Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It’s not that I’m not what I appear to be. It’s that I’m more than I show.

I was talking with my son tonight, and I was saying that love is almost arbitrary. Anyone will do. Almost anyone. A good wife is a good wife. We hope we choose wisely, and we love her. If somebody else had caught our heart, we would love somebody else. There may be soulmates, but not all love needs to be that. It’s arbitrary.

If my son had been a daughter, born on a different date to a different mother, I would have loved her as I love him. This is not wrong. It is no slight to those we actually love. We expand the circle of our hearts and with its loop we draw to ourselves those who happen to enter in. Fate is just what happens.

So tonight I rolled with my son, at the place that he rolls. It’s the first time in over a year that I’ve missed one of my own classes. Felt very weird. I’m pleased to say that I believe I presented a normal impression. I’m pleased to say that I am able even to give thought about the impression I make. I assure you this is a newish phenomenon. Maybe I’m evolving. Soon I might even be human. That Darwin was a genius.

He’ll be off in two days, my boy. Away again to Sumer and Nineveh. Down into Babylon. Into the House of War. So I wanted to roll with him. See him interact with his peers. Give him a chance to see me playing another role. It was good.

And I wanted to roll with new people. I’ll be competing in a couple of weeks, and it’s part of the preparation. It always reminds me of how average I am. Everyone is much tougher than you’d expect. Even the beginners earn respect, in their striving. And you know what respect is. It’s a kind of love.

I got there early. Introduced myself to the bossman. “Howdy. I’m Jack. My son suggested I give you a visit. I’m not very good at this social stuff.” What, you think that’s a weird thing to say? Well, you think a lot of what I say is a joke. I hardly joke at all. I make the truth sound like a joke.

I once sat in a stairwell in a state of absolute dread and distress, waiting to have a conference with a professor. Nothing big, just to discuss some project. That was an eye-opener. How did I get so messed up? Why the anxiety? It was many years ago, and I knew it was tied up with the ancient past of my Babylonian childhood.

My point? It must have something to do with love, right? And something to do with my son? And the fellas I roll with?

Next fall my son should be out of the military. He’s planning on training where he trains. Do you see? What do you suppose I will do? Where to you suppose I will train? My son comes first. Everything else ties for last place. As it were. I love the guys I roll with. I really do. They don’t know it. That would be awkward. I do have some sense of that social stuff. But my son has been gone for five years, and I don’t know that I will ever again be able to trick some woman into loving me. I can expect no more sons. So the one who remains to me – I want to spend some time with him. Why do you think I started to roll in the first place? I was planning ahead.

I do not want to lose what I have. These guys are dear to me, for all that our interactions are generally superficial. That our acquaintance was arbitrary is irrelevant. It’s real to me now. And that some other group will crowd into my foolish heart will not fill the loss I expect, of those whom I know now. Love, as I say, is arbitrary. But so is life. Arbitrary things can be important.

My son asked me, “So, do you like this place more than where you go?” “That’s not the sort of question I answer.” “Why not?” “Loyalty is important to me. It’s like asking which of your kids you love most.” “Me.” “True.” And we laughed. But I’ve lost sons, and I’ve gained them. Not in that order. Now, because I am socially awkward, I expect next fall to lose that set of friends I roll with. Maybe not, but I’m the guy who sits in stairwells. That I might gain another set hardly seems a compensation. It must be, though. I love the sons I no longer have, and I love the son I have.

It’s not that I’m not what I appear to be. It’s that I’m more than I show. Who would know that I have a tender and a broken heart? Who would want to know? Why would I want anyone to know? The answer of course is that love unexpressed is pointless. Light should shine from a high place.

That’s all. I have no solution. I do not dare be a saint. It’s enough that I can walk up stairs. But somebody does love me. I had to manufacture him though, from scratch. It was a pleasure. And it wasn’t arbitrary at all. I had a plan.



N said...

It makes perfect sense that you would/will go train with your son (at his school) when he gets back. And why wouldn’t you train and spend time with him? What else would you do, right? We’ll definitely miss you when you do leave. I think some of the bigger guys will miss you a lot, whether they know it or not, training-wise. JJ community is pretty small, so I’m sure we’ll bump into each other once in a while. There are open mats here and there. I will also work diligently on taking my trash talk to the next level, so that you will at least hear word of me from your new teammates coming back from their tourneys. And hey, maybe you could try something different (new?) and NOT lose the set of friends you currently roll with even after you do leave. At least not all of them. I guess we shall see.

Jack H said...

Oh, I'm so over you. I've just moved on, is all. Why can't you people accept that? It's really ugly, the way you cling. A little creepy, actually. And pathetic. I've got a whole new crew, in waiting of course, but that's where my allegiance is now. Just deal with it. They’re so much better too. My new homies. Yeah. Can't wait.


I'd like to do both. I'd like to bounce around, a month here a month there. It's not really my style, but it's not a marriage, right? Or maybe I'm just a swinger, is all.

Yo mama so easy, she have an easy button. Yo mama so easy, her doorbell is the easy button.

Indeed, we shall see.

And all that stuff I said about love? Um, uh ... just forget about it, eh? I don't know what I was thinking. Must have been my brother, Jack. Yeah. That guy. So wacky.