Thursday, May 19, 2005

So that last post was pretty worthless; it's been sent back to Very Rough Draft Land till it learns to say something useful.

Instead I would like to share a charming analogy I heard on NPR this morning. Incidentally the commentator was actually sharing the analogy in relation to writing her own blog, but it made me think of fencing. It could be applied to many things.

A young girl clings to the edge of pool, frequently shouting to her mother, "You must keep an eye on me, I cannot swim!" But as she begins to get distracted by the other children and to join them in play, she remembers less and less often to remind her mother that she must be watched over. At last it is the mother who shouts to the child, "Look, you are swimming!" And sure enough the child finds herself gleefully paddling out in the middle of the pool.
Now you say to yourself - what does fencing have to do with swimming? And I tell you...well, very little, but this is an analogy after all. There is a natural progression to learning any new sport which begins with the fundamentals and cautious learning, proceeds slowly towards testing the waters of competition and ends - hopefully - with a confident new athlete. I feel I am on the threshold of that first area, tremulously peering ahead of me to the next stage.

Give me drills to do. I'm good at drills. Teach me the skills and then drill me.
A tournament you say? Well...I don't know about that.

Competition, while it ends with simple, cold numbers showing how many touches you made and how many touches were made against you, is, after all, a lot more than a score. It is undeniable proof of how well you prepared: how well you learned your drills, trained your muscles, prepared your mind. And if it can be used to prove, then it can also be used to disprove.

Perhaps I am not cut out to be a fencer after all.

You think now that I have forgotten all about my little swimming analogy in favor of self-pity, but just give me a second. In spite of the preceding gloomy thoughts, betraying the nature of my internal struggle. In spite of the creature of fear always slinking along at my heels like a hungry dog. In spite of these things, I am slowing letting go of the edge of the pool.

There will always be moments of struggle, losing a foothold, gasping for breath but as years wear on those moments become farther between and you gain the confidence you need to recover from them and learn from them. Maybe someday I will be surprised to hear someone say, "Look, you're a fencer."

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