Friday, June 11, 2010

Done Been

I find myself spending time with a new demographic, and I'm not sure what to make of it.
For most of my life, I had few friends and those friendships were based on a shared intensity. We didn't always do the same kind of thing (I was cautioned early to keep as many friends as possible who didn't deal with the world of crime) but whatever they did it was intense. Usually dangerous. it allowed us to share a frame of reference that was rare with my other circles, largely people I met at the behest of my wife.

One circle seemed more real, more alive than the other. You can guess which.

Lately, though, a big percentage of the people I am connecting with are former bad guys. Some former good guys, too... but that word 'former' is popping up a lot.

They all talk about a moment when they realize that they will die if something doesn't change. In words it is so pale to say that. I've never felt that waking up in my own puke with another friend in the ground or locked up... but I have felt it in a short second when my tactics were failing and I was outmatched in strength. The taste of mortality doesn't really make it into such weak words: "I will die if something doesn't change." Maybe it's something you can never read or hear, but have to taste.

The realization and the decision aren't easy, but they aren't enough, either. You actually have to change. Move away from what and who you know, give up something you were good at (and that means a lot in places where good and bad is measured by breathing) and move to a world where you don't know the rules. Basic rules. How do you get angry like a civilized person? When force is not allowed (and you choose to follow that silly, arbitrary, civilized rule) what do you use instead? How do people negotiate when there are no guns involved?

At the VPPG the other day we were talking about students and instructors who romanticize this life. In the fullness of their pristine manhood they choose to believe that they are in full command of themselves and would dispatch that assassin with one of the "ten best techniques as taught to elite military units across the world" or make that swaggering bravo back down with the steely glance they taught in the "Fear No Man!" pamphlet.

I pencilled a note to write about this, about the differences between the wannabes and the ones who have already done been and don't wannabe no more. Not sure what else to write, except:

Thanks. To those of you who got out and kept breathing so you could share a little-- thanks. Just thanks.


Erik the Strange said...

Just discovered you - great post.

Anonymous said...

I would strongly recommend the book
"Ocean going Wayfarer" by Frank and Margaret Dye.............Might just change your ideas of tough


Jesse said...

Rory, after going through one of your seminars and reading your book I am now addicted to your Blog. I know exactly what you mean. Having tasted death myself spending 21 days in a hospital and almost dying 3 times. I have been to the edge and come back. I also tend to do dangerous activities which makes me feel full of life. It tends to be a problem with even those closest to me who don't understand including my own wife. I have never been considered a tough guy or a bad guy and have no desire to be either. I have experienced violence all though no where near your level or experience with the subject. I guess my point is I've never heard anybody put into words what we both seem to experience. There are those who put our life in harms way and reap some of the benefits and those who don't understand what putting there life on the line can open their eyes to.


Terry said...

I agree Rory, it would be great to have more 'formers' come out and write about it. There is a problem though. It is next to impossible to put it in words that hold the same meaning and power as what has happened. It is hard to write about something not many have thought about, much less experienced. It's like trying to describe cheesecake to someone who has never tasted it, or purple to a person born blind.
As a 'former' who has come around, changed, and is now teaching, and helping others come out of it, I feel it is best done personally. Spoken word holds more emotion. And emotion is where a lot of this lies. It is worth a try though.