Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Predators and Prey

Posted: January 21, 2014 in BDSM, general

There’s that moment, when the predator has caught his or her prey and holds it still in their talons or claws or teeth. The desperate thrashing has ceased and the two are alone, any other prey fleeing and any other predators keeping a wary distance. This moment is intimate and sacred between the two of them. They are the last moments the prey will have and it will spend them with no one else besides the creature that brought the prey to this moment. Both breathing hard, covered in the wounds of the struggle, they regard each other for a moment that stretches into something much more profound.

I was watching a nature show this weekend and it occurred to me that I felt almost like a voyeur. The moment between these wild animals as one prepared to end the life of another was striking in its intimacy, almost like watching people having sex or a really profound hot scene. These two animals looked into each other’s eyes with no pretense, both of them seeing the other for what they truly were. I realized that this is how most wild animals eventually die, in the grip of a hungry predator, eager for their flesh, but as I watched that final moment, it also seemed like there was some kind of understanding and respect passing between them just before the prey’s life met its brutal end. My mind immediately went to scenes I have had, both as predator and as prey and how that moment, that exact moment of barren honesty, is EXACTLY what I crave from a scene.

No one knows an animal better than its predator. It is the predator’s job to know it’s prey better than that prey knows itself. Any hunter can tell you that in order to make a kill, you first have to understand the animal you are stalking. You learn their habits, their environment, their deepest likes and dislikes. You follow them and know them until you can slip seamlessly into their environment, disappearing to them. You must watch them and you have to be patient enough to wait until the right moment. It’s not unlike the singleminded obsession of a person in love. There is lust in blood lust.

When the moment to strike finally arrives, there is struggle, each side pitting all their strength and endurance into the fight. The prey can only give everything they have, but the predator must constantly measure whether this potential meal is worth the fight or if it’s wiser to retreat and save their energy for something else. The contest between them is brutal and only ends if the prey evades the predator, the predator decides the prey isn’t worth the fight anymore, or the prey is caught. How many times have I felt that awful, delicious dread in the beginning of a scene, of knowing that the predator is drawing near and there is no escape. I pit my strength against theirs, but secretly, unlike the wild animal fighting for its very life, I hope I will lose. I long for what comes after, that embrace, to look into the predator’s eyes and feel them looking into mine, knowing me completely.

I long to be known, in a way that is deeper and more penetrative than the biblical sense of knowing. I long to be known in a way that goes beyond the physical and is reached when my defenses are ripped open by the brutal attack, my very soul laid bare. I long to be brought to that end, to be known, and held tightly. In that moment, after the struggle, when I have given my all and given in and let the pain just flow over me in waves, waves that crash over my head, so far above that I no longer feel their impact, that is where we meet. That is where I find peace in the grip of the predator or I finally am able to take a breath and regard my prey. In that moment, we look into each other’s eyes and I struggle no more.

Unlike the wild animals, I will live after this moment and live to relive it again and again, each time reaching this singular moment where we are more naked than mere humans can be. We are our most primitive, basic selves together and those primitive, basic selves accept what the other has to give. I claim or am claimed and there is healing in that acceptance. Their is nourishment beyond a meal caught and devoured. Our souls feed on each other.

And we are both satisfied.

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Back In My Leathers

Posted: October 22, 2012 in bootblacking, general, Titleholding

This weekend, I went to a small group to present. As I packed, I pulled my title vest out of the closet. I hadn’t worn it in months, since April to be more exact. The year before, it was rare a weekend went by that I didn’t wear it. I ran my hands over the leather and lifted it to my face, inhaling the scent of it, feeling the texture of it. My mind flooded with memories, so many memories of so many people and places and intense experiences. I placed the vest in my suitcase and I packed my bootblacking kit.

As I chose what to take and what to leave home, the scent of all my favorite products filled the air. I remembered specific people and their boots and leathers and what they liked used on them. I remembered boot scenes that left me breathing hard and I remembered long days of bootblacking that left me sore. I looked at the tool box I carry my kit in, that served as a carryon on countless flights. It is dinged up and one of the clasps is bent from a particularly rough flight.

On Saturday, I put on my leathers again and felt them fit me like a glove. The chaps were broken in by me and the leather has been cleaned and conditioned countless times, by me or, when I’m lucky, by other bootblacks who gave me a wonderful scene doing it. It is like a second skin. I put on my title vest and remembered who I am. I stood in front of a class and talked about my travels and what I’d learned on them and I did an erotic bootblacking demo and felt that old spark re-ignite the same as it always has.

