Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Last night I went to a site with all these pictures of an event that I had wanted to be in, but had to pass on. Hundreds of pictures of people dressed up and happy, doing great fun things en masse. I used to do that. I breathed a lot of people dust. And I got to look like a Viking, a norseman, have people step aside for me, for gosh sake! Truly amazing because so many of the people were old friends suddenly in front of me changed, fat and white haired and some of them still exactly as I remembered...Only it wasn't them, it was their child. Their child now 30 years old. An old friend's son being knighted, with tears in his eye, was an amazing sight. See, I got knighted once. A long time ago I looked up at a man with a crown and a sword and, with tears in my eye, I felt the touch of that sword. I loved being a knight. A Norse knight.

My son never was much interested in playing that game. My daughter did a bit, liked the costumes, but the fighters around here weren't shield-biters and she sorta is, so.... I was a shield-biter of sorts. That's a guy who looks at a line of armored, weaponed opponents and picks the center of power and bolts right thru it, busting through the line, killing as many as possible....That is, striking a "killing blow" preferably to the metal helm. Anyway, I was like that, I liked taking out the big guys, the ones with circlet or a white belt...Something that meant they knew how to fight, because, in part, the idea is to fight and live and learn and study and become better. It sometimes hurt for days, but each time I saw something and grew with it. Later, at the ceremonies, we all grew close and shared something about honor and skill. Sometimes it was someone getting a white belt and chain, or a white baldric.

There was this guy. He was the best fighter I ever saw, and one night when we were all watching this drunken, red-nosed, cheat step up and claim the crown.... no one could stop him but the ones who failed to stop him, so there he was. I had issues with the man personally, but as a fighter.... he was drunk. That means on pain-killing drugs, alcohol, and endorphins from each time he got hit so by then he was numb to everything. Except this young man with a serious demeanor and a white belt in his hand came up, made a short speech, threw his white belt to the ground and spat at the man in the throne. I was stunned. We all worked so damn hard to get one of those, and there was my brother fighter throwing his away.

The next meet we had I made a speech to the crowd. I announced that since the white belt meant fealty to the crown...( and therefore often the man in the crown)... and the Norse never swore fealty to a crown taken by combat, I must turn my white belt into a white baldric and swear fealty to no man. No crown. I was affected by that speech, although no doubt it was quickly forgotten by all there. It was an anticlimax after Bobby tossed his.

But I was speaking of my own honor. I needed to do this change. I "mastered myself" in the same kind of mind that Miamoto Musashi had at age 30. He decided to study himself, his own style, and therefore be beholden to no man. I suddenly questioned what I was doing there, leaping into shield walls and smashing folks in the body, in the head.....I saw that what Bobby had been about in smacking folks in the helm with his rattan sword, was honor. Real fuckin' honor. So, when I applied that question to myself I saw a way of doing the same thing without throwing myself out of the "belted circle" A master-at-arms is still a belted fighter and could do many things to improve the sport. Bobby was more like Musashi, but Musashi said to "study yourself, all things with no master". So if you master yourself, and all things with no master, you must also lose yourself, and that is covered in the fifth book by Musashi, the Book of the Void. When I knelt at the feet of a "king" and swore fealty I was not in the void. I was at some guy's feet.

That moment came and went and is gone. Those moments, really. Like some victim of a poorly plotted sci-fi-fantasy book, I have gone astray. I am in a world where honor is not well explained or followed. My son will never step to the middle and in the view of hundreds of people, accept a white baldric from my hands. My daughter will never fight by my side in a 5-to-2 close combat melee, using a weapon I trained her to use. Nope, not for me the sturdy, well-favored march thru the gala display of banners and bright faces to drop to one knee before a flag, a crown and glory. I have 14 chickens who run when I walk into the yard. They run to me because I dispense treasures... like tomatoes or bread chunks. It's not the same.

It's not bad, though, and I am allergic to dust. But it would have been grand to be a spectator, although I know I would have run into the middle and smashed my way into the best place in the house, the void, where you lose yourself and exist strictly as a symbol, a tarot card person. I was the knight of wands. After my second divorce I became the king of cups.

I hope my kids never have to divorce someone because if anything ever tears something out of you, it is a divorce. I've been thru the death of a dearest friend, the collapse of two love affairs and the near-death experience of brain trauma. All of those things unhinged me better than any peyote enema ever did. I lost my mind way too many times to find it now, and I say "Good Riddance!". It just made things worse and gave me a headache.

I'm not sure why self-medication should be illegal. That means if you do something to yourself with no one else around, and it makes you feel better, you are an enemy of the state and you will be punished. If I could grow pot or poppies or chat and it got me thru the day, why should any one go to the expense of making me live in a cell, in a prison, for a long time with unlimited access to the same drugs that got me into prison in the first place? It makes no sense. None of this makes sense. If everyone knows that killing babies is bad, why do they then turn around and decide to kill babies. Because then, with all those angry uncles and fathers and brothers and so on and so on....we'll be safer and better off. I'm sorry, but when I think of my son waking up and struggling thru rehab and learning to understand... and what he will come to understand is that his fellow Americans have been invading other countries and killing babies so we can drive big fat cars that look like military equipment. Which it becomes.

So, I feel that I was much better connected to reality when I wore Viking clothes and hit people on the helm with padded sticks. ON the other hand, I got these chickens. And they part for me when I walk, although the cat doesn't. But I get a lot of respect from the cats. I have a lap, and they don't. The chickens know I won't hurt them, how could I? I named them. Funny, but I think that Musashi retired to a farm after he had studied himself enough. I think all belted fighters should take up gardening and gentlemen farming. Even if they're ladies they can garden and farm as well as fight. IN that, I am happy. My daughter admires plants. So even if she never tries to smack a young great-grand-Bobby on the helm with a stick, she will appreciate the herb garden I'm working on.

No comments: