The root of all evil?
I would make the above a statement rather than a query, but this has been a year for change.
In two days, I’ll be 40 years old.
Given that the average life expectancy for men in this country is currently 72 years, and that I have both a family history of heart disease and a medical history of serious injury, including cranial fractures and multiple concussions, my own life expectancy is likely to be less than that, unless medicine advances to the point where those elements change, which is possible, possibly even likely, but it’s not something that I would bet money upon.
So – taking these things into consideration, it’s reasonable to assume that I’ve lived more than half of my life by this point.
This is the sort of thing that makes one look back over his life and wonder what might have happened differently.
This year has brought change, as every year does, but the end result is not unlike the beginning.
I end the year in much the same state that I began it, having picked up experiences, but tangible change still sits in the wings, waiting for something – I know not what.
Early in the year, I stumbled upon a young and brash new submissive who desperately wanted to push her way into the BDSM world, and I took her under my wing, trying to mold her, to prepare her for the experiences that she would encounter, to introduce her gradually to a world that she ended up jumping into with both feet and outgrowing my influence in short order. I like to believe that my guidance made her transition easier than it might have been; I suppose only time will tell on that count. But the world is a different place than it was when I was brought in to it, and her experiences at this point in many ways outstrip my own.
At nearly the same time, I shared a spark with Autumn from servingmaster.com and we melded minds on subjects far and wide. She started me on the path that this blog has taken, committing my memories and experiences to an ever widening audience, which I suppose is a tangible change for the good, but in the face of what else happened, and then un-happened, this blog seems insignificant. She and I remain friends and in contact, and I hope that she will remain my friend, supporter, and confidant for years to come, but our relationship has cooled and we both have busy lives. The spark that ignited between us sits in the ether like the Mithras and is unlikely to ever completely die, but with no new fuel, its flame burns cold.
I reconnected with the woman who I expected to spend the rest of my life with and over the course of this year we had months of glorious joy, many adventures both big and small, and plans for things both near and far, but ultimately that ended not so very long ago. Our lives were on different paths for longer than I realized, and when push came to shove, I got out of the way. This is still fresh and new, and we don’t exactly share the same views of what went wrong and why it couldn’t be fixed, but that is normal in breakups, I think. I sincerely hope that she finds everything that she wants from life, but ultimately, I was not the one to give it to her.
I have made other friends, touched other lives, had other romantic and play partners over the course of the year, not all of which ended the way I would have liked, some of which remain, and others still exist as smoldering embers sewn into the landscape, waiting to be stoked back to life. There is one relationship here in particular whose ending I grieve still, but the circumstances of the time left me no other choice, or so I believed, in any case.
I enveloped myself in a new circle of friends, most of whom I severed contact with when my partner and I split. Since they have known her for far longer than I, and are counted among her support structure, I may never interact with them again in any meaningful way, and that makes me sad, but is understood to be a part of life and love.
I am in roughly the same shape, physically, emotionally, and psychologically as I was when this year began.
The majority of my friends are not kinky, not in the scene, and don’t know about this blog or the aspects of my life that it illustrates.
This is not because I am ashamed, but because they have no curiosity about this part of my life. They live in the vanilla world and find the concepts of nonmonogamy and risk aware consensual kink to be unfathomable, perhaps even disturbing. They are generally tolerant people – I do not generally get along well with those who are not – but they limit their own experiences and exposure by choice, and it is not my desire to force them from that.
My own social support system has contracted.
But I am not alone.
I am never alone.
I am, however, reduced from what I was at the high points of this year.
And I am not convinced that this is a bad thing.
The grief that I feel in each of these cases comes from expectations met and then dashed.
If there is a pervasive theme to this blog, and indeed to the way that I live my life now in a post-nearly-fatal-car-accident world, it is that. I am happier and more successful when I can live my life without expectations.
When I was a teenager, I looked to the future. The year 2000 was looming. I would be 25 when the odometer of life rolled over. That seemed like such a distant thing, and yet so close. I was going to be successful by then. I was going to be married, own my own home, be on the path towards greater things. Expectations levied upon me by others for the most part, but that I took to be my own. Expectations that were unrealistic and different from my actual desires, though I had no idea at the time what those might be.
