So, recently there's this particular someone I've found myself saying no to a lot.  

"No, you can't borrow my shark shaped hyper spanner."  

"No, we're not cleaning the EPS conduits."

"No, you cannot take an away team down to the planet's surface."

(I've also, consequently, been watching a lot of Star Trek: Enterprise, which I really enjoy, but that's a whole separate topic.)

Often when this particular ensign (go with me here, Star Trek metaphor) kept coming to me, I got the distinct impression that they saw me as the Captain of the ship, or maybe ship's counselor.  Some sort of senior officer, anyhow.

But I'm just a crewman, like anyone else.  Sure, I put together the shark dive on the holodeck, sure I'm willing to take a few minutes out of my duty shift to tell people an awesome zen story in between servicing warp coils, sure I led that infamous game of fizbin in the mess hall that went on for 72 hours straight.  Yes, yes, yes.

(Are you getting that I really like Star Trek here?  Because I really do.)

But I'm still just one guy on the ship.  Not THE guy.  And sometimes I need my sleep.  Or to catchup on my personal log.  (How the heck do star dates even work?)  I'm just a person.  

Still, saying no to Ensign Needhelp over and over was starting to feel really bad to me.  

Here's an infamous 15 minute long compilation of Security Chief Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation getting told no, getting shut down, over and over in various ways.

When I first saw this thing, years ago, it made me howl with laughter.  Lately I find I can watch about 5 minutes of it before I have to tap out.  Go on, give it a try.  Or feel free to tell me no.

I've been realizing something important, working on it for a bit, about that No I keep giving the ensign.

The no for them isn't about them.  It's the complement to a yes for me.

A who-what now?

A complement.  A thing which of necessity is required for balance and wholeness.  Like the way a coin has a heads side and a tails side.  You can't have one without the other.  "Oh but head and tails are opposites, mako?", you might say.

Sort of.  But also complements.  When I say no to something, I'm saying yes to something else.

So, everybody knows the yin-yang symbol, the taijitu, or "supreme ultimate."  Big swirly circle, two sides, two dots, Yin and Yang.  The reason the dots are there, the reason the sides are swirls is that they contain one another, extend one another, and define one another.

Kinda like this:

A gorgeous taijitu, showing a sunny day, with a green flowering tree by an ocean, with a hot sun in the sky, next to a barren tree, by a windswept snow covered hill top, with a wan little winter sun in a cold sky.

A gorgeous taijitu, showing a sunny day, with a green flowering tree by an ocean, with a hot sun in the sky, next to a barren tree, by a windswept snow covered hill top, with a wan little winter sun in a cold sky.

This is much more what I'm going for.  During the whole year there's not one instant where you're not heading toward midsummer and away from midwinter, or just the opposite.  Every minute, of every day, you come closer and closer to that pivot point.  

Just in the same way, when you say no to things you don't have the energy, time, interest, or whatever-is-required-to-do-it for, you're also saying yes to other things.  Everyone is.  All the time.

It's beautiful.

Today I explained some part of this to that particular ensign, and made sure I was clear because I wanted to be understood.

It felt good.

There's this favorite quote I understand just a little bit better today.  

"Wisdom is knowing I am nothing and no one,

Love is knowing I am everything and everyone.

Between the two my life moves."

--Nisargadatta Maharaj

I have this daily practice of meditation and contemplation. I spend some amount of time each day thinking on some idea, some concept about being... well, actually just about being.  I think about emotions, about people, about relationships, about what it means to be alive.  

I've been doing it for about 15 years now.  It's often really hard work, but just as often really rewarding.

Lately I've been focused on perspective taking, which is distinct from empathy or even sympathy. Perspective taking is the distinct action of trying to see things from someone else's perspective, to learn their feelings, their desires, their fears.

A cartoon.  In the left panel a castaway on a tiny island sees a boat in the distance, raises his arms, and cries out, "BOAT!".  In the right panel, the guy in the very tiny boat sees an island far away with someone on it, holds up his hands and cries out, "LAND!"

