Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Dieu Caramella

I always remember my younger sister wanting a dog while growing up. My parents never allowed it and their excuse was that we were living in a hotel, since my father was a General Manager for over 20 years. However, the real reason that I knew of was that both of them had their own dogs when younger and have really suffered from the loss. King my father’s German Shepherd and Cookie my mother’s Poodle, as I knew them from the stories and photos.

The following piece was written exactly four years ago right after the passing of my Cocker Spaniel Caramella. Only when it was published did I begin healing. I would not be exaggerating if I said that I still think of her every single day, especially now that I reside in Venice Beach where everyone has a dog. Getting a new one is a huge decision, though I think I may be ready. The only thing that is making me wait is that I need to settle first before engaging in such a sincere commitment.

I have been an animal lover for as long as I can remember, getting along with all of them and watching nature documentaries. The family had Chico, an African Grey parrot, for ten years before I took him for another seven years when I started living by myself till he unexpectedly passed one day. But until my mid 20s I had never owned a dog. Then in early 2005, an ex of mine and close friend got a six-months old female English Cocker Spaniel that she named Caramella.

As the pup was growing, the bonding came naturally with her. I started taking her out to the sporting club every now and then where she would socialise with other dogs, run around the golf courses, and keep me company — getting lots of attention in the process, to her and to myself. Those trips slowly developed into weekends since my friend could see how much the dog loved me and enjoyed her time when I was around. She also trusted me and knew that I would take good care of her Caramella.

Then it happened. My friend had to travel for a few months and she left her with me. I was ecstatic to have such a loving companion, since I was, and had been, living alone for quite a while. We bonded even more during this time and went away several times on short trips to the deserts of Sinai and the beaches of the Northern Coast in Egypt. I introduced her to my friends and family and they all loved her. Being dog people, both of my parents passionately fell in love too and enjoyed pampering her whenever they would meet. I could obviously tell how they were reminiscing about their own dogs.

Caramella had slowly become one of the rare pure joys in my life. Finding her waiting for me by the door when I come back home after long days of doing the unfulfilling jobs I held during those days was priceless. The excitement in the greeting itself every single day is a different story. O’ the companionship I would feel on many cold nights when her warm, furry body leaned on my right leg as we shared the bed. She also became the main reason I forced myself to leave the house for a walk or to the nearby garden every day when I would get into my unhealthy hibernating mode.

At home in Cairo, 2007

By the time my friend was back I was already hooked, and I could say the same about Caramella. For a while, she was spending the weekdays with her ‘mommy’ and the weekend with her ‘daddy’ – almost like a child in custody. Driving to pick her up from there felt like going on a date. As soon as she sees my car, she rushes towards it pulling the doorman behind her and I would open the door for her to jump on the seat then on my lap for a quick face-licking greeting session with those cute Cocker whines and whimpers. A real love story one could say.

Other times, she would be dropped at my house with her box of cooked food for the weekend, and it was always exciting to reunite.

I recall some people asking me if it was confusing for the dog to have two masters. But I debunked the idea by doing some research and finding that during WWI, the dogs of war were trained to have two masters so they can take messages from one to the other. So clearly that wasn’t an issue.

During that same time, I remember that my friend realised that Caramella had become my weak point. So whenever we would occasionally fight, she would not let me take her for a while as a sort of punishment. But I was always finding a way because living completely alone is definitely not as fun as sharing the house with another soul, I must confess, especially after getting used to it. And of course a dog isn’t a parrot, not even a cat; I believe it’s a much more personal and mutual relationship.

But the thing with Caramella is that our relationship was even deeper. Because if I was going anywhere other than work, whenever I would leave the house I would take her with me. Most people I know who own dogs only take them for short walks, if ever, then they have their own separate lives away from their pets. Some even confine the dogs to house gardens and fences.

On the other hand, I was taking her everywhere like it was my right to do so; family reunions, friends who never had dogs in their homes, even to other friends who aren’t really dog people…and to some shady areas too that I used to visit with my car. But because she was a lovely, well-behaved, pretty-looking creature, everyone automatically fell in love with her. She was even the cause a few people changed their opinions about dogs.

I also remember when Chico the parrot passed away and she kept crying by his cage for three days. They were very good friends and would play together around the house whenever he was out, though he was the dominating one because of his older age.

My attachment to that lovely creature kept growing throughout my darker days. The unconditional love I used to feel through the caring looks she would give me when things were tough was indescribable. She was actually what kept me going during my personal struggles, and a worthwhile reason for me to want to get out from the toxic lifestyle I was leading.

By that time, my friend had gotten another male Cocker, Simpson, along with her cat. So I used my convincing skills with some “Oh I’m so alone at home and you have your daughter and pets” to let me keep Caramella for good, and it worked. We would go visit her house then go back home…like a couple.
Nom Nom Nom

Two years later, I decided to leave the comfort zone I had always lived in behind and head to Canada for a fresh start. Of course by then, she had become a family member and a soul mate. Taking her with me was the only logical decision there was.

She was six years old, and she made it safe and sound to Toronto after a 17-hour flight and a standby in Amsterdam. The lucky bitch was even taken to a dog hotel for the six-hour layover. I remember joking with a hostess about wishing that I was a dog instead of spending this long time at the airport. Once arrived, we stood in line with my luggage and her kennel prepared with all the vet documents.

To my heartwarming surprise, after knowing that I’m carrying the dog with me all the way from Egypt, the kind lady at the desk let me in without paying the fees – telling me how sweet of me to bring her along. I was all smiles and took that as a good omen to a fresh start. I felt that Canada was welcoming us with open arms.

Canada was definitely a different experience. Fresh air, lots of greenery, parks and campgrounds, many other breeds of dogs and a thriving wildlife. It was a truly rejuvenating new beginning for myself and consequently for Caramella as well.

