Last night, I did something I hate to do. I fell asleep watching television. Out here in the livingroom, stretched out on the pleather recliner, with Girls Gone Wild commercials seemingly repeated endlessly, it's sleeping only in the sense that my eyes are closed and I'm oblivious. When I drift out of unconsciousness, I don't feel particularly restless, and I know I haven't dreamed.
This morning, that happened at 3 a.m. I got up, brushed my teeth, turned off the lights, and headed to bed. But I knew what was coming. My body has been tricked, and I guess my serotonin levels start to rise or something, because after my nap of a couple of hours, trying to get to sleep is like trying to push water uphill with a rake.
Instead, I start thinking all those awful thoughts. What am I doing with my life? When will this exile end? Why can't I do anything right? Why does everything I touch turn to shit?
Usually, I say the rosary silently to myself until I drift off. For the uninitiated, the rosary consists of three prayers--the "Glory Be," the "Our Father," and the "Hail Mary"--repeated according to an age old scheme: bookended by Glory Be's and Our Father's, Hail Mary is repeated ten times, called a "decade," and five decades make up the rosary. The repetition calms the mind, other thoughs are stilled, and thus I am usually able to go to sleep.
But tonight, I prayed a greedy, self-serving, stupid prayer, along the lines of, "God! Make it all better!" And perhaps on some level not wanting to draw the Almighty's attention to me after that outburst, instead I looked around for something to read.
On the nightstand next to my bed, with my prayer book and a few other select volumes, is the Leatherfolk anthology. I opened at random and leafed back to the first chapter heading I came to. It was Thom Magister's recollection of being schooled in the ways of the Old Guard as a boy of 19 in Los Angeles during the 1950s. It's the essay that contains the phrase, "SM is the quest for excellence in ourselves and others."
Oh man. Did I need to read that.
So lost am I. So without a sense of myself. So un-soulful.
SM is the quest for excellence in ourselves and others.
In two weeks, as planned all those months ago, I'm heading up to a gay campground north of me in Pennsylvania. (Not that gay campground; the other one.) I'm meeting up with the man with the name of the greatest of the English Metaphysical poets whom I whipped at Black Rose down in DC back in December. I'm going to help him set up camp for the season, and then, I'll be going on a walk with him out into the woods. When I find a "good place," I'll tie him, arms akimbo, securely between two trees. Then, I'll whip him good.
It's been much on my mind. Earlier this afternoon, I took my whips out and spent some time throwing them in the front yard. But the word "dutifully" would fit into that sentence. And it shouldn't.
Where is my heart?
SM is the quest for excellence in ourselves and others.
At this point, I'm good with whips. I'd say I'm very good. And I know just how to bring out the excellence in this man, who shares a name with the writer of the Holy Sonnets. I will bring out the excellence in him, but I have to strive to find that which is excellent in myself, too.
I must be strong, and good, and wise, and kind, and dilligent. The whole Boy Scout motto: Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. (I don't know many better explications of "excellent.") The Warrior's Heart must beat again in my breast. I must be Master of myself before I can be Master of another.
I am called. I have been given a great gift, and with it, a great purpose. I am a Shaman. I bear the sins and burdens of other men as well as my own, giving them respite, courage, and wisdom. As Thom Magister points out, when a man submits to me, I am responsible for him forever, and forever is a long time. If anyone wants to hurt him, they have to go through me. He is mine. Or he will be. The God who made him has seen fit to entrust this man to me for safe-keeping. That's the way it should be.
And that, of course, is one of the great gifts of my time in exile here. Back in my NYC days, if a weekend went by and I didn't have a nice dose of SM, I'd feel let down, like something was wrong. In between, there was no time to think and reflect, to recognize that for me and for each man who submitted to me, our lives before were ended, and a new life, in relationship with each other, began.
Now, of course, there's plenty of time to think and reflect and assimilate. And that's a good thing.
I'm not a young man any more. And it's time to put away the trappings of youth. That quest for experience. That unquenchable need to Be There when the Big Thing happens. It doesn't matter if I only hear about the Big Thing second or third or fourth hand. My days are numbered. To be sure, all of our days are numbered, but my number is smaller, and thus easier to conceive. And my life won't be measured in parties or lattés on the porch of Starbucks or nights in some bar or television shows or workouts at the gym. Nor even, although I wish it weren't the case, in books I read. There is only one thing that tips the scale: the love you gave seeking nothing in return.
And for me, that's what SM--and excellence--is all about: love. One of my online profiles has the headline, "Leather Is Battlegear For Warriors Of Love." And although that's awfully high fallutin', I think that's true.
It's 6:13 a.m. The sun is up. The birds are singing. It looks like it will be a beautiful day.
Although I didn't sleep well last night, it seems I had some good dreams.