Thursday, March 27, 2008


I've been making mine. My farewells. Formally. Generally it's informal. I stand at the threshold and bid anyone who notices an adieu. But today was the last go, for a while. Well, Monday will be, but one never knows who'll be there, so I counted today as a final farewell, too. Ritual matters. It's not a surprise, coming from me, is it? It should be obvious. True, I didn't graduate on stage, from my high school. I sat in the audience. I graduated of course -- with high honors, somehow. Guess I got serious those last few years. But I just didn't want to participate in the charade.

I hadn't yet come to realize the importance of rites of passage. By now our culture has hardly any initiation ceremonies left ... meaningful ones, I mean. It's just a gradual and indiscernible slide over the years and developmental stages, until you're middle aged or old, and have to use old movies as the benchmark for seminal events in your life. It was only after I'd become a father that I started to understand, about rituals. They are important not because God cares about them, but because they provide a social scaffolding for psychological structures, immaterial though they be. Get it? We need to make the subjective objective. We need some clear benchmark, today you are a man. Getting lost in the wilderness and surviving on your maternal uncle's blood is out of fashion nowadays. Graduation is about as dramatic as it gets. Prom Night. Confirmation. Such a passage through fire.

Well? People think you're weird if you don't say goodbye. I am weird, but not on purpose. So I made the rounds tonight, and shook hands with everyone there. Some guys do that every time they leave. Well, I'm a brooding Dane. I'm most comfortable staring from my grim solitude into the flames.

I'll take at least a month off. Reach some new strength goals. A 720 squat, maybe. That sort of thing. Train with my son, where ever he ends up training. Maybe do a little standup training -- striking and take-downs. Maybe I'll start to feel good again, physically. The knees, don't you know. That would be nice.

But it will be good for me to roll with new people. I'm pretty dominant where I am, and ego though I do have, it's not good to win most of the time. There are huge holes in my game because I so rarely have to be defensive. Only a few guys can put me there. No, I don't really like that. Losing makes me aggressive. Winning makes me slow.

My point? Yes, I expect I'll come back. But I don't expect I'll stay. Not without more breaks. I need to mix it up. Cuz I'm really not there just to socialize. I'm pretty goal oriented. BJJ hasn't been a goal, with me. It's served other needs. Almost ritualistic needs. See? Psychological structures need to be expressed. Every man should be a father, for example. Excluding the freaks, of course. BJJ, for me, has been an exploration of the role of warrior. Father, sage, warrior, priest. We need to be these things, to be whole. Lover, friend, hermit. God made us with hands and limbs and organs and senses. He made our souls along an analogous pattern. We must honor this fact.

Why do I write such things to you? Because I want to be known. I want to be understood, as much as such a thing is possible. I want to be respected, and looked upon with compassion, and fondness and indulgence. I want you to be my friend, and the only way I know to do that is to be honest with you. Sometimes I'm boring and sometimes I'm wrong and sometimes I'm obvious. Overlook such failings, that are common to all men. It is important. It's important because there will be a day that I'm no longer here. I'll drop out of your life the way light turns into darkness. It's always that way. And it happens, almost always, with no prior sure knowledge. There was no thought to making any farewells. The moment becomes memory, recalled with decreasing regularity until it is only an impression or a mood. But we're not moods, and we show that we value one another by observing the common rituals of courtesy that have lost their deeper meaning, until we take a moment, on occasion, to call them out of their shadows.

I don't expect that this is a final farewell. But we can never know. Such a melancholy fact, that we might interpret as exciting. Ah well. Enough.

Ciao, baby.



Will C. said...

When I glanced at the title and first few words I became a bit anxious and even a little angry. I thought to immediately email you and blast you for leaving us poor souls. You see (as if we haven't emphasized it enough) you're the one bright spot in the pandemonium that is the internet. I personally shudder to think that one day I might visit FP and find it empty.

Luckly as I read on, I realized that you were only talking about leaving your BJJ group.

So as a humble representitive of your audience, let me express a collective "whew"!

Jack H said...

Oh get along with you.

And, uh, "only"? Of all the insensitive, self-centered cads!