Fresh off the plane on the first day in TO

During the first week, I remember our first trip to Pet Smart when she had a poopy attack. She was very well behaved and had rarely ever did it indoors, but there were so many different dogs and scents in that big warehouse that I’m sure the sheer excitement made it impossible to hold it.
I also remember how she loved playing in the snow for the first time, and how chasing squirrels in the park while making those cute whines became her most exciting adventure.

Other than my ex partner, her 150-pound Saint Bernard and her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies, Caramella was the only companion in my new city of residence. We bonded even more for the next three years, and being the eldest, as well as because of her character, her and I were the Alphas of the pack. We repeatedly went camping and, unlike Egypt, spent lots of time outdoors taking photographs in the stunning wilderness.

As usual, being the beautiful and gentle soul that she is, she became quite famous in my building and the whole neighbourhood for being the sweet dog that roams the streets without a leash. At the super market, the pet store, the local pub, everybody knew her name; they all loved petting her as much as she loved it. This of course isn’t the average sight you see in Canada, where dogs are required by law to be kept on a leash. Multiple times I was complimented by curious strangers about how well she was trained. They would ask about “the secret”, and all I could say is that we’ve been together for a long time and I trusted her and she trusted me.

In truth, Caramella was a genuinely intelligent dog. If she’s walking behind, her attentive eyes would always be on me; and if she’s in front, she would wait at the intersections until I join and tell her to cross the street. Sometimes, she would even look to the left and right like humans when the side street next my building is empty, and we would cross together without me giving her any voice command. We had a smooth, mutual understanding and we communicated a lot though our body language.

Having her unleashed in the city was occasionally frowned upon and regarded as crazy or dangerous by some folks, in Egypt and in Canada. I was told “If I did this with my dog he would get run over straight away” on so many occasions that every time I truly felt tempted to say “Well, she’s not your dog.

One thing I really loved about her is that she brought so many smiles and sweet moments to the people she met. This naturally did me a lot of good because I would pick up on this contagious positive energy as the happiness — and smiles — reached me too.

Soon after moving, I had started running with my older neighbour, Brent, and Caramella was always accompanying us through the many beautiful trails around Toronto. After few months of weekly training, we were able to cover around 17 Kms (10.5 mi) in two hours once on a Sunday morning. That was quite the achievement for the both of us for sure.

Mid those runs, she would spontaneously and fearlessly jump in the small lakes and ponds by the trail to freshen up while we wait for her to rejoin us. Sometimes the water was replaced by mud, and if she was too hot and had been running for 90 minutes she had no problem jumping in and coming out as dark chocolate Caramella. And I would let her, even if it meant that I have to give a new shower after the one from four days ago. Simply because after a few times, I reckoned that if she looks me straight in the eyes as I’m running towards her saying ‘NO’ and still jumps in, then she must be EXTREMELY hot and physically needs it to cool off.

Plus, dogs have to be dogs, and owners have to always remember that their pets are still animals that need to connect with Nature as much as possible. I was really loving those unleashed weekly outdoor jogs and everything was perfect.

Cooling off mid-jogs

Time had passed until one of those Sundays about three months ago when I was getting ready for the morning run. Usually Caramella would get excited from the sight of my running gear and would get up to stand by the door with anticipation. That day, there was no excitement at all, even with my high-pitched “we go runny with Brent” which never failed before. After a few trials, she got up and went to sit under the table where she usually rests. I took that as a sign of her telling me I don’t want to run, so I left her home.

The next Sunday I tried again, and the same response… turning around and sitting under that table. Coming from Caramella that was weird. She had always been an obedient dog and had always loved going out. She used to even follow me to the bathroom door and wait till I come out, so this was obviously an unusual behaviour.

Around those same days, she had already developed a small mammary lump from a while back so we went to visit the vet. We were considering removing it or not when we were chatting and I told him that we ran for 17 Kms not so long ago, only for him to look at me surprised. “You know she’s eight now, this is too much. My dog can only take 20 minutes or so,” he said.

OK then, note to self: she’s getting older and I should keep that in mind. I took her for two shorter runs afterwards and then stopped altogether when I saw how much she would get tired compared to relatively recent times.


n the meantime, I had already started writing about dreams and the subconscious mind, and I was recording my dreams. I realised that Caramella made it to perhaps three out of the five weekly dreams I could remember. But it was always about losing her and the fear and the anxiety I would feel and remember as soon as I wake up.

I knew well that she’s very close to my heart and has become a soul mate, but I had no real explanation for those repetitive dreams. I was even wondering why don’t I dream of my parents whom I haven’t seen in three years or, say, my ex partner. Why am I dreaming of my dog so much? And why is it always about losing her? At the time, there were no dots to connect.

From talking to many dog owners and through the Internet, I knew that Cocker Spaniels may live till 14 and 15. So by the time she had started to lose her energy, I thought it was going to go downhill pretty slowly from there. I even had my own boyhood fantasies about her meeting my unborn children one of these days.

However, she started eating less and less everyday. I even changed her half dry-half wet food to cooked ground beef and chicken like she used to eat for her first six years. Still, she would eat for five minutes then go lie down away from the food, something she has never done before. She also started to sit much more often, even for those brief moments we’re waiting for the elevator, as well as at the park. Believing it’s all an ageing thing, I called the vet and asked a few other people if dogs normally eat less with age. They said it might happen with less energy but none of us suspected anything.

Then came the occasional vomiting and poop trouble, and she had lost about 2 Kgs. After consulting the vet, we stopped the antibiotic she was taking for some skin allergy because she wasn’t getting any better, and I was worried that it might be the cause of the complications. But I obviously knew by then there was something wrong internally.

