Saturday, February 27, 2010

BDSM-ers et al.

Point/Counterpoint: Why Landmark?

POINT: We are tolerating sick, immoral people with a disrespect of life or fellow human beings. We are giving room on our pathways to destructive entities. I don't want my children to share that road either. Why are we giving media coverage, trials, and rights to terrorists who enter our country and blow up thousands of innocent lives? I say, we shoot their asses and be done with it. I want people to be aghast at wrongful behaviors.

As much as I love self awareness exercises and enrichment.......we have to remain intolerant of crap and get back to a less gray world.

COUNTERPOINT: Notice if your mind got snagged on BDSM. That blog was not about BDSM.

In my world, private behaviors of consenting adults is galaxies from Jihadists. This country was founded on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… provided the pursuits do not impinge on those same rights of others.

When we label one group of people as immoral or sick, liken them to terrorist and lobby to remove or withhold rights, we open the floodgates once again to segregation of all kinds.

America is yet a young country. We are steeped in landmark legislation: abolition, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Act and desegregation, Title-9 and equality for women’s athletics, Roe v Wade and pro-choice, the American Disabilities Act provided access, and California’s Family Code section 297 established domestic partnerships. These are but a few and a case for the constitutionality of gay marriage is being argued before the federal court as I write.

These constitutional rights must be protected and safeguarded for all, BDSM-ers, et al., lest we condone once again the practice of hunting people of color… like dogs… for sport – which too, is steeped in our history.

I am not advocating tolerance for murders, terrorists and Jihadists. But a path different from yours is not necessarily a bad path… only an unfamiliar one. And sharing one’s path with many – is one of the great lessons of life, taught by every great teacher, prophet and God herself.

With utmost respect ~ Lorin

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why Landmark?

What follows is an opinion, my opinion, not truth. ‘Tis only one petite woman’s humble opinion regarding Landmark Education.
I spoke anonymously of a friend who subscribes to BDSM: bondage and domination and to a lesser degree, sadomasochism.
“Landmark draws people like that,” my girlfriend said, “And it gives them a bad name.”
My hackles rose in offense. “These people are everywhere and in Landmark, they become expressed, like everyone else,” I defended.
But her comment niggled and gnawed and festered. Does Landmark draw the socially marginal? And Is BDSM socially marginal? The answer to the latter depends largely on where one lives both physically and mentally.
I’ll assert one goal of Landmark Edu is for the passionate expressions of people. The Landmark Forum examines who you are: to you and for you. Often this is a collection of disempowering beliefs and constraints like: I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough and oh by the way, my nose is too big. These beliefs of Self tether us in ways to which we are blind. The Landmark Forum uncovers, unshackles, untethers and unfetters.
Landmark’s Advanced Course examines who we are with others, illuminating our propensity for judge, juror and executioner of those known and unknown to us. It reveals the rapidity of our movement from bounty-hunter to (judge, juror…) gravedigger = a nanosecond. In owning our nastiness, that by which we hold loved ones hostage, we dissolve the bars, disappear their prison, and relationships mend, heal and are reborn. My relationship is less about you than who I am with you and for you.
The Self Expression and Leadership Program provides structure for the outward expression of Self. People create projects as a passionate self-expression that result in: a visitation program to the shut-ins of their church, 1000 bags of clothing donated to a Sacramento clothes closet, potable water to a cardboard slum of the Yucatan, a school and clinic in Afghanistan providing education and medical care to – yes, even girls. One project grew to become the Hunger Project, an ongoing, 30-year endeavor empowering the Third World to feed itself through education and micro-loans. You know, teach a man to fish…
In the Wisdom Course people gain social intelligence and lubricant, the ability to have and hear any conversation. In Wisdom, people grow-up their conversations from reactive child and pouty teenager, to adult. This is most evident in their capacity to face confrontation, upset, and threat with open communication.
If you think your conversations are adult during upset, think again. In the heat of battle our accusations are astonishingly adolescent, devolving even to mono-syllabic utterances, gestures, and hand-signals.
Open, adult communication equates to nothing left unsaid AND communicants left equally empowered versus combatants left suppressed, oppressed, and diminished.
Landmark Edu moves people from me… to us… to all of us. Life is different out there beyond the smallness of me. Compassion lives there. Coexistence resides next door. World peace owns a plot of land.
Landmark Edu is not the path; it is one path. Many a man will never know God in church and not for lack of God. But he who lives life beyond the smallness of me, firmly planted in all-of-us, knows compassion and grace… and grace is God.
With regard to BDSM, I gained the ability to say, No thank you, without becoming aghast, defensive, or indignant. My expanding capacity for any and every conversation allows for surprising, funny, thoughtful, loving, provocative and evocative conversations.
When one is the space into which people may safely express, they say new things, the damndest things… the world is enriched by their unfolding, the path to one’s door – well trod.
All that I am and all that I say,
All of me lives in passionate play.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine for 2010

Who is this Cupid fellow and what about Valentine’s Day?

