A couple of weeks ago, Master Jim and I gave a day long presentation on Master/slave relationships for a local group. As always, we opened the day by asking people to name characteristics they associated with Masters and slaves. The responses were varied and interesting -- we filled several flip chart pages with triple and quadruple columns of words. But one word that didn't appear on the slave list (and has never appeared, to the best of my memory, any time we've given this class) was the word "driven."
Why not, I wonder? We've made strides -- at least in my view -- in how we view slaves in at least parts of our community. Oh sure, I still hear from time to time that slaves have no opinions, should be meek, and should never be allowed to speak, but I hear it less and less and when I do, I hear more people speaking up to contest these assumptions. (Yes, I've been very publicly accused of not being a slave because I speak in public -- even though it's with my Owner's permission. But that's a tale for another day.) And yet, no one seems to think of slaves as being "driven."
In my view, the people I've known who have proven they are able to live successfully as slaves for the long haul are all "driven,"although perhaps not in the way we generally think of that quality. I'm not talking about being driven to be famous, to have power or to make money. I'm talking about knowing what you want to achieve and focusing on that goal, many times almost single-mindedly. So how does that relate to being a slave?
I believe order to successfully enter a Master/slave relationship, a slave has to be driven to find a Master. That means putting yourself in a place where people who identify as Masters can be found. I've had more than one slave in my time in the community come to me, complaining they couldn't find a Master. When I ask where they've been looking, I've frequently gotten the answer that they aren't active in any local community, don't go to any events and in fact, spend the majority of their free time at [their kid's soccer games, the knitting circle, on the golf course, watching Netflix, fill in the blank with your favorite vanilla activity]. Doing vanilla things in vanilla places isn't wrong and you might even find your Owner in Vanilla Land but as a general matter, you'll have better luck finding someone interested in knitting at the local knitting circle and someone interested in Master/slave relationships at your local MAsT chapter. Putting yourself out there as a slave looking for a relationship takes drive. And even if you're already in a vanilla relationship that has the potential to become a M/s relationship, it still may mean being driven to find ways to successfully convert that relationship to one focused on Mastery and slavery.
I also believe that anyone who chooses to live in a way that is in significant opposition to what the world expects (and often demands) has to be driven to do it successfully. To take an example from nature, think about salmon that have to swim upstream to spawn. If those fish weren't driven by a deep biological imperative to reproduce, they'd never even try to swim upstream. The very idea is illogical. But despite the hardships of swimming upstream and the likelihood that in the end, they won’t make it, salmon try. Or, if fish don’t do it for you, consider the women and men who take up lives of religious service. Those are some driven folks -- driven to serve their gods in some of the most extreme ways we can imagine. Give up their money? Yes. Give up their freedom to do as they please? Absolutely. Even in some cases give up their very names or how they physically present themselves? Of course. You don't sign up for that kind of life unless you are driven to live that way -- as a servant of your god or as a slave to your Owner.
As I write this, I'm noting my strong reactions to this word. As a slave who would describe herself as "driven," I almost feel I have to justify that descriptions and make it okay for me to be that way. There are a lot of slaves out there who write a great deal more about their slavery than I do, and I can't recall any of them describing themselves as driven. Instead, I most commonly read that as a slave I should let go, live for the moment, be able to bend, and yes… the dreaded “s” word… be submissive. I think all of those things are true, to one extent or another. But as is my nature, I always see slavery as a study in contrasts – so while I have to bend to my Owner’s will and what the universe brings to me, I also have to be focused and driven enough in my course of slavery to push around, over, under and through the obstacles that I meet on my path.
In a word, you have it – drive.