Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest Blogger Rory Miller!

Anyone who has spent much time training with me has heard me yapping on about the book Meditations on Violence and how you should be reading it.  

The author, Rory Miller, came to Fit and Fearless a few years ago to give a seminar and I, happily, was his contact person.  We've stayed in touch since then and he's always been a huge influence on my training, as well as being an all-around pleasure to talk to.  I'm feeling all mushy now, so I'll shut up & let you get to the good stuff:


Parker wrote something a while ago, and it inspired me (which Parker often does...)
You can read it here:

We are all made of meat.  We forget that.  We live in a world where things don't seem to eat people.  Not being eaten feels normal.  And so we forget that we are made of meat.  And most of the time it is a safe thing to forget.  Maybe even justifiable. But when it becomes important, when the tiger leaps or the knife flashes up, damn.  Because we are made of meat.

We forget that, historically, the meat world is normal.  The safe world, where things don't wait in the dark to eat us, is new. So new it shines.
And we are programmed, designed, evolved to live in the meat world.  Our deepest programming-- fight, flight, freeze; eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired-- are all about being meat.  We are wired to deal with a world far more dangerous and violent than this one.  And that's a good thing, because when the safe world slips or shatters and what matters is blood and fear, we're kind of set up for that.  It is natural and if you let yourself be an animal, you have a good chance.  Your ancestors, after all, survived far worse.  You are the product of thousands (or more) generations of success.

But... as much as we are wired to survive in the world where things eat and are eaten, human survival strategy is to get along, to live and work in groups that can protect us by having a mass of people and a range of resources.  Part of getting along is to expect a nice world in order to create and maintain the nice world.  When things go bad, our wiring to survive (and sometimes even our training) comes in direct conflict with our conditioning-- the years and years of being taught to get along.

We interact nicely with the nice world, which allows it to be the nice world.  But the world will never be completely nice or completely safe, because to be the only nasty person in a world of nice people is a superpower.  The person who can operate at the level of meat has an almost insurmountable advantage over the person who can only operate at the level of feelings.

Embrace the nice world.  But do it as a choice.  It is not the only world or the only way to look at the world.  Get to know yourself as an animal.  Learn the world of prey and predator, where things are made of meat.  It _is_ natural.  And if you must go there, go with your whole heart and trust your DNA.

Montreal Apr 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Update: I'm Tired

No lie.  Today about halfway during PT one of the instructors asked, as we cadets attempted to breathe and remain standing at the same time, "does anyone have any injuries?"

I seriously considered begging him to punch me in the throat so I could say yes and it would be over.  For once my brain overrode my mouth and I just said, "NO, SIR!" so the whole class wouldn't have to pay for my smart-ass-ness.

I have to admit, I had no idea how much education goes into a corrections job.  We study or attend interactive lectures every day for hours on every facet of the jail system, case law, the Constitution  It's quite fascinating, really, but I'm glad it's almost Friday because my head is so crammed full of new stuff that each new fact is having to work harder to squirm it's way into my brain.  

Every day they harp on honesty, integrity and professionalism and that makes me really proud to be hanging out with these people.

That's pretty much it...my whole life right now consists of studying, doing insane exercises invented by brutal Soviet scientists during the Cold War, studying, shining my boots, and studying.  

And now I must sign off, because I kid you not, it's time to study.  And then I have to shine my freaking boots.  

6 more weeks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Abject Terror

I usually edit these posts to within an inch of their lives, but I'm so pressed for time I'm just jamming this out, so good luck to me...

I've joined the cadet class of corrections officers at a Texas sheriff's office.  It's been a wild ride so far & I'm completely overwhelmed.  

But what I want to tell you about is an experience I had at the end of class today.  We do some sort of PT (physical training) every day.  This might be running, calisthenics, etc.  Today we did the big obstacle course.  Not the one I qualified on.  The big one.  

The big one that seems to confront every physical weakness and phobia I have.  And I don't have many, so it was particularly diabolical.  First we had to weave ourselves over and under a bunch of large horizontal pipes that were high enough off the ground for me to need to step on something to get on it.  Exhausting and very scary.  So scary that I was shaking by the end of it, because the damn pipes just kept getting higher.  My teammates helped by literally pushing me sometimes.  

We did other scary stuff that all required excellent grip strength and upper body strength.  I don't have that stuff.  So then I was REALLY shaking.  Next we had to jump over some walls.  Now I'm not good at that, but my friend Matt taught me how to do it, so I thought I'd be fine.  NO.  With so much adrenaline coursing through me I tripped at the top & slammed face first into the ground.  Shaking harder now...the little intermediate wall, I don't know what the hell it's doing there, it's only 2 feet tall (seriously) but my body was shutting down so - you guessed it - I tripped & fell on my face again.  I wish you could have seen the look of disbelief on my instructor's face.  Strangely, the 3rd wall was not problem.  

Then we crossed other hideous obstacles.  If they were high off the ground I shook uncontrollably & did it slowly or with assistance or both.  If they were not high off the ground I was totally fine.

Then I faced my arch-enemy.  The rope wall.  Just climb this little 20-ish foot wall, clamber over the log at the top & clamber down.  I have never ascended 3 feet up a rope wall, and it's not for lack of trying (net wall?  I don't know, it's a net made of rope).

The instructor said we didn't have to do it if we didn't want to (we were already well past time to go home & I think he thought I might be having a stroke), but that just made me more determined.  Because I am stupid.  So I climbed up, got to the top and froze.  I mean I froze in terror.  Not like "no one is going to ask me to the prom" terror, but "if I fuck this up I'm going die or spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair" terror.  My instructor was up there, too, trying to talk me while I just clutched the log like a baby monkey murmuring "ohGod-ohGod-ohGod".  

So he asked me, "do you feel confident?"  My hands were occupied so I couldn't choke him. 

"No, I do not feel confident!"  He told me to go back down the way I came.  This did not compute.  No way.  

The other instructor grinned at me from the ground & said, "hey there, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

I thought of something my friend told me once.  I won't say here who it is, because it was a private conversation & he said not everyone appreciates hearing it.    He told me this:  nothing matters.  Sounds sad, right?  He said in 100 years we'll all be dead & nothing but a distant memory to a very few people.  In 300 years no one will ever know we, as individuals, existed.  So do what is meaningful to you right now and don't worry about what people think, don't worry about failing.  Because it doesn't matter.   I find this incredibly liberating.

So when the instructor said that, I heard my friend saying, "It doesn't matter." And I unfroze & let the instructor up there with me talk me through the rest of the exercise.  He is a very patient man.  

So, I faced my terror.  While we stood at attention for the lowering of the flags I was still shaking so hard my teeth were chattering.  I have a massive swollen green shin from where I fell at the beginning of the course.  I don't don't care, because I faced my terror. 

It may not matter, but it matters to me.

Btw, all the other cadets were incredibly supportive & cheered me on.  I overheard one guy say to another as I finished my descent, "I think I hear Eye of the Tiger playing in the background".  :)  I like these people.