By Susan McNeal Velasquez
It was 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. Seven-year-old Elena, and her cousin Jake, 6, were playing in the living room. I sat down to listen in.
They were engaged in a made-up game called king and slave. Elena commanded, sitting in the biggest chair, “slave, get me that stool.” Jake followed her finger and reluctantly carried the embroidered stool over. “Now, move it back.” Jake sighed but did as he was told. “Now turn on the light,” ordered the king. Jake threw up his hands and said: “This is the worst game I’ve ever played!”
Elena didn’t even blink. She said, “okay, you can be the king now.” Jake’s body immediately relaxed in a ‘this is more like it’ response. He then planted himself firmly on the throne.
“Slave, would you please bring me that stool?”
“The king doesn’t have to say please or thank you,” Elena said as she disdainfully got the stool and carefully put it down in front of him.
I guess I laughed a little. The king turned his attention toward me and then firmly commanded, “slave, take Grandma California away.”
This order took Elena by surprise. Inanimate objects presented no problem, but the king had just upped the stakes. The grandmother might say no, and then what?
I cooperated but came right back. I was allowed to stay because I let them know that I was now a statue of a grandmother. Both king and slave easily agreed with my new identity. As a statue, I didn’t pose any threat to the king’s authority.
Shortly, Kyle, Elena’s younger brother, tried to enter the game. Jake gave him an order and Elena did too but he was too eager to please. They left him turning on and off the light switch with no new orders coming until he got bored and left the room.
It was fascinating how authority was perceived as permission to demand performance from others. Politeness was seen as weakness. When in the slave position, resistance was communicated through thinly disguised disdain.
For the game to continue, there had to be some resistance. When Kyle brought a willingness to follow anyone’s orders, all players lost interest. No tension, no game.
Better than, less than, dominant, submissive, ruler, ruled, strong, weak, hard, soft; witnessing their imaginative play was fascinating. They defined their roles and then played at trading places, all with an ease and enthusiasm that allowed their game to continue.
Androgyny is a term used to define the presence of both masculine and feminine characteristics. In fact, when freed through spontaneous creativity, masculine and feminine attributes pass into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, and solid rushes to fluid.
Watching their play was a perfect example that when rigid definitions of what is masculine and what is feminine are removed, active and receptive energy can move and flow.
By six and seven years old, both Elena and Jake had ingested the societal dictate that it is better to be a ‘hammer than a nail.’
Perhaps our challenge as a society is to elevate kindness, compassion, cooperation, and service as a necessary and equal partner to power. When power and service marry, it becomes possible to create interdependent relationships.
The definition of king is a monarch who inherits this position and rules for life. When we surrender the crown, it becomes possible to engage our ability to act, influence and inspire. We can cultivate our power to be responsive, response-able to our own needs as well as energetic contributors to the welfare of others.
Susan is a local author of Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. You can reach her at: beyondintellect.com.