Got to cross hands with Steve P. then had to immediately leave, take care of some business for K (which I thought would be chauffeuring to a writer's event but somehow transitioned into buying a bunch of plants which often happens with my habibi) then pack to get up early and hit the road with Jake for a short trip to Eastern Oregon.
It was a good time and I am sore and a little tired and have lost just over four pounds since Tuesday.
Playing with Steve- I genuinely enjoy the man. Broad experience, sharp intelligence and a winsome little kid on the inside. It's comfortable and challenging at the same time. Playing was fun and it was playing. Both of us wanted to learn what each other had (minds and words are one thing, bodies and movement another) or maybe what we were, but neither was there to prove anything. He deftly set it up to bypass any kind of dominance game ("Show me how you teach..."). Very nice. I liked the skill. He does credit to a very good teacher.
Insight- there were several, but this plays off of other things from the week: Training can be isolated (just doing actions separate from an opponent or threat) alive, resisting, 'fully resistant' and assaultive. Different people put different values on each, but you will consistently find that people trained isolated are blown away by the difference when they have to work 'alive', when they have to improvise and respond. People who train live are shocked by how much doesn't work when they meet resistance for the first time. People who are used to a certain level of resistance (the level approved and considered safe in their classes) are often helpless the first time they meet high-level resistance, like in a MMA match or serious class. It is just as big a gap going from 'fully resisting' to surviving an assault. The mental/emotional difference and the technical difference, literally what works and what doesn't, is just as big between being on the receiving end of an assault and 'full resistance' as 'full resistance' is from complete non-contact.
This is a problem and it feeds off a human tendency- to believe that the most intense thing you have experienced is close to the most intense thing anyone has experienced. I believe that the ability to say, "Words can cut like a knife," comes largely from never having been cut with a knife. My list of levels above only goes as far as I have gone- there are probably levels beyond a brutal surprise assault (bombing? nuking?)
See why I like Steve? He draws things out that otherwise I have a tough time conceptualizing.
It was a very good time. Learned a lot, made me think.
The road trip- Drive to a remote corner of Eastern Oregon, camp under unbelievable stars (no dust, no smog, no moon, no light pollution) then hike a river trail, swim to Idaho, swim back, poke around the foundations of an abandoned mining town and the entrance to a few mines (all the ones we found were sealed and we couldn't go deeper). Almost the whole time spent in deep conversation with my oldest friend.
The swimming thing- in my circle of friends I am a notoriously poor swimmer. With fins and a snorkel or scuba tanks I'm fine. Kind of iffy on the surface. Jake was fatalistic- he's tried to talk me out of stupid things before and has graduated to just giving me safety advice, which I do listen to... but c'mon, how many times do you get a chance to swim across state lines? Especially the Snake River in Hell's Canyon.
Needless to say, I survived, though Jake's description, "You swim like a whale, a whale recently harpooned and partially torn up by orcas..." was probably pretty accurate. Total muscle failure in my arms a couple of times, oxygen and calorie debt I still haven't quite recovered from and then the five mile hike back to the camp space.
Beautiful river, beautiful hike. Imnaha river to the Snake. If you get a chance, go for it. You can swim to Idaho!
Insight- Lots of driving, lots of talking. Side effect of the time in the Middle East, I have reason to doubt a lot of common sources. There are a lot of things bandied about as 'true' or common knowledge that I either doubt or have direct knowledge that they are false. I'm not talking false conclusions here, but false evidence- I'm not disputing 2+2 equals four, but I've seen one of the 2's and it wasn't actually a two. The conclusion may or may not be right, but if I doubt the premise, I doubt the conclusion.
Anyway, I've noticed that several people take "I'm not sure about that" as an argument against. Some take questioning sources as a direct attack on their conclusions and even themselves. I'm not sure I understand the phenomenon, but it is there. Perhaps it's because people want others to agree with them and someone saying, "I don't know" is staying aloof from both herds. Maybe. It seems strange how sure people can be about things that they can't possibly know. (And this feedsback as well to Steve Perry's insights on the politics and folklore and lineage and history disputes in the martial arts.) It's cool, in the way that really, really stupid things can be funny.
Nice to have a time of skill building and wisdom seeking and friend-making spread from a nice suburb to a snake-infested wasteland. Beauty in the wasteland, the skies. Good times.
Less stream-of-consciousness next time.