Tao means a road, path, way; and also, the way in which one does something; method, doctrine, and principle. It speaks to ourselves, the path on which we walk, and how we walk it.
No two slave’s journeys are the same. However most have milestones along the road. Points in time which become defining to our existence.
This series of short vignettes is meant to describe these turning points from a Master’s perspective. In the moment and outlining what the crux of each milestone might be.
So You Want to Serve…..
You may believe in your heart of hearts you are committed. We’ll see if that changes in two days, two weeks, two months……. two years from now.
It is not enough to willingly place your head in the harness. To go about your daily tasks without question. You will learn the difference between serving and being In Service To.
Once the later becomes clear to you, then and only then will you be able to make an informed decision. To say without reserve, “I stay with a willing heart.”
To be slave, is to be all and nothing. So encompassed in the art of service the person and the act become indistinguishable. The acts, each one, are their new fingerprint. Exactly how a sugar bowl is placed on a tea tray. The care shown in the details when laying out their Master’s clothing. Finding fulfillment, in the seemingly mundane.
Most cannot allow their “vessel” to become empty enough making room for the thousands of details.
Those who know, understand the collar is a symbol to show those who do not understand a glimpse of what could be, the only allowance of overt pride, and a promise said two ways. Those who truly want to become, may never notice your collar, only how brightly your flame outshines all around you.
Other….. More…… Slave
(We do not always really want what we wish for. Often, we do not understand what it is we are getting ourselves into. Until we do. Starting a journey, we are wide eyed. Sometime later though, we begin to face other thoughts.)
If You Stay…..
I can promise you this-
I will always keep your best interest in mind.
You will not always agree with me on how I go about that. In fact there may be times you are frustrated and angry with me.
If You Stay….
I cannot guarantee a month or a year from now you will be satisfied. That is a mystery for you to solve. I can only lay the path. How you perceive it, I have no control over.
If You Stay….
The work will be hard, mentally and physically. Sometimes monotonous. The point of each exercise will not always be obvious. But that is often the point of it. For you to find it.
If You Stay….
You may find eventually that this is not for you or that I am not the right One for you. That does not equate to wasted time, just time you spent preparing for the One who is for you.
If…. You….. Stay…..
We will be able to look back and find many moments which made it all worth the effort. Places in time where epiphanies happened, joy was found, and sorrows overcome.
The road you are choosing is a rocky one not because I have put boulders in the path, but because we all have ourselves to master, a self-perception which weighs us down, and a history which can haunt us.
Being free of those chains is what I have to offer.
If You Stay
(There is a gut check sometime early in every great endeavor. A moment when we realize that what we face may be bigger than we are prepared for. That success, no matter how hard we work for it, is not guaranteed. It is at that point we must make a decision, a leap of faith, with the understanding that what we learn from it, regardless of outcome is worth it. If we are willing to take the risk.)
This is not training……
Training is such an oversimplification of what you will experience. I can train a dog to fetch. I can train a person to write. You will be led to think and process differently.
I will challenge your self-perception, your perception of others, and your perception of the world around you. Not to make you a doll, but to help you be more resilient, powerful, the calm at the center of the storm.
You will learn to maintain a singular focus in spite of the chaos around you. A mindful razor-sharp clarity that allows you to see what may have been hidden from you before.
Not erasing you, or replacing you, but building a fortress around you. So the slings and arrows of life are much less concerning. Outwardly a blade of grass swaying in the wind. Inwardly a mountain of granite. Immeasurable. Immovable. Timeless.
You will always have a choice. Comply or do not comply. Each has its consequence. Good and bad. You will be measured by your choices, not just your deeds. Strive to choose wisely at every turn.
To do this you must become a scholar of yourself, of those around you, and of those that came before both of us. Setting conventional expectation aside in favor of writing a new book.
Be thoughtful, critical, and ethical. Logic alone will not serve you well. Let your intellect temper your heart’s lead. Calculated risk vs. wild abandon.
I do not seek to train you.
I seek the best version of you, and through you the best version of me.
(Becoming a better person, a better version of ourselves, is not about the physical. It is mental. A change in the way we view ourselves and how we fit into the world around us. A shift in self perception which allows us to appreciate ourselves more and rely on the praise of others less. Freeing us to be our best.)
Now You Know…..
Three months since you have come into my fold…… now you know it is not all fun and games. Good times yes, but also stressful ones. The time you have spent looking inward far outweighs all else.
What have you learned?
Did you just bow your head, grit your teeth, and power through it? If so then you have learned nothing other than you can survive.
I want you to thrive! The only way to do that is to fully embrace what you have chosen. Immerse yourself in it. Leave nothing on the field at the end of each day.
If your plan is to survive the next three months, leave now, this is not for you and I have nothing to teach you.
If you want to thrive, open yourself up to the possibility that you are enough. It’s just a matter of unlocking the right doors.
There will be many nights you will go to bed doubting yourself. Resist doing so. Set that doubt aside and review your goals. Self-doubt allows for the possibility of overall failure. Focus your mind on success.
You will have small failures along the way. This does not mean you have failed but been provided the opportunity to become better. Do not pass them by.
Three months in…. is just barely scratching the surface.
Consider this before deciding to stay or go for the next three…..
Anyone can survive….. it takes courage to thrive.
(When we keep our heads down and keep digging, we fail to see the mountain we build in our own path. We have not confronted our own failings and misgivings as each one pops up but consolidated them together. Creating a much more difficult barrier to overcome. Thriving means not just doing well but living well. Part of that is confronting difficult issues as they arise, not putting them off for another day.)
