Keynote Address – BOLD 2014

I Am Doing a Great Work, I Cannot Come Down.

Good Evening.

It is good to be here with you tonight.

Here’s a question; What do an old testament architect, an airline captain and an erect penis have in common with each other?

At first glance not a whole lot, but I assure you that if you stay with me for a moment you will find that they are all related, very much so.

So let’s begin.

So it came to pass that…. As a storyteller, I believe that next to Once Upon a Time, So It Came to Pass is the best opening to a story in my opinion anyway..

And… So it came to pass that…

 In the sacred text we see that there is a man Nehemiah, an official in the Persian Court who is also cupbearer to the king – who in the course of time discovers that there is something terribly amiss and that is troubling him.

In fact this situation is troubling him SO much, that you can see it all over his face.

In the course of his duties in the palace he comes across the King… and the King seeing his countenance fallen like this asks what’s going on.

He says, in the ways of Kingly speech –

 Nehemiah…. why the face??? What’s going on here?

 Nehemiah replies to the King – the walls of my city are fallen and its gates have been burned with fire and the citizens thereof scattered to the four winds.

 The King replies – what would make you feel better? As they are friends, inasmuch as a King and a cup bearer can be said to be friends, the King wants to know what He can do to help with the situation that is troubling his friend – Nehemiah replies that he would feel better if the walls to the city of Jerusalem could be rebuilt and restored and that his kinsmen be gathered together again.

The King replies in the manner of Kings – Go… and see to this thing and report back to me.

So with the kings blessing and under that authority Nehemiah did travel with the appropriate papers and official seals and such and on his way to the jobsite he began to gather materials and workmen and shortly we find that he did indeed begin the project…. the work of rebuilding the walls.

And wouldn’t you know it – Right from the very beginning – work hadn’t even been started well yet…and there’s trouble on the horizon.

I won’t get too deep into the meat of this story just yet – I want you to pause right there, see this is an important part of the story – but lets pause for a moment, we will come back to Nehemiah a little later and see how he’s doing.

Instead I want you to come with me aboard Eastern Air Lines Flight 401.

Eastern Air Flight 401 was a Lockheed L-1011-1 Tri-Star jet; the jet is only 4 months old.

Its 11:42pm on December 29, 1972, and we are on a routine flight from New York to Miami.

From all indications this flight was indeed routine until about 11:32 p.m., when the flight began its approach into Miami International Airport.

There’s the usual scritchy airline captains voice coming over the intercom telling everyone that ‘we are going into final approach,’ giving the correct time and telling everyone the usual, how important it is to take your seats and fasten seat belts and all that kind of thing.

You know the drill; we’ve all been through it any number of times.

And as they settle into their approach to the Miami airport they lower the landing gears.

After lowering the gear, the first officer Stockstill noticed that the landing gear indicator, a green light identifying that the nose gear is properly locked in the “down” position, did not light up the way it was supposed to.

The captain, Mr. Loft, who was working the radio during this leg of the flight, told the tower in Miami that flight 401 would discontinue their approach to the Miami airport and they requested to enter a holding pattern.

The approach controller cleared the flight to climb to two thousand feet and then hold west over the Everglades.

This is routine – they then make an announcement to the folks in the cabin that they are in a holding pattern and the crew immediately begins working on fixing this problem

The cockpit crew removed the light assembly and the second officer Repo was dispatched into the avionics bay beneath the flight deck to check visually through a small viewing window to see if the gear was down.

Fifty seconds after reaching the assigned altitude of 2000 feet, the captain instructed first officer Stockstill to put the L-1011 on autopilot.  And then for the next eighty seconds, the plane maintained level flight.

Then, it dropped one hundred feet, (not a major deal) so now we are at 1900 feet…and then again flew level for two more minutes, after which it began a descent so gradual the crew could not perceive it. 

In the next seventy seconds, the plane lost an additional 250 feet and this was enough to trigger the altitude warning chime located under the engineer’s workstation. This puts us at around 1600 feet and the plane is still in a gradual descent….

