Jackie Summers on rogue Samurai and being single.
A thousand years of heritage. A lifetime spent honing mind and body. A code of honor demanding courage, loyalty, honor, and self-sacrifice. This was the way of the Samurai.
The warrior class of feudal Japan has been romanticized in film and literature for good reason. Sublime martial artists, the samurai warrior embodied a way of life that embraced dichotomy. Bushido, ‘the Way of the Warrior’, tempered the violence of their profession with the serenity of Zen mastery in their personal lives. From childhood onward, they made a daily practice of honing both physical and mental acumen to an edge comparable to the katanas they bore.
A samurai meditated on death daily, in both a specific and general sense. They would carefully consider not just the gruesome manner in which they might meet their end in battle, but existential concepts of mortality. They learned to cultivate the ‘no-mind,’ the state of being where you were so keenly focused on present that neither future nor past held sway over your thoughts. Literacy and culture were extolled, and they excelled in fine arts such as calligraphy, rock gardening, haiku, and of course, the elaborate tea ceremony.
Espousing these ideals didn’t just make them fearless in battle. Equally dangerous, righteous, and sophisticated, they were vibrant human beings. Every moment was a moment to be lived fully, as it might be your last. So it’s with great hubris that I associate my approach to love and sex with that of samurai culture.
Codes of ethics governing my behavior were inculcated in me from childhood on. Embracing the possibility of being hurt allows me to give and accept love freely, fearlessly. Being fully present with a lover, focusing completely on savoring each exquisite scent, sound, taste and sensation: this is my sexual motif. In my delusions of grandeur, I imagine myself a Samurai.
Being samurai however, came with a proviso.
Samurai were bound during their lifetimes to a daimyo, or Shogun. In their employ, a samurai was able to utilize the full range of his skills. With the title Samurai came social status, residence, occupation, and the possibility of wealth. Samurai who lost their master through death or dismissal were honor-bound to commit seppuku: ritualistic suicide. This was imposed by the Shogunate, as they rightly considered these highly trained, heavily armed, unemployed soldiers, a danger to the populace.
Those who chose not to observe this edict were considered ‘Ronin,’ or rogue samurai. The literal translation for Ronin is ‘wave man;’ a man driven aimlessly, like the windblown sea. Deprived of their livelihood and honorable purpose, Ronin became vagabonds, and mercenaries. The whimsical image of the wandering drifter, the lone swordsman seeking adventure and worthy adversaries, is not entirely inaccurate.
This is what being single in New York City feels like to me.
I was raised to be a partner; trained to be a lover. When involved, all of my art of seduction finds full expression. As someone who’s been ‘dismissed from service,’ I frequently find myself agitated, and restless. I have concern over my skills atrophying from lack of use. I’m rife with unused romance. There are days when I crave intimacy; stimulating conversation and cerebral exchange, over wine and a home cooked meal. There are nights I want to make slow love for hours using all manner of carnal artistry. And then there are times I just want to fuck someone so hard their eardrums pop.
None of which would matter were I not bound by a code of honor. It’s a fucked up code, but it’s mine, and I live by it. There’s little challenge or satisfaction in an endless string of one night stands; conquest for conquest sake, lacks luster. I’m also aware that every time I unsheathe my sword, I run the risk of hurting someone unnecessarily. I still seek adventure, but more than that, like all Ronin I seek a Daimyo, a singular individual upon whom I can bestow my love, my sex, my loyalty.
Because great hubris and delusions of grandeur aren’t keeping me warm at night.
© J Summers 2012