[Bards] Robin waxes philosophical

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Sun Apr 27 08:49:40 PDT 2008

I recently sent a version of this to the Steppes list, but it seems 
appropriate to our discussions here as well.

A functioning SCA group can be six people who all agree, or it can be 100 
people who don't agree but get along anyway.  And almost all events have 
over 100 people.  So we will *never* be a group that all agree.  Not 
everyone will share your goals, your dreams, your activities, or your 
approach, any more than they will all share your persona, or your height.

The conclusion is that, to be a successful group, we must get along with 
the people we disagree with.

The salient characteristic of the SCA is that we don't kick people out for 
not sharing our goals, dreams or intensities.  This makes it a great place 
to do what you want to do, but a horrible place to try to avoid what other 
people want to do.

A dream that requires everybody else to do the same thing you're doing is a 
permanent disappointment and frustration.  A dream you can do while others 
are doing their different dreams is always available.

It's been over fifteen years since I've been to any event (other than Red 
Tape) when I *didn't* have a Magic Moment.  I usually have several.  But 
part of the reason for that is that nobody else can hold my magic moments 

When I swear the Legion oath to my Queen, she's usually in tears, and I am 
too.  We find our magic moment then.  And it doesn't change it that there's 
always some people telling the tired, old joke of repeating Tivar's name 
instead of their own.

When the marshal calls "Lay On", I can fight for my Queen and my lady, or 
to defend Ansteorra.  It makes no difference whether the other fighter is 
fighting for those reasons.

Last night at practice I finally pulled off a move from Capo Ferro I've 
wanted to manage.  Only two other people at the practice knew anything 
about Capo Ferro.  Why should that reduce my little triumph of research, 
practice and authenticity?

I performed a piece in praise of Cedric the Fiddler at his Laurel ceremony. 
It had a bilingual pun, giving a new Modern English meaning to a common Old 
English formulaic hemistich.  Cedric alone caught the pun and laughed. 
Nobody else listening had any idea why he was laughing so hard, and that 
didn't reduce the value of it at all.  We shared our private moment of 
Anglo-Saxon poetic knowledge in the middle of a crowd of 300 people.

A bardic circle is a place where it can all feel real, so I don't 
particularly like filk, but others do.  When a filk song starts, that's my 
cue to stop listening and practice my next piece quietly to myself.  The 
filk singers are polite when I'm doing my poetry; I can be polite when 
they're doing what they like.  The filk song doesn't pull me out of my 
persona; fuming about it does.

Furthermore, the dream that everybody agrees with you and does what you 
want is a poor dream for two reasons.
  1. It's not true.  They don't all agree with you.  They never will.  If
   you had the time to get every person to listen to all your arguments
   and discussions, they would still not all agree with you.  There are
   other ideas than yours in the world.  The only way to get the entire
   group to agree with you is to kick out most of the group, and to
   rule the rest with an iron hand.
  2. Assume you had an event in which every person agreed with you
   about how to play the SCA.  You could succeed at your dream
   event, but so what? That's no challenge.  It's like a knight winning a
   tourney because all the other fighters were newbies.  The hard,
   challenging, worthy goal is for all of us to work together to make
   our conflicting dreams happen together.

Non-fighters run lists, herald and bear water so the fighters can live 
their fighting dream.  Non-bards set up competitions, build fires, 
calligraph prize scrolls, and give largesse so bards can live their bardic 
dream.  Why don't we bards spend as much effort helping those bards whose 
bardic dreams aren't the same as our own?

So remember that other people's dreams matter too.  Spend a moment 
listening to someone's persona speech -- even if you don't want to do it 
yourself.  Flirt with somebody who's lonely.  Thank the list mistress, 
herald, or feast server for their service.  Pay attention to that filk 
song.  Offer your favor to some fighter.  Let the court event happen 
without throwing in a joke.  Compliment some artist's costume, pottery, 
weaving, etc, even if you aren't interested in that art.  Fight a bout with 
your opponent's favorite weapon style.  Laugh at somebody's modern joke and 
then fall back into persona.

Anthony De Mello wrote:
To a disciple who was forever complaining about others, the Master said, 
"If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people.  It is 
easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole earth."

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin 

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