Now if you’ve ever been walking onto a plane while the crew goes through the pre-flight check, they always check a multitude of these warning chimes, bells and whistles so to speak before they push back and go in flight. Sometimes you may hear this computerized voice say things like “Wind Shear!” “Wind Shear!” “Pull UP!” Pull UP!!” “Flaps! Flaps!” and other phrases and words designed to specifically alert the pilot that something is seriously amiss and needs to be corrected immediately.

Well, when the alarm went off this time, there was no indication that anyone heard it.

Why?

Because the person that is responsible for monitoring such things (the second officer Repo) is now in the avionics bay looking for the source of the problem of the light that malfunctioned.

As a result, the plane considered its gradual descent…and in another fifty seconds the plane was at half its assigned altitude. So we are at about 1000 feet and still descending….

As Stockstill started another turn, onto 180 degrees, he noticed the discrepancy. The following conversation was recovered from the flight voice recorder later:

Stockstill: We did something to the altitude.

Loft: What?

Stockstill: We’re still at 2,000 feet, right?

Loft: Hey—what’s happening here?

These guys are trained professionals; it probably occurred to them in an instant exactly what had happened.

The plane was now less than 1000 feet above the everglades, which were pitch black because well…they are the Everglades for goodness sakes, not a whole lot of ambient light pollution like there would be over a big city to indicate where the horizon is in relation to where YOU are in a big giant plane. And yes, they have that ‘horizon’ indicator that works; in fact they have a multitude of devices that can tell them at a glance exactly what’s happening.

But it was a perfect storm of simple errors, simple mistakes.

Any one of which would be a minor thing – not a big deal at all.

In the aggregate however – all of them happening at the most inopportune time…. you have a perfect storm of the worst thing that could happen.

Cumulatively – the effect was devastating to the pilots and to the unsuspecting people in the cabin behind them.

If you have the plane on autopilot and the people who are responsible for keeping the plane in the air are preoccupied with finding out about this light that isn’t working right, and the person who is supposed to be listening for the alarm is unfortunately nowhere around when the altitude alarm goes off, well…

If you know a little bit about planes, you know that when a plane turns, or banks – it can lose both airspeed and altitude rapidly unless the pilot gives the plane a little more gas – but they were in this gentle holding pattern (they thought) so no extraordinary flight maneuvers required, just a gentle turn and then its back onto the straightaway – a holding pattern is kind of an oval in shape, and its like an old fashioned racetrack…. straightaway, turn, straightaway…over and over again.

But in this case all of the mistakes added up to a really serious situation.

All of the possibilities collapsing down to a single moment in time of devastating certainty.

The plane has lost too much altitude and when they begin to go into this gentle turn at what they believe is 2000 feet above the inky surface of the Florida everglades, by this time they are probably a hundred or so feet above the surface…. and as a result the wing of the plane cuts into the surface of the Everglade swamp followed shortly by the fuselage and the rest of the plane at approximately 250 miles an hour, killing 101 of the 176 souls onboard.

This was discovered to be due to a burned-out light bulb. The landing gear could have been manually lowered either way. The pilots cycled the landing gear but still failed to get the confirmation light that they were looking for and as a result kept looking for the source of the problem, distracted from the much larger problem that was rapidly going to become part of their reality.

Their single minded focus on what seemed to be the most important thing at the time led to the first crash of a wide-body aircraft and at the time of this particular tragedy the second deadliest single-aircraft disaster in the U.S.

What Matters Most to you??

We’ve all done it.

Succumbed to the very human tendency to focus on the relatively insignificant at the expense of the profound.

It happens to all of us, not just airline pilots – it happens to everyone.

Sending a text when you need to be paying attention to the road.

Reaching over to get your phone, or your soft drink or whatever is really interesting on the seat of your vehicle traveling at speed down the highway.

It will only be a moment.

A quick second.

