Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Because I can...

Just after sunset in Northern Iraq, Kurdistan, and my belly is full and the stars are out...

You don’t want what’s in my head. You may think you do. You don’t. I know some things. Things about me, about the world. Things that normally get called some pretty high falutin’ names. 
 Martial artists, especially, think that they want this stuff. Some have spent years training wondering “Could I really…” and “What would it be like if…”  
They think I know. A few think I can tell them. I wouldn’t even if I could.  What I know for and about me might never be true for you.   And it would be only words.   One of the things I know is that the words don’t matter.
So I go the cheap route.   I tell stories.  I drill skills.  Try to show a few people how to learn, how to think.  That’s easy, really.  The physical is easy.  I try to tell them what they don’t know- that the parts that are easy are the small stuff.  You’ll never be good enough not to die. Everybody dies.  
If you know, you will never be sure. Sure is for the uninitiated.

Played with someone today- he's possibly the best instructor I have seen in the country. A damn good man, a good fighter (and the way I rank that it means something very specific.  He has survived... stuff) In close quarters unarmed stuff he was like a toy, a puppet.  That's artificial, we were cognizant of not hurting each other and weapons were off the table, though we both had them in easy reach.... still.

Outweighed by over a hundred pounds and the threat gets the first move at close range and I don't even have to fight, just steal his balance so that he can't move in any direction without setting himself to faceplant on concrete. I'm not fighting anymore, just physically making others incapable of fighting.

I want to spar with Mac.  That means I am on some kind of threshold.  I feel that Dave Sumner is still the best fighter I have ever studied with (sorry, Rener; sorry Mr. Lewis) but Mac can stop action and say, "About eight moves ago, when you did X, your eyes changed. What were you feeling? What were you thinking?"  He teaches more and at a deeper level than anyone I know.  One of the few, maybe the only one who can directly teach spirit and awareness.

Hisssssss everyone teaches spirit! But they don't. Most can't even see it. Or when they do they go piddling in their little pants and run away. Mac can not only see it, but make you see it- good and bad.  You can't improve what you can't sense.

Speaking of seeing what you are seeking and piddling in your pants and running away... but that's not a story for public consumption...

There is nothing special here.  I am an ordinary, average guy (OAG).  When I was younger I was far faster than average and somewhat smarter than average and that gave me an edge, but that is all.  Partially through curiosity, partially something else (it changed as I aged) I just started doing things.  They happened to be the things that other people sometimes dream about.  They were the kind of things that caught my imagination when I devoured Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard.  I learned a lot and it triggered more curiosity and I went deeper and learned more... but in the end I am an OAG who has done some things... and can no longer stomach reading fiction. 

The 'something else' that changed:  Late at night, driving through Bend I heard a scream and bailed out of the car searching on foot to find what was the matter, who was in danger.  My cousin in the car was shocked. Everyone thinks about doing something but he considered it pathological that I actually did.  People think about it. Some, maybe most, fantasize about it.  But if no one does anything, there will be far too many innocent women and children bleeding.  My cousin made it clear that  it was cool to dream about (watch it in movies, read it in books, lull yourself to sleep fantasizing) but in the eyes of the normal world it was crazy and stupid to actually do anything.  That sickened me, but if it was left to the crazy to do what needed to be done, I'd be as crazy as I needed to be. 

It's all words.  Anything I write is academic.  In the morning (it's  about 2000 here) I'll strap on a gun and go to work.  Then I'll take the gun off for the real work.  That will be real.


Anonymous said...

You'll realize you've crossed that threshold when you're no longer totally full of yourself. Maybe you could find something more interesting to ruminate on than how much of a badass you are? Interesting blog you have here but damn son, we already heard that one about 40 times.

Maybe it helps you in some way to keep repeating it over and over again.

Dunabit said...

um...right. If I'm screaming my head off, I'd like to think that someone might inquire why.

