Thursday, February 23, 2006

Prejudice for Pride

Thon hast learned, my little bud, that, whatever may betide, Thou canst win thyself no joy by passion or by pride. - Louisa May Alcott

In case you missed the story on your local evening news, as of the first Saturday of February, I have been fencing for one year now. Granted I don't know if a beginner's class qualifies as actual "fencing", but technicallly: one year. And I find myself wondering if there is some benchmark for this. What should I be able to accomplish now? Who should I be able to beat? Should I be rated? Oh man, I hope not.

One of my greatest fears is that one of my peers who has been fencing for less time than I will overtake me. Why? Pride of course. One thing that fencing has revealed to me is just how much pride I have and how easily it is wounded. If I had self-discipline equal to my hubris I would be practicing for six hours a day. The funny thing is I never considered myself a prideful person before I started competing. I was perfectly content to bout at the club and never even considered how much I needed to be winning. Even when the topic of competition would be raised I would demur, "Nah, competing isn't for me." Now my desire to maintain my place in the pecking order troubles my heart to and from most practices.

I ponder now if this is healthy. Perhaps. I am not competitive about anything else in my daily life so this is a nice spike in my otherwise flatlining meekness. But I am often chided by my significant other: If you're not having fun you need to stop. I retaliate that it's never fun to lose, no matter what you're doing. Besides, the good feelings by far outweigh the bad. And maybe the Type A side of my personality needed to be roused a little. Even now when I leave the salle, it's pulled the pillow back over its head and gone back to sleep by the time I get to I-95.

There's another tournament this weekend. The salle will have its largest representation ever and I can't lie: I have fretted some over how I will finish. But what would I be doing otherwise? Probably cleaning house and listening to reruns of This American Life. Fretting seems like payment enough for a healthy rush of blood.

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