Maybe ten days later, we went again to the vet for some X-Ray only to find some tissues covering parts of the heart and lungs. As I understood from him, you cannot really tell what it is, but what you can tell is that something isn’t right by looking at the density displayed by the white/black effect on the X-Ray sheet. He said it doesn’t look too good. Hmm.

Another week had passed and she deteriorated even more. Not much food, not enough energy, too quite and even depressed. Plus, she had started breathing from her stomach instead of her chest, and that’s another bad sign the vet had noticed during the last visit. Rapidly after that, the breathing became shorter and faster.

The question I didn’t think would come so soon started to loom on the horizon. Between my parents, close friends, partner and the vet, we all agreed that I will never let her suffer. Though I was still in denial that the end could be so soon. She was nine after all, and I was still thinking of all the much older dogs I met through my life and I was still fantasizing about her meeting the unborn children.

Coming to last week, she refused to eat for two days in a row. Also refused her favourite slice cheese, for the first time ever, which was another hit on the head. She was into all kinds of cheese but she loved those slices so much — La Vache Qui Rit or Kraft — that she could hear me undo their plastic cover in the kitchen from far away and would come closer jiggling and wiggling, and giving me those “looks” that always made me melt.

Sometimes late at night when she’s asleep, I would get myself a slice and make sure I open it slowly so she doesn’t wake up and realise I’m not giving her any. I succeeded most of the times, but because she occupied such a soft spot in my heart I would feel guilty, eat three quarter of the piece, and go wake her up with the remainder in front of her nose before we both go to sleep. Sigh.

So back to that second day she wasn’t eating…she had also refused some ground beef fed from my hand and all sorts of other doggy treats. That moment I remembered a chat I had a while back with an older man at the local pub. We were talking about dogs’ mortality and how his dog had passed, and apparently during his final days, the dog refused to take his medicine. “They will let you know,” he said. I believe Caramella was letting me know as well.

Other than not eating, she would often drink insane amounts of water, not moving much, and shaking on occasions. It was really hard seeing her like that and it was badly affecting me.

If the vets didn’t know exactly, I really wanted to find out what it was all about. So later that night I Googled and within three minutes I found Dilated Cardiomyopathy, which is heart disease that affects Cocker Spaniels — among other breeds — where the muscle does not pump hard enough causing fluids to go back up into the lungs. By checking the symptoms, she had all nine of them. Symptom number 10 was sudden death!

The reality started creeping up on me, so I took the camera and carried her to the nearby park for some final shots... not before imbibing an insane amount of wine in an attempt to numb my feelings. She was so weak by then and not moving much. In between sadness and disbelief, I was capable of capturing a few shots until a group of three girls and a guy passed by, looked at us and said something. I automatically replied “It’s her final day.” It’s like I was looking for any sort of comfort, even from strangers.

They came closer and I said it again. They comforted me with their kindness and sat by my side for a few. The girl closer to me could see my red watery eyes before saying:

Look I don’t know but I will hug you,” and she did.

It felt like a sparkle of light coming from out of nowhere. I said thank you and they walked away. Ten seconds later, they just turned around and asked me if I wanted them to take a few photos of Caramella and I. Of course I gladly agreed, and gave them the camera, smiling and telling them there are 16 GB free so “take as many shots as you want.”

The Final Encore
I then laid on the grass with her between my arms, just hugging her and gently playing around while the stranger girl was shooting and her friends watching and cheering for this final encore. The above photo is from that night.

I thanked them again, and I was actually pretty grateful they just popped up to leave me with such sweet memory. Though she was still able to walk but I preferred to carry her again and went home.
I could barely sleep that night, only to be woken up in the early hours of the morning by Caramella puking all the water and fluids on the bedroom’s floor, as well as a little bit of blood in a separate area. I tried to comfort her, cleaned the floor and tried to get back to sleep but it was impossible. By now I really knew I had to do something, and soon.

It was this last Thursday when I called up the vet telling him about the latest news. He said he will be there till 5:45 if I want to pass by and give her THE shot, and that he won’t be back for a few days but his colleagues would be notified and ready if I ever made the call. I still couldn’t get myself to do it, but decided that I will be taking her the next day.

Fortunately, during those tough days two of my old friends happened to be visiting the city and I was able to meet them a few times. They personally knew Caramella and having them around definitely eased the situation.

That Friday morning came and I kept looking at her, feeling a mix of emotions. Wanting to alleviate her pain but still can’t really believe that she will be out of my life in a few hours. This mirthful soul… my partner, my companion, my child…after all that, I’ll be here without her soon. It was one of those hard realisation that knocks you on the head.

I finally called the animal hospital by 12:30 and took an appointment at 3 pm. I remember wanting to say the word euthanasia but apparently my vocal chords had a mind of their own and didn’t want to obey the signals my brain was sending. After three trials, my voice was still hoarse, though I assume that by looking at the file, the nurse understood what I wanted to say.

I spent those couple of hours reliving all our moments together and getting myself mentally ready for the farewell. Then I called a cab and started to caress her, massaging her ears as she has always adored. I was in a dazed state when I carried her to the car, yet I was determined to end the pain. We got there on time and they were waiting for us.

The metal table this time had a dark red wool cover on it, and the vet came asking me if I wanted to leave or attend. I said I’ll be staying. He explained that he’ll take her inside to shave the hair on the arm for the needle and will bring her back here to proceed. He also asked if I wanted her ashes after the cremation, to which I replied with a confident NO.

Between some prayers, mantras, and trying to dry my sobbing eyes, I spent five minutes in the room by myself before they came back. I tried to brief him on what had happened lately since he’s not the same vet we had been seeing, but again, my voice wouldn’t come out right.

