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2012 – MASTER Z | Pride and Passion

Thank you for that warm welcome.

Well here we are again gathered together at the Master and slave conference where we may come closer to being community than at most other times in our busy lives. Certainly some of us have vibrant and wonderful M/s communities locally, but I suspect for many of us, this event generates a feeling of family and closeness that we do not have the luxury of experiencing on a regular basis. So Welcome family…. Welcome old friends …. Welcome friends yet to be met. Would you do me the courtesy of taking a moment and look around your table or at a table near you and extend a warm a welcome to someone you don’t know yet!

That was nice…thank you.

I have been privileged to have attended every M/s conference thus far and have interacted with many of you on so many different levels. I have been a judge for the northeast Master/slave contest, a presenter and panel moderator, an emcee, an auctioneer, a presider at some of the spiritual practice gatherings and have sung the national anthem for the opening of this conference.

This year Master Taíno asked me to say a few words in a keynote address to open this conference. I would guess that this request finally runs the gamut of things he can ask me to participate in at this conference and I suspect there are not many other things that he can find for me to do after this gig!!

However I think I did spy him talking to some of the hotel management people here and I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t cutting a deal with them for next year. He probably has this idea to do some of his own set-up and tear down to reduce expenses. I can just hear the phone call next year….”…ah…Master Z… I have this offer for you to be the chief room organizer and bottle washer for MsC 2013… would you be willing?”

And of course, I would probably say yes. And why would I say yes? Well my chosen family would tell you that for some reason this Master’s lips have such a difficult time forming the “no” sound … but truth be told, I think it has more to do with what I find here that feeds me.

Things like the passion demonstrated by so many of you here who are in very special and differently structured relationships that we undertake along with the pride demonstrated time and time again in who we are and how we choose to love, play and live.

How appropriate then that the theme for this conference and the requested topic for this year’s keynote address is “pride and passion”.

Terms can sometimes mean different things to different people. So it seems prudent that we should probably start out with Mr. Webster’s definitions. What I found about pride that was very interesting was the 1st definition I found which was…

“…pride is the quality or state of being proud; inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, rank, etc., which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others …”

Boy did that surprise me. Nothing there I would want to use in the keynote. Maybe the second definition given would provide a different interpretation.

That one said…

“… pride is a sense of one’s own worth, and abhorrence of what is beneath or unworthy of one; lofty self-respect; noble self-esteem; elevation of character; dignified bearing; proud delight; — in a good sense …”
Well that one was a little better but doesn’t provide a lot of warm and fuzzies either does it? Let’s see what the third definition said. It’s got to get better, don’t you think? So number 3 said….

“… proud or disdainful behavior or treatment; insolence or arrogance of demeanor; haughty bearing and conduct; insolent exultation; disdain …”

Nope…that one didn’t do it for me either. Actually I had to go down the list of different ways of using the word pride to find this definition.

It said…

“… generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth …”

Now that’s more like it and more in-line with what I want to share with you this evening.

But don’t you find it strange like I did that the first definitions presented really sounded like “pride” is a negative attitude to display and not something any of us would want to necessarily be associated with?

And while reviewing the different definitions, Webster provided one that was very interesting, and not one I was familiar with, where the term pride would be used. That one said…

“… excitement of the sexual appetite in a female beast…”

Wow!! To all you female beasts out there, all I got to say is … you go girl and get your pride on!!! Woo Hoo… let’s hear it for all those female beasts out there.

Sorry guys, I found nothing specific for us under the definition of pride other than that arrogance, haughty, insolent exultation stuff. I suspect a similar definition for the male element might be found under a different “p” word…..like maybe …pig!! Yay…come on, let’s hear it for the pigs!!!!

Ok, so seeing all the negativity that could be connected to the definition and conceptual representation of pride, it is easy to see where all the negative biblical and spiritual references to pride came from. Like …

  1. from Providence 11:2 … which says … “when pride comes, then comes dishonor” … or …
  2. from Providence 16:18 … “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” … Or …
  3. Again from Providence 29:23 … “a man’s pride will bring him low”

And a reference I found related to my Buddhist path and attributed to grand Master Choa Kok Sui…

”the more intelligent a person is, the greater the possibility of a spiritual fall due to pride.”

So I hope you will agree with me that the definition for pride that had the most resonance and which will serve this keynote address best was …

“… pride is the generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth …”
Now that we have a definition of pride that we can work with, it’s on to what Webster shows for the term “passion”.

What I found was more in-line with what I thought would be there. Webster shows the following uses for the term, “passion”:

  1. Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
  2. Strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
  3. Strong sexual desire; lust.

I think for the purpose of this address, we can work with the first one,

“… any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.”

It is straight forward and should not create confusion.

