Kinky folks, myself included, are often completely obsessed with genesis. I don’t mean the one in the Christian bible, but rather their own genesis, “how they came to be the kinky person they are”. A good friend of mine, the sex therapist Dr. Gloria Brame, says that it’s incredibly common for kinksters to carry around the idea that there was this One-Pivotal-Experience-Which-Made-Them-This-Way™. Clinically speaking, that’s just not so. That’s a terribly unsatisfying truth. But Lao-tzu’s perspective on the matter may make you feel a bit better.
21. The Empty Heart
The greatest power is the gift
of following the Way alone.
How the Way does things
is hard to grasp, elusive.
Elusive, yes, hard to grasp,
yet there are thoughts in it.
Hard to grasp, yes, elusive,
yet there are things in it.
Hard to make out, yes, and obscure,
yet there is spirit in it,
There is certainty in it.
From long, long ago till now
it has kept its name.
So it saw the beginning of everything.
How do I know anything about the beginning?
We are connected to a greater truth. This moment, the one we are in right now, is the ultimate purpose of the universe. Think back to just a few moments ago, when you began reading this column. Then think back to the hour before that, and then back to this morning when you woke. There’s a chain of events between then and now. Each of those moments brought you here, to this one.
Does this mean that waking up caused you to read this column? No, it doesn’t, at least not directly. But it did lead you here. The causality of it doesn’t really matter.
Tao is the Chinese word for “way”. Being kinky is a tao. So is the way you’re reading this column, or the way you woke up this morning. But none of them are the Tao, the big one. That one, which we cannot speak of or observe directly, contains all others. Just as all rivers ultimately lead to the ocean, all taos lead to the Tao. David Mitchell, author of a favorite novel of mine, Cloud Atlas, says it best, “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
The greater truth is that while you cannot see it directly, you, just as you are, are the Tao. It is within you. It is you. It always has been. It always will be. You don’t get to be a certain way. You are The Way.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t change over time. You most certainly do. The Tao is always in motion, always changing.
I remember when I was a fumbling teenager, struggling through the confusing, and passionate throes of puberty. I used to really feel sorry for myself about it. It was bad enough that I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes off the opposite sex, but I felt tortured by my thoughts about being spanked. And as for the diapering/babying stuff, I could barely bring myself to even whisper it aloud in the dark to myself at night, so great was my shame.
Yet with that torturous shame came something else: certainty. I knew what I was. I felt the desires. The shame didn’t come from them, but from my struggle to accept them. I needed an explanation.
Or at least I thought I did.
As I got older, I gradually revealed more of my desires to partners, to mixed results.
In my early twenties, after ending an engagement to a domineering (but not dominant) woman, I openly embraced the kink community. I did go to see a therapist to ask if my desires were healthy and where they came from. The therapist’s short answers were a definitive “yes”, and an equally definitive “no one really knows.” What he did tell me was that WHY I was this way didn’t matter anywhere near as much as HOW I was this way. He said that as long as I lived a life of balance, where the desires didn’t overwhelm my ability to live, eat, have friends, work, and sleep that I was living successfully.
That was a pivotal moment for me. I remember standing in the parking lot outside the therapy center, and imagining I was on a beach. In my head, I drew a line in the sand, said to myself, “OK, this is who I am. It’s inside me. It is me. It’s time to commit to it.” Then I literally stepped over the line.
It’s made all the difference.