It’s the right thing to do,” I forced myself to say, looking him straight in the eyes. He was nodding in agreement. I believe I was trying to get that final approval about taking that darn decision.

She looked so peaceful on that bed. Maybe for the first time ever as she would always want to move when the vet was examining her and I had to keep holding her. This time she was gently sleeping on her side, with her eyes a little foggy, but looking very ready and done with her journey. I could feel she wanted that relief. And in some subtle way, I was actually happy she was about to get it.

I then bent down and gave her a final kiss, told her I love her, that she’s a good girl, and until we meet again. Then signaled to the vet to carry on. He said it usually takes from five to ten minutes. I kept my hands on her and in less than one minute she had already departed this world. She must have been so close.

The vet left, telling me to stay as long as I wanted. Some more mantras, plus a final hug, another final kiss and a last look, then closed the door and left. The pain of ‘losing’ her was still there but her relief has relieved me. As I held her red collar and leash in my hands on the ride back in the cab, I realised that for the first time in a few weeks I could take a full breath without feeling that worry-ball inside the core of my chest.

I went home, gathered 12 of her best photos from throughout the years, wrote a few words and posted them on my Facebook wall in celebration of her life. I had already halted my work on the essay to write our story down in her honour and in loving remembrance. I needed to write these words to express my sentiments as well as my gratefulness for the years we spent together and for her sharing my journey.

The responses and sweet words I then received through comments, private messages, emails, and phone calls were truly heartwarming. I guess I never thought that so many people knew, and knew of, Caramella. Through those lines, I would like to thank each and every one who reached out with their condolences and kindness. You certainly did make it easier on me.

Six days have now passed and I still keep looking for her around the room before remembering that she’s gone. I’m sure it will take some time before I get used to not having her caring eyes follow me around. This decision might be one of the most profound ones I have ever had to take in my life. Although it took me by surprise, but I know down deep inside that it was necessary and that it really was the right thing to do.

Change is the only constant in life, we need to accept it and move on in grateful remembrance. Among many other things, the whole experience of having Caramella for those several years had taught me what unconditional love is and what having a man’s best friend is really like.

Now more than ever, I remain a believer in Alfred Lord Tennyson words, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

May you Rest In Peace, most beautiful soul. You will always have your own special place in my heart.

When I eventually went back to my writings and the dreams notes, it finally hit me like lightning. All those precognitive dreams of losing her before I even knew anything was a message from the dream world. It was my subconscious mind preparing me for what is yet to come. We know that ancient civilisations considered dreams to be nocturnal messages from the gods sent as omens for good fortune or disaster. And with this experience, as well as others, I now believe even more in the immense power of our dreams.

At the end, I would like to share with you the below poem which I received in the mail today, kindly sent by the animal hospital with a card and a note from our vet. How sweet.

I am the wind blowing through your hair
And the warmth you feel in the air.
When that smile creeps on your face,
Remember that I am in a good place.
And when you’re feeling sad and down,
Recall memories of me running around.
You don’t need to look low and high,
Just search way down deep inside.
And know that we’ll never be apart,
For I have left my pawprints on your heart.

 "Five dogs on the loose"
Watching over the kids on the beach
Notice that cheeky look she’s me giving while snapping the shot. And it’s because I was telling
her something about leaving her large-ass towel and insisting on laying her head on the bed as
she always loved to do. I think she considered herself to be as human as all of us.

*Article originally published on Conscious Life News in September 2013

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

I have been religiously drumming for the last three years and began noticing some patterns. One peculiar observation is that after playing for a few hours, mainly at a Drum Circle, my orgasms become visibly enhanced, in terms of volume and trajectory of the ejaculation. Another more apparent observation is how drumming, or music in general, gets women in the mood and turns them on. I wanted to know more details about why this occurs, so basing the search on a balanced mix of scriptures and experimentalism I started digging.

Since ancient times music has been an essential part of history throughout almost all cultures and  civilisations. Before the invention of language it may have allowed our ancestors to communicate. As a cognitive structure, music could then be considered as a predecessor of language. There was a good reason why Plato regarded it as one of the fundamental principles of education.

Also since back then, music has been widely compatible with sex. Darwin was one of the first to note that for humans, music is connected to sexual selection and its benefits were primarily reproductive. As a means of expression and communication, music is fairly comparable to the songs and mating calls of animals — which are sometimes associated with courtship dances. Those are the sounds made by birds among other species in order to attract a sexual partner. Cockatoos and Woodpeckers, for instance, have been observed rhythm drumming to attract mates. Some birds use their feet to tap dance while others use sticks they craft themselves. How remarkable.

Likewise, chimps are known to use distinctive ‘signature’ drum solos to communicate and self-express, sometimes accompanied by vocalisation; while the gorillas’ version is through beating their chest. 
Just like us, each animal drummer has its own unique style.

Then there are other mammals likes rodents and rabbits who drum with their feet. Though not as a courtship or mating ritual but as warning calls.

More musical examples from the animal world include Blue whales and humpback whales who sing by producing loud, haunting melodic notes and tunes. Apart from engaging in it during mating seasons, they also sing when they have lost a loved one or when feeling lonely; the songs differ, however. It is suggested that they equally do it to navigate.

This behaviour has not just been widely perceived within the scientific field, but it is also abundant in legends, myths, and arts.

One notable ancient legend relating to the origin of the djembe can be found in the 1997 book African Percussion by Serge Blanc. It tells the tale of how many hundreds of years ago way before humans learned to drum, it was the chimpanzees that played it in the trees. One day a skilled hunter trapped the drumming chimp and took his instrument away to present it to the village’s chief who awarded him by giving him his daughter to marry. According to the myth, this was how humans were introduced to the djembe and that’s why the drum-less apes now pound their chests. 