My Leather had receded back into a deeper part of me, but it never left me. It sustained me through everything I needed to go through this past year. It was a hidden inner strength, but there is something wrong if that inner strength must always be hidden from view. There is something wrong if the parts of me that feel the most natural and the most alive must be buried in order for me to be accepted. There is something wrong if I have to dumb myself down and dull myself down in order to fit in. This weekend was proof of who and what I am and where I belong and that is in my leathers that fit me so well.

I am not a housecat or a tame creature and those who love me best wouldn’t want me to be. I was made to stalk my prey in the dim, smoky light of a leatherbar. I was made to growl and snarl and devour when I make love. I was made to be a wanderer, always seeking the outer edges of what I can feel and experience. Anything else and I’m simply restricting the whole of what I am to fit into a tight little mold that wasn’t made for me.

I am not going back to those restrictions. I am going back to my Leather, where I belong.

Commitment?

Posted: September 2, 2011 in general

Commitment is often considered a dirty word in our world.  We live in a world that is a dance of constantly changing partners and often, commitment seems like a word more suited to the vanilla world, but I’d like to explore the idea of how this concept applies to BDSM and Leather, regardless of how we formulate the boundaries of our relationships.  I’ve been reading a book recently that is geared entirely towards extremely vanilla, monogamous relationships.  It’s so straight that even the book jacket doesn’t know how to dress itself.  😉  Still, this book has some profound ideas that cross boundaries for me.

The author points to what he sees as an epidemic in modern life that continues to destroy relationships.  To him, this is all rooted in a growing inability for people to commit…to anything.  When you think about it, previous generations formed their lives around commitments.  Most men not only remained in the same career or vocation throughout their lives, but they often worked for the same company for that entire span of time.  People lived in the same city throughout their lives or the same community.  Moving was a rare thing.  People remained in lousy marriages and maintained long term family ties, healthy or not.  In general, people remained the same religion they were raised in and sought partners of the same, raising their children the same.

For better or for worse, there was a lot of continuity there.  Even immigrants coming to the United States in the 1800’s could expect to bring their cultures with them, settle in an area with other immigrants, and live their lives in much the same way.

We live in a different world today, entirely different.  The average worker can expect to change careers several times in their lives, let alone simply changing companies or jobs.  People move freely depending on where work is available or where they feel they fit in culturally.  People go back to college, change majors, change religions, change their eye color.  We live in a world where our identity is fluid and we are whatever we choose to make of ourselves, no longer bound to how or where we are born or how or where we were raised.  We evolve constantly, cultural and intellectual nomads.  Live is a mashup where we pick and choose from everything available, add our own spin on it, and synthesize our own reality into something new and unique.

All this brings wonderful freedom for us to be individuals, to fully live our lives as best fits us.  However, like any great gift, it comes at a cost and most often, I think, that cost is felt when it comes to social cohesion.  We have lost the ability to commit, both within our romantic lives, partner to partner, but also to commit to friendships, to group affiliations, to communities.  The book I am reading, given it’s very narrow perspective, criticizes having a large number of sexual partners before settling down with one partner for life, not because of a moral imperative so much as the idea that having so much experience and variety in one’s sex life leads us to be able to objectively judge our partners.  We know what’s out there, so it’s difficult to focus on what we have rather than what we might be missing out on.  I don’t quite ascribe to such a narrow point of view as the author, but I do see his point.  It often seems like so many people are with one partner or poly group or Leather club or Leather family, yet always have their eyes open, looking for the better deal that might come along.  With so many options and it being so easy to move between affiliations, often we find it difficult to focus solely on where we are now, who we are with, what patch is on our back, and where our heart will rest.

We are restless nomads.

In this way, I think we can take the idea of commitment and peel away some of the cultural baggage surrounding it.  Commitment doesn’t have to mean a single lover paired with one other, wedding rings, or white picket fences, but that does not mean that it isn’t relevant to our lives still.  Commitment can be a choice to give of ourselves fully, without reservation, to those relationships and groups that we do choose to have in our lives, to willingly put on blinders and be loyal to those we are with, be they lovers, play partners, family, or club members.  It means not only giving of ourselves fully, but also accepting the other, faults and all, imperfections and irritations.  It means taking a leap of faith, not knowing where the path will lead us, but devoting ourselves to follow it together, good, bad, or otherwise.