Cupid (Latin cupido, meaning desire) comes to us via both Greek and Roman mythologies. The Greeks called him Eros. Also known as Amor, he is the god of erotic love and beauty. We equate Cupid with love – not so as erotic love and desire, sprinkled with lust and a pinch of heat – is an altogether different beast. And beast may be closer to the mark than we like to think.

Cupid is often depicted with wings, a bow, and a quiver of arrows. In popular culture Cupid shoots arrows to inspire romantic love. He IS the icon of Valentine’s Day, the personification of love and courtship.

In the myth, Cupid falls in love with Psyche (meaning soul), they produce a daughter Voluptas or Hedone (meaning pleasure). In the sound-bite version: Erotic Desire falls for Soul and their voluptuous love child Hedone, is charged with seeking a life of hedonistic pleasure. Sound like a chapter from the Seven Deadly Sins?

In thinking of Valentine’s Day as more than just another commercial venture in which Americans are urged to spend; think not? Consider our monthly expenditures around: Christmas, New Years, Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But I digress – as I am wont to do.

In thinking of Valentine’s Day beyond commercialism and consumerism, beyond erotic love and lust, I began to ponder gifts of love beyond flowers and candy. My thoughts wandered to a recent conversation and upset.

“Well, I think you just gave them a pass,” he said, arms crossed.

“I did,” I agreed.

“What’s the point in that?” he asked, “They’ll just do it again. See in my business and my life, I’d never have anything to do with them again.” He pushed his palm toward me, pushing them out and away, ignored and expunged.

“And that’s what we do; don’t we?” I completely understood. Far easier for me to dust these women from the periphery of my life than to call and apologize for a communication that left them defensive and angry.

“The point is,” I paused to gather my thoughts, “So here is the other part of giving the gals a pass. When I say everything there is to say, I am clear. When I can hear whatever they have to say and leave them feeling heard, they can be clear. We have mucked our stall. No shit. And – it allows us all to invent ourselves newly once again.”

This was a recap though months had passed since we’d last had such a conversation. Terry’s brows knitted in concentration, he garnered every word for mastication and digestion.

“When we don’t muck the stall, we stand in shit… it hardens… and locks us into a particular stance. This is poison for all relationships,” I karate chopped the air between us.

“Have you ever heard the phrase, I promise to never know you?” Terry’s head shook no. “It is a convoluted promise that allows you to occur newly, every time.” I stopped to measure my next words for impact and exposure. “I would always be inclined to make that promise to you and for you. Less inclined for them. BUT – if I could be that for them? You’re a shoe-in!”

“I can see that,” he stroked his chin as a small smile crept across his face.

“How great are the lives of the people in my life when I can be THAT for people I barely know and maybe don’t care to? Life inside my circle would be fabulous! And when their lives are fabulous; guess how great mine is? Does this make sense?” Terry nodded. “It’s just all part of my game called: For you? Anything!”

“I remember that game,” Terry broke into a big smile, “That’s a great game.”

“It is,” I agreed.

A week later, scouring my journals, I stumbled across this and sent it:

10.9.08 I promise to never know you...

I promise to shuck your history with me,

Your thorny crown of crimes and offenses,

Those broken agreements and heartstrings I bear like a cross.

I promise to let you begin today with a clean slate, a clean plate,

From this day forward, ‘til death do us part.

I promise to recreate this promise daily.

The warden’s keys… resurrection and life anew

In a single act of pure generosity and love.

Days later Terry sent a note: Thanks for sharing this with me. Ever since you talked about the “promise” it has really stuck with me. There is a lot of power and possibility of living into never knowing.

Indeed. I promise to never know you does not equate to avoiding difficult conversations. I promise to never know you does not denote life as a doormat. I promise to never know you does not dictate a life of stuffing emotions and communications. I promise to never know you IS a practice of forgiveness and dealing with e-v-e-r-y-thing that stands as a barrier. When we break through the barriers, love and affinity emerge and… the people we love are left with the experience of being loved.

More than flowers and candy, leaving our loved ones with the daily experience of being loved would alter the world. To have love and affinity present, not just on Valentine’s Day, but as an expression of who we are everyday, to have the people we love left with the experience of being loved is a tall order – one undoubtedly requiring an act of God – Cupid or otherwise.

“Sometimes,” Paul said, “I think you live in a fairy tale, like Alice in Wonderland.”

“Well I have to live somewhere,” I defended, “Wonderland is as good a place as any and a lot better than most.”

Love on! Play on!

From this day forward, ‘til death do us part…