Thursday, February 11, 2010

" Luke....I am your Grandfather! Search Your Feelings. You Know This to be True." " Nooooooooooooo"

It has been a while since I last posted.

Weather conditions, coaches on leave, stranded coaches, and sick coaches have caused a bit of problem in the Greensboro club, but somehow we always manage to overcome things.

Lessons and fencing in Chapel Hill have gone well for me. In private lessons from Coach, I received the best praise I've ever received from him. This is one of the noncompetitive ways I gauge my progress. I hope it was not just because he was in a good mood or something.

Last week I became a grandfather. This became a time of reflection for me, as I spent 12 hours in the hospital waiting for Lucas to arrive. During certain times, it is impossible not to think about the future. I was imagining how old he would have to be before we could start working on fencing. Would I be physically able to play with him in that regard? Would he have any interest in it at all?

I have three children. I know that your interests and the interests of your children rarely jives. Still, there have been exceptions to that. Two of my children fenced with me for a few months. It was unspoken, but we knew that they were not interested in fencing very much. They were starting their own lives and moving on. They did this so we could spend time together and share an experience. I will forever be grateful to them for doing that.

My heavy and aging body does not reflect it, but for many years I was a runner of sorts. I was never fast, but at times I could run forever. My favorite running was trail running in the woods. It suited my slow speed, as you must watch for roots and rocks. With my music playing, it was often like being in a movie. It was always moving meditation. Injuries took this away from me, and I miss it more than any activity I used to do. I mention this, as my son has become a runner. To what extent our history together influenced him, I cannot say. But, I think there there was some influence.

All of this reflection gave thought to how I have been thinking of fencing of late. I had been looking for something spiritual in it. Now, I think "spiritual" may have been the wrong word.

We are such a small non-mainstream sport, that we are all connected. Within that connection are sub-connections: weapon; age;; fencer; parent. So, we are all connected by the sport of fencing, and then we are also connected by the various sub groups. Sometimes in ways not as obvious. I have friends who do not fence, fencer parents or coach's spouses. Yet, because of our ages or personalities, we have connected and are friends.

Now, not all fencers/coaches/fencer parents are a positive connection. If some of them were your dog, you would promptly take them to the vet and have them put down. Still, there is a connection. And many times those negative people provide a service, even if it is just a model of what not to emulate.

Often, however fencing parents and fencing friends may not even realize their influence. I have been influenced by non-fencers/fencing parents/coaches who were not my own. They never realized, or in some cases even cared, that they had positively affected my fencing journey.

I am sure most coaches look at all the kids that pass through their salles and wonder if they will fence or coach in the future. Will their children fence? Coaches cannot help but be aware that they are touching the future.

Jennifer Oldham, when writing her thesis for her Maitre d'Armes, did a poll on various aspects of fencing. I do not remember the question or answer exactly , but a number of fencers reported feeling about fencing as , "being connected to something larger than themselves".

You might see that as spiritual. Perhaps there is a better word.

Last weekend at the Duke Meet, a beautiful young twelve year old girl and her parents came to watch "real" fencing for the first time. She is one of our students in Greensboro. She has long, beautiful hair and huge, blue eyes, that are so bright they seem to have a light behind them.

She turned to me during the meet as we watched. Her eyes grew even larger and brighter as she said, " Fencing is just so very cool!"

I wonder about her and the future, just like I wonder about my grandson and fencing. You never know, but I like to think I might be pleasantly surprised.


P. Rashid, Fencer/Artist said...

That is the coolest photo ever. You planted a good seed....Grandfather!


cobalt said...

GREAT post Jim. I just had a couple of occurances of that butterfly effect happen this weekend. As a coach, it's always great to see some people coming to fruition. Even if it's not in your own salle.

Courtney said...

love it Jim :) Fencing is family. But I also believe one can find family wherever they look, so long as they open their eyes and their hearts. said...

Absolutely beautiful photo (and baby!)and a very thought provoking post. Many congratulations.