A cartoon.  In the left panel a castaway on a tiny island sees a boat in the distance, raises his arms, and cries out, "BOAT!".  In the right panel, the guy in the very tiny boat sees an island far away with someone on it, holds up his hands and cries out, "LAND!"

Take this cartoon.  Both these people see in the other person something they need, and they are so very excited to get it from that other person.  It's somewhat dark humor, because in reality neither has that-needed-thing to give.

Some things about perspective-taking really clicked home for me this morning.  Over the past two years or so, I've been devoting a lot of my contemplation-and-meditation time to what I now recognize as the idea of emotional interdependence.  

What the heck is that?  It's the idea that while I, as a person, interact with others, am affected by them, and affect them too, that there's a certain, and very healthy emotional self-sufficiency I can fall back on, and in fact, must to avoid harming others or myself.

I consider myself to be a kind, compassionate person.  Someone who usually has the best interest of others front and center in my attention.  But sometimes that's not so.  I have chased others to give me something I had been lacking for.  Sometimes that's been comfort, reassurance, a quick hit of pleasure or eroticism, to help me do a technical thing I feared I couldn't do by myself, all sorts of things.

About two years ago, I went through an awkward situation with someone I was very close to where I was chasing them for something I wanted them to do in their life.  But it wasn't up to me, it was up to them to make whatever changes in their life they might.  After a very rough time, I stopped chasing them.  I made this strong resolution, "I don't chase anyone, for anything."

Well, two years of contemplation later, I realized that there's a corollary to this.  Because lately I've been getting chased some.  We haven't been doing the podcast for several months, and I get emails from folks who like it, total strangers, asking what's going on with the show, and with us, and when it will be back.  I've had some very nice friends who flirt with me sometimes, and when I'm in the mood for such, it feels really good.  But when I'm not in the mood, or its uninvited, it feels sort of slimy.

And that's not a statement on how those people are jerks.  They are most distinctly not jerks. They're people.  And me, I'm a people, too.  Because I've done just those same sorts of things to others.  I've chased people for any number of reasons, blindly putting my own desires ahead of any thought of what they had going on.

This idea, this challenge of perspective-taking, it's not new.  I've been thinking about it, and maybe not quite getting it for a looooong time.  One of my favorite songs is about it.  It's called "The Balance" by The Moody Blues.

I get that song in a way I never did before.  Right along with that awesome quote.  It's firmed my resolve about some things.

First, when I catch myself chasing, to do my best to stop.  And to own it, apologize to others when and where I have the chance to do so.

Second, when I get chased, and it's in a place and time where it's not working out for me, to say so to the chaser, directly, but with loving kindness.  Because I've been there, and I am them, and they are me.

Third, I'm not going to waste a single moment trying to get away from this pattern.  Because I think it's part of the human condition.  

The sociologist Brené Brown says that being vulnerable to people you trust is an antidote to shame.  But that trust is earned.  You have people you go to, to get that confirmation that you're worthy of love and belonging with them.  That's a sort of emotional interdependence you grow over time.  I wouldn't want to not do that.  I don't think it's even possible.  I'm so very grateful for those who I have built that trust with, that we can lean on and into one another.

That takes time, and work, and love.

I'm grateful for it.

I was catching up....

with an old friend, M. today. She's an ageplayer too, wears diapers, wants spankings, all that stuff.  You know, just a regular person.

Anyhow, we were talking about the podcast, and my coaching practice, going to kink events,and  the pride symbol. I confided in my friend that I'm sort of "semi-retired" from the whole thing.

Seriously.  

I can count on one hand the number of shows we've recorded in the past six months. I haven't actively had any coaching clients in over a year.  I go to the occasional munch, but not with any sort of regularity.  I'm in the middle of writing a 3rd novel, but it's on an indefinite hold while I work on other things.

So many of the things I do, by which I define myself, have really changed.

On the other hand, some things have remained, even grown.  I'm still kinky, still poly, still an ageplayer.

I've just shifted some priorities around. I have been hard at work at creating a business for about a year now.

My relationships are strong and good, evolving along with me.  In my day job, I'm technically challenged and actively growing each and every day.

The thing that struck me as I was talking with my friend about this was that my identity, my sense-of-self is really rather fluid. I'm on the move, striking out in new directions. 

When I was a kid, my dad once said that success in life was like a vector in physics. You pick a direction, and head towards it, at speed. If it stops working for you, or your circumstances change, you pick a new direction, change course, and keep right on going.

IMG_3461.JPG

It also strikes me that that sort of mindfulness is a bit like the matter shift water does. When water's cold, it freezes into the shape of its container. But when things heat it up melts down and begins to flow into the shape that matches where it is.

I find that applying to me more and more these days. I'm actively melting down and finding a new shape for who I am and what I do.

I'm grateful for it.

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesgratitudeNow

So this morning...

I'm surfing the internet in bed, from my phone, like you do.  I stumbled onto a short film called YES, GOD, YES.

Here's how the film-makers describe it.  "Fifteen-year-old Alice has always been a good Catholic, but when an innocent AOL chat turns unexpectedly racy, she finds herself suddenly obsessed with masturbating."

This film is brilliant.  It's literally a coming-of-age story.  If you watch it carefully, you can see subtle, artful skewering of all sorts of social conventions and hypocrisies.  And, without giving away any spoilers, Alice, after floundering some, really finds her sexual agency, really takes responsibility for her own ideas around sex.

Don't take my word for it.  Watch it!

One last, weirdly bizarre moment of grace or something about this film.  After I saw it, I just knew I had to blog about it, because of this weird little thing about how Karen Maine,  the film's writer, director, and producer uploaded the film.

"Uploaded by Karen Maine... via MAKO UPLOADER."

"Uploaded by Karen Maine... via MAKO UPLOADER."

I'm super grateful films like this exist.

Posted
AuthorMako Allen

So this past weekend was a really, really big deal for me, and for Missy, too.

My girlfriend Squee came to visit us.

 I took off time Friday and Monday for her visit.  Missy and I did a fair amount of prep work to be ready.  We bought a bed for the guest room, put it together, realized we had it wrong, fixed it, realized we bought the wrong bed frame, returned it, put it together, and then collapsed in a sweaty, satisfied heap.

Missy agonized for days over finding good nightstands to put in there, and ended up rigging up some ersatz ones with plastic drawers, and a sheet or two.  (This was a total thoughtful surprise for me by the way - I love her so much.)  We just moved, and all the furniture money we had available really went towards the bed, so that was a lovely solution.

Squee told me that it was all amazing, but we didn't need to trouble ourselves, because the most important things she was coming to see weren't things at all, they were people - me, Missy, and my sister-in-law.  

There's this funny word that gets thrown around in polyamorous circles, frubble.  Frubble is (to quote Urban Dictionary [I know, but don't judge me, in this case it's great]) "Total joy over someone else's happiness."  In the case of polyamory, it's when you're happy that your partner is happy.

See? Cuddling!

See? Cuddling!

We were positively dipped in frubble the whole visit.  Missy was thrilled for me.  Then Squee gave Missy and MB these amazing duct-tape wallets her daughter had made for them, and I was happy for them.  And we all spent time, and everyone was happy for everyone else and for themselves too.  There was a whole lot of cuddling on couches.

That's my wife, and my girlfriend, and if you look really closely, me sitting behind them (See my arm?)

That's my wife, and my girlfriend, and if you look really closely, me sitting behind them (See my arm?)

We were family-building, forging all our individual feelings for one another into something greater than the sum of its parts.  I commented to Missy that frubble wasn't quite what I was feeling, because this joy I was feeling wasn't just someone else's happiness, it affected me, too.

She suggested a new word "lubble."  Maybe that's "total joy over the happiness of people you love, that makes you all love one another more"?  I don't know, it's a work in progress.

MORE CUDDLING?  Yep.

MORE CUDDLING?  Yep.

We spent amazing quality time together.  We hunted for Pikachu near our house.  We wandered around small charming towns near our house.  We ate Waffle House hash browns.  We felt love, connection, and closeness.

I am so blessed.

Posted
AuthorMako Allen