I believe we in Leather and BDSM have definitely brought sexy back…how about we work on commitment now?  Commitment without the stuffiness, without holier than thou church ladies disguised in Leather, but commitment that leads us to deeper, more lasting relationships with each other that enable us to travel further into the deep depths of play and power exchange as well as to care for each other through the tough times, even when we annoy the hell out of each other, as all good families do.

Personally, I’m committing myself to doing this in my own life and trying to stop the ways I’ve held back in the past, being tentative with associations I’ve made.  I’m ready to go all in and roll the dice.  I’m ready to do it because I realize that in order to gain everything, I need to be willing to risk everything.  Commitment that is only partial only leads to partial rewards from our relationships and I believe that a life lived only partially simply isn’t worth it.

What are you committed to?

This weekend I was honored to judge the Bootblack Toronto contest as part of Toronto Leather Pride.  It was an amazing weekend of Leather and brotherhood and it was also my first time attending a rubber contest.  I had a whole lot of fun hanging out with the contestants for Mr. Rubber Toronto and even got into the spirit by purchasing and wearing my first piece of rubber, a very nice corset top from Northbound.  It’s always fun to discover a new fetish and I certainly think I have.  I loved the look of the rubber, the shininess, the texture as I rubbed it.  The longer I wore it, the more I enjoyed the sensations, the way cool stone felt through it, the way I could feel someone touching me as if I were naked, the way it felt like a second skin.  I even enjoyed the way it snapped against the skin when pulled and the way my sweat felt under it.  Yes…I think I’m a newfound rubber fetishist and I’ll likely be getting more pieces.

After the contests, I was spending some quality time with a bootblack friend of mine.  I was wearing my leather chaps and boots with my new rubber top and feeling very feisty.  She was wearing a lovely outfit that reminded me of a saloon girl from hell, along with a pair of lace ups leather boots that ended at her knees.  Together, I think we made quite the striking pair of Leathergirls.  An older leatherman I didn’t know came up to us, wearing his boots, jock strap, and harness and we greeted him with smiles.  A bit into his cup, he proceeded to tell us that, basically, we weren’t wearing enough leather to be Leatherfolk.  Granted, I think the gentleman had already begun celebrating that day, but I had to explain to him that, indeed, my chaps were leather.  After I politely smiled and thanked him for his advice, he thanked us for “continuing his traditions” and we parted ways.

Have you ever had one of those times when, after the fact, you think of a dozen different comebacks to a comment?  My entire plane ride home I thought of them.

To begin with, both my friend and I each had, per square inch, more actual cow on than the gentleman in question.  However, I don’t really think that is the point here.  The point that I think this fellow was missing was that Leather is about more than just the garments we wear.  During the weekend, I saw a very highly respected Leatherman have to attend most of the contests in a business suit due to his work schedule.  Not only did I not view this man as any less Leather in his smartly tailored suit, but in fact, he definitely looked hot and certainly would have pleased any suit fetishists in the crowd!  Throughout the contest, two incredible Leathermen wore rubber and vied for the Mr. Rubber Toronto title, as much a part of the Leather contests and Toronto Leather Pride celebrations as any other of the title contestants.  These men were no less Leather when in their rubber.  I doubt anyone would say that a Leatherman in nothing but his boots is somehow magically no longer a Leatherman.

Leather is more than the hides we wear on our backs, no matter what our gender.  My companion and I did not somehow hack out our hearts or our spirits when we put on rubber or lace.  We did not turn our backs on our Leather brothers and sisters and somehow change our identities.  We were there, at the bootblack stands, wearing what satisfied our fetishes of the day, celebrating and reveling in our community together with other Leatherfolk.  I know I didn’t feel any different just because I chose a rubber shirt versus a leather corset, except perhaps that I was sweating more underneath it.  I still felt the same sexual, primal energy I always do when I put on my gear and go out to play.  I think that when our definitions of what a Leatherperson should or shouldn’t look like become so rigid that they get in the way of the full expression of the sexual deviance and kinks that brought us to Leather in the first place, we may begin defining ourselves out of existence.

Naked or clothed, even in corporate drag, Leather is something that goes far beneath the skin.  I think I will continue to add to my rubber wardrobe…after all, it mixes so well with leather chaps, silk corsets, and bare skin.  In the end, though, I’m glad I erred on the side of politeness with the nice man who didn’t mean to ruffle my feathers, but instead to offer advice.  After all, if there’s one thing I can agree with him about Leather, it’s that we all have our opinions and should rightfully and respectfully express them.

Besides, anyone who’s seen me dance knows I do some stupid things when I drink!  (Big box, little box, goldfish!)  😉

Woman of the Year?