Being cousins to all those species, we evidently couldn’t fall far away from the family tree. And we didn’t. In fact, flutes made from bird bone and mammoth ivory dating back to over 40,000 years old were discovered in a cave in southern Germany. So music goes way back into the annals of mankind. In the modern world, a look at how male, and female, stars like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Sinatra, Stevie Nicks, and Joan Jett are considered sexy by a large number of the population shows how humans are nothing but animals with developed brains.

This thin bird-bone flute is the oldest hand-crafted instrument ever found.

In Evolution of Human Music Through Sexual Selection, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey F. Miller explains that as a biological function it may be conceived that music doesn’t have a practical evolutionary purpose or a necessary survival value. However, the genetic composition which allowed some of our ancestors tens of thousands of years ago to venture and paint their nightly visions or hunts on cave walls — or come up with a humming tune while hitting a stone with a stick — lived on.

Said colourful “wit gene” differentiated between those who were a bit more intelligent and creative than the rest of the pack; as it catalysed a cognitive, intellectual, perhaps also an emotional and artistic breakthrough. Over time, it became a sign for the opposite sex that a man has the time and luxury to create, instead of having to work all day to survive and feed himself. 

In addition to time and luxury, to be skillful in music requires effort, strength, and energy. To be skillful in hunting and foraging for food requires just the same. Thus, from a sexual selection point of view, the extra energy and the precision displayed by a man playing an instrument — as well as a dancing woman — are visual clues that allow separating the strong potential mates from the weak. As such, music ability among other creative endeavours evolved to become an advertisement of health, fertility, and even status.

The phenomenon is more notable in males since just like the animal world, when it comes to the domain of flirting and sex it is usually the man who makes the first move while the woman is the one who gets to choose.

 As an evolutionary trait, it’s how things work since women invest more in their offspring.

In the same paper, Miller noted how Miles Davis among other male musicians and athletes avoided having sex before important performances, because they need the sexual “edge” to play well. Coming across this bit of info was amusing since I found that out myself some time ago and adhere to it. In fact, not just when it comes to drumming, but writing as well. I remarked before that I know I’m writing about a heavy topic whenever I don’t think of sex as much as I normally do. It’s all about prioritising where our creative juices will be spilled.

Now before proceeding, let me first share that after a much needed lifestyle change during my mid-30s, there was a noticeable increase in the ejaculation as well as the sex drive. Cleaning up from a toxic decade, changing to a healthier and more natural diet, and going back to regular exercise all contributed to the equation; as well as working on some fantasies I’ve had for a long time.

What I am raising herein is a further step into inquiring why drumming has improved my sexual performance. Sometimes I hit my eyes and the bed’s headboard behind with my own cum. And the eye hurts and gets red, just like the women have said. But seriously, we’re talking here about one-meter porno-like kind of ejaculation — 3.2 feet or 39 inches. According to the average, this is quite something, even compared to my own previous average. This has been occurring repeatedly in recent times. And I’m 40 now, you see. It is certainly a topic worthy of investigation.

Dancing Wild Art by Gaia Orion

So, what is ejaculation made of?

t is common knowledge that semen contains sperms, which the male body can produce at a staggering rate of 1500 every second. But that is just five percent of the total; as it also contains proteins that have an antimicrobial effect that gives it this chlorine scent. Ta-Da, now you know. It can also smell and taste like arugula if you ate some. Check out this earlier piece for more: Arugula: The Healthy Ancient Aphrodisiac.

In addition to all the baby yous, semen include 200 separate proteins as well as vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Calcium, Chlorine, Fructose, Sodium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Nitrogen, Lactic Acid, Uric Acid, Citric Acid, Vitamin B12 and Zink.

One major component related to the load and force of an ejaculation is the testosterone level. This chemical messenger is the male hormone responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics. From vigour, stamina, to sex drive, bone mass, and muscle size and strength, testosterone affects a whole lot about the male body. 

It is significant to note that females naturally produce testosterone as well, though usually in smaller amounts. In fact, according to a 2009 Study from the University of Michigan, those who do have elevated levels report having more sex, are more likely to achieve orgasms, and generally have more positive sexual experiences.

It was equally found that high testosterone is associated with the creative musical behaviour in female musicians — but only those who are considered talented. As for male musicians, it is linked to decreased testosterone. It has often been held that musicians of both sexes are psychologically androgynous with testosterone levels that differ from the average sex-typed males and females. Proficient musicians may even have different brain structures than the rest of the populace.

Further digging led me to find out that high levels of testosterone also increase your sense of pride and competition while boosting your self image. The other way round, sex with new or multiple partners equally sends the T-levels to volcanic levels. 

In a different study from Wayne State University, researchers compared two groups of men competing to win the attention of an attractive woman. They found that men with lower testosterone couldn’t compete with the high T-level; the latter have shown to be more assertive, controlled the conversation, and clicked better with women.

Another function of testosterone is that it stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain while low testosterone can inhibit it. Dopamine is our “feel good” neurochemical involved when experiencing pleasure and reward — when we satisfy our desire to eat, sleep, or reproduce. We’ll talk more about it further.

Apart from sexuality, low T-levels have also been linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as greater chance of heart diseases.

After knowing what semen is comprised of and what testosterone is, let me shed some light on what music does to the brain before moving on to the correlation between music and sexuality.

As mentioned in my earlier piece, How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music, music is one of the few activities that practically uses and stimulates the entire brain. It literally “lights it up” as it activates areas responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity. However, when it comes to playing music rather than just listening, the benefits tend to increase.

The changes in the brain music catalyses occur due to Neuroplasticity. In Cognitive Neuroscience, neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change in response to learning and experience. Playing music is one of those activities that have have shown to alter the neural pathways in the brain and creates new ones. It also has soothing effects, reduces tension and anxiety, and releases emotions.

