Why do you have sex?
If you set aside what seems obvious - duh, of course we have sex, reproduction and love and pleasure, come on, what else would we do - what do you find behind all that? Stop to think about it. Why have sex?
I'll present you with a quote: "when I tell someone [...] I like to get punched and flogged and thrown around like a ragdoll and kicked in the crotch, the first and most obvious question is "why? what's in that for you?" But when I tell them I like to have a penis in my vagina, nobody thinks to ask."
The preceding quote is from this interesting article that proposed the question I presented at the beginning of this text, but I found the comment section, where the readers actually answered that question plentifully, to be ever more fascinating. The answers ranged from many different kinds of escapism to reveling in the sense of power; from spiritually connecting with your partner to the simplifying phrase "it's just sex". Someone presented the idea of the luxury of sex due to its unproductive and indulgent nature; quite a few stated that having sex makes them feel beautiful and desirable, thus doing wonders to their self-esteem and validating their worth as spouses and mates.
However diverse, I did find these reasons (or excuses, if you may) to have one trait in common: the desire to be present. To realize right now where you are, who you're with and what's going on, and to experience it with all your senses; to forget the rambling of your mind for just this moment. To stop and just be.
Do you need sex to do that?
Of course sex is a good way to do that: it works for most people, it's somewhat easy, a well-known and widely accepted technique to reboot one's mind and body. Plus it produces babies. What I'm saying is that it's not the only way to achieve that state of being, and that it might be one of messiest. Sex in its common form is highly overrated.
I have been challenging myself for some time now to be present within my physical being (my body) and within the physical reality surrounding me (the world) all the time; not thinking ahead, not dwelling in the past, focusing on what's here and now. Yes, that means every moment after moment after moment: from taking each and every step from your bed to the sink every morning and all the steps and movements and thoughts and glances that follow. I haven't succeeded in being present in every moment, blimey, not even half of them, but with constant practice I keep getting better and better. And let me tell you: that's what makes every moment worth living.
When you're actually present (realizing who you are, who you're with, where you are and why you are; void of all expectations, roles and other inventions created by mind and fear), you don't have to suffer through life and wait for the opportunity of sex to make you feel alive. One can feel fully alive in every moment. And that's when the reasons for having sex change as well, as they have for me.
What I did to begin this process was stopping. I stopped myself from escaping each moment, running to the next before the first one had begun. I was running out of fear, as we all are, and it was painful, as I had let things go too far. I stopped to realize each moment would be what I make of it; the "magic" of each individual chunk of time or heartbeat.
After that I learned to breathe. It was very subtle, at first: I have been trained in breathing for years due to singing and stage performing, so I knew the basics, but it was my own interest in meditation that took me deeper. I learned to control it, to use it. Learning to breathe was to discover I had power over my body. My will was a force greater than flesh.
But even after that it took me a while to realize breathing, too, was not something "special". I had not learned myself a superpower, but a basic. I had only learned the foundation for laying the first stones. Yet what I had reached was still huge: it may have been a basic, but there ain't too many basics, after all.
Stopping and breathing are the first keys to being present. Most people do both quite automatically while having sex - the trick here is to realize they are the pieces that construct the experience in the first place. Thus one aspect of that sexual ecstasy can be achieved even without that which is left after you remove stopping and breathing - intimacy. If you strip sex down to its most essential basics, it's about being present in your physical state (through all your senses) with someone else (or many of them) and enjoying it in a sexual manner. For some people sex may be nothing but stimulation, but that would mean simply masturbating would suffice. Thus the other essentials are also required to call it 'sex'. (Not to say one can't have sex with oneself and have a blast!)
Thus, if one of the essentials of sex - being present - can be detached from intimacy to serve the same purpose sex often has, wouldn't it be worth a try? A surprisingly large amount of frustration might vanish among singles and couples alike. The norms of society enforce the impression that everything is about sex, always, even in freaking pizza commercials, when it really is not. Sex may be fun, but it's just the cherry on top of the multi-layered cake with super-awesome icing and sprinkles and what not. Explore that cake! Explore life. So far I have not been disappointed.