[Ansteorra] Magic Moments

Patrick R tex_yankee2004 at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 20 11:01:37 PST 2008

Thank you so very much for your thoughts, I doubt they could have been expressed any better. Things are what you make of them, concentrate on the things you like and the positive. I wish I could afford a period tent, but sadly I can not. That will not stop me from going to events. If I wish to see, I will wear my glasses (wonder if I my archery would be better without them, nope not going to find out). In the words of one of my military mentors “You can be as miserable as you want to be, choose not to be.” 

Jay Rudin <rudin at ev1.net> wrote:  Imagine two people watching the same fight:

Person A: Look at that. Sir John is wearing sneakers. And Lord James's 
fighting technique is so mundane.
Person B: Sir John is using Fiore de Liberi's longsword technique, and 
making it work! And isn't Lord James's fluted armor stunning?

1. Who is focused on the 21st century, and who is focused on the period?
2. Who will encourage more people to do authentic things?
3. Who would you rather listen to?
4. Who is having more fun?

I certainly understand the desire to get more people in persona more often. 
I miss the culture camps at Elfsea, and the the Commedia troupe I once ran, 
and the Ladies' Pavilions Willow used to do, and some moments at the Cadal 
Games, and many other such moments.

But these moments happened because somebody believed, and made them happen. 
Anyone can do that now, and they do.

Go to the archery range at Warlord. You will see a bunch of archers 
focused on their skills, and their fun, and their activities. Are they 
"modern people treating it like a sport", or are they the king's archers, 
acting as they did in period? The answer, of course, is yes. They are the 
king's archers, treating archery as a sport, just like they did in 14th 
century England, when by law it was the only sport allowed on Sundays.

How about Steppes Warlord, that much-maligned "modern" event? It always 
has the arms of all previous winners and their ladies on display, and the 
baroness turns to them in morning court to help inspire the fighters.

Go look at Queen's Champion this weekend. It's easy to dismiss it as "just 
a sport" ... until morning court, when we swear our oath to the Queen. She 
will have tears in our eyes, and many of us will, too. Then watch the 
fighting. I promise that you will see noble deeds, and authentic footwork 
and blade work, and fencers focused on the Cult of Gloriana (I mean 
Vanessa), and at least one injured fencer fight through his pain to honor 
his Queen. (And you'll also see iceboxes uncovered and modern shoes and 
plastic and discussions about computers and modern fencing technique and 
other problems. It won't be perfect.)

There has never been a single moment of any SCA event that I could avoid 
having something non-authentic in my view. (I know that isn't true of 
everybody, but I recognize Blackjack Oak and Texas Red Cedar, and can 
*always* see something to tell me we're in Texas or Oklahoma.) But there's 
also almost never a time that I can't find a noble deed, or a beautiful 
craft, or a lovely lady, or a fearsome foe to look at, as well. (If 
nothing else, I can always admire the authentically low necklines.)

The noblest, most golden, most transforming SCA moment I ever had occurred 
with me kneeling in front of the Crown Princess at Warlord VI. I know, 
because I remember where it happened, that there was a swing set behind her 
and a baseball backstop thirty feet to her right. I was wearing a bad 
costume made from store-boughten pieces. I just didn't see the backdrop 
when she and her ladies in waiting gave this poor new fighter their seven 
favors, and if they noticed my poor costuming they had the grace not to 
mention it.

It's too easy to complain that the rose bushes have thorns. It's true, and 
we should do what we can to reduce their number. But we will never finish 
that job, so it's important to remember, and focus on, the fact that all 
these thorn bushes have roses.

There will *always* be something inappropriate in front of you. There will 
often be something quite authentic in front of you. Nobody concentrates on 
everything in their field of sight, so it is up to *you* to determine where 
your focus is.

The greatest strength of the SCA was never that we could make everything 
perfect. That has never been true, and will never be true. In fact, our 
events look far more authentic now than they did in the seventies when I 
joined, because the costuming, armor, pavilions, banners and merchants are 
so much better developed now. The bardic circles are more authentic than 
they were then, when most pieces were either filk or dirty songs, and the 
highlight was a re-written 20th century Irish revolutionary song like "The 
Rising of the Star" or "Whack-for-the-Diddle". There were few brewers or 
vintners, and people drank Imperium Compound, Vargswill or Ormswill. 
(That's right -- we re-named Dr. Pepper after the first Lion, and thought 
we were being "authentic".) But while it's much better today, we're still 
in a modern hall or a Texas pasture, and the swords are still rattan and 
duct tape, and we still admit people who wear glasses.

The greatest strength of the SCA is that, through the modern sea we swim 
through, we can make occasional shining islands when it becomes real. For 
some people, that's primarily when the costuming or pavilion look right. 
For others it's when the activity or the event's persona story seems right. 
For me, it's when the relationships are right -- when I'm saluting my lady 
or swearing to my queen or following my king into battle or carrying 
somebody's basket or treating a noble foe with honor.

But whatever matters most to you, you will get more magic moments if you 
spend your time making magic moments happen. Complaining about discussions 
about computers or modern shoes is just as much a modern intrusion as the 
computer or the shoe. (And it doesn't even help. You cannot give a sermon 
to anyone who doesn't choose to sit in your pew.) Advise the people who 
turn to you for advice, be gracious to the others, and create your own 
moments. You'll find that you have more moments that way, and so will the 
people around you.

The next event you go to will have too many modern elements and not enough 
period ones. But *you* will add to both totals. Carry a lady's basket. 
Give honor to the crown. Pour that beer into a mug.

Too many cars at the field? Help people unload.
Discussions about computers? Ask someone about the trim she's weaving.
Too many modern shoes? Look up.
Mundane site? Watch the banners flying in the wind.
Bored with filk songs? Stand up and perform a villanelle, and give prizes 
to the period pieces you hear.
Too many complaints? Compliment somebody on their costume.

Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the first Baron Baden-Powell of Gilwell, left a 
final message to the Boy Scouts, found and opened after his death. He 
wrote, in part: "But the real way to get happiness is by giving out 
happiness to other people. Try to leave this world a little better than 
you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling 
that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best."

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

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