I found a path of spirituality that resonated with my understanding early in my adult life. Reading the seminal writing Be Here Now, authored by Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), was an awakening for me. It is the only spiritual experience I have known. It is the only one I will ever need.

Many people would dismiss this as some 1970s fad-du-jour that swept me away for a time. I understand the reasons behind that assumption; it was a time period that spiritual practices promising enlightenment proliferated. I no more expect a true skeptic to accept my belief than they would accept the concept of a real God.

In the book, Alpert narrates his very private search for meaning and his encounter with an Eastern spiritual practitioner. That was his journey, one that he brilliantly shared. I was smart enough to understand the power of the written word. Even then I possessed a healthy sense of skepticism.

That said, to this day, I am convinced that the message he gained from his experience somehow managed to penetrate the core of my own understanding of life’s meaning. Somehow, the knowledge imparted by that teacher changed me forever.

I am someone that teacher never met. I have no connection to him or Mr. Alpert. I have no explanation. But from that moment on, I understood the naked beauty of inhabiting each moment. I am convinced that in the eternal NOW is where happiness abides.

Through that filter, I can appreciate another’s religious beliefs. For me, it is all the same experience. Awakening can never be rationally explained; you just have to believe. Inhabiting this moment to me is seeing eternity. It is the always-changing and always-remaining NOW. That’s it.

In the ensuing years, I have often chosen to mistake my gains and losses as my true reality. They consumed all of my attention for long stretches in time. The steady peace of the moment was replaced by the chatter in my own head. Something/someone was always making me happy, and that happiness would surely last forever.

It takes a lot of effort to keep that illusion going.

At other times, people and things were often horrible. Misery and suffering were all I could see. Life’s adrenalin is difficult to step back from.

I forgot that staying present and witnessing everything that life threw at me allowed me to feel each joy and each sorrow and not lose the sheer beauty of it all.

It is no surprise that my expectations that involve sexual partners reflect this core spiritual belief. What matters to me is the deep connection that derives from such intimacy. The sex is incredible when two people are fully present in the moment. Time stops; the world fades away.

While the reality of my sexual experience has included the full gamut, sex for its own sake does little to enhance my life on any deep level. In my concept of how to live as a whole person, each encounter should be deeply felt. The exchange, I feel, becomes a part of me.

Every contact I ever made at that level is remembered and cherished. From my understanding, that is the heart of true polyamory.

This attitude has created problems in my life. I found little reciprocity for my true feelings. At this late stage in life, I am still astounded that men who have been able to connect at that level often act as total strangers upon a happenstance public encounter. I want nothing from them beyond an acknowledgement of shared bliss that doesn’t even require words. I am not built to have any other reaction.

I have also grown to understand how dangerous it is for me to sexually engage when there is no connection. By doing so, I only contribute to my emotional and spiritual destruction. In the same way, continuously connecting at that level yet treating it as a casual encounter void of any meaning becomes yet another small death inside of me.

At some point, it becomes clear to most of us what drives our attraction to others. For many it’s a specific person. Other individuals have a certain type they pursue. I acknowledge that in my experience the individuals have been extremely important. They were all similar in ways that clearly indicate my taste in men.

It is always the connection for me above all else. These fleeting glances into the god-souls that manifest into flesh as men are my sense of truth in this life. I will respect that ideal today.

The desire to live in the now permeates my experience. I may be seemingly immersed in life’s challenges, but in that inner realm, that sense of mindfulness, there continues some strangled progression.

I seem to move into the present moment, in spite of myself. The other day, I came across a long-held collection of old photographs I had saved throughout my earlier life. Without any planned intention, I sorted through them. When I was done, I had thrown out 80 percent of them. What was pictured in those discarded no longer held any draw for me. I have none of the feelings remaining that obligated me to keep them. Most of those people are gone. That life went with them. What remains is my truth about that time and knowing that my life is now.

I will never be found with my head bowed in prayer. Even as a child it seemed foreign. What I know of God exists in the moment. This is my religion. Others achieve that union through prayer or their meditations. That contact is there for all who share in humanity.