Additionally, researchers at McGill University in Canada have uncovered another thing music does to the brain: Releasing dopamine. This Study was the first to show that an abstract reward such as listening to music, as opposed to a tangible reward such as eating and sleeping can arouse feelings of euphoria and cravings. The dopamine is released when we first anticipate then actually experience the pleasurable response as we listen to music. The experience itself is processed by our brain as an aesthetic reward.

Interestingly, there is a whole new field now called the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music, which is is the scientific study of brain-based mechanisms involved in the cognitive processes underlying music.   

The "orchestra" of the Chief of Abetifi c. 1890

Now to the essence of this piece: The correlation between music and enhanced sexuality — stronger orgasms and increased ejaculation. 

Despite the limited literature on this particular topic, there is an abundance of telling findings.

I think it’s logical to note that when we feel good we perform better — and have more fun doing it. This goes for sex, sports, and arts including music. Now, if music can evoke powerful emotions and makes us feel good as it does, then it must have some positive effect on our hanky panky... by inspiring our performance. I actually hold that the whole essence of being sexy lies in the confidence which comes from knowing that you are. So it starts with yourself then it is picked up by others.

Some more science to see what role genders play when it comes to the effects of music.

One Study published in Human Nature has shown that music contributes to women’s sensory experiences while not so much in the case of men. Both genders said that (consensual) touching — tactile stimuli — was the most important sensory experience causing them to get aroused. 

But, when the participants had to rate the importance of what they heard, the results differed.

Men apparently were totally unaffected by music. Quoting from the study “Music was the least arousing sensory experience for males in the context of sex.” Men did, however, reported getting highly aroused by sexual sounds. Surprise!

By contrast, music as an arousing experience ranked quite high for women — as high as sexual sounds and imagined scenarios. 

This clearly shows that the effect of music on men and women is different. Hence their brains and nervous systems must process it differently. 

Nevertheless, another Study published in Archives on Human Behaviour has shown that exposure to sad or happy music can help or hinder male sexual performance. Men who listened to “happy” music were aroused faster and more easily than the guys who listened to “sad” music. This was done by measuring the blood flow to the genital. Ah, Science. When you come to think about it, such findings may not seem surprising as it goes back to our mood. And I think anyone who has had enough sex knows this already.

Orgasmic in The Zone — Photo credit: Oliver Rossberg

Let us finally review what drumming in particular does to us.

We all have an inner beat — think of the heart; some simply learn how to express it outwards and possibly make a melody out of the different tunes. Just like a Cockatoo.

The benefits of drumming have been known across the globe since eons. Yet they have been only recently verified by western science. Now many publications are there to explore. Findings indicate that drumming boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, accelerates physical healing, releases emotional trauma, and helps the reintegration of self.

In Composite effects of group drumming music therapy on modulation of neuroendocrine-immune parameters in normal subjects, Barry Bitman sets to show how drum circles have healing, therapeutic effects. 

Other studies demonstrated how drumming can help calm and sooth Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children, recovering addicts, trauma patients/veterans, emotionally disturbed teens, and prison and homeless populations. It is likewise a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders among a wide range of ailments and physical disabilities.  

Drumming equally catalyses harmony between the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere. Hence the transfusion of the inner intuitive guidance can flow unobstructed into our conscious awareness. The ability to access unconscious information through symbols and imagery facilitates psychological integration and a reintegration of the self, which has a mammoth effect on channeling our creative, and sexual, energy in an efficient way. No wonder that right after drumming I sometimes get some seemingly random, illuminating Aha-Moments about a certain piece I would be working on at the time. The same happens after meditation.

Other times, I find myself tearing up while playing — either because I see a dog around the Drum Circle and remember my own late Caramella, as a repressed emotion. Or I could remember my drug addiction years and feel grateful that I made it alive and that this is where I currently am. Or, it could be just like that, as a general burst. 

But they are always cleansing tears of joy, which show that my inner being must be comfortable enough in such element to freely shed a few — whether in private or public.

On that same note, recent Research conducted by the clinical psychologist Barry Quinn demonstrates that drumming session can double Alpha brain wave activity, dramatically reducing stress. The brain changes from Beta waves (focused concentration and activity) to Alpha waves (calm and relaxed), producing feelings of euphoria and well-being.

Quin explains that Alpha activity is the one associated with meditation, shamanic trance, and integrative modes of consciousness. This ease of induction seems more convenient than the long periods of isolation and practice required by most meditative disciplines before reaching significant results. Rhythmic stimulation is a simple yet effective technique for inducing altered states of consciousness.

Just like sex, drumming does induce higher states of consciousness. I can attest to that as well. For me, it’s like a psychedelic experience during which all of my senses mix. The high actually gets so satisfying, that I often choose to close my eyes rather than watch a beautiful woman or three dance to my tunes a few feet away. In one way, I’d love to watch, especially after a few smiles and eye-contacts; but in another, I know that I’ll probably enjoy it more if I kept my focus on playing on me djembe rather than going to try to talk or dance with them.

Another thing is that I can see how entranced they already are, as I am — remember how more sensitive they are to music. So it’s a win-win situation for all of us if I keep drumming. In order to limit the distractions, I then close my eyes again and remain in The Zone, drumming even wilder. Maybe because the self-control gives me a certain kind of joy.

Speaking of which, drumming is a somewhat easy mode to step into The Zone, or Flow State. Getting into The Zone teaches us how to be Here Now. How to be in-tune with the rhythm of life and in-sync with the entire cosmos. Truly. Fully. Authentically. This was another thing I came to find out for myself when I began drumming as a meditative and almost spiritual practice. And boy does one fly high.