When I sat with these definitions for a while, the word “pride” kept interchanging in my mind with the word “gratitude”.

Therefore, my comments about pride become clearer for me if I exchange the word “gratitude” for the word “pride”.

You know, as we grow older, I think that our sense of gratitude as well as our passions become clearer as life’s experiences uncover that which is important and central to our spirit versus that which now seems to have been more transitory in our life.

For example, as a much younger person, I became bored rather quickly and was always looking for the next moment of excitement or newness.

With age, I have learned how to appreciate the quiet and solitary moments and the peace of just being. In fact I now have to put all day to day hub-bub aside and dedicate time to experience just those quiet moments where clarity and true purpose have a possibility of coming to the forefront of my life. That doesn’t mean that younger folks don’t have that same drive to find the quiet times. It just seems that accumulation of years and life experience makes them rise above what sometimes gets camouflaged by youthful exuberance and energy.
As I now qualify as a senior citizen simply due to the number of years I have managed to string together, life’s’ challenges and foibles take on an entirely different perspective than when I was younger. That is the gift and joy of aging.

It reminds me of a story I recently heard about a man concerned about aging who picked a new primary care physician.

After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, the doctor said to the man that he was doing fairly well for his age (he had just turned 64).

A little concerned about that comment, the man couldn’t resist asking the doctor; “Do you think I’ll live to be 80?”
The doctor asked, “Do you smoke tobacco or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?”

“Oh no”, the man replied. “I don’t do drugs either!”

Then the doctor asked, “Do you eat sirloin steaks and barbecued ribs?”

The man replied, “No, not so much as my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy”.

The doctor further questioned, “Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, hiking or bicycling?”

The man replied that he did not take part in many outside activities.

The doctor then said, “Well do you gamble, drive fast cars or do you have lots of hot sex?”

No, the man replied. And then he asked again, “So, do you think I will live to see 80?”

The doctor paused for a moment, looked at him and replied, “With all the information about your life that you just told me; no booze or drugs, no good food, no opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, and it seems there is little excitement or good sex. Therefore, my final question to you is….why the hell do you even give a shit about living to be 80??”

That little story obviously speaks to the quality of our lives; not necessarily the quantity of years we are gifted with. And it is the pride and passions in our lives which adds what I believe to be the experiences that are truly meaningful.

And so thinking about pride or as I am using the alternate term, gratitude, I give thanks for all of us being together again at this year’s conference.

The ceremony that was conducted earlier tonight to remember those who have left this life should make us all aware that the only gift of time that we really have is now.

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow and so it would seem important that our energies be directed to right here and now as well as towards those we hold most dear and meaningful to our hearts. Let’s make sure that our passions for our personal relationships and our gratitude for them are not kept hidden under a basket waiting to be shared at a later time. Ask yourself, is there a friend, a loved one, a family member or someone with whom we have had a disagreement that needs to hear from you today? Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will make that call or see that person tomorrow. It can be a very painful lesson if that tomorrow never comes.

So again, back to gratitude. I have such gratitude for the bravery of all of you out there who are willing, to varying degrees, to be open to the world and to say this is who I am without apology to anyone who may choose to judge you.

I have such gratitude (again translated pride) for all who demonstrate a passion for living an authentic life … a life connected with their spirit and the precepts that we all strive to honor and hear time and time again as being so associated with our history and how we claim to choose to live. You know them as well as I do – responsibility – integrity – honor – loyalty – trust … the bedrock upon which we base our relationships, our lives and our community.

And we should all feel gratitude and pride towards those who have a passion for, and work to honor and preserve our history; to keep it from being destroyed and lost to future generations of kinksters and those seeking to connect their fetishes in real ways to who they authentically are .

And in that same light, we should have such gratitude for our ancestors and their passions that moved them to undertake a lifestyle so very different from the norm and to establish relationships that were in some cases illegal and that most certainly put their overall well-being at risk.

It was their passion for being authentic that made them brave enough to follow their heart’s desire in their play, their leather, in their kink, in their relationships and in how they chose to have sex.

And in spite of all the risks, those ancestors still were willing to share the intricate parts of their lives with a few chosen others so that they could learn from their mistakes and so that future generations could build a community that understands that being truly different is strength, not weakness.

And that undertaking is not finished brothers and sisters. It is equally our responsibility to exhibit the same pride and passion for who we authentically are to those who are still seeking to find their path.

To tell the story plainly; not embellishing it with tales or fantasy of how it may have been carried out in days of yore, but rather to share and show how it is working today. By showing what works and what didn’t and giving support to those still finding their way, we honor our history, we improve our present and that makes for a better future.

I have spoken about the gratitude towards our ancestors however I would be remiss if I didn’t include those folks on the other end of the age spectrum. I have such gratitude for the group we affectionately call “TNG”; the next generation.

