A master, an owner, a continuum…?

For years I’ve had elaborate explanations for what the differences are between the terms / titles “owner” and “master” since it seems people often use them interchangeably. And when I asked people why they chose one over the other, some answers were personal, others rambling, some generated more questions than answers.

I hit upon an analogy that I’ve been unpacking for a bit and I have found it has resonated for me very deeply. It has brought up more questions, and that to me is the sign of a great point in my process.  Unfinished thoughts are unfinished, but…

I thought about someone who might own a piano. That takes money, resources, space, a certain amount of knowledge. These, however, are all things that, provided with diligence, focus and determination, pretty much anyone could do. I could start of broke as hell and ignorant about music. But I could read, study, apprentice myself. I could get a job at a piano dealership. Intern at a music school. I could work really hard and save money, find the perfect apartment where I could have that piano, practice every day, and become a competent musician.

But would that make you a master of the piano? Would you have a natural gift of musicality? Be able to work the instrument in a way that is transcendent?  Would you be willing to make the pursuit of perfection on those keys a central part of your life? Would people wait for hours in the cold to listen to you play?  Would playing that piano mean the world to you, or would you be just fine walking away, selling it?

I shifted my analogy to horses…they work so well in these analogies, I’ve found. Millionaires may own horses and sit in the stands, proudly beaming over their equine property. That horse belongs to them, and this is not unimportant. But the person who masters the horse, the person who’s voice spurs them on to that last extra burst of speed, the one who rides them so lightly as to seem as though they have become a seamless being, rider and horse…the one who sits by the horse’s side through a colic and knows when even the smallest pebble is in the frog of their hoof…that person is practicing a type of mastery, too.

I don’t believer being  master and being an owner are mutually exclusive. I don’t believe one is intrinsically better than the other. Some horses do FAR better left running, barely contained, perhaps owned but never mastered. And pianos need to be played regularly, lest they fall out of tune more quickly.

I think back on the handful of relationships I’ve had that were specifically focused on power exchange. I am sitting with them in light of this thought. I’m wondering about the dominants I have served, and loved…and I’m contemplating where in the owner / master spectrum they might fall.

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