Monday, March 18, 2013

Somewhat Cathartic Ramblings

My most common response when someone inquires about a skill-set of mine is:

"Kinda sorta"

I have always been a Jack-of-All-Trades personality. It probably started with Boy Scouts. When I turned 18 I had 30 some-odd merit badges, ranging in everything from emergency lifesaving to weaving baskets out of reeds. The idea behind merit badges is to promote the maxim of "Be Prepared" - this is done through shallow to mid knowledge across a broad spectrum of skill-sets. It also is there to give boys a teaser for a skill-set, allowing them to delve deeper on their own. Somehow I guess I never out-grew the broad-range knowledge set.

Can I juggle? Kinda sorta (I can do 3 balls at a time for a short period)
Can I do card tricks? Kinda sorta (I know one that I can do off-hand)
Can I play the harmonica? Kinda sorta
Can I fight with a rapier? Kinda sorta

This "Kinda sorta" has, unfortunately, become a mantra in my life - to the point that my wife never believes I'm actually interested in something unless I am still interested in it 3 months from now. To be fair I come by this honestly, my father is the same way. This self-assessment as a Jack-of-All-Trades is what I believe causes me so much discomfort over the idea of beginning to learn a new sword art. Because I know myself, and my tendencies, I fear that it will be very easy for me to then "give-up" on Armizare and embrace this new art, only to find something else new and shiny in a few months or years. Most of the people in WMA that I've talked to about this do not seem to share my concerns. They have what I honestly consider the healthier mindset - that all the arts are worth studying and there should be no worry about learning more. I love learning. I mean, I LOVE learning new arts. I am just trying my best to stay dedicated.

The other cause of my "Kinda sorta" response is who I compare myself to. So the above question about skill with a rapier - can I fight with a rapier? Yes, but not as well as Sean Hayes, Puck Curtis, Tom Leoni, Steve Reich, Bill Grandy, John Sullins, Pamela Muir, and many, many others. Therefore my response is "kinda sorta". Can I draw? Sure, but not nearly as well as my friends who are professional artists. "Kinda sorta". I need to be more willing to focus on myself and gauge my skills based on how I did yesterday vs. how well other people are doing.

Some of these feelings also come, I think, from ego. I am not really an ambitious person. In most areas of life I want to be one of the best, but I don't need to be the best. For some reason, WMA is different. It's not that I need to be the best, but I desire to become one of those names that gets connected with a certain style, manuscript, or weapon.

"Oh, you're interested in ________? You should talk to Alex."

I think I have somewhat succeeded in this as most folks in WMA know of my love for the poleaxe. So what if I decide in a few years that I no longer really want to study the pollaxe?

At the end of all this is the last bit that bounces up in my mind - that it is stupid of me to worry about this stuff. I should just just up and train.

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