Posted: August 7, 2011 in general, Titleholding

pan the on

1. A temple dedicated to all the gods.
2.  The gods of a people;  especially: the officially recognized gods
3.  A group of illustrious or notable persons or things

Friday night, while I recovered from ILSb/ICBB at home, nursing a sunburn and blissfully out of touch with the world, I was given the great honor of being named Pantheon of Leather Woman of the Year.  Given the names nominated and the list of previous years’ award winners, this has definitely caused me some cognitive dissonance.  Even if we follow the third definition of pantheon, that of a group of illustrious or notable persons, I still can’t help but feel some kind of “twilight zone”-like feeling at my name being on that list.  Let’s go back to Miriam Webster for a moment…

il lus tri ous

1.  notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions : Eminent
2.  archaic
a.  shining brightly with light
b.  clearly evident

Ok, here we find something that I think I can live with, tying me to the Pantheon…shining brightly with light.  Throughout this year, I honestly feel like I have done what any other Leatherperson in my place would have done.  I took the opportunities and responsibilities given to me and I did the best I could with them.  Even better, I spent a lot of this year smiling and laughing and sharing the things I am passionate about with others.  I was given a chance to shine by people who took a chance on me and I did my best to do so.

When I look around myself, to those who have stood by me in the shadows, supporting me while I was in the spotlight, I see so many more deserving of honors and recognition.  I see people who every day make the choice to do what is right over the choice to do what is easy.  I see people who stick to their own moral code even when everyone else around them disagrees.  I see people who quietly do the work that gets events put on and people fed and money raised.  I see slaves and boys who serve with a quiet dignity, without expectation of reward.  I see Leathermen and women who don’t need their names called out or a back patch to be who they are and who don’t need a title or a label to tell them how they should behave.

And then I wonder, thinking of all of them, picturing their faces in my own mind, why, with all of them, am I honored?

Thinking like that, though, is about as useful as wondering why one person is spared hardship over another.  What is useful, though, is instead focusing on what use I can be to those who weren’t honored, but still are more than worthy.  I’ll admit, I’m not the best at service that fades into the background.  I can continue what I’ve begun, albeit with less traveling across the country.  I can continue to shine as brightly as I can in whatever corner of the world I am in.  I can continue to try to focus on what positive I can bring to those around me, rather than simply joining the chorus of criticism that all too often drowns out hope.

Mostly, though…I can try to learn from those I admire and just…be, simply being me, without a title, without a label, but with a heart and a will to serve others.  I see this honor as a challenge to keep learning and growing and to continue to give back to the community that has given me so much.

And I’m always up for a new challenge.  😉

Leather Bar

Posted: May 12, 2011 in general

While it might be possible to be Leather without ever having set foot inside a Leather bar, I think that you would be missing out on a huge part of the visceral experience of Leather by doing so.  I think the memory of those experiences is why a small piece of our hearts dies each time another Leather bar shuts its doors for good.  There is something about being in that space, surrounded by Leatherfolk, that no amount of reading or talking can teach you.  I wanted to write about that experience this week, basically a view for those who have never been and a reminder for those missing it.

It takes a while for my eyes to adjust as I step inside the door.  It is dark inside, shutting out the world outside and becoming more real than anything beyond the doors.  This is where creatures like me come alive and where we find our own kind.  I have to squeeze past men at the coat check, but these aren’t just any men…they are Leathermen.  They are men who are unafraid to be men and to love like men.  They are rough and big and hulking and they smell like men, not like aftershave.  They smell of the leather they wear as well as the sweat they sweat…and the sex they have.  I inhale deeply and that scent helps me feel like the animal I am.  I am different than them, but I am of the same species.  I move through them, catlike, past the coat check where they shed their false skins to reveal the leather and skin beneath.

The bar is much like any other bar, only darker.  You also don’t often find “girly” drinks here.  Here it is mainly beer and hard liquor with the occasional jello shot.  I see a group of boys drinking and frolicking.  Their youth is barely restrained by the leather they wear as they joke and jostle each other.  Along the edge of the bar, though, in the shadows, the hunters watch the prey play.  Their eyes are harder, often rimmed with a few wrinkles and they seem to see more in the low light than most people do at midday.  In other lives, these men might be managers or they might be mechanics, but here they are the hunters, watching every move around them, occasionally nodding in recognition to a friend or engaging in conversation as they lean back against the wall, idly sipping a beer, like big cats relaxing before they chase down a gazelle.

