Sunday, March 25, 2012

That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It...

I’m always who I am because I can’t be anybody else.
But I’m not always all of who I am to everyone.
I show different aspects of myself depending on the circumstances.
Some parts I readily and often display.
Others I seldom reveal.
A few, never.

When I’m with my horse, I’m slightly different from the person I am when I’m hanging out with musicians. I show a different face when I’m fighting from the one I show when I’m teaching.  I’m like a chameleon: though my superficial appearance may change to suit the environment, my overall shape and internal workings remain the same.

I’ve done hard time on planet earth. Had adventures and misadventures. I’ve been a friend, a lover, and an enemy. I’ve broken hearts and had mine broken. I’ve been a hero, a coward, and a clown; a villain, a thief, and a fool. A dreamer and a cynic.  I’ve buried hopes and I’ve buried friends. I’ve been, like Frank says, a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. You name it.
And I’ve got miles to go before I sleep.

I tell stories.
People I’ve known, things I’ve seen.
Where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what I learned --- usually by making mistakes.
Some stories belong to other people. But they can’t tell them any more so I do it for them.
Some stories are funny. Some are sad.
Some are funny one second, and sad a split second later.
A lot of that going around.

Sometimes the point of the story is obvious, sometimes it isn’t.
Sometimes the story seems like a random digression.
It never is.

The purpose of the story is always the same: to elicit an emotional response from my student.
To make them feel. 
Make them laugh.
Or cry. 
Or both.
To do that, I have to allow the emotional response in me. I have to allow them to see my joy, my pain, my fear, my anger. That’s how they know what the story means. I’m a tuning fork. They’re tuning forks. I vibrate at a certain pitch, and their vibrations entrain with mine.

Some stories are told and retold many times as part of my teaching “repertoire.” 
Yet each time I tell it, it has to feel spontaneous, as if I were telling it for the first time. To do that, I have to be willing to experience the feelings of the story myself, sometimes quite unpleasant feelings, over and over again for my students’ benefit.
It ain’t easy being a bodhisattva.
But I’m tough.
I can take it.

Every story has cost me something.
Every story will cost them something too: innocence.
They will not be the same person after the feelings elicited by the story, that they were before they heard the story. Their values, beliefs and attitudes may change. As a result, their behavior may change.  If it does, then I know they’ve actually learned something.

To become the person you can be, you must sacrifice the person you were.

 That’s the trade-off.   It’s the price everybody pays.

Ask Odin.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

When Past is Prolonged

A reader recently asked what I thought of the future of fencing.
Interesting question.

When I first learned fencing from David and Lucille Logan back in around 1970 or so,
there was no such thing as “classical fencing,” as distinguished from “Olympic fencing.”
That which we now call “classical fencing” was known simply as “good” or “correct” fencing.
That which we now call “olympic fencing” was known simply as “poor” or “incorrect” fencing.

Most all of what they do in the Olympics now, was done back then, too, but was witnessed with much dumbfounded shrugging of shoulders and disgusted shaking of heads.  We all knew what fencing was supposed to be and what it was supposed to look like, and , though our efforts may have been imperfect, we were always striving toward that ideal.
The perpetrators of poor fencing were admonished and weeded out by natural selection because they were not rewarded for their antics with victory. Today, they are.
So the main difference now is that poor, incorrect fencing has become our “standard.”
Incorrect is now correct. What was a fault is now a virtue.

Someone once said that the macrocosm is reflected in every microcosm. (DNA supports this suggestion.) It struck me that the changes in the nature of fencing and the changes in the nature of the United States (and its allies, clones and sycophants) have demonstrated a parallel decline over the last 25 or 30 years.

Before, there was corruption, fraud, bribery, torture and even murder committed by our government – but we at least had a sense that such conduct was immoral and illegal, and political hacks would avoid getting caught, and feign shame and remorse when they did get caught.
We all knew what “liberty and justice for all” was supposed to be and what it was supposed to look like, and, though our efforts may have been imperfect, we were always striving toward that ideal.
The main difference now is that corruption, fraud, bribery, torture and murder have become our “standard.”
What was immoral is now moral. What was illegal is now legal.

See the pattern?

What once was called “the land of the free and the home of the brave” is now a nation of depraved cowards and greedy psychopaths who claim a “right” to engage in torture and murder, who spy-and-tell on each other like a junior high hall monitor trying to make points with Teacher, who allow themselves to be treated like cattle, abused at airports, and exploited like the ignorant slaves they have become   -- and footing the bill for their own enslavement the way victims of the 3rd Reich were made to dig their own graves before being murdered in them.

Similarly, what once was called “the sport of ladies and gentleman” by my teacher now seems to have devolved into a rude game of narcissism. And it is so far from the “frank and courteous encounter” it was intended to simulate with the highest possible degree of  verisimilitude allowable by the constraints of safety, that the participants might just as well be playing Frisbee.

The future?
If past is prologue, then fencing has no future.
Not, at least the living, breathing, version of fencing with a soul and a spirit and Truth and a noble purpose. That fencing died around 1980 and what we’ve seen since is the irrational, antithetical zombie-version running amok eating people’s brains.

And similarly, the United States, as defined and described in the founding documents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, received a fatal head wound in Dallas in 1963, and what we have now is a nation gone completely mad, with a President who sees himself as a monarch with the authority to murder (or, rather, to have murdered –  for such men never do their own killing) any person any time, anywhere without charge or trial (what we used to call “due process of law”) and utterly without any oversight or accountability whatsoever.  Not since the writing of the Magna Carta in the 12th century has any ruler so brazenly asserted such godlike power.  Even Hitler and Stalin, two of the greatest mass murderers in history, didn’t make such an outrageous assertion.

Can fencing be resurrected?
I doubt it. 
Fencing thrives on excellence, truthfulness, loyalty and benevolence.
It cannot be cultivated – or even understood -- by lazy, stupid, amoral, narcissistic people.
So fencing has taken its current Undead form because that form is consistent with the new values of the Undead United States and Friends.
Real fencing that was a celebration of self-discipline and honor, would be too antagonistic to the 4th Reich where no suggestion of honesty, no show of integrity, no trace of personal liberty/autonomy must remain to contradict the mind-numbing propaganda so critical to the continuation of oppressive authoritarian parasitism that is the essence of a fascist government.

So my initial thought on it is that the future of fencing is --- among the very least of our concerns.