House Tearmainn

Protected: Zen and the Art of Slave Ownership

by on May.18, 2013, under Spirituality

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by on Apr.25, 2013, under Mastery

I’ve struggled with the concept of mastery since I took up D/s as a full-time lifestyle coming up on 8 years ago. I had a wonderful flash of insight recently that really solidified the concept in my head. I shared it with other dominant / ownership oriented types and they seemed to find it useful so I thought I would share it here.

In the simplest form I see mastery in a particular realm as knowing what you want and knowing how to get it. With some more nuance I think it shakes out to this:

  • Having a vision for what you want to create
  • Having the right materials for the job
  • Having the tools and knowledge to bring the vision to fruition
  • Having the experience to improvise as unexpected circumstances arise
  • Having the will to see the project through to a fine finish

I like the example of carpentry. Most anyone can make a wooden chest. If I tried it I’d probably get the wrong wood, measure once, cut three times, go buy some more wood, and end up with something functional, but not quite right in many ways. It wouldn’t last, and I probably wouldn’t want it to.

A master carpenter can make a wooden chest that is an object of beauty and utility. They know the best wood to select, how to mold it and join it together in a seamless way, and how to finish it so that even if it is something simple and utilitarian the eye is drawn to the details of how everything works together just so. My grandfather could do that and I’ve always been impressed at how his work stands up though he’s been dead for many years.

Mastery in an owner/property relationship strikes me as similar. Being a master, to me, means knowing what you get out of the relationship, knowing what you need from a partner, being able to use the skills and tools at your disposal to craft both the person and circumstances toward the desired outcome, being able to adapt with grace when the world throws you a curve ball, and sticking it out through the rough patches to a clean end. If a carpenter is someone who creates  and repairs things made from wood, then I see an owner as someone who creates and maintains lifestyle authority exchange relationships.

Of course not every project that the master carpenter starts ends up being a masterwork. Sometimes the plan was flawed, or the materials, or circumstance intervened and the project is never finished. So too with our relationships. My grandfather may not have been a master carpenter, but if something didn’t come together the way he wanted he wouldn’t toss everything out in a huff. He would carefully take it apart, salvage what he could, and try again or put it aside for another project. Except for the one that was in progress when he died.

I know that mapping complex human interactions onto something as (comparatively) simplistic as carpentry loses a lot of important nuance, but I think it also it gives me something to look to when I need direction. I’ve heard people at the M/s Conference or MasT use various things (including carpentry) similarly, but it wasn’t until this flash of insight that I was truly able to feel the comparison in a way that my highly intuitive brain could grasp.

I’d like to make a quick note on self-mastery as well. This is something that comes up a lot, and I think also maps to what I said above. The difference being that instead of having your choice of materials and tools, you’ve got whatever’s in the workshop. In fact it’s more like building the workshop from whatever you’ve got on hand.

Most people who work at a craft never grow to be masters of that craft. Some people use this as justification that mastery is a journey, not a destination, which I think is partially true. After all, even a master carpenter can always learn to build something new. Nevertheless, I think there is a certain level of competency that says “given decent starting materials and their own set of tools, this person could make something beautiful”.

For what it’s worth, this is why I don’t use the title Master for myself. I master, the verb that indicates progress toward mastery. I am the master of pais, the job title. I am not a Master, but I think I am coming to understand what it means to be one, and why they are so highly regarded. More importantly I know that the love of the craft and my desire to make something beautiful will compel me to continue honing my skills, acquiring new tools, and forging new relationships for the rest of my life.

Thanks for reading. I don’t expect that there is much, if any, original thought here, but since this blog is a record of my process I wanted to mark the occasion. I hope you’ll respectfully share your thoughts, whether we agree or disagree.

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by on Nov.22, 2011, under Uncategorized

A lot of folks i know in the M/s world have some Buddhist flavor of spirituality. A brief synopsis of my understanding of the Buddhist view of suffering boils down to something like this: suffering is the result of wanting what you cannot have (your neighbor’s ass, your neighbor’s wife, a million dollars, the elixer of immortality . . .) If you can accept that all of these pleasures of life are temporary, and thus detach yourself from your desire for them, you will avoid suffering.

This may go to show how far i am from attaining enlightenment, or maybe it has more to do with my masochistic tendencies, but that idea of suffering, for me, does not resonate. It does not resonate at all.

My mindset for many years has been more along the lines of no pain, no gain. How do babies learn to roll over? They get uncomfortable or bored. They want a change of position. They want a toy. Sometimes they cry. They want somebody to come along and flip them over. If you leave them on their bellies, they’ll push themselves up. They’ll strive. They’ll strain. And then–whoop! They’re on their backs.

For me, if something is worth attaining, it is worth suffering for. And if it doesn’t cause suffering in the attainment, it makes me question whether it was worth attaining in the first place. That is down near the deep foundations of my slavery. To me, the beauty in life is in the struggle, from the dandelion forcing its way through the crack in the sidewalk, to the polar bear hunting over miles of ice to feed its young. Without the struggle, there’s no meaning, no fulfilment. It’s like a baseball game with one team up by how-ever-many runs–you might as well just stop. What’s the point? It’s just too easy. Nobody’s learning anything.

I agree with the Buddhist folks that sweating the small stuff isn’t worth it, but whose definition of small stuff? Designer labels or fancy gadget may not interest me, but who am i to judge those folks who do think those kinds of things are worth striving for? (Well, ok, those kinds of goods may have impacts on the environment or global economy in ways that do eventually effect me, so maybe i do have some right to an opinion. Ignoring that, though, my point stands.)

This is why, when Master tried to teach me how to meditate, i imploded. A practice that is supposed to help you achieve a state that cannot be reached through the struggle? To me, to stop suffering is to stop fully participating in life.

