Saturday, July 5, 2008

Being Naked

Now for the apprentice part...

It isn't "do as I say."
It isn't "do as I say, not as I do."
It's "do as I say, and eventually, you might be able to do as I do."

It's about trust.

Trust that he can, in fact, convey his knowledge and expertise to me.
That he will do so in a safe manner. That he will push me, expand my limits, my "comfort zone," but he won't actually kill me.
That any information I give him will be used to help me reach my goal, and not to attack me or belittle me in any way.
That if I do what he says, it will lead me to where I want to go.

Learning to fence, and to teach fencing, is not like anything else I have done in my life. (Except for the ways in which it's all the same stuff, but I digress.)

In order to fence, you must first be able to control your own body, and then, to control the weapon. In order to fence well, you must also be able to control your opponent. And in order to do that, you must be at a level of awareness that is not often reached by anyone for anything. It is all counter-intuitive, and much of it is at the level of instinct and reflex.

Like an onion- and an ogre- you have layers.

And fencing, really, takes place at the innermost layer.
REACHING that layer is at the heart of everything I am training to do.

I can't reach it by myself.
I don't know where it is, how to get there, or what to do with it when I do.

I need the daily, constant, guidance of a master.


The only way to do that, to have that guidance, to benefit from it, is for me to be absolutely honest and open about everything about myself. To be transparent.

To be naked. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

This is quite difficult to do. :-)

The dominant culture is driven by the fear of, and avoidance of, embarrassment. People seek approval, acceptance, affection. They avoid, at almost all costs, any situation that opens them up to being seen as lesser, imperfect, or mistaken, equating that with stupid and worthless.

I have to do the opposite.
I have to purposely ferret out and expose every weakness I have. Every doubt. Every fear.
I have to seek out opportunities to work on the very things I can't do, or am afraid of, and embrace those.

At the same time, I have to have absolute trust in my master, to respect my fears, and to go ahead and push me off that cliff, out of the nest, if need be, so I can learn to fly.

It would be lovely and poetic to say that I trust him to catch me if I fall, but it isn't exactly like that. In a way, I have to trust him to LET ME FALL, so I can learn to pick myself back up when I do.

This is an ongoing challenge, this effort to go against what is most natural. To continually open myself, layer by layer, so I can learn, so I can improve my skills, so I can get closer to being centered and balanced.

I won't pretend it isn't difficult, and sometimes painful. It is.

But once in a while, I get a glimpse of Nirvana.

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