I achieved all of those things. By the time I was 21, I had nearly all of those things. I was married. I owned my own home. I was accepted into medical school, and I was on track for meeting, even exceeding, all of those expectations.
And I was miserable.
I was quite possibly the unhappiest I had ever been in my life up to that point. I had everything that I was expected to have. I had achieved most of it ahead of schedule. I was always an overachiever, but none of it ever made me happy.
I ended things there.
I started over.
I went deep into the rabbit hole and learned a few things about myself.
I pulled myself back out and put myself back on what turned out to be a very similar path once more. For a time I was high on life, I was living what I thought I wanted to be, I was meeting the expectations of others and I was a part of the functional cogwheel of society, producing, living in the suburbs, parenting, and trading my time for a paycheck.
And I was miserable.
I was even more miserable than before.
I was not the one to end that relationship, but it followed a similar trajectory. I dove into the rabbit hole again, learned some more things about myself, and crawled out. I wandered in the deep woods for awhile, but eventually I found a path, and I started walking it.
This time, the path was less trodden, it was thin in places, and it diverged from the main road in many ways, but it was still a path that others had taken, the expectations levied upon me were still not entirely my own.
This time, the choice to end things was largely my own once again.
I had a partner.
Our dynamic should have preserved my priority. It should have let me cut the path, and had I been strong enough, it probably would have. But I am still a product of this society, and I could not, would not, rigidly enforce my will, so the path diverged from where I wanted to go when I chose to allow the choice of direction to follow expectations not my own.
I take responsibility for those actions, but they were not my Will.
In order to remain true to my Will, I had to make the choice to be partnerless again. To do otherwise would have required crushing the will of my partner, and that is something that I have always been unwilling to do.
I fight to hold the ideal of non attachment. I fight to hold to the object of no expectations, but these are not tenable long term options. If you walk where there is no path, you must cut it yourself, and that means that you will not find anyone else there to walk it with you.
But that is what I am trying to do now.
I don’t know if I will succeed.
I don’t know if I can succeed.
I know that my path will intersect others from time to time, so I’ll never be entirely alone, but I am learning that I need time alone, more than I thought I ever did before. I need to cut my own path, and while others might follow along behind me, the decisions about where to cut and what directions to move in have to be mine alone.
I have relationships with people still. People that I care about deeply, but I watch, and I cheer success, support setbacks, offer my own experiences, but I don’t follow.
I can’t know what lies ahead of me because no one has ever walked there before. There are no guides to this trail because there is no trail to guide me upon.
I may be signing up for a very solitary existence in the long term, but that does not frighten me as it once did.
I may attract followers to walk the path that I cut, but I do not expect them.
I have less than half a life to complete at this point, and while I have made mistakes in the past, and I am guaranteed to make more in the future, I have faith in my ability to get through them.
I grow more open and honest with myself and those around me as I continue my journey. I don’t say ‘as I walk this path’ any longer, because I’ve gone off the path. I go where my Will points me, and I see nothing but obstacles in the way. The smooth path is gone from my sight, and there will be trials, but I believe that I am strong enough to face them.
I will rekindle some relationships that were left to wither.
I will start some relationships that I have not made yet.
I will support relationships that are currently in place, but I will not hold on.
I will live my life without attachment or expectation, to the degree with which I am able, and I will not get down on myself for building attachments or having expectations when I do. For while they always seem to lead to pain, sometimes the pain is worth it.
I will make goals and walk towards them, but if they vanish, I will keep walking, keep cutting the path myself.
I need time alone, but I need people in my life too. I have my children. I have my family. I have those few friends who would take a bullet for me, just as I would for them, but those are always fewer in number than one might think, and levying expectations upon others is something that I specifically intend not to do.
I crave companions, but I do not require them.
I am perfectly capable of cutting this path alone and letting it close behind me if needs be.
If my wisdom is something that you seek, then you know where to find me.
You are welcome to walk this path with me, but make no mistake, this path is mine.
I am evolving.
I am grieving.
I am meeting the rise of the sun with alacrity and hope. For that is what this time of the year is really about, and I was born at just the moment of Rebirth for the world.
And though grief comes from loss and loss comes from dashed expectations and I will continue to strive against holding those, I acknowledge that life goes on, and so shall I.
I am Rant.
New beginnings are in the wings, and they terrify and electrify me.