Masters are those who by nature have suffered to get to where they are. They have experienced endless criticisms of their work, doubts about their progress, setbacks along the way. They know deep in their bones what is required to get to the creative phase and beyond. As mentors, they alone can gauge the extent of our progress, the weakness in our character, the ordeals we must go through to advance. In this day and age, you must get the sharpest dose of reality that is possible from your mentor. You must go in search of it and welcome it. If possible, choose a mentor who is known for supplying this form of tough love. If they shy away from giving it, force them to hold up the mirror that will reflect you as you are. Get them to give you the proper challenges that will reveal your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to gain as much feedback as possible, no matter how hard it might be to take. Accustom yourself to criticism. Confidence is important, but if it is not based on a realistic appraisal of who you are, it is mere grandiosity and smugness. Through the realistic feedback of your mentor you will eventually develop a confidence that is much more substantial and worth possessing.
~~ excerpt from Mastery by Robert Greene
The preceding excerpt from Greene's book isn't talking about "mastery" in the BDSM sense, but in the end, it applies to our community just as much as it does any other. I'm convinced that mastery of the "Art of BDSM" is as valid a pursuit as mastery of the nuances of painting with oils, or any other form of mastery we might encounter in the vanilla world.
BDSM and kink matter to me, they matter a lot. I can't honestly say that BDSM is my only personal calling, as my profession is also a true calling for me as well. One without the other could overwhelm Michael and change him for the worse. But let me be clear, BDSM truly is a calling, and when done properly, it's an art as well.
So, I'm sure some reading this are wishing to ask, "Michael, are you serious? Comparing the wielding of a flogger with the wielding of a fine sable brush? You've either got to be kidding, or full of yourself. Are you really trying to make yourself out as some DiVinci of the single tail whip or something?"
This essay isn't about me, I'm not claiming to be Master of anything but Serafina. And while I captivated her heart, she's also a gift from God, just as surely as her service is a gift from her heart. She's not an example of my art, but instead that of the Creator.
My art is more subtle and far more human. My art is in making a woman pant out of control, then teaching her exercises to control her own breathing and through it her mind. My art is in exploring limits, learning that my partners and I have hidden depths of character, emotion, and passion we might never have imagined.
At it's heart, BDSM is erotic theater, and therefore it's a performance art. It doesn't take an audience to create erotic drama, it doesn't even take two people. The solo bondage artist, practicing his craft in a carefully protected sanctum of privacy, is an erotic artist, performing a role no less dramatic than any other.
Now once we've embraced the concept of BDSM as an art form, it follows that the world of kink is not a place where one can appear and suddenly "know" all it takes to be a Master. For those "tourist" types who think they are "insta-dom" and suddenly God's gift to the submissive world, I've got some news, and it holds a lesson for new submissives as well . . .
The more a person claims to have mastered, the less they actually know . . .
The first time I tied a girl up for sex was 1980, I've had three BDSM wedding nights since that day. I've lived in a 24/7 BDSM lifestyle since about 1990, with a few breaks forced on by life, but that's the human condition, we aren't living lives like in a romance novel.
And let me tell you something - despite the more than 30 years of experience; despite the thousands of hours I've spent playing BDSM games in a living rooms, basements, or dungeons; despite the ability's and skills I've learned and possess, there's still more I don't know and don't understand than what I do.
I am still merely an apprentice!
I may have Mastered my Serafina, but I have not yet Mastered my art. I still learn from every individual I meet in this community, new or old, experienced or otherwise. They may not be able to teach me a new skill, they may not ever be able to directly help me master a skill I'm actively learning, but I learn from them all nevertheless.
Serafina is fond of saying that slavery is not a destination, but rather a path. Obviously that's true for dominants as well. Mastery is a path not a destination.
I love to challenge submissives, and without knowing it they often find ways to challenge me in return. I honestly hope there's never a day when I'm no longer challenged, never a day when there's nothing left to learn. I think that's the day my art would die.