I was sitting at my desk, trying to find meaning. I was feeling lost and disoriented.
So I picked up a sword. I started fencing over 28 years ago. Though I use a rapier or its equivalent 98% of the time, I started by choosing my live-steel katana.
Due to self-quarantine and social distancing, there has been no fencing practice for over a month. Fencing has been my joy, my favorite activity for more than a quarter-century. Not being able to join my friends and exercise my body and blade together is taking more out of me than I realized.
I practiced stances, grips, and movement with the katana. For reasons I cannot fully explain, this weapon has always made perfect sense to me. I know what it can do, how it is meant to move, and how I should move with it.
When I have had an opportunity to fight with a katana or its equivalent its always felt right to me (the type of fencing I do allows for a katana variant — which is really cool).
After a time, and warming up unused muscles and unworked movements, I switched to my rapier. Really, in its general design and makeup, it’s more like a smallsword than a rapier. But the hilt is based on a historic rapier hilt, and my style is more informed of historic Italian rapier than anything else.
I’ve owned this weapon since 1996. I have fought many tournaments and play-battles with friends with this blade over the years. Maybe 10 years ago I got it balanced perfectly as it is today. My main right-handed weapon.
After all these years, tonight I learned the name of my sword. She told me.
Ironic that I fight with patience
But seriously apropos.
When I was broken 20 years ago after being hit by a car while crossing a street on-foot, I accepted no lengthy recovery time estimates nor limitations. I pushed, and my impatience paid off. In a year I was almost fully healed.
It was not a lack of patience on my part — but tenacity. Additionally, I held an unwavering belief I would see the other side healed and stronger than before.
Over and over a theme I come back to time and again is patience. I desire to see results, and again and again, my lack of patience either sabotages me or otherwise gets in my way.
But I am capable of patience. So it is right and proper that the weapon I fight with most should be thusly named.
In this time of upheaval and uncertainty, patience is absolutely necessary. It will take however long it will take for the world to reopen again. Yet, even when it does, it will be inevitably changed.
I needed the reminder, which is why now, after all these years, the name of my sword came to me.
I HAVE been practicing patience far more effectively throughout this situation than my natural tendency towards such restraint. Not fencing — the thing that calms my mind and soul and brings me more joy than almost anything else — has not upset me as it might have.
Picking up my sword — with the intent of drilling with it — for the first time in a month, last night drove that home.
I HAVE and am capable of patience. Some good comes from this uncertain and befuddling situation we are all weathering right now.
Why does it matter?
The best way to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ is patience. When you go with an expectation of how long it will be that will impact how you experience it. Patience, on the other hand, will allow you to truly experience the journey in and of itself.
I know where I desire to be in my life. Yet the journey from here to there is my everyday…and when I am focused on that and patient it tends to be incredible. I can see and feel light and dark and am more open to experiencing many nuanced thoughts, feelings, actions, and more.
As I sat here, feeling impatient, feeling like I was just wasting my time and energy — not reading a book or a useful blog, not exercising, not writing — I felt lost. I placed my head in my hands and could not figure out where to go or what to do.
Then I took up my swords. The katana energized me, moved me, utilized muscles much neglected during these past few weeks.
Then I took up Patience. My old familiar weapon, an extension of my arm I have utilized for more than 20 years. The truth was right in front of me. All along I have had Patience — not just the weapon, but the idea and notion.
Knowing that told me to stop trying so hard to be something or someone for anyone other than me.
This is not a matter of selfishness
This is a matter of self-respect, self-care, and being most true and genuine to who I am and desire to be.
Most of my life, I have desired acceptance from others. Not just desired — actively sought it out. It was like a drug I needed coursing through my veins.
No matter how much I try to loosen its grip on me, like an addict I seek it out to partake of it again and again.
But then I realized, as I paused from my drilling and brought my blade up, touching the flat upon my forehead, her name is Patience. And Patience is not just the extension from my arm that is my sword, but the gift I can utilize to go where I desire to be.
Practicing patience will make me more mindful. That makes me more aware of my thoughts, feelings, and actions in the here and now. It makes me conscious, and when I am conscious, I can see how applying patience will calm and center me.
Most of all, I need to be patient with myself. I am my own worst critic, and more often than not my failings have been due to impatient self-sabotage.
In a moment of clarity, I came to this conclusion. I am still trying to fully suss it out.
Along with the daunting grief many people have not been able to name in this current situation, I suspect a lack of patience is also gnawing on them. So many unanswered questions will try even the most Zen person’s patience.
Patience is not a high-minded virtue, but a tool to being centered and at peace. Recognizing this, I see how a more liberal application of patience (literal and figuratively) will help me to better balance myself.
Do you have your own patience?
You are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter — as does our patience and impatience.