used to live on Shaker Road, the main thoroughfare between
Albany, NY, and its airport. It was only a two lane highway
but dangerous enough that I wasn't allowed to cross it
by myself. Sometime past my eleventh birthday my mother
gave me permission to cross the street alone. Thus opened
a whole new vista to explore.
I remember running across the street and up this six or
seven foot embankment into unknown territory. I wandered
through a young forest, across wide fields and eventually
into a small ravine. As a matter of fact there were many
gullies over there, each containing a small streamlet.
Turning over a rock in one of those little creeks might
reveal a salamander. The more rocks you turned, the more
salamanders you could catch. Oh, lots of rocks were barren
of life-forms. Many salamanders were too small to keep.
Some got away. Some rocks were too heavy to lift. In any
case, every once in a while my cruising for a pet salamander
paid off. I made my trips across the street a regular
part of my summertime week, bringing a jar with me because
I knew I would be coming home with salamanders.
I've told that story hundreds of times to make the simple
point that you've got to play the numbers. A wide search
will uncover more prospects than a narrow one. Many trials
will reveal more discoveries than fewer. It's all part
of a salesman's logic: The more prospects you contact
the more customers you make.
So it is with finding a partner. The lonely hearts among
you who dream of a relationship need only to do less dreaming
and more prospecting.
During a phone call from a slave-applicant yesterday,
I was told that "the bars in San Francisco"
are a terrible place to find a Master. That's why the
guy, who lives in SF, was flying to Washington, D.C. to
meet his newest prospective Master. That information,
of course, launched me into my usual sermon about there
"not being any Masters in LA." Of course there
are Masters in SF, LA, NY, and everywhere in between.
They may be as hard to find as salamanders under rocks,
but they are there.
I won't say you won't find a Master under a rock, but
I would suggest you try other reasonable locations as
well. Try lots of them: bars, clubs, baths, the Internet,
chat lines and rooms, classified ads, workshops, contests,
conventions, runs, bulletin boards. Ask friends, strangers,
bartenders, and authors, writers, and columnists. The
operative word here is "Ask."
My mother would interject all sorts of cliches at this
point. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," she
always says. "The squeaky wheel gets the most grease.
Two heads are better than one. Don't leave a stone unturned."
The other person worth quoting said, "You have not
because you ask not."
Be consistent in your approach. If you look sporadically,
you'll have less chance of attaining your objective than
if you maintain a regular schedule. Search the classifieds,
for instance, every week, not just once in a great while.
Don't just look at their ads, place your own.
I suspect that the greatest difficulty in finding a partner
is getting over one's present inertia. If you are the
stay-at-home type you're going to come up with millions
of reasons not to become pro-active in a search for a
That is perfectly acceptable. There is nothing wrong with
solitude. If your present lifestyle is good enough for
you, it's good enough for you. On the other hand, if there
is this sense of loneliness, emptiness, or disconnectedness
in your life, only you can do something to change it.
I could have spent years looking for salamanders in my
front yard. There would never have been any there to find.
Only by venturing into "uncharted territory"
could I create the opportunity I needed to get what I
The search, of course, is often fun in itself, but more
importantly, it holds two crucial components that lead
The first is that searching helps to refine one's concept
of one's objective. That means that the more you look,
the better you will know for what you are looking.
take a common example. Steve thinks he wants a Master.
The more Masters he meets the more he will know exactly
what kind of Master he really wants. The process of discovery
is very much a process of elimination. You know Edison's
remark about his 1,000 failed light bulb experiments.
They taught him 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb! Those
"failed" lessons led to his eventual success.
So it is with finding partners. Sure you're going to meet
a lot of really nice men and women who are perfectly unsuited
for you. Each unsatisfactory encounter is going to give
you important information that will lead you to your goal.
More than simply help you to define your objective, the
search will present you with invaluable opportunities
to know yourself.
There are plenty of Masters in LA. The bars of SF are
great places to successfully cruise. Those who think differently
are those who fail to know themselves.
that which is within you that keeps you from your goal.
It is pandemic that we fault others for what we ourselves
lack. The last time I looked, when you point a finger
at someone else, you are pointing three fingers at yourself.
1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact
Too often we blame our own inertia on things like confusion,
ignorance, and fear. Yes, these are very real, and sometimes
very strong, forces. Movement, not paralysis, is needed.
One cannot expect the facts to come before one overcomes
one's confusion. Rather we must seek the facts while we
are confused because it is facts that will dispel confusion.
The idea, for instance, that I'll find a lover when I
lose fifty pounds is self-defeating. There is a great
possibility, totally ignored by such procrastinating thinking,
that either the process of finding a lover will bring
about the reduction in weight or, more probably, finding
the lover will help accomplish that goal.
In another example, one is being delusional to think that
"I've got to learn to be a slave before I look for
a Master." It is much more reasonable to think that
the search itself will contain a great many of the needed
lessons and that the success itself, i.e., finding a Master,
will lead to learning how to be a slave. After all, who
is better able to teach you how to serve than your new
During my seminary days I was blest with a year's stay
on an island in Long Island Sound. It was there that I
learned to sail. You cannot change course in a sailboat
unless you are moving. Turn the rudder all you want, the
boat will remain locked in its current position. The boat
must be moving in order to change direction.
Cars work the same way. A parked car's direction won't
budge, no matter how hard one turns the steering wheel.
Once that car is moving, though, even the slightest nudge
will change the way its pointing.
Want to find a partner? Get moving. And don't worry, at
your age, it's OK to cross the street.