Monday, June 22, 2015

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry: "A man has got to know his limitations."

(Editors note: This entry in my journey may sound like whining. However, it is not meant to be. It is more about coming to grips with aging and how to keep some small amount of dignity. It is also an attempt to figure out what role ( if any) this sport that I am so passionate about should have as my life moves forward.)

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry: "A man has got to know his limitations."

I fenced in the State Games this weekend. It was a tough field. I estimated that I would finish in the bottom 25%. I finished dead last.

( Yet another editors note: You may notice that I did not have a positive perspective going in to the event. I did not visualize myself winning. That kind of thing is only good in certain situations. I am a realist.)

Now to keep a little "face", I did have a pool from hell and the four other vet fencers ended up in the same pool together a few strips away. I went out in the first DE to my teammate who won for the second year in a row.

I do not know what to think. I have not finished DFL since I first started fencing. I have always told myself, that I would fence as long as could give a decent account of myself or that I wasn't a joke on strip. This weekend, I was a joke.

I got several comments at the games. Things like: "Your getting a little age on you." and " I think it is just awesome that you are still out here competing."  I never know what people mean by that.  "I think it is just awesome that you are still out here competing." could mean " You poor old dear, you don't know when to quit do you?" or they could really mean what they say. Who knows?

So, now on with the purpose of my journal entry. What do I do? I do not want to quit fencing. Not yet. It is so much a part of my identity, that I would be lost.

I use to think a lot about how I would measure myself as a man as I aged. I am a fighter. As I age/have aged I am no longer strong or tough.  Right or wrong, somehow that was a measure of my manhood. If I have reached a point in fencing where I cannot give a decent account of myself, how can I  consider myself a fencer.?

 ( Yet another editors note: It is getting kind of old isn't it? In the paragraph above I said, " I am a fighter.". You may think that sounds like a cool thing. Yet, if I could live my life over, I would toned that part WAY down. It caused me more trouble than it was worth.)

From whatever actor played Billy the Kid in  the movie "Young Guns", " A man has got to test himself every day."

So what to you do when you can't give a decent account of account of yourself and you may have hit joke status? Do you quit fencing and go in search of another passion? Do you stop competing? I know a lot of people that do this in fencing. They seem happy. Yet unlike Billy the Kid, I do not believe that you have to test yourself every day. But I do believe that from time to time, a man must test himself. Now here is the rub for a late blooming vet fencer. You can compete with kids 40 years younger than yourself or (for the most part) you can compete with vets that have 40 years more experience. It is a rough row to hoe, either way.  ("Rough row to hoe" A Southern expression meaning difficult.)

"I am what I am, that's all what I am." Popeye

. The season started off fairly well. It progressed to a bit below mediocre and then to rock bottom. The end came swifter than I imagined it would.

I have no clue how I should proceed in fencing or if I should proceed at all

Also, once again, recording this and reading it helped not at all. I also feel no therapeutic benefit from this , as I understand you get from keeping a journal.

Maybe take some time off? Explore some of those other things I want to do? Just take some lessons and keep your hand in it for a while?  I am sure an answer will come to me, but it is taking it's own sweet time getting to here.


Mari said...

A break can often help one gain perspective. But don’t let poor results discourage you. Everyone can have an off day. As long as you still enjoy fencing, you should keep at it.

Anonymous said...


I have always considered you a tough opponent. I generally leave the strip after facing you,(whether I win or lose) knowing that I have fought in a tough bout.

After competing to renew my C11 for the past 4 years, and coming close numerous times, I am at the point where US Nationals is my last chance before my rating drops to a D15. Knowing how well I can do and not reaching that level as consistently as I like has been frustrating to me. People have told me not to worry about my rating possibly dropping, because they believe that I will earn it back. I tend to believe that they mean well in their remarks, but they don't appear to understand how much keeping the rating is important. Your post indicates to me that you set a level of proficiency as a goal for yourself that you want to achieve and maintain. That is what I do also, and why keeping my C rating is important to me. Renewing it is a tangible indication that I am maintaining the level of proficiently that I set for myself.

I have always considered you to be much better than your rating shows. You have not had that day which you have reached your true level of potential, in my opinion.

"I ain't as good as I once was. But I am good once as I ever was."
-Toby Keith

No one can always be their best, but their best is always within them. To try and put it simply. Your best is not behind you, it is ahead of you.


Jim Kent said...

Thanks Mari.

Robert; Thanks for taking the time to write those kind words. I will not forget that you did this. Thank you.