The Longing Begins to Creep In
March has hit me full blow, and the knowledge that it is now basically spring is starting to make me restless. For the majority of the last twelve years, March has been a special time in my life. The sun is getting warmer and brighter, birds are signing and playing in the puddles, the grass and trees are starting to turn green again, but most importantly, the
drums of war are beating, and the horns of battle are bleating. That’s right. March hits like a giant hammer and shakes off the winter cobwebs, and for those of us that have on occasion been known to hit with a literal hammer, it has special meaning. March through October is pretty much prime boffer weather in Missouri, and my blood and bones can tell. I call it the longing and there are intense warning signs.
A Subtle Pull
It starts out very small. If you didn’t know what warning signs to look for, you’d never even notice it. It’s a change in stance, a natural movement of the body back into the practiced positions, a small sign that it’s ready, and beginning to grow impatient. This increases naturally over time, until you find yourself idly moving your arms or stepping in form while walking. That’s the danger zone, and once you’ve entered that phase, you have to find someone to stat sparring with, or you could develop the seriously dangerous mental symptoms of the longing.
The Attitude of War
Once you’ve moved into the second phase of the longing, your mind begins to become effected. Even the most easy going, unshakable zen masters can become anxious and snappy. Your aggression levels begin to rise, putting you on edge, and just waiting to snap. A sense of competition begins to flood your brain, making it hard to walk away from even the most ridiculous of challenges. (I will get the high score on ZUMA Blitz this week) As the symptoms increase, it can grow even more severely into childish expressions of aggression. A recent occurrence involved someone throwing a rolled up piece of card stock at another persons head over a table top game. It is my theory that left untreated, this behavior could continue to grow over time, eventually creating the kind of syndrome that can only be described as super-villainous.
The Fortunate Cure
Fortunately there is a powerful and immediate cure. The cure can be administered at anytime, and has a 100% chance of ending all but the most minor of symptoms, at least for anther year. This cure does have a few challenges to the administering. Firstly, it can not be self administered. The cure can only be given to you by one or more other people. Secondly, the cure requires a little bit of time and effort on the part of the sufferer. It can be hard to convince someone who is compulsively contrary to go with it, but usually you can trick them into it. It actually gets pretty easy once you have a bit of experience in it.
Of course, I’m talking about being whacked with a boffer sword.
The moment you get hit that first time after a long time off, your body and mind snap back into the place they’ve been hiding. It takes them a little while to get warmed back up and work the rust off the joints, but that first hit reminds you that you know what you’re doing, and that it isn’t just something you want to do, it’s something you need to do. It isn’t an addiction, there are no down sides to it. The sword is an amazing cardio workout, building stamina and agility. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. With our group we generally go out of our way to make sure there is enough loaner gear around for anyone to be able to fight, and I can think of several times when someone has driven (in one case 5 hours one direction, Thanks, by the way!) out of their way to make sure someone can get to an event, even if they have no money to help pay for gas.
We do these things for each other because we know what that calling feels like. Once you are on the field and swinging foam, a lot of troubles just seem to melt away. For me, at least, going to long without it can cause a build up of anger and depression. Maybe it is an addiction, but its a good addiction to have.