But that’s all it takes really, right?

Road conditions change, something happens that we weren’t expecting and then we are in a situation.

Focusing on the insignificant at the expense of the profound.

It’s relatively easy to get distracted by something that looks like it might be important

And hell, for all we know it seems like it might be something that really ‘needs doing’.  We are a nation of problem solvers; we pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, to juggle priorities, to come up with solutions….

But focusing on the insignificant at the expense of the profound can have disastrous consequences.

Now lets check in with Nehemiah at the job site.

Work is proceeding along, he’s got his men working, he’s got all of the necessary materials – the old burned stuff has been hauled away and the walls are going up!

Where there was nothing happening before – now there is the sound and activity, the hustle and bustle of new construction!

As Nehemiah continues to build, where there was rubble and in some places nothing at all – he attracts attention.

People who didn’t have an opinion one-way or the other prior to the construction – well…now they have an issue.

And like folk will do when there’s something new happening that they don’t understand and maybe don’t agree with…

Some will come and appear on the surface to support what you are doing – while at the same time undermining it under the banner of ‘I’m just trying to understand’.

And then some will want you to stop doing whatever you are doing, as in Nehemiah’s case, until they give you the authorization to proceed.

And for each of those – because the work that you do is so significant and necessary – it doesn’t really matter what the interruption is about, if you’re Nehemiah you do not have time to come down from building the wall!!!

That’s job ONE. Building that wall!

That’s why you asked the King and got His permission!

That’s why you gathered all these materials together!

That’s why you were able to recruit all these men to help with the construction!

You have to realize that in order for the wall to get built, you cannot come down…to chat! 

YOU HAVE WORK TO DO.

Your work is important,

Your work is necessary

Your work is vital

Your work is no accident.

So the naysayers and the ‘well, why don’t you just stop until we can UNDERSTAND just what’s going on around here’ people would come to the jobsite and they wanted to talk.  They would invite him to meetings constantly, they would say why don’t you take a moment from what you are doing and come and talk with us about this project?

And Nehemiah’s reply was…Um NO.  Can’t do it.

I have work to do here.

In fact, I am doing a GREAT work, and no…I cannot come down.

And sometimes – Your answer must be similar – what he actually said to them was ‘if I come down from the wall to talk with you, how is the work going to get done?

If I stop what I’m doing to come down from the wall and talk to YOU…HOW is the WORK going to get DONE????

So – No, thank you.

I am doing a great work – I cannot come down.

As I understand it – (and because I took the time to read the trifold, lol) The purposes and origins of MDHL are three fold:

To develop a sense of community, to foster a sense of ethics, transparency and accountability among those that identify as MDHL-fs, and to better understand and define the dynamic, sharing mutual experiences…..

I believe that when you desire to develop a sense of community among Dominant men and submissive/slave women to address concerns that are specific to their lifestyle dynamic – there will be some…. that do not understand you.

Or that will want you to stop building…until they can get a grip on you

Or who will just hate on you for even trying.

I am doing a Great Work – I cannot come down

When you endeavor to foster a sense of ethics, transparency and accountability among those who identify as MDHL-fs.  –

You will be opposed by those that are for whatever their reasons might be – challenged by those notions, of ethics, of transparency and of accountability.

You see, there were a number of people in power in the neighborhood of Nehemiah’s job site back in the day and one of the first issues that happened was that the landscape literally began changing around them.  They could no longer operate in ways that they had become accustomed.

In their cases they had been running up prices in the local real estate market and were doing a host of unethical things to the populace, but the re-building of the walls began to draw attention to other things that were not exactly as they should have been.

So change began to happen.

And they didn’t appreciate it, not one bit.

The work that was going on re-defined what it meant to be a part of that community, illuminating some things that needed changing…. and the same thing is happening today around us.

Don’t be surprised when Haters begin Hating – as the eminent theologian K. Williams wryly observed; Hater’s will in fact Hate – because you see that the role of Hater is not only a lifestyle, but an identity as well.

