I gave it up for a number of years. While I was in India, I practiced not thinking about sex at all. It was pretty easy. Indian women hardly ever talked to me anyway. All the employees of shops and restaurants were male, so a week could go by without an exchange with a female.
I remember a bus trip where it was so crowded most of us had to stand, pressed together like sardines. That's not unusual in India. What was unusual was that the sardine pressed up to me was in a sari. I felt a little guilty taking pleasure in the anonymous softness of her bottom. But how could I help it? The bus swayed on the uneven Indian road.
Juliette was a young German girl traveling alone in India. She liked me because I was non-threatening. I didn't try to get her in bed. It worked.
Later, while I was visiting her in Europe, I took a solo trip to Amsterdam, with its infamous red-light district and hash-peddling coffee shops. I played a game where whenever a sexual thought or image would appear, I would look at a tree. Or, if no tree was available, I'd just think about a tree. When I arrived back at Juliette's home in Freiburg, I happened to catch her coming out of the shower and the image of a tree popped into my mind.
I gave up a lot of things while traveling. In addition to masturbation and sexual thoughts, I gave up my home and my friends, smoking, drinking, eating meat, watching movies, buying music, spending money frivolously, diversionary activities, and indulging in convenience.
These days, I'm finding a lot of those things are finding their ways back into my life. Not all -- I'm still not smoking -- but many. Not in extreme ways, like an addict out of rehab might go back into a habit, but I'm definitely relaxing my prohibitions.
Two weeks ago I drank beer, wine, mixed drinks, and jello shots at Scott & Kack's annual Cape Cod weekend bash. I didn't manage to get very drunk. I guess I don't have the intensity of focus I once did when it comes to alcohol. I get easily distracted, and the momentum is gone.
I ate chicken last week. I'm totally not vegetarian anymore. My body started craving meat about a year ago. I ignored it for a while (a skill I learned while programming computers), then finally gave in to see what happened. I had a hot dog. I enjoyed it.
Since then I've become a "freegan" of sorts. Ever since the pig truck, I've been loath to support the industry of meat. So I eat it sometimes when it's free. It's not a bullet-proof dogma, but it's no worse than the Tibetan Buddhists who claim not to be causing the slaughter of animals by "not ordering in advance" from the Moslem butcher. In any case I don't follow it as a rule, it's more of an intention. Like letting people in when they're pulling out of a driveway onto a busy street.
I've been indulging in a lot of diversionary activities lately. Work itself is somewhat diversionary, because I don't really need to work, at least not very much. But everybody I know works, and I get lonely if I'm the only one with free time. And now that I have money, I have to figure out what to do with it. Which means lots of internet shopping, the most time-sucking diversionary activity of them all.
I classify activities as diversionary if my motivation is to escape myself. An earmark is if, after doing them, I feel empty inside. Like I've wasted my time. Movies are often this way for me. Except for a rare exceptional recommendation (like the penguin movie) I usually only get the urge to watch a movie if I'm trying to avoid some part of my self. I use the computer this way a lot too, pretending I'm doing something useful. If I had a television I'd probably use it too.
At this time, I'm not planning to give up diversionary activities altogether. But I think I'll give up masturbation again. There are plenty of trees around.
[Warning: masturbation material. Don't open this at work. Unless you work from home. In which case, get back to work!] http://suicidegirls.com/tour