Friday, January 20, 2012

Journaling

            It's probably no surprise that I'm in favor of keeping a diary, since I can look back on nearly 20 years of writing and see how doing so has enhanced my life. I use the words journal and diary interchangeably and would agree with Webster's definition: "A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary."

            That said, I have a diary near my bed. There I keep records of dreams and ideas particularly related to my spiritual or "inner" life. On my computer you will find numerous documents that collectively qualify as parts of my journal: my bogs, my manuscripts for books in progress, emails and transcribed text messages, and random writings.

            As many of you know, for the past year I have been seeking a man willing to become an "object" for my pleasure and service. I have kept rather complete records of my conversations with these men, essentially a diary of enthrallment. I also encourage my applicants to dairy about our conversations and meetings in order to better decide if we are a fit and to help them learn more about themselves.

            This just one of the many examples of what I do with diaries. I've come up with five reasons why I journal: Documentation, Remembrance, Long-term view, Reflection, Clarity, and Career.

Documentation.

            Without documenting events, thoughts, and feelings, they quickly fade out of view. Therefore keeping a record of them insures a kind of permanence that allows us to experience the rest of the benefits that I have listed here.

            The prime reason for keeping a journal is that it chronicles my feelings and thoughts on a given day so I that I can compare the feelings on given topic over the course of time. Very often our feelings determine our decisions. Since our feelings vary like the movement of a roller-coaster, keeping track of them over a period of time (such as a month) gives us a much more balanced and over-all view of how we really feel about a topic. It is, or can be, an important help in decision-making.

            Another benefit to journaling is that our thoughts are preserved for posterity. As I child I never learned what my grandfathers believed. In fact, even though I was often around my maternal grandfather and he taught me how to garden, we never talked about important matters. As for my Dad's father, I was in the middle of a pack of 17 grandchildren, hardly noticed and seldom spoken to. My collected journals, therefore, will be a way for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to get to know me. That said, they won't read them until they're over 21 years of age.


Remembrance.

            I once heard that the best memory in the world can't keep track of things as well as writing in pencil on a piece of paper. Write it down and it may well last a lot longer than your brain. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately we can't reflect on a topic if we don't remember the details surrounding it. The written or typed word is among the most secure memory we have.

            You see, if you forget what was said, meant, intended or agreed upon, when it's written you can look it up. If not, you're out of luck.

Long-term view.

            Things change, sometimes for the better,  sometimes for the worse. In either case, when we are in the middle of an event it looks a great deal differently than when we look back on it at a later date. For example, I am quick to panic about my cash flow. When I remember that I have survived previous cash-flow debacles (and Patrick is quick to remind me of this) the immediate crisis pales greatly.

Reflection.

            One of the most human of activities is reflection: "Mental concentration; Careful consideration; To think seriously; To express seriously considered thoughts." I will admit that we may not actually do much of it, but it is an important part of good decision making. Not only that, but reflection is the best path to wisdom. That, in itself, is the best reason to journal, since reflecting is a very important part of the journaling process.

            Please note the last paragraph carefully. Though diaries hold the memory of events and thoughts, their most important usage is as a way to foster, encourage, and preserve reflections. I find that the value of a journal is not in the moment that a passage is written but rather in the cumulative fact of reflections written of the course of time. The journal becomes an important dialogue with oneself, leading to increaed self-knowledge.

Clarity.

            That, then, brings me to another result of a good journal: clarity. What we write over the course of months speaks loudly to us about our true feelings, the real facts, and ways to resolve all sorts of issues.

            In order for this to work, we have to use a dairy as an aid to our thought process, such as by creating lists of pros and cons or keeping quotes that are meaningful to us.

Career

            Now you're liable to think that since you're not a writer, keeping a journal has nothing to do with your job. Well, think again, as everyone has to write something at some time or another. Writing itself will make you a better writer, since practice makes perfect. Of course it helps if someone reads what you write once in a while and gives you constructive criticism to help you improve.


So What does it entail?

            Journaling is a lot easier to do than we usually think. All you have to is keep at it at a regular pace. I often suggest writing about 100 words, four or five times a week. Got nothing to write about? Then comment on the weather or the news. Write about what's happened in your life, or how you feel today, or what you've dreamt or wished for. Write about your hopes and fears.

            Don't edit yourself while you are writing. Leave that for later. Just writing anything is better than not writing at all. Use pen and paper or a word processing program. Keep at it. Even if you stop for a while, then go back to it later. Something is better than nothing.


Good luck and have a great week. Jack

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            My new novel, The Dionysian Alliance, is getting noticed. Here is a link to Erotic Awaking, a pod cast by Dan and Dawn. If you don't want to hear the spanking part (it is good) then  fast forward to the 39 minute spot on the slider: http://www.erotiwakening.com/archive/ea166-a-spanking-a-spanking/ . There you will find an interview they did with me about the book.

