circles, the giant sweet sea cows rolled about beneath them, coming up occasionally for air. He said it was amazing to be so close to these fragile, massive, peaceful water mammals.
That night, they made love in their tent, and there was something new about it. Neither of them mentioned it during sex, but afterward, as they lay together talking, she mentioned that she felt like sex had been somehow different, and he said, “Yeah, I felt like a manatee.” They went on to discuss how there’d been a different vibe, pace, breath, motion between them that was informed by the natural world they’d just been immersed in. They were somehow channeling this world into their own sensuality, and it was completely thrilling.
And the same thing happened in the next three locations. In Arizona, in a remote slot canyon surrounded by granite walls, saguaro cactus, and scrambling lizards, they had sex that just somehow felt completely infused with the mysterious desert surroundings. In Maine, canoeing on the wild Allagash river, with its bald eagles, beavers, and glorious foliage, they had sex that felt riparian, aquatic and vast. They soared and swam through each other like the creatures they’d seen along the route. And in Hawaii, sleeping on remote beaches, eating guava and oranges right off the trees, and frolicking in the water falls, their sex was full of the energies, flavors and motions of waves and fruit and fresh rushing water.
Now, one could certainly say that this was all in their heads, but isn’t that the point? These natural surroundings had gone to their heads (and their bodies) and they had changed the way they moved, felt, related, and, inevitably, behaved sexually with each other. Without these natural places, they would probably never have experienced such sensual revolutions.
And that’s what I told my client. I assured him that I thought the synaesthetic experiences they were having were perfectly normal, and quite beautiful, and I told him that he’d enlightened me to something in my own life. His story had shown me why I am an avid environmentalist. Biodiversity is sensual diversity is spiritual diversity. With every ecosystem we preserve, we preserve an opportunity for our minds and bodies to experience a different reality and to share different sensations with each other. Deforestation, species and habitat loss, and the mono-culturing of nature is robbing us of our very selves. For after all, we are to a great extent what we are in, and if all we are in are homogenized, de-naturized places, it’s not just great sex we’ll miss out on. Our lives will become vastly less interesting as our minds and bodies lose their input from the wonderfully diverse world of nature. And that would be a tragedy of planetary proportions.
Originally published in The Faster Times