I am doing a Great Work – I cannot come down.

And Thirdly, I read that one of the things that you purpose to do is to work to better understand and define the dynamic we engage in through careful and thoughtful reflection and sharing of mutual experiences.

You have committed yourself onto a path to engage and to educate.

The BOLD implications of such an endeavor will open you up to criticism but more importantly in order to reach those that need to hear this message you must be vulnerable.

And yes I am BOLD enough to use the word BOLD in describing the BOLD nature of such an endeavor. (lol)

It can be tough to be vulnerable.  –  I recently wrote a piece on our mainstream website, richardandnamaste.com called ‘living my life as a dick’ that goes straight to the heart of that matter. My namaste actually wrote a piece about living her life as a clitoris which was amazing and wonderful in its own right and inspired me to write my article in response – check it out when you have a moment, she’s truly wonderful.

I am doing a Great Work – I cannot come down.

As a storyteller, I realized very early in my life that all of the most important lessons we learn in this life are carried to our hearts and minds through the vehicle of story.

I believe that you cannot really, truly know a person until you know their story…

That is why vulnerability is so important.

You see, you cannot engage in thoughtful reflection and sharing of mutual experiences if you are not willing to be honest about who you are and what your experiences have been.

If you putter around not sharing the essential you with the men around you, not sharing the essential you with the women around you, you are doing what the well-meaning crew of Eastern Airlines flight 401 was doing.

What a dear friend and colleague of mine used to call, ‘majoring in the minors’.

You will be focusing intently on the burned out light bulb of insignificance…while the plane full of people that ONLY you can reach hurtle toward their doom as the inky blackness of their own personal Everglades hurtles up to meet them.

The passengers of flight 401 didn’t know what hit them.

And the people on YOUR watch won’t know either…. If you aren’t focused on the WORK.

the WORK that you are uniquely qualified and charged to accomplish.

I am doing a Great Work – I cannot come down.

 So…..What if I did decide to go through my life as a Dick for just 24 hours.

  • To be the embodiment of masculinity, virile and potent
  • While simultaneously being vulnerable and tender.
  • As actualized masculine essence – Enthusiastically and vigorously inserting myself directly into situations that feel good to me, that bring me pleasure.
  • While at the same time avoiding or literally not responding at all to that which is not good to me or for me…I instinctually avoid those situations that are tense, are upstream or not pleasurable
  • Instead, I dive deeply into wondrous and mysterious places and situations again and again enthusiastically and passionately..
  • I find to my amazement that what was previously closed to me is now open, expectant and waiting for my arrival – everything is prepared for my ease and comfort, no detail has been neglected
  • I also move with ease through a world that receives me openly, deliciously and responds to my every movement with waves of acceptance and reflects my pleasure back to me multiplied and expansive.
  • When I am exactly where I should be, where I need to be, where I want to be – I feel invincible and magnificent. Nothing comes close to how wonderful I feel
  • In truth, I belong right here, right now – the situations and circumstances in which I find myself are literally tailor made for me – the most comfortable and delicious fit imaginable and I notice how exciting that is to me.
  • You see, I am committed to only taking inspired action – and enthusiastically rising to the occasion at the right time!
  • Additionally…I also effortlessly let things that no longer serve me pass right through me, I don’t hold onto things past their time.
  • I am so in love with my Purpose and I look forward expectantly to each opportunity to actualize my Purpose in this time and space.
  • Fully inhabiting this space, being the penis with all the potentiality of that energy and the intensity of this experience….is a Good Thing.  Seriously

If every man was truly and authentically a Dick..I mean, in the ways that I’ve just described, I believe that the world would be a much better off as a result.

So my advice to you is – Be A Dick. You owe it to yourself.

Be vulnerable.

Be strong.

Be about the work that you were purposed to do, that you NEED to do.

And take pleasure in doing so.

I am doing a Great Work…

I cannot come down.

Thank you.

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