            A reader sent me this mini-review: "Hi Jack -- To let you know I just completed reading The Dionysian Alliance. Enjoyed it very much. I liked the clear development of characters, the visual descriptions of the locations, and the nice anticipatory flow of the story. It's pretty evident you did a lot of research to produce it, and soul-searching as to how to blend the book's many elements and themes. Thanks for a great read. -- Jerry in Taos NM"

            Buying one of my books helps to pay for the cost of this email. Please visit my website to make a purchase at http://www.LeatherViews.com.


            You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How Does One Begin?

Thirty years ago, people who were curious about kink, generally speaking, had two avenues in which to find similarly-minded players: bars and classified ads.

So it was that, with my pocket-sized Damron guide I searched out gay bars whose clientele were called "Leathermen." One could also look for the euphemism of "Levi." It was there that, if you were brave enough to go through the somewhat foreboding and often un-marked door, you could meet men into "rough sex" aka "S&M."

BDSM had not yet entered the common parlance of the kinky world. In fact, neither had the word kinky.

Or I would pick up a copy of Drummer Magazine at some sleazy adult book store and answer the personal ads in its classified section. Each response that I mailed cost one dollar and I limited myself to $20's worth of mail per issue. The return on my investment was less than ten per cent but I did manage to hook up with a few guys now and then.

Mostly, though, I met my partners in Leather bars. One by one they gave me the experiences I needed to become who I am today.

Experience, according to the dictionary, is "1 a: direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge, b: the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation; 2 a: practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity."

In the "good old days" of the early eighties there were few books one could read about our lifestyle, only a very scant and hard-to-find number of seminars, and private clubs were by invitation only. Invites weren't easy to get because you had to know someone who would vouch for you.

That left the personal ads and the bars as the only practical entry-way into the world of "what it is that we do."

Even that phrase typifies the elusive nature of the BDSM subculture of the day. We spoke a code-filled jargon, not openly naming people, places, clubs or activities until we knew that the person with whom we are speaking was "safe," not safe as in "safe to play with" but as in "safe to share this knowledge with."

Today, of course, there are all sorts of information sources as nearby as a Google search on the letters BDSM. The same kind of search on Amazon.com will reveal hundreds of books on the subject, and on XTube.com there is an incredible variety of SM-filled videos. Yes, over the years, the "&" has disappeared. Everything changes, even the jargon.

There are two quotes from Oscar Wilde that put the term "experience" into its proper light. The first is " Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." The second, "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

I'm sorry to say that you've got to get experience. Doing so, I admit, is not without risk, since as Mr. Wilde points out, it is most likely that the best learning experiences are those where we fail. Fear of failure is probably the number one reason that we don't learn. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Mom would say, though she probably wasn't thinking about my venturing into gay Leather bars when she told me that.

So today we find our subculture inundated with "newbies," men and women with no practical knowledge of our subculture, who think that what they've read in some chat room makes then one of us.

Others, to be fair, shrink from us because they have no experience. It is a circular and self-defeating argument. "I won't do that because I have no experience," they think to themselves and therefore they get no experience.

Another argument is "I won't play with you because I don’t have enough experience" or "I won't play with you because you have too much experience." Believe me, I've heard that last quote too often for it not to be etched in my memory. Why newbies prefer to play with people with little experience is way beyond me.

But what do I know? I was risky enough to walk into dingy, dark, hard-to-find bars that reeked of beer, sweat and semen. And trick by trick I got experience until one day while on a business trip in Corpus Christi, the bartender at a place called "The Green Door" called me a "Leatherman." It was a memorable rite of passage, even if I hadn't yet morphed into Jack Rinella.

Contrary to some thinking, getting experience need not be that risky. It is not an all-or-nothing proposition nor does it involve whole-hog activities. Start slowly. Do research. Ask questions. Check references. Read books. Take it at your own pace, one step at a time.

And reflect of the experience. What did you like about it? What didn't you like? What have you learned? What new questions has the experience given you?

Though there is a lot of talk in our educational circles about mentoring, it is still a hard to come by that resource. That said, my education was at the hands of many mentors. Each trick became a mentor for the night, each scene a class in the school of lower education.

Yes, there are predators but it only takes common sense and the smarts to ask for and check references to ferret them out. Remember, if they sound that good to you tonight, they'll still sound that good the next time you meet them, so there is no need to rush in.

I remember the confusion, ambivalence, and fear I felt the first time I stood outside of Lafitte's In Exile (in the French Quarter of New Orleans), the rankest, raunchiest bar I ever entered. But my heart wanted S&M and I figured I could always just run out the door if I had to. It wasn't a matter of quick entry and quick learning. It was a matter of quiet observation, scouting out the place and people, listening more than talking, and when I did talk, I asked lots of questions.

Then, as now, men and women of experience were pleased to teach me what my heart wanted to know. All I had to do was stop being afraid to ask.


Have a great week. Jack

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Buying one of my books helps to pay for the cost of this email. Please visit my website to make a purchase.


You can send me email at mrjackr@leathermail.com or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.