As I stalk my way through the crowd I feel the music even more than I hear it.  It is a loud heartbeat that seems to rattle my ribcage, like drums of war.  I smell the familiar smells of beer, sweat, leather, piss, and cigar smoke wafting through the air, making it hazy.  I narrow my eyes and smile at a passing friend, a handsome boy bringing an equally handsome Sir a drink.  I tease him with my smile, baring my fangs, but we both know that neither of us are on each other’s menu.  I am not a hunter and there are few here who would attempt to hunt me…I’m just not their kind of prey.  Boldly, I revel in this freedom, enjoying it rather than feeling disappointed that I am outside the games at play as the hunters lure their prey closer.  That is, until I feel a pair of eyes tracing my own body and I turn, intrigued.

Amid the Sirs is a Leatherdyke, equally seasoned and strong.  She relaxes amid the hunters and one of her companions turns to see where her gaze has settles and laughs.  I can’t hear his words, but I feel my heart quicken as her eyes stay on me, measuring me, gauging my reaction.  I feel my face flush and my throat grow dry and I swallow, my eyes looking down, breaking the tension of our stares.  When I look back up, she has turned to her companion, laughing, but her eyes dart back to mine, telling me that she marked my nervousness and I know the game is on.

All around me men and some women dance similar mating dances, more like a dance between predator and prey in the smoky haze.  A man near me groans as another twists his nipple, his lips near the boy’s ear, almost brushing it as he whispers what he will do next.  The boy leans closer to the Sir, eager for his touch and tormented by thoughts of the pleasure and pain to come and the Sir toys with him, drawing out the anticipation so that the boy will be even more eager to please.  I smile, forgetting for a moment my own weakness and vulnerability and regaining my composure, yet envious of the boy, wishing I had lips near my ear promising such sweet torments.  I head to the bar and I can almost smell the pheromones, the musky smell of horniness and desire as the prey entice their hunters and the hunters stealthily lure in their prey, each of them marking off some space to share in the crowd.  I turn my back to all this, floating on the thick energy coming from it all and feeling a deep, gutteral connection to our ancestors, men and women who saw what they wanted…and took it.  Here the game is a bit more civilized.  The takers ask before taking, but they take just the same after the niceties are completed and consent given.  I ache to be taken, but instead, I order a drink from a cut barback, marveling at the mix of primal, sex driven ferocity tempered with more courtesy and manners than one would find on the average street outside.

Then I feel her behind me before she speaks, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.  I fear it is her and yet I also fear that I am mistaken and that she has gone on to other quarry.  Her voice, though, is husky but female, strong as the muscles of her arms, yet mixed with the softness of her lips.

“It’s about time you bought me a drink,” she says as I turn and see her smile.  She is testing me, waiting to see how I will react.  I offer it to her, my eyes darting up to hers only to lower again.  She wears a cover and I know her.  I’ve been dreaming of her ever since I saw her in her leathers, wondering how those boots would feel pressing against my skin.  She laughs and instead orders a beer from the barback, moving closer to the bar, intentionally into my space.

“Do you still think you want to take me on?” she teases as she takes a swig of beer.  I swallow hard, measuring her up, knowing she is a heavy player, knowing she is muscular and knows her way around.  I feel my whole body heat up and I try not to show how badly I want to feel her teeth in me, her fists hitting me, anything she has to give.

“Yes…Sir.”  I manage and my voice nearly cracks, I’m such a mixture of turned on and terrified and excited and anxious.  Her eyes dig into mine and I know that she has read all that I didn’t say.  There is no hiding from eyes like that, as the boys around me know too well from the pairs of similar eyes that seek them.  She moves quickly and suddenly I’m pinned back against the bar, her hard muscle holding me helpless as her eyes look down at me.  I feel a bead of sweat start running down my forehead and I’m embarassed as a moan escapes my lips as she digs a hard thigh into my crotch.

“Well then…”  she is as calm and composed as I am a mess, smiling casually, her hard eyes full of everything she plans to do to me, knowing I will surrender eagerly to her.

And the music thumps on, this moment lost among all the other moments like it, all around us, mixing together.

“New” Leather

Posted: April 22, 2011 in bootblacking, general

In Leather, we celebrate experience and time spent in service to one’s community.  It is a wonderful thing that, within a wider society that seems obsessed with youth and anything new and shiny, that we acknowledge elders and try to show respect for those who have come before us whenever we can.  I was recently at IMsL and was humbled to see 25 years of women’s Leather history represented on stage.  We value our collective history in ways that the wider “throw away society” simply can’t grasp.

