I’m not just a philanthropist. Which is good, since – as evidenced by my adventures with Mandy – I’m not a good philanthropist. Since this blog is supposed to be about what else I do in my life, it’s probably a good time to write about the one thing that has had me giggling all day: fencing.
I don’t mean picket or metal.
And I’m not even talking about collegiate style fencing.
Rather, I’m talking about fencing that is supposed to be in some way emulating fencing styles of the Renaissance era. So, for those of you in the know: historical rapier combat.
Mind you, my style isn’t very historical. With my bad ankles, knees, and hips, mostly my style is about staying upright. Oh yea, and hitting the other person before they hit me. And, um… looking good – but that’s what my seamstress is for. And, having fun.
That last one is a persnickety little bugger because what makes fencing fun for me will not necessarily make it fun for someone else. For most people, the fun comes from winning, or increasing their skill, or teaching, or expanding their knowledge and learning about the period (Renaissance period that is) technicalities and honing their style based on that. My fun comes with the socialization. If people are jerks or I can’t hang out with my friends, I don’t have a good time. I can (and do) totally suck, but as long as I’m a terrible fencer surrounded by my friends, that’s all I really care about. The friends make it fun. The fun makes me care more about footwork, voids, and hearing the music in my head.
Yes, that’s right – music in fencing.
My journey through fencing has not generally been an easy one. Oh yes, I’ve made friends, but typically I’ve felt like I was on the outside looking in, rather than on the inside mulling about. Until about this time last year. I was in one of my fencing valleys again. The decision had been made, this time, to sell my gear. It hadn’t been fun in months and I was tired of crying myself to sleep every night. The fun was gone. And, this time, it didn’t look like it was coming back. Ever.
As luck would have it, the universe decided to through me a bit of a treat. I had the distinct honor and pleasure of working with someone who has been awarded for his fencing skill and depth of research on what I thought was going to be the last night I ever fenced. He told me that to him fencing was a beautiful art. When I said I didn’t understand, he went on to explain that as the fencer, “You are the artist. You’re a painter and fencing is the medium. Paint the beautiful scene you want to see. As a dancer, feel the timing, move to it. You’re a musician. [I am.] Conduct the symphony. Hear it in your head. Dance to it. You control the timing. You control the footwork. Fencing is an art.”
All of the sudden how to control the timing made sense.
He went on to explain that I should have a song in my head and move to it.
I was inspired. And I have been fencing since.
But, it hasn’t been easy. Having an inspiring talk – a truly inspiring talk that touches your soul is life changing. But, it didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t having much fun.
I missed the days of working with my old teacher in the mid 2000’s. Whenever we would take the field together – or even walk to the field together, it felt like we were a team. I thought that my teacher, knew all the things. And even with my health issues, he could train me. I wan’t good – but I was decent and that was cool. But, like all good things, that came to a shattering end. I felt like this:
So, there I was inspired, but not having any fun. Slowly the spark died out again. I hadn’t danced in years. Between research and school, I didn’t have time for music. I was tired of fighting to hold on to my old style – to my memories – to the fun. I enjoyed learning from a few people, but by the following January, I was being called things like, “unteachable” and “not worth it”.
Things stayed this way for months, slowly getting worse and I couldn’t hear the music anymore. I was back on the outside looking in. I hated it. I was ready to sell my gear again.
But, the universe said NO! And I was granted a second teacher. (Who is awesome, btw.) He sort of snuck up on me… agreeing to work with me sometimes, and then suddenly talking about training regimens and working with me more often, until finally I was in a formal teacher/student relationship again.
All right. All right, universe. Point taken.
It has been phantasmagorical. We started working together more regularly – and I started hearing the music again. All sorts of music. Louder when I should be faster, “like a bouncing ball”, my teacher told me – and now I see sing-a-longs in my head. Very very soft when I should be tentative. It’s like I’m following the nuances of the song, more than the song itself. Whee!
And then something happened this past week. We were doing drills – next to each other, rather than across from each other. And I got this caught very firmly in my mind.
And it was magic.