by Mako Allen
One of my favorite Lao-tzu quotes is “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon a destination.” That’s good advice for travelers and for kinky people too.
I think that the notion of “fixed plans” speaks to both judgment and expectation. We’ve all heard judgments before like “spanking is great, but I’d never want to be whipped.” Expectations are just judgments that haven’t happened yet.
Taoism advises us to let go of both of them altogether.
When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.
Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.
Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.
The truth about judgment is this: it’s relative. I’ve been into spanking forever. Some days my taste for it is bigger than others. Sometimes if the mood is right, and the spanking is for play, I can take a really hard spanking, other days it’s like I’m made from tissue paper. There are multiple factors that contribute to one’s pain tolerance and tastes, including health, mindset, stress levels, and experience.
What’s tough for you today might be easy for you tomorrow.
There’s a problem with words like “tough” and “easy” anyhow, though. They are what Taoists refer to as shi-fei. Shi-fei are binary judgments, like good/bad, tall/short, even top/bottom. Shi-fei literally means, “this-not-this.” When you use shi-fei instead of experiencing something fully, you step back from it, in order to label it. Taoism discourages the use of shi-fei, because doing so distances you from the moment.
This is not to say that you won’t make judgments, or observations. That’s perfectly human, and can be useful. You don’t tie someone up with the rope you forgot to pack, after all. You pick something else out of the toy bag.
The whole reason I even own a toy bag is because I have some toys I like used on me, or to use on others. There’s nothing wrong with having plans. It’s just the fixed ones that are the issue.
A key aspect of the Tao is that it’s always in motion, always changing. People are like this too. I used to have a morbid fear of canes, and never wanted anything to do with them. I was convinced that I didn’t like them, and never would. Several years ago, some friends convinced me to let them cane me, and I was pleasantly surprised, and found that I loved it. I still never imagined I’d like caning someone else. I worried that I’d be no good at it, or find it too impersonal, or that I’d break the cane. Once I tried it though, I found my fears weren’t true.
Worrying about canes was sort of useless. All it did was keep me from trying it out.
Putting aside shi-fei doesn’t mean you don’t develop tastes. Years ago I dated a woman who adored face slapping. I was hesitant to let her try it, because I thought I’d dislike it. Sure enough, I really did dislike it, and was relieved to not get my face slapped any more when we broke up. Does this mean I’ll never try it again? I don’t think so. If the right person asked, I’d give it a shot. Until then though, I won’t worry about it.
This sort of action-without-worry is another key Taoist concept, called wu-wei, the “action of non-action”. Wu-wei means doing only that which you must, and nothing else. It’s not a prescription for laziness, rather for adaptability.
Let’s revisit that example of planning to tie someone up, but not having the rope. You could get upset that you forgot it, or yell at your submissive, or sulk in a funk at your interrupted scene. But you don’t have to do any of those things, and actually, all of them come with rather negative consequences. Being upset, yelling at someone, or sulking won’t change the fact that you don’t have the rope. That’s the reality of the moment.
Perhaps you could find some new, novel way to bind your partner. Maybe you’ll put them in cuffs, or sit on them, and get about the business of happily whacking the heck out of them. By doing only what you must, you’ll be in tune with the moment, and able to see new options, able to go and grow in new directions.