One of the main things I expend effort and energy on is trying to be genuine which means, believe it or not, trying to avoid being imposing – or at least avoiding presumptuousness. Laugh or scoff as you will, but it is the most significant source of anxiety present in my life. I try to trust people to show me where I stand with them, and in cases where I am unsure I do my best not to presume how they perceive our dynamic. Naturally this is particularly difficult with acquaintances or people I don’t interact with very regularly.
When dealing with public figures or well-known individuals, this is especially important to me. I’ve known some larger-than-life people, and have seen first-hand that no weight of responsibility or notoriety can diminish a person’s humanity. We all have a finite amount of time and energy, and with that comes the need to prioritize with whom we are willing to share these precious resources – *no one* is exempt from this. The last thing I want to do is to be audacious enough as to make someone feel uncomfortable by overestimating my relevance or importance to them.
It’s for this reason that condolences are particularly difficult for me. I see people around me willing to offer them in earnest, without ulterior motive, and with a warmth and understanding that I wish I knew how to express openly with such brevity. I would never in a million years diminish how heartfelt these wishes are, nor would I discredit the good that a kind wish from even a literal stranger can do, but the whispers of anxiety continually tell me “It’s not your place, grieving is for those who had a greater investment in the person than you did.” After all, how can I sympathize with a loss I cannot fathom?
In believing that humanity is innate and that no one is above being flawed, idols have never been my thing. As such, it’s rare that the death of someone I did not know well affects me directly, emotionally speaking. That being said when I heard of Alan Penrod’s passing, I was beside myself – or to be more precise I compulsively exclaimed “holy shit” in shock despite my surroundings.
I’ve always had trouble expressing my submissive side, largely because my interests are very out of sync with most gay men. While it doesn’t bother me that most people don’t respect or understand that I identify as submissive, it’s been a very difficult part of me to grow despite how long it’s been around. For a long time I had given up on trying to form any sort of D/s dynamic, thinking that there weren’t any Doms who adequately respected what it takes to help a sub like myself (as damaged as myself?) grow.
The extent of my interactions with this amazing man were a perfunctory introduction and a quick Recon message lauding his profile for its depth of thought, but he was always in my periphery and it was apparent that goodness seemed to follow him and the company he kept. What he had to say about building D/s relationships was inspiring enough that it immediately revitalized my interest in exploring my sub side, and gave me additional insight as to how to go about doing so.
While I’m glad I was able to send the quick message of appreciation, I guess I had always assumed I’d run into him at some point where I had more than a second to tell him thanks. In retrospect, I don’t know that I’d ever have had the courage to speak my mind on something so heavy to me in person.
As I see posts of condolences and well-wishing, I can’t help but think “If he impacted a bystander such as myself so much, how momentous was his impact on others?” I can’t fathom the pain his family must feel right now, and I sure as hell can’t find the words to adequately sympathize with such a loss, even after writing this long.