It’s OK to Smile…….
I saw you standing next to the counter. Watching you prepare the tray. Carefully arranging everything and looking at it from one side then another.
Then something happened. The corner of your lips slowly moved upward with a nod of your head. A hundred or more times you have set that tray to have me send it back or correct something. This time you looked sure of yourself.
When you brought the tray setting it carefully on the table next to my chair you waited as you always do. However, this time, I could feel the tension in your muscles coiling, in anticipation of my glance toward it.
Lowering my book slightly I quickly surveyed the lacquered wood and its contents stating it was, “good.” The relief emanated from you in waves.
“Tomorrow, add toast. Lightly done. One slice, wheat. Buttered on one side. Not soggy. One teaspoon of strawberry jam in the center.” I instructed to you as I looked over the edge of my glasses.
The mixture of success of coffee service and dread apparent from the addition to the task showed on you even though your expression never changed. “Thank you, Sir. Yes Sir.”
“It’s OK to smile,” I mentioned. “You did well, the tray is correct. Your reward is you get to add toast to the service. Which I do enjoy.”
It is OK to smile, to feel pride at something done well. Each time you succeed, something more will be given to you. Another detail in which you can find pride and success.
If I did not think you worthy or capable, I would not have added the toast.
(We have all had one thing in our lives that no matter how hard we tried, we could never seem to get it right. We banged our head against the wall for what seemed like an eternity. Then one day, something just changed. We shifted how we thought about the problem and the solution became clear. It is in these moments we learn the most about ourselves. That we are capable. This is not the time to rest on our success but to reach for the next goal. Seize the momentum and let it carry us forward.)
You have earned this night.
Tonight, you will be introduced to many people you already know. Yet, as something more than what they have known you to be. The beginning of a new evolution. No longer just, “her,” or a slave in training. But as slave.
Tonight, you will get to show all those around you just how much you have learned both in service and on the post.
After tonight, they will look at you differently. Speak to you differently. Know you differently.
Debutantes attend balls to be shown to society and given the chance for others to see how well heeled they are. Similarly, you will have the chance to show the community what a good student you have been. Etiquette, personal presentation, service, and poise. All will be watching to see if I have done my part well.
Tonight, you represent me, as well as yourself. All that we have accomplished together over the last year comes together tonight. At one dinner. In service to this House, and to me.
You have this in you, you always have. Trust in yourself.
After tonight, you will see yourself differently. For good or ill it will change your impression of yourself. Take from it the positive you gain. It is a challenge, one not easily met for the first time, but not impossible.
Do well, earn your chair.
(There are very few seminal events in our lives. Moments which forever influence our view of our world and change our actions as a result of it. When they do happen, the lessons we take from them are entirely up to us. Even in abject failure we can find motivation to improve and move forward. Some fold in adversity and leave behind that which they strived for. Other succeed in the moment, only to stall out. Hanging their hat on one moment as the pinnacle to never achieve anything greater. In everything there is a choice. The trick is to choose wisely.)
Remember Where You Came From…..
Soon you will be making a choice regarding your place in this House. Before you do, you need to remember what came before this place.
Take two weeks, hell, take a month. Go visit family and friends. Inspect old haunts and relive some of who you were before you met me.
Not to say goodbye, but to remember. To feel what it was like before slave. Before Service.
When you first came here, I presented you a choice to stay or go. That choice has always been on the table. Everyday like a giant wide open barn door to the rest of the world. All you had to do was step through it. Yet you stayed, no matter how hard it became.
This time it is not a choice. You must go, for a time.
Reconnect with people you may have lost touch with. Live normal things. Some of it will feel very strange to you. Some people, even though lifelong friends, may make you uncomfortable.
Answer their questions. Fully and honestly. You can say anything you like, including about me.
Do not be angry or frustrated with them if they do not understand. How could they? I said in the beginning I would lead you to view yourself, others, and the world around you differently. So you do. But they, do not.
This is not to say goodbye to those you love or the life you have lived. It is to remember, so you can make the right choice for yourself. That cannot be done here under my, and others, watchful eyes. It must be done, on your own.
When you return, I will ask you one last time.
In the meantime……remember.
(To know where we are, we have to know where we came from. Memories fade. Sometimes this is good, sometimes bad. In either case refreshing those memories helps us appreciate the progress we have made in our lives. Helps us look at the triumphs and failures more clearly so we can plot the path we have walked with clarity. How can we know the next step is right for us, if we do not understand the steps we have taken?)
Tomorrow is the day. Tonight, we eat, laugh, and play!
Tomorrow you will stand before the house and recite what is required. What you know to be true.
Tomorrow you will state your desire in response to a question you have been asked many times.
“Stay or go?”
There is no right or wrong answer, only what you will. What you feel is right in your heart and best for you.
Do not be tempted to tell me now. I can see the want furling in your brow. Keep your council for the morning.
Whichever you choose, I am proud of you. You have worked hard, learned much, and been willing to grow. Grow you have. From a shy unsure wall flower into the center of a hurricane. Calm. Surrounded by a current so strong your movement ensures the attention of all around you.
Whatever you do, I can only believe you will find success. You have learned that to try invites failure, but that failure is not the end. Only another chance to prevail. You have found an inner strength which allows you to stand in the middle of chaos and be confident you will find a way.
Wherever you go, rest easy knowing you have friends who will understand your heart. They may not always be easy to find, but they are there if you are willing to look for them. Others with an uncommon will and drive; compassion and loyalty; strength and passion for life and those they surround themselves with.
Enough of an old man’s sappy musings. Food and friends await.
Tomorrow is your day.