Rope Ritual, Life Ritual

“The improvisation and change in connection between the two becomes the overarching ritual.”-Kiora

I’ve said it before, but that one statement blew my mind. It was during a class/discussion on “Ropes, Ritual & Symbolism” at the recent GRUE in the ‘Lou (the 1 after 2) and you can read the rough transcription of my notes here. Lots of really great ideas were bandied about, and while I haven’t had the time to really give them the attention they deserve, they’ve been percolating around in my subconscious. They’ve been linking up in weird ways with the books I’m reading (currently Freedom & Necessity, True Odds, The 33 Strategies of War, and Sex, Sin & Zen) plus blog posts like Lee Harrington’s recent Possession Ponderings.

  1. a prescribed or established rite, ceremony, proceeding, or service: the ritual of the dead.
  2. prescribed, established, or ceremonial acts or features collectively, as in religious services.
  3. any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.

The comment was referring to the problem of applying the word “ritual” to a rope scene. We’d agreed that preparation for a rope scene could be reproduced step-by-step every time (“Green rope on the left, followed by orange, rescue hook strapped to right thigh, then light the candle…“) and also that the process of cleaning up and coiling the ropes after a scene was easy to ritualize.

But the in-between parts, we agreed, had so many variables that it seemed impossible to really call it a ritual in the usual sense. After all, class after class is about reading your partner, sensing the changes in their body and animus and playing in that area. Connection is fluid, mood is transient, and so doing the Same Thing in the Same Way seemed counter-productive to a good rope scene.

Kiora said that simple statement above, and I felt like I’d been hit by a club. The problem was that I was looking at the branches and leaves and missing the forest. The ritual was not “put rope A over knot B.” The ritual was connect. Enjoy. Love.

This morning the caffeinated percolations came up with the way this applies to an upcoming change in my life. I’ve been talking about it in person with a lot of people when I get the chance, but there’s some who I just haven’t gotten the chance to see yet. So I apologize to the people who are reading this and deserved to hear it from my lips instead.

I’m moving to Pittsburgh.

image courtesy Black Light Studios

That’s not a truly accurate statement; the more accurate statement would be “I’m moving in with DoNotGoGently, who happens to currently reside in Pittsburgh.” She and I have been playing a merry dance of long-distance relationship and playing by the rules and being “realistic” and such for well over a year now, and I finally decided I’d had enough of that. I looked around at what needed changing, saw that I could change it, and so on October 31 I will begin the first part of what will be a long-term change of location. The where may not be long-term, but the why is certainly intended to be.

This has led to some consternation amongst those I love and like. To their immense credit, they have been supportive and positive, even my parents. But I can hear the concern in their voices, see it in their eyes. We live in a strange and insecure time, and leaving a town you’ve lived in for 22 years seems to invite risk. Leaving your best friend, not to mention other friends and lovers and play partners and business associates behind, just for the sake of a girl (my mother’s words, I gently corrected her and said it was a woman) seems like the kind of romantic silliness reserved for Tom Hanks movies and twenty-somethings.

But you know, I don’t see it like that. There is the basic antinomy, of course, of joyous optimism combined with poignant loss. That’s to be expected, and with the help of Naiia and others it is actually a remarkably graceful transition.

However, this does not fit into the generally accepted Way Things Are Supposed to Happen. This is where the concern lies in people’s minds; they worry about me, about Naiia, about DoNotGoGently, because this isn’t the way things are generally supposed to work. Long distance relationships don’t work, two tops can’t be compatible as partners, and think of the children! (Yes, that was actually one of my mother’s concerns).

I will be the first to admit that yes, this is somewhat unconventional. Even more unconventional is the speed and process by which it is happening; no U-Haul, no “moving party,” not even a clearly delineated date when I will be there and not here. Sometime in November is the best guess, after the Madison S’GRUE.

And I’m pretty ok with that, because in my mind, it’s not out of the ordinary at all. “As little, so big,” is a principle common to many faith systems, and what’s coming out in my mind is that it applies here. The beginning of my life has been a bit like the preparation for a rope scene, doing my best to follow the rules of what I needed to do.

Go To School. Meet a Girl. Serve Your Country. Get Married. Have Kids (ok, kinda went out of order on that one, mea culpa). Get Divorced. Get Job to Feed Kids. Get Better Education. Get Better Job to Feed Kids. Raise Kids…

And so on. I never quite did it the way it was “supposed” to be done, admittedly, but I was still following the Ritual of Life as I’d been taught. People ask me sometimes why I chose to be a single Dad with custody of my daughters, for example, and I have a hard time explaining that it wasn’t a “choice” – they were my kids, I would take care of them. Even the “unconventional” aspects of my life, such as being poly with my wife and my slave for five years, followed another kind of ritual – the ritual of communication, of D/s, of cohabiting and co-parenting. In some ways, even breaking up after five years is common enough to be a part of the “ritual.” Was anyone really surprised (besides me) when that situation fell apart?

So now, as I seem to be taking steps that don’t fit into the beaten path, I’m seeing it as simply the next part of this overarching ritual of life. It’s not the tiny steps that need to be focused on here; it’s the overarching goal. That’s going to call for flexibility and improvisation and sensitivity to the people involved. It’s going to stretch some connections and change them, as well as form new ones. But really, while the steps involved may seem strange, they aren’t. They are simply a different path towards the same thing we all look for in our own myriad ways.

Connect. Enjoy. Love.

Exciting, huh?

5 thoughts on “Rope Ritual, Life Ritual

  • Best of luck to you as you transition to the next phase of the journey we call life. May your travels be safe, may your joys be many, and may sorrow stay far from your door, where ever that door is.

  • This is awesome! I have always noticed that look in her eyes when you are there or she talks about you. This is going to be a great journey and I wish you all the best!

  • There is comfort in taking well worn paths that many others have taken before. Taking the road less traveled is a wonderful thing I passionately believe in, it may be scary but it makes one think and be more self aware. It can also be very rewarding. Change is good.

    As for Pittsburgh, welcome to the neighborhood!

    Pittsburgh has a unique character in its heart. Charlie Daniel’s song “In America” with the line “…you just go lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steeler fan…” tries to connect with that heart. To come to Pittsburgh by following your heart is one of the best possible starts. Life is defined by passion.

    Be seeing you around!

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