In my youth, I don’t think I ever really considered the concept of honor deeply or meaningfully. As such, I did much that would make me a rather dishonorable person. Over the years, however, I’ve thought quite a bit about it, and I’ve tried my hardest to walk the path of honor as much as possible. I’ve read books on chivalry and bushido, adapting it as best I could to fit the modern age. This has proven difficult for me, as my initial reactions tend to be quite less than honorable, but it’s something I’m working on.
My personal path to honor involves always trying to do the right thing by others, thinking and meditating on the most reasonable and right thing to do in situations, and live my life with humility, understanding, and patience. The best part about all this is that when I’m actually able to do it, the feeling is amazing. Things also tend to work out better when I act more honorably. Still, though, I’m not sure when I’ll truly be a person that I would call a truly honorable person, if ever. I have many moments of weakness, anger, and foolishness that plague me and set me back. Also, I suffer from terrible hindsight, and that sets me back far enough to ensure that I may likely never get there.
There are things I have done, and things I have said, which I can never fully forgive myself for. I look back in shame at these things, and whenever I feel like I may be making solid progress towards my goal, these are what set me back to where I was. There are some people close to me, and in my family, whom I have always desired a deeper relationship with, which can never happen due to my past actions. It pains me, in profound ways and with abyssal depth, to know that I can never make it right. Sometimes my actions come with permanent consequences, and those shine like new scars on my face. They are there whenever I look in the mirror, and are still painful to the touch. These will not go away, they will endure for as long as I will, and for all my talk about honor and doing the right thing, they will forever be a reminder of my shame and failure. In a way, they do serve a positive purpose. They keep me humble, though often cause me wounds as well. Though it’s not entirely rational, I tend to think I deserve none of the good in my life because of the sins of my past. Sins not against any sort of deity, which would be odd since I’m an atheist, but sins against others, and sins against myself. I don’t feel that I should be forgiven for such things, and I have great difficulty judging myself solely on the man I am at this moment, and not the entire picture.
So I’m stuck with sort of a conundrum. Can one such as me, who has so much red in their ledger from years past and from recent memory, be thought of as a truly honorable person? Could I ever be deserving of such praise when I’ve done so much damage in my lifetime, often to people I truly love? Do I even deserve forgiveness for such things? I’ve meditated on this much in the past few years, and the best I can come up with is this: Were I speaking to someone else, and this was their story, I’d be able to see them as honorable and respectable, both regardless and because of their past. If they were that way while also having a tainted past, I’d say it even more so since they had to overcome a proclivity to act without honor. However, I know my past firsthand. I know that there are things that others can never truly forgive me for, that I can never truly forgive myself for, and that have prevented me and others from having more meaningful relationships regardless of whether I was forgiven or not. Because of this, I’d feel that I would be a hypocrite to ever think myself capable of being an honorable person. I will forever strive to be the best I can be, but I fear that the darkness in my past will always prevent me from deserving praise or to be thought highly of by others. I fear the scars will always prevent me from seeing my face as anything but a collection of sins and mistakes.
Last weekend was a local event that saw our existing baron and baroness step down, and a new baron and baroness step up. There was also archery, thrown weapons, rapier, and heavy list. The heavy tournament was also to determine the new baronial champion.
I started out concerned with my ability to even participate, since they wanted rotating forms and I’ve only really ever fought sword and shield. I was able to get authorized in the other forms, though, and people had enough loaner gear there (gauntlets, polearms, etc.) that I felt less like a dick participating. I’d honestly have felt weird going through the whole thing with sword and shield when others were all switching forms.