I remember last year being one of the emcees. I was sitting back stage and listening to a number of individuals identified as “TNG” come forward and passionately address the audience on “TNG” issues.
I was literally blown away and swept up with emotion regarding what I was hearing. The “TNG” speaker’s maturity, sincerity, commitment, honesty, responsibility and transparency had to have been refreshing and reassuring to those in leadership positions today knowing that those who will take on leadership roles in the future are well suited to the task.

It almost felt like what a parent must feel as they see what used to be their child stand before the them now, as a responsible young adult.

As passionate as we can be about our sex and play, there is also what I interpret as a new searching and desire for connection with the deeper meaning of who we authentically are and a desire to better understand how all of this is relevant to each of our individual spiritual path. That also gives me pause for gratitude and pride.

To be clear, in using the term spirit, I am not meaning religion. That’s another keynote address or workshop topic to be sure.

Instead, when I refer to spirit, I use it as one would reference the energy associated with team spirit or when we recognize spirit in a race horse. It is the recognition that there may be something greater than ourselves; the recognition that we have a specific purpose to our time here on this planet and that there is the need for all of us to contribute to the greater good. I believe that is our only salvation to a better community and in turn, a better world for all to live, grow and prosper in.

I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention my gratitude to all of those whose passion leads them to serve. That service may come in big or in small and possibly unnoticed ways. It’s not about being the top or the bottom, the dominant or submissive or the Master or slave. It’s about being of service no matter how you authentically define your role.

This gratitude is extended to those who’s passions have led them to create events and conferences that give us all the opportunity to come together for education, for community, for networking and for fun. And it is not just that vision and leadership that provides a venue to bring it all together. It is also the passions of those behind the scenes who work tirelessly and without much recognition who are the true heart of any event.
Without their focus, dedication and hard work, none of what we, the attendees enjoy, would be possible.

I would also be remiss not to express my gratitude to those who agree to present at these conferences and put themselves forward, many times on their own nickel, to share what they have learned and experienced. And most times getting to the event is on their own nickel. It is their passion that moves them to continue to support the community through education and sharing.

And none of this would ever come together if it wasn’t for all of you … the attendees … who find ways to budget and financially support the conferences, events and causes that nourish us all. I am proud of and have such gratitude for all of you.

That gratitude also translates to those who serve on what may seem a smaller scale who run and organize mast chapters, munches and organizations that support the community and those seeking a place of welcome and camaraderie. It takes a similar passion to shepherd and nurture these types of functions week after week, month after month, year after year.

And I again would be remiss not to mention the gratitude I have for those who support others in their journeys through their mentorship, friendship and sharing. Though usually much less formal, it still takes dedication, passion and commitment to be willing to share their way, their experiences, their successes and their failures.

I know that each one of us would not have to reflect long to remember the individual or individuals who played that important role in our own journeys. I think back on those who had been or continue to be so meaningful to my own growth. The gratitude and love I feel for all those people could never be adequately described in mere words.

So, how do we demonstrate our gratitude and our deepest thanks to many of those I have mentioned this evening as well as to those that I didn’t have the opportunity to mention who’s passions and dedication contribute to all that we hold dear?

I believe that we do so by always focusing on that which makes us personally strong, vibrant and growing.

I believe it is through making sure that those tenants of our community that I mentioned earlier … responsibility – integrity – honor – loyalty – and trust… are where we devote our energy and focus.

Steel yourself from that which does not serve, honor and feed who you wish to be. Allowing your passions to be cloaked in things like pettiness, fetlife intrigue and divisive behaviors that tear down rather than build up, will keep you from experiencing the exhilerance of feeling this gratitude and pride I’ve been talking about this evening.

You know the old expression … “you are what you eat” …? I think the same can be said in terms of …”you are what you think”. Your thoughts fuel your actions and attitudes.
I have found it important to translate my beliefs into actions in the purest way I know how. As one who trys to live life along Buddhist principles, I am finding that when I compromise those principles, no matter how justified I may feel by bending them just a little, I am never in balance. So the unkind word, the judgment of others, the gossip, the self-serving direction I take from time to time, only keeps me from fully relishing the pride and passion that can and does feed and nourish me.

We can’t always control the outside influences of life that challenges our balance of peace and spirit, but we can strive to accept our imperfections and those of other and to live with the best intentions of doing good and living well.

I have found that 50% of the battle is practice and the other 50% is attitude. My prayer is that we continually find the courage and energy to be conscious and aware of every opportunity for our own personal growth and attitudes so that our passions and our pride are well directed and well served. Our attitudes and how we choose to develop and nurture them is a challenge for each and every one of us. We are best served by being supportive and building up rather than by tearing down.