You see, during Flow the inner world beats any outer distraction. One forgets to eat or sleep and is blessed with a superhuman energy, allowing us to focus for hours on whatever we’re working on. Absolutely no pain is felt then. This ‘high’ actually stays for quite a while after stopping. That’s because natural highs don’t have lows.

Life is very much like a drum circle; those who drum, those who dance to the beat of the drum,
and the audience who watches them both
Venice Beach Drum Circle

When a fellow drummer, David Joseph, found out that I’m writing a piece about the topic he wrote an eloquent comment which is based on firsthand experience — which you cannot buy or study.

Allow me to suggest two shallow observations: One, a drum is typically played between the legs. Vibration and such may have cleared out any blockage or build up in the affected region. Shook it loose so to speak, giving a clear path.

Two, there is joy in drumming. Ecstatic joy. I at times have had, during and after drumming, my entire body vibrating. As your body and mind realizes another source of joy, other than sex, is it possible that it knocks up the level of the joy in sex? Just some thoughts from an old drummer, and lover.

Amusingly, there is an entire website called Cumming or Drumming where you take a test to try to find out if the face you’re seeing is of a drummer mid action or of a porn star mid cumming. Gotta love the Internet.

A final reflection is that perhaps long ago creativity in males was looked upon as competition by females — also by other creative and non-creative males. A man spending his time and energy on something other than feeding himself and/or family or mating may not seem that desperate to just barely survive, which makes him attractive in the eyes of the woman and compels her to better from her own skills to match him.

I recall when I began getting into writing and lock myself in for five-six days, my ex would get sort of jealous. She couldn
’t understand that this passion and isolation bring me joy, and hence began thinking that I did not like or love her enough. The joy is actually intensified exponentially whenever the work has been finalised. What a rewarding experience that is.

The same goes for creative females as well. Maybe it was the
“wit gene” that helped us evolve and better from ourselves. Just an evolutionary snack for thought after this lengthy exposé. 

As we have seen, music has a direct effect on the brain, nervous system, body, and overall psyche. In terms of chemicals, it makes the brain release dopamine which is precisely why we feel good when playing, listening, or dancing to it. With testosterone in the equation, music is also biologically linked to our sexual stamina and performance.

Men and women process music differently, possibly because they had been hardwired for thousands of years since our male ancestors used music playing as a sort of mating call. Just like our animal cousins, if the females fancy the tunes they may respond by dancing and joining in — by showing off their own energy, agility, and sensuality.

Evolutionary speaking, over the thousands of years playing music — as well as dancing to it — came to serve as an advertisement of health and well-being, which is essential to mating. That is in addition to its intrinsic benefits and communicative properties.  

However, despite the lack of scriptures, as well as lack of measurement of the blood flow to the genitals, I couldnt find conclusive evidence of a correlation between playing drums specifically and stronger orgasms or enhanced ejaculation in particular as I have hypothesised. Then again, my intention was not to conduct a study or prove anything. But rather, to learn more about something I am personally involved in, then share what was learned with my readers as a raconteur. And based on what has been added herein as well as some personal anecdotes — mine and others — playing an instrument for fun and/or as a meditative practice has repeatedly shown that it does enhance our sexual behaviour among a plethora of other benefits.

At the very end, beyond all the scientific research, studies, publications and big words, we know for certain that in whatever we do, when we feel good we perform better. As simple as that. That is a general truth which currently does not require any more evidence. Man, woman or in-between, music is one of those magical and freeing activities that help lift us up while taking us there... wherever there is. Playing it or dancing to it, or even just listening can indeed take us places.

Music has always been, is, and will likely always be intimately intertwined with sex. Now play on to play on and on and on. 

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight
to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
― Plato


Effects of gendered behavior on testosterone in women and men

Nature Neuroscience: Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music

Testosterone and Dopamine 

Human Nature: Differential use of sensory information in sexual behavior as a function of genderArchives of Sexual Behavior: Effects of Positive and Negative Mood on Sexual Arousal in Sexually Functional Males

Ancient Healing Approach: Drum Therapy (with more sources included therein)

Composite effects of group drumming music therapy on modulation of neuroendocrine-immune parameters in normal subjects

African Percussion by Serge Blanc

Shamanic Drumming: Calling the Spirits by Michael Drake


How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music

A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos

My Journey Towards Self-Transcendence

When Choosy Men Reject Women
How Do We Know We Are Good at Something?

The Intertwining of Genius and Insanity

Different Shades of Passion

Who Are We? 

Arugula: The Healthy Ancient Aphrodisiac

How I Dropped Two Waist Sizes in a Few Months

Kicking That Sweet Habit


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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Further Advice For Anyone With Longish Hair

hen I was a teenager I knew a couple of girl friends who would occasionally use eggs for their hair. Needless to say, I was making fun of the idea... and the possible smell. As I matured I learned that eggs are indeed beneficial. But even with having long hair for a bit more than a couple of years between the age of 19 and 21, as a guy it never concerned me. Then when I regrew it 15 years later the tables happened to turn.

Eggs are widely known to be healthy for hair. Not just when consumed, but due to their richness in proteins, vitamins, and fatty acids, they are also used as hair treatment. The white is the source of protein while the yolk is high in sulfur. Eggs keep hair strong, prevent breakage, make it soft, as well as help its overall growth. While artificial products strip the hair of its natural oils, eggs help restore the natural oils present in the hair and scalp.

One thing about using them as a hair treatment is that you need to wash it afterwards with cold water and NOT hot water. Simply because they will be cooked right there on top of your head, ending up as with hairy scrambled eggs. Seriously.

Some of you may wonder why I would know or share such an information. Well, three years ago I wrote Advice For Men Who Still Have Hair, and the answer lies in the following Eggseptional Eggsperience which should be regarded as a unisex sequel.