Starting off, me and another local fighter decided to warm up a bit before the tourney. We fought a few times, then another fighter swapped in, then a few more, and before long we had a bear pit for about 15-20 minutes. Then we started the actual tournament. It was round robin with about 9 fighters. I did as good as could be expected, and won maybe 2 or so fights. I’m happy with how I did. The majority of the fighters there were far better than me, and this being a champion tourney I wasn’t expecting to have a winning record as a guy who’s been in armor only 5 months. I stuck with my lessons as best I could, but was simply outclassed, and that’s fine. I also lost all but one of my other forms due to having very little experience and not knowing how to defend myself competently enough. The one fight I won was pretty much given to me, as my opponent was overheating and appeared to have just wanted it done with so he could cool down. That fight was absolutely hilarious. I fought polearm, he fought greatsword. He took my right arm, and then chose to fight one armed against me as a courtesy. Neither of us could swing with any power, and thrusts was tough due to the weight and us being tired. It was damn comical, and probably my favorite fight so far. Even the other marshal came over and was like “what the hell is going on here?!”. We were cracking up. My opponent, whose name I of course don’t remember, was awesome and gracious about it all. Definitely the best kind of people I find on the field.
I ended the day with 3 fights in a row, due to some confusion as to who fought who. I was exhausted at this point, and thankfully the first two tagged my pretty quickly so the fights didn’t drag on. The last one seemed more evenly matched, and I was able to pull out the win somehow. Afterwards, I popped my top and crashed. I was actually thankful for the end, as I didn’t have the stamina to keep going and I was overheating.
I actually enjoyed trying out the other weapons forms, even though I did terribly. I looked into possibly getting some gauntlets so I can do that again at other tournaments, but right now they’re all a bit out of budget. From the conversations I’ve had with other fighters, it seems as though gauntlets are the kind of thing you spend good money on so you get good stuff. Since I work with my hands quite often, I decided to follow their advice to the letter. In the meantime, I’ll have to see what else I can do to my current kit to make it more comfortable and easier to maneuver in. All in all, though, it was a great event. We saw some truly wonderful moments as people were given awards and peerages. We also attended our first feast, and the food was absolutely fantastic! I ate until I could eat no more, and went home tired, sore, and full. I could ask for no better!
Last night I went back to the An Dub practice for the first time since before Pennsic. They stopped holding them starting just before war until last week, though last week I couldn’t make it. This week I went and, to be honest, it was a shit show from the very start. Not practice itself, but my participation in it.
It began with me forgetting my fighting pants at home, so I went home after work to get them and then headed out. When I arrived, I was going through my bag and I realized that I forgot my elbow and knee pads at home. I was pretty pissed at such an oversight, but luckily two of the fighters there were able to lend me both so I could gear up. So I start gearing up, get my legs on, then stand up, look around, and realize I left my fucking CHEST PIECE, of all things, at home as well. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was, and for me that’s saying something. At this point I was furious with myself. I really didn’t want to go another week without fighting, I felt it’s been long enough as it is. Luckily for me, another fighter who wasn’t gonna gear up was willing to lend me his chest armor so I was finally able to fully gear up. The chest piece I borrowed was much more form fitting and smaller than the one I usually fight in, and I felt much better in it.
So I started fighting, and I definitely started feeling the steps I’d lost by not being able to fight for a few weeks. My stamina and strength took a pretty sizable hit, and my defense was spotty at best. I let in quite a few juicy shots, so now it looks like I fell down a flight of stairs. I felt slow and sloppy, and wasn’t able to get where I needed to be in time. Don’t get me wrong, I never expect to come out with a positive kill/death ratio at these practices. The fighters that attend are all more competent fighters than I am. Still, my performance was kind of a shit show, in my opinion. Anyway, I started out doing singles against a few people, and then we ended up doing a bear pit (winner stays until he/she loses). I don’t think I fought more that two in a row in the pit, but I did get the occasional win. After awhile, I gassed out and couldn’t hold my shield up anymore. I was relying on body and head movement to get out of the way instead of blocking with my shield. When that happened, I was pretty much done, so I pushed myself to fight two more times and called it a day. I’m just happy my sword arm was ok, since while on vacation two weeks ago I fell while skating and landed hard on my right side. My shoulder and arm were messed up for days, but it doesn’t seem as though there was any lasting damage.
I’m gonna try and get a practice together this week to get more time in armor, and hopefully I’ll start moving forward again. In the meantime, pell work is on the menu…