A while back, I was talking with a friend about topping from the bottom. I was looking for an analogy to use to describe that phenomenon for a class I was teaching. I'd been using the analogy of writing a script and directing the actors. And by that I mean that submissives should write the script. But then actors (dominants) take it from there and put their spin on it. She told me that she viewed it as being in a playground. (and forgive me if I cant' remember which friend told me this, if it's you...please let me know. I'd love to credit your wisdom here).
That made a lot of sense to me. D/s IS like a playground.
Its a playground containing anything and everything that you’d ever imagine. Things your secret self wants to try, things you really like and want to do often, things you’ll try out with someone special, things that you really don’t care all that much for but will play with if someone wants to, and things that are so awful that to even look at them makes you upset. It contains things that bring out emotions, sensations, things that you fear, feelings of ecstasy, anticipation, denial, bliss and sometimes even pain. It is a place where fantasy can meet reality, and where you can experience the greatest highs and the corresponding lows, that you’d ever imagine. It’s thrilling, scary, intense, and erotic.
Another friend phrased this concept as:
I own my playground. It's mine and I get to run the show. But a playground without people to share it with is a sad, lonely thing. And I know that I can get far more variety and excitement out of it if I let others in and then let them call the shots.
So I share it from time to time with chosen people. People I trust not to damage the equipment and who will play nice and by the rules I’ve set for the playground. Those who break the rules get bounced and never invited back. There are some dangerous things on that playground. Things that will harm me, things that I'm not quite ready to play around with yet. There are also other things that if I don't play with at least once in a while, I'll miss a lot. So I want to make sure that the people I invite to play there are safe, sane, and that they’re there for the same reasons I am.
A submissive needs to take a look around that playground and decide which pieces are off limits. They might need repair or they might be something that is just broken and won’t ever be fixed. They need to decide what they're comfortable playing on with their guests, and those things that perhaps they might play with some day. But once you've done that, you have to let the people you've chosen to join you there actually choose which games to play. That's only fair I think. In order to get the most out of the playground, you have to let others decide which pieces to play with. Otherwise, it's not really likely that they'll be back.
In a D/s relationship, I may own the playground, but I don’t get to pick which pieces to play on or in which order they’re played....of even if they’re ever played with at all. And there may be some that I like to play with that my chosen companions might not. I don’t get to stop the merry-go-round from going faster if I’ve not set the stoppers beforehand. I don’t get to come down the slide ass-first, if I’ve not put up a sign that says “ass first only”. This is why it’s vital for submissives to understand exactly what’s in their own playgrounds and the ways that they might be used. It’s also vital to make sure that there’s always a way to shut things down if the equipment does things that you hadn’t thought of or if your invited guests do things with the equipment that you hadn’t thought of.
Although I own the playground, I want others to enjoy it as much as I do. I still haven’t used every piece of equipment contained in my playground. And there are a few pieces that are broken and won’t ever be fixed. I set the outside parameters of the playground, telling my partner which pieces are off limits, and then I join the fun that they create within it. That’s why my playground doesn’t get boring and that's why although I own the playground, my companions get to enjoy it as much as I do.