So in closing tonight, I would like to leave you with a little story that demonstrates in a comical way, an attitude that seemed to be more focused on tearing down rather than being supportive.

There was once a lady who stopped into her local beauty shop to have her stylist give her a new haircut and look.

As she sat in the chair and began to chat with the stylist, she shared that she was very excited about an upcoming trip to Europe that she and her husband would be taking. It was sort of a second honeymoon for the couple after having scrimped and saved for years to put their two children through college.

The stylist inquired about the details of the trip and asked which airline were they planning on flying to Europe. The woman replied they had made reservations on continental airlines.

The stylist shook his head and proceeded to tell the woman that continental airlines had to be the absolute worst possible choice of any airline to fly to Europe. They have the oldest aircraft, the most uncomfortable seats and the rudest staff and that it was a shame that they had made that choice.
A bit later, the stylist further questioned the woman on the itinerary of the trip and where she was most excited about visiting.

The woman replied that of all the places that they were going to visit, she was most excited about their visit to the ancient city of Rome.

The stylist wrinkled his nose and commented about how Rome was perhaps one of the worst cities to include on an itinerary. He told the woman that it was dirty, the people were rude and arrogant, and there was a lot of tourist crime which made sightseeing dangerous.

The stylist then inquired where the couple were planning on staying while in Rome.

The woman apprehensively replied that they had a booked a quaint bed and breakfast villa just outside of Rome that had been recommended by their travel agent.

The stylist immediately commented that he had friends that had stayed at that very same bed and breakfast and they had told him that it was dirty, run-down and very low quality and that the staff were rude and not very helpful.

Now the woman was afraid to talk anymore about the trip she had been so excited about however the stylist now wanted to know what tourist type of things they were planning on doing while in Rome.

The woman thought for a moment and then said that she and her husband, being devout Catholics, had included the Vatican on their list of things to see and were hoping they might get a glimpse of the pope. Certainly she thought he would not find much negative to comment on a visit to the Vatican.

The stylist laughed and proceeded to tell her that he had a customer who had thought the Vatican tour would be a wonderful experience however later reported that it was a huge disappointment, crowded, poorly delivered and that it was very, very rare for anyone to actually see the pope.

By now, the woman was not feeling as excited about the trip as when she had first sat down in the stylist’s chair.

The remainder of the time was spent in relative silence as the stylist worked on the new hairdo that she had requested.

A couple of months later, the woman was back from her trip and again sitting in the same stylist’s chair.

He immediately recalled her from before and inquired as to how the trip to europe had gone. He asked if she and her husband had found continental to be the disaster he had earlier described.

The woman replied that it had actually been just the opposite. She told the stylist that when continental had found out that this was sort of a second honeymoon for the pair, that they upgraded them to business class and presented them with a bottle of champagne during the flight.

The stylist said that had to have been a fluke and then asked if they didn’t find Rome itself to be as disappointing as he had earlier described.

Again the woman related that they had not found Rome to be much different from any of the other cities that they had visited and in fact, found the people to be delightful and very friendly and helpful.

Well, said the stylist, I am sure you didn’t enjoy the bed and breakfast much.
The woman smiled and related that when they arrived, they found that the majority of the hotel had been beautifully renovated and that since there was still was some construction going on, the hotel staff moved them as far from the noise as possible. This meant giving them an upgraded room which was one of their very special suites with a terrace overlooking a beautiful garden. The suite had a sunken tub, along with a living and dining room, and there were fireplaces in both the living room and Master bedroom.

The stylist scratched his head in wonderment and replied that he was sure that they must have found the Vatican tour to be a huge disappointment.

The woman smiled and related how they had shown up for the Vatican tour and after viewing the sistine chapel with the group, a staff member of the Vatican came up to them and indicated that the pope from time to time liked to randomly conduct an audience with some of the tourists. He inquired if they might be interested in having an audience with his holiness, the pope.

The stylist was shocked at the good fortune that had surrounded the woman during this trip and just had to ask, ”So how did the audience go”? …

The woman related how the pope had gone to each of the individuals that were participating in the private audience and spoke briefly with each one.
She told the stylist that when the pope came to her, she bowed and knelt before the holy father.

He then leaned down and whispered in her ear and asked… “Who the hell fucked up your hair?????”

So as this little story indicates, our attitudes and passions can make the difference between a negative and positive outlook.

Keep your attitudes positive and your passions directed towards the betterment of yourself and others. It is then that your pride will be well directed and something to truly have gratitude for.

I thank you all for listening this evening. Let your passions and pride loose this weekend.

I wish each of you a joy-filled conference and encourage every one of you to meet and share a little of yourself with someone new this weekend.

Blessings and namaste.

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