“It is impossible to define precisely what the soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway; the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful. When you look closely at the image of soulfulness, you see that it is tied to life in all its particulars – good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy.” Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
One of my early teachers in radical inclusion by another name was Thomas Moore. In the early 90’s he wrote about our culture’s “loss of soul.” He believes a lack of care for and expression of the soul leads to obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. He believes that caring for our soul – and the myriad of quirky ways it expresses itself through our identities, our passions, our homes, our self care rituals, etc. – is vital for humans to thrive. And so do I. I believe we are having crisis of loss of both soul and spirit in our culture. I believe we need to reignite our relationships with our souls, become intimate with ourselves so that we can be intimate with others.
What I take from Moore’s teaching is that accepting everything particular about who we are and how we are moved to show up in the world is vital to our thriving individually and collectively. Radically including our quirks and collections, our kinks and brain differences, and everything else that makes us who we are leads to a sense of belonging to ourselves and with the people who are willing to radically include all of the pieces of us.
My partner and I have a radically inclusive marriage. What that means is that we accept and include every weird thing we do as a part of who we are, whether it’s my need to hand sew dolls while we watch tv in the evenings or his need to eat jalapenos with nearly every meal or the particular ways we both keep house. He radically includes my moody nature and I radically include his need to have a space of his own, even if it’s just a corner where the dining room would normally be. Instead of experiencing annoyance or resentment with one another’s quirky ways, we choose to include them in our lives with compassion, as well as humor when we need to relieve some tension. We are willing to laugh at ourselves and so we are not offended when the other is amused by our weirdness. These particular expressions of our soulfulness contribute to the joy and vibrancy of ourselves and consequently our marriage.
I believe the same to be true in community. There was an openness to quirkiness in sex-positive community that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Since it takes a certain vulnerability to share sexuality with others, it is easier to be vulnerable in other ways. And since a radically inclusive sex party means that every kind of kink is welcome, everyone consequently feels invited to be the rest of themselves in such a space. Our community was joyous and vibrant because we were not just allowed, but invited to express our soulfulness, whether that looked like a performance on stage or a scene in the dungeon or dancing in a Furry costume or talking openly while sharing a cannabis pipe in the smoking area, we felt free to be and express ourselves in a way that we didn’t experience in the rest of life. That acceptance radiated out beyond parties into community, friendship, and romance.
Nurturing soulfulness in ourselves and in our collective experiences is one of the needed shifts we need to make to heal ourselves of the trauma of oppression. Oppression tells us we cannot be who we are. Oppression tries to crush the soul. Oppression tells us that we can’t express our emotions, dress differently than the norm, transcend the gender binary, queer our lives, or think differently than the mainstream. A world without oppression will mean that each of us can be ourselves and express ourselves as we desire. But it will require that we each rebuild our relationship to our soul, to nurture an intimacy with ourselves as the unique expression of life that we are. And then to spread the radical inclusion of self and soul into the rest of life.