My thinking was that I was in my late 30s and naturally my hair isn’t as it was at 19. So if I’ll choose to keep it long I might as well try to keep it healthy. That’s how I began my search into a field most men know nothing about.

As mentioned in the previous article, at some point I dropped the daily shampoo and began using one that is more medical and less toxic than usual brand names. Slowly but surely results began to appear. The more I went natural in the following years, the more I wanted to try different alternatives. I did quite a bit of online research as I also asked a few women I know about their own experiences with the DIY homemade hair stuff. Then it was time to experiment.

First, it was coconut oil. It is healthy and all, yet may not be for every kind of hair. The quantity used remains key, though. Depending on why you are using it, for certain hair coconut oil should only be used by the drops rather than teaspoons; perhaps also just on the extremities rather than on the scalp.

After that I came across a mixture of yoghurt and honey. Not as a healthy breakfast or dinner, but as a hair mask — also called deep conditioning. You see how this dude is learning new terms. Yeah. So once a week you keep it on your hair (in a bun) for 20-30 minutes before washing with shampoo. Afterwards, I rinse it with black tea and ending it all with a conditioner from mid-length to the end.

The next step was to add and egg to the mixture. Again, you must wash with cold water if you want to stay safe. I cannot tell you exactly what would happen since I’m grateful to have read this warning beforehand. But obviously someone has done it since warnings of “lumps” and “pungent odour” exist. Yikes.

In actual fact, these are the very reasons why many people are afraid of using eggs in their hair, especially the odour. Who would blame them. But, cold water then shampoo just does it. So unless you want to try the egging for yourself, let us just listen to those who say they know.

2 tbsp white yoghurt + 1 tbsp honey + 1 egg (+ coconut/olive oil)

The next addition to the yoghurt-honey-egg mix came the following week with coconut oil, just drops in my case. Different hair may require 1 teaspoon or 2 of coconut oil, or none at all. It’s something for you to figure out.

Another thing for you to figure out before using any kind of treatment is how naturally oily — or not — your hair is. Extra oily hair, for instance, won’t do well with coconut oil, or possibly any oil-based treatment; while on the other hand egg whites will remove excess oil from it. If it’s dry/normal hair then egg yolk should do the trick in moisturising it.

An alternative oil I found added to this mixture is olive oil, which I still have yet to try. I’m not sure if it will be in addition to the coconut oil or it has to replace it. Experimenting is the only way to find out. Always start with small doses and see how it goes. Ask women how it could be pretty annoying ending up with oily, greasy, weighted-down hair when you were trying to do the very opposite.

After four DIY treatments over the course of one month I can already see that my hair got thicker and looks healthier. The observation started when one day I gripped my hair in a ponytail to dry it after shower as I normally do and felt the mass has increased. There is also an added healthy shine and volume to it. Another day later I was brushing it and could feel something heavy underneath the back of my neck which was none other than the regained weight of the hair I kind of forgot about.

Now Good Luck with your own experimentation. Hopefully I’ll write the next hair article in another three years. 


Advice For Men Who Still Have Hair

Kicking That Sweet Habit

How I Dropped Two Waist Sizes in a Few Months 

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Sunday, 3 September 2017

OLS Reflections Cincuenta y Dos

  • Everything you find interesting and captivating in others mirrors something that is already within your inner cosmos.

  • “All the things that could go wrong” is a devastating setting for the mind. For it leads to a nonlife.  

  • Some people become old by 19 and stay old till they die. Others “wake up” at some point and reverse the process.

  • One of the most fundamental principles of Taoism and Zen philosophy is Yin Yang. To the untrained eye Yin Yang may seem like duality on the surface. Once, however, one gets a clearer understanding of the concept, the oneness and non-duality become more apparent.

    You see, between the realm of the absolute and the one of the relative there is an eternal dance of reconciliation. The spirit of Zen encourages us to live on the edge of those two different, yet complementary, poles — the periphery. By walking along the Path of the Razor
    ’s Edge a balancing act is manifested. The duality is transcended and a marriage between the Tao’s inner essence and its outer manifestations takes place; between our inner truth and the way we live our lives; the observer and the observed; the absolute and the relative. Said unavoidable dance embodies the perfect working of the nature of life, which lies in a ceaseless interplay of opposing forces. Everything is constantly changing and nothing remains the same. This reconciling unity is regarded as the mystery of mysteries and the door to all wonders.

  • When you bend the rules, the rules bend.

  • The nature of reality lies in learning how to look at life, people, situations, and ‘things’ as they are rather than as we want them to be.

  • After years of observation I came to reckon that women who are “emotionally available” are usually found in more female-oriented professions such as nurse, teacher, counsellor rather than ones like lawyer or banker. When what you do is take care of a variety of different people you are not spending your entire day thinking about your self. Naturally, the empathetic abilities here are at a higher-than-normal levels —  and such experience tends to change the core of the person. Ultimately, in any emotionally-healthy relationship empathy is one major keys to success.

  • Every scar, every wound, every heartbreak tells a story. The point is not to be defined by that story. When you’re the director of your own movie and the warrior of your own saga you learn how to let go and coddiwomple from one lesson to the other.

  • I am you. Are you me?

  • Everything changes for the better the day you start treating your parents as human beings rather than a source of authority.

















OLS REFLECTIONS Dreiundzwanzig






OLS REFLECTIONS  إثنان وثلاثون






OLS Reflections Einundvierzig

OLS Reflections — The Spiritual Edition 

OLS Reflections Cuarenta y Cuatro

OLS Reflections 45

OLS Reflections Quarantasette

OLS Reflections — The Unpublished Edition

OLS Reflections Forty-Nine

OLS Reflections 50
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