Still, like most things, there is an extreme element to this that can be destructive.  Any good thing can be taken too far.

We all know of someone who has been found out to be lying about the amount of experience they have.  I think almost every city or region has a story of someone who claimed years and years of experience in Leather, only to be found out to have lied.  Most of us have also heard others complaining about this person or that person, very often with a derisive comment about how new that person is to Leather.  While I’m certainly not defending anyone lying about who they are or what their experience is, it’s easy to see why they do it.  The overwhelming message is, “Old is better…new is bad.”  Often, the message we send is that anything old is inherently better than anything new.  We talk about the current state of our communities, Leather bars, protocols, and pretty much anything Leather with an air of nostalgia for a better past that has come and gone…leaving us with…well, what is new, which is certainly not nearly as good as what once was.  The past was more intense, more respectful, more dirty, more thoughtful, and more authentic than anything…new.

In some cases, this is true.  We have lost a lot over the years, both in Leather places and in loved ones.  Still, all is not lost unless we believe it is.

The message anyone new to Leather gets, loud and clear, is that it is bad to be new.  Not only that, they get the message that those who are new cannot have anything of value to contribute and are not fit to serve.  If you’re new, the best thing you can do is keep quiet about it and stay out of the way, in the corner, and watch and wait until your mentors and teachers find you and drag you off to the secret Leather catacombs where all true Leathermen and women are taught and age until they have reached the peak of flavor and are brought out in oaken casks, ready to contribute and serve.  Or am I thinking of wine again?  In any case, if you are new, you should hold back any gifts you have until it is the proper time to give them to the community, after they’ve had time to sit and ripen.

There is some wisdom to this and we see examples of people who would have been wise to follow it every time we watch someone very new come into Leather and try to tell everyone in the room how they are “doing it wrong.”  We each know stories of one 19-year-old “Master” or another trying to tell everyone the meaning of Life and Leather.  In this case, their sour grapes certainly could have benefited from some fermentation time as well as some quiet time observing.

However, how many “new” people are out there who do have something to contribute or gifts that our Community needs, but are afraid to come forward and offer them because they have seen how the “new” is welcomed?  How many great, fresh ideas never get shared and how much youthful enthusiasm and vigor is lost when we continually quash the new in favor of the old?  How many people who may be old in years but young in Leather either are afraid to admit their Leather youth or miss out on opportunities to learn because it is just assumed that they’ve been in Leather bars since the dawn of time?  How many young people are avoiding Leather altogether because it is seen as the realm of the “old” and that “new” is not welcome here?

It is ok to be new.  In fact, it’s something we ALL are at some point or another.

Being new can be exciting.  Being new is an adventure.  Being new can mean more energy and more enthusiasm as well as fresher ideas.  There is nothing wrong with being new so long as you are honest and embrace that newness as an opportunity to learn from others and grow.  I think we all do ourselves a disservice when we look down on others for being new.  For one, we contribute to the shame that helps drive people to hide who they really are in an attempt to avoid that label.  For another, we lose out on the contributions a whole section of our Community have to make now, many of which are needed right now.  Finally, we can often delay or even push away our next generation of Leatherfolk, those who will bring new energy to our Tribe and will continue its traditions into the future.

I am young in my Leather journey.

I am unashamed of being young and of having a lot left to learn and years left to learn it.  It’s wonderful to be looking down a long road not far past the beginning of a long journey because the view is full of possibilities.  Still, I very early on saw that there were ways I could contribute and serve and I stepped forward to do them, almost even before I knew what a sin it was to be new.  I naively saw needs and worked to fill them to the best of my ability.  I didn’t wait until I’d been found by a mentor, but instead sought one out and I continue to seek out more experienced teachers and mentors wherever I can find them.  I devoured wisdom hungrily at the boots of those in my chair and I shared what I learned with whoever wanted to learn, as I did.  Now I try to help others not have to make quite such a dive into the deep end as I did, but I see value in each place along the path, not just toward one end or the other.  I hope I never stop learning and never feel like I’ve done and seen so much that there is nothing new to discover.  I was happy to discover this weekend that I could meet a new bootblack who could make me look at bootblacking from a new perspective, one I hadn’t encountered even in all my travels.  Not bad for a newbie.

Let us embrace the new, remembering when we were new ourselves, whether it was last week or a lifetime ago.  Let’s give them the permission to be new and to be unashamed and unafraid to admit what they don’t know and ask questions as well as to give what gifts they have without fear of rejection simply because they haven’t seen as many years.  I think our Community will be healthier for it.