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Co-dependence versus interdependence

by on Sep.26, 2011, under Psychology

Our culture is so big on independence. The expectation has long been for men, and increasingly for women, that you stand on your own two feet and don’t ask for handouts, help, or hugs. I want to explore briefly the way that kind of thinking bleeds over into the way we think about, and live, intimate relationships.

We have in this culture the concept of “co-dependent” which, in addition to its specific meaning in the effects on addiction on family systems, has come to mean anyone who is just “too needy” in a relationship. If you’re “clingy,” or “desperate,”  if you’ve got “abandonment issues,” you get slapped with this pathologizing label.

Well, you know what, i think everyone has abandonment issues!  No one wants to lose an important attachment!  You can cope with that fear of loss in unhealthy ways, by not getting too attached in the first place or by hanging on to an ideal of an attachment when there’s really only lies and illusions. That doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with the strong desire for and/or the fear of loss of attachment in themselves.

From birth we are biologically primed for other human beings to help us regulate our states–hungry, tired, cranky, alert–not just with food, which we obviously can’t provide for ourselves, but with rocking, soothing, friendly interactions, body contact. From birth caregivers help infants learn to begin transitioning from one state to another, to subconsciously and then consciously recognize their physiological needs and the effects those needs have on their mood.

As adults, we can experience a far greater range of emotional/physical states. Sub space and top space are kind of obvious examples for this subculture, but there are more or less obvious examples in every day life as well. Being “in the groove” at work or during physical activity; the difference between “I’m feeling social” versus “tonight I want some ‘me’ time”; many spiritual experiences; times when we’re easily distracted as opposed to times when we can focus like a laser. These are all mental states during which the activity of our brain is going to be differently organized.

Some of these states we can get into on our own or provide the correct stimulus for ourselves in order to achieve. Some are much easier with help. And, i think, some are only possible in the context of an interaction with another human being.

For instance, i feel that the place where i am most fulfilled, most actualized, most “me” and yet at the same time least trapped by my “self” is a state i can only reach with Master’s help. (In another post i will try to describe and name this state more fully.)

I believe that it is normal and healthy for folks to help each other regulate various states. I believe it is normal and healthy for people to cooperate with each other so that all their needs–physical and emotional–can be met in a way that is symbiotic.  I’m not even go into the research about how human beings also physically need touch in order to stay healthy and thrive!

I think there’s a certain amount of independence that’s fine for most people, especially at certain stages of life. I think it’s part of healthy development for teenagers to start showing some independence from their family and try to make it on their own for a while–even teenagers who think they might be slaves, because i wonder whether it’s possible to give fully informed consent to be owned if you’ve never had the opportunity/burden of being free and on your own.

And i think our culture here in the US has been chasing that ideal across the edge of sanity into a bizarro-world.

I believe that people are evolved to depend on each other.  Those of us in M/s or O/p relationships know that it can be a beautiful and healthy thing to work together so seamlessly that either or any member of the dynamic feels stuck or lost when the other member isn’t available.

The key here is that each member of the dynamic is aware and on-board with whatever level of “needing” the other(s) has. There are no underhanded games or manipulation going on to develop a deeper need unless they’re already permissible within the agreed-upon structure. There is the proverbial open and honest communication and the requisite self-awareness to facilitate this communication.

I don’t call this co-dependence; i call it interdependence and i love it.


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Protected: This is how we do it

by on Sep.21, 2011, under Life

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Hello world!

by on Sep.12, 2011, under Uncategorized

This is only my second post on this blog, and actually it’s really the first because the other one was taken from another context.

My philosophy is that i’m never finished learning and improving, and it’s hard for me to understand that my thoughts about where i’m at may be helpful to others when i see how far i still have to go.  And yet . . . when i first started out, i learned the most from some folks who weren’t any further along in things than i am now.  And i am developing a new friendship with somebody who is doing a pretty good job of convincing me that even if my wisdom isn’t all that, some of the tips and tricks Master & i have worked out over the years can be helpful for others. For instance, i shared with her a technique we use to help Master not feel nagged or pressured when i make suggestions. Master tends to be more in the “now” and have a broader sense of everything that’s going on in the moment, while i tend to be more future-oriented and keeping track of all the things that need to get done over the next few days. That means that sometimes i will lay out a plan of attack along the lines of “we need to do this, then this, then this,” and i can definitely be going full steam ahead without really, er, consulting with Him. I’m not usually insistent on “my way” or even think of it as “my way.” I just feel like it’s the path that’s the most logical and therefore almost inevitable. Of course He’ll want to do it the most efficient way that gets everything done!  Right?

Well, not so much. So i started labeling my plans as either “suggestions,” (i think this is the best method to move forward) or “ideas,” (we could do it this way; there may be a better way.) Right up front, “Master, i have a suggestion,” or “Master, i have an idea.”  We did this pretty consistently for a while, and it became easier for me to see that often His plans, while different from mine, can be just as efficient!  Shocking, i know.

So i am going to try to write on some kind of semi-regular basis for the next little while and see how it goes.  I am a little apprehensive that i won’t be able to keep it up for long because i hate to put stuff out there unless i’m positive it’s correct . . . and just as there’s no one true way in M/s in general, we spend a lot of time figuring out that even what works for us for one period of time needs to evolve and change for our dynamic to stay strong over time.  So this will be, like Master’s, a record of my own mistakes as we go as well!

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Protected: What is a slave?

by on Sep.22, 2009, under slavery

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Protected: Mastery and The Path

by on Sep.08, 2009, under Mastery

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Protected: Why M/s Relationships Fail

by on Sep.04, 2009, under Uncategorized

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Protected: Ponderings

by on May.07, 2009, under Mastery, slavery

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