OT: I read an article at the Frontal Cortex blog about the effect of emotion on peripheral vision, and I wondered how that mapped to your experience. (article here:


Mac said...

It may seem that way on the surface level, but I see a man who is chasing himself, whose 'been there done thats', as important, at times life-saving, as organizational and societal positive influencing they were, have left a sense of melancholy and dissatisfaction in their wake. A man who continually sets the bar higher with each hurdle. Experiencing that myself, I think I understand, and know that there is no outward (only) way to achieve who you think you should be. These 'ramblings' thus seem redefining to me; brave he who would bare soul, honestly and persistently, to strangers.

Steve Perry said...

Anon --

Kinda the point of a blog, isn't it? To offer what's going on inside one's head? The little questions, you can answer early on in your life and put to rest. Some of the other lessons are harder, they take longer, and they are apt to keep popping up until you get a lid on 'em -- if you ever do.

One of the reasons I come here is to watch somebody go through that process. Sometimes I think I help it, sometimes I get in the way -- I'm not the kind of reader who lets much slide if I don't see it that way. I like it that Rory strives for clarity, both in his thought and in his expression of it. (And I'm going to tell him when I think he's fuzzy -- that doesn't serve him, nor us. Even the Devil needs an advocate ...)

Viro said...

1. What I drew from this post is that someone is probably writing a novel and wanted to practice setting mood and tone.

2. When I was living in S.E. DC, people only seemed to scream twice. The first scream would get my attention. The second scream confirms what I'd just heard and gets me out the door. Then... no third scream. Nothing to give me a direction to head in. So I'd stand on the stoop; listening.

Maybe people in other areas scream more. Maybe the bad guys in S.E. DC were just efficient...

Rory said...

The stream of consciousness posts are probably closer to 'me' than the ones I think about. It's what's on the inside. Full of myself? The other options are being full of someone else, something else or just empty.

Lyn- The adrenalin affecting peripheral vision is common knowledge in LE circles (but like a lot of common knowledge it is sometimes difficult to track down primary sources). One of the academy instructors says that the eye physically changes shape and peripheral vision is impossible. Can't find the source for that. It is really, really easy to sneak up even to the side or the front quarter, of someone who is focused on something intense. Don't know how much is physical and how much is mental, though.

Mac- internally, I feel pretty good. I like who I am and what I've done. The only time I feel any discomfort/dissatisfaction with it is interacting with a specific group. Bad guys, good guys and civilians are fine- they are what they are and even when I don't like them I appreciate them. It's pretty much just the ones who think about this stuff and don't do it, the ones who think they want to see the elephant but only if it looks like what they want and they absolutely don't want to smell it or be touched by it. That's hard for me, a hard gap to communicate across. As Steve rightly points out, however, that is also the real audience for the stuff I write.

Steve- Devil's advocate for clarity is always good. I'll send an e-mail if I think it comes from somewhere else.

Viro- Nope. Not thinking fiction, just hit that particular mood for stream-of-consciousness. My wife did talk me into Nano last year and it turned out okay, so I've been toying with the idea.
Hmmm- Former DC and an instinct to get involved. You aren't by any chance also a CPR instructor and professional fight choreographer, are you?

John said...

It is often said that "actions speak louder than words"...but...I believe it is also true that on occasion, words speak more clearly.
Thank you for your words.

regards John

Unknown said...

Rory, It was that sense of response to a scream, to a person in need, that Chivalry if you will that has kept me coming back as a friend even when I watch you make judgements quickly that I may or may not agree with. The soul deep caring for those weaker, the someone has got to respond, response is the way I was raised to believe as well. I believe it's an almost dying instinct.

Matt said...

I'm one of those people you write for who "want to see the elephant", but don't want to really experience it unless it's unavoidable. If I could live my life over, I'd move to Portland and learn what you teach...

I'm glad there are hard men out there who make it safe for people like me to sleep at night. Thanks.

DRP said...