It’s all Life

There is no SCA life vs
Real life vs Work life.
There’s just… Life

To me, it’s especially relevant, in this Age… this Epoch of Covid, when we’re doing many of the SCA activities left to us from our desks in front of our computers, but it’s always been a truism, I suspect. As I’ve pursued my journey along the Path, different aspects have had more or less of an impact, depending on what’s going on, but at its root, when things are great, there’s no drama, and things aren’t great, well, it all sucks.

Life is what happens to you while you’re living it. The emotional turmoil you feel when you have an argument with your Peer, or when you get a bad score on an A&S entry isn’t made less valid because you happen to be wearing funny clothes at the time. When someone is mean to you in the SCA, it hurts just as much as when someone is mean to you at your job, or the supermarket. Indeed, sometimes the emotional scrapes and bruises we suffer in the SCA hurt more; many of us refer to our closest friends in the SCA as “Family of Choice” or comparable phrases. And while it’s true that SCA Royalty doesn’t have the lawful right to command soldiers to die, or to levy taxes, or imprison people, the social construct of the SCA emphasizes rank even in what we often pretend is modern egalitarian society.

This stuff matters.
And that’s okay.

In the end, stuff is just stuff, but the experiences and the relationships you have are what make you you. So don’t let anyone tell you that what happens at an SCA event isn’t real, or isn’t important.

Life is also what you do. And this is the part that you’re most responsible for: your own actions.

Here’s the thing: sure, people in the SCA take on a “persona name,” and several people construct elaborate backstories about who their persona was, where they were born, how much a silver penny was worth, etc. And that induces folks to think that they’re playing a character — IE, they’re “cosplaying” their persona. And I have no doubt that there are some people who do that, who act somewhat differently from their work persona, or their football fan persona. And there are people like me, who have a name, cause that’s fun, and wear (mostly (sometimes)) a certain kind of garb, and that’s the breadth and depth of it for us.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter if we’re play-acting, educating and learning, sport-fighting, hanging out, and/or just looking to get laid. The foundation of who we are at heart doesn’t change.

And this is the meat of it:

If you’re a racist, or a homophobe, or a bigot, or a misogynist, or you hate catholics, or muslims in your “real” life? You aren’t going to be able to leave that at the gate. (Our BIPOC friends aren’t able to leave the color of their skin or their ethnicity at the gate either.) And if you can’t leave it at the gate? You will, eventually, slip up, and show your true self.

You are
who you tell us
you are.

The governing documents call for all SCA participants to live up to the Code of Conduct. And if you are a racist, or a homophobe, or a bigot, or a sexist, or if you hate catholics or muslims? You’re not doing that. Heck, if you’re just being a big jerk you’re not doing that.

You cannot be a racist and be a good knight.
You cannot be a homophobe and be a good pelican.
You cannot be a misogynist and be a good sovereign.

Because life is just life. And you can’t really be someone different just because of the clothes you’re wearing.

As for Goodness

As for Goodness – you yourself desire rank and standing; then help others to get rank and standing. You want to turn your own merits to account; then help other to turn their to account – in fact, the ability to take one’s own feelings as a guide: that is the sort of thing that lies in the direction of Goodness.

Lúnyŭ (Analects)

On Leadership

Originally published on August 10, 2019, but relevant enough that I wanted to bring it back up now. I wrote it for two Protégé groups I was in at the time (and I’m not anymore, of course) but I feel like it’s relevant still.

So I don’t really want to talk about failed leaders; people who are in positions of authority or rank, who aren’t good leaders. Instead, what I want to talk about is the very last thing that Sinek says in this clip here:

“But the rank itself is not what makes you a leader, it just gives you a leadership position.”

Nothing he’s saying here should be a surprise to anyone — we all know of people who have been promoted beyond their level of competence; at work, in our hobbies, the military, the grocery store, heck, look at the very top of the US government and you can barely swing a congressional subpoena without hitting someone who is in a position of immense authority who can’t lead a group of devoted followers out of a paper bag. Stephen King books are FULL of these types, and they’re almost always the ones who end up dead, hurt, or imprisoned because of it.

In short: the world is full of petty tyrants in all walks of life, and while SOME of them are this way because they’re actually not great people, a large number are like this because they don’t actually know how to lead. They haven’t been taught.

Which is what makes those people who -can- inspire and lead, no matter what their actual rank or position, so special. I’m privileged to know several of them. But… I’m not going to name them, because invariably posts where we start talking about the people we appreciates most (is THAT what you appreciates most about me, Squirrely Dan?) they end up being mutual admiration circle jerks, and that’s not what I’m trying to discuss here.

Instead, consider these four questions:

1) What are the qualities of leadership that you admire the most?

2) How do these qualities of leadership manifest in the people around you? This includes your co-workers, your boss, even the people who you supervise, as well as your various circles of friends and larger social groups.

3) What qualities of leadership do you see in the people you don’t like, who inexplicably (you may think) are able to inspire and lead their friends, or co-workers, or direct reports? Note: this can be something negative – in your opinion – but still seems to inspire others. Take that step back. Look at things unemotionally. Like I said, it’s not a circle jerk of mutual appreciation.

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: How can you incorporate these qualities of leadership that you value into your everyday life? How can -you- become a better leader?

A big part of why this clip resonates with me SO MUCH is the acknowledgment of the person in the trenches, with the rest of us, who looks to the left, and looks to the right, and says “I’m going to be there for these people.”

That’s what I try to do, every day.

Make Sure They Have Enough

Originally posted December 23, 2019. I’m publishing it now, because whoa, relevant.

Louis CK turned out to be a burning trash dumpster of a person, but this sentiment still stands, and I tell my boys this all the time. You only worry about your neighbor’s bowl to make sure that they have enough.

Image may contain: 4 people, meme and text

As Jadwiga said on the original post, “Don’t discount a truth just because you don’t like the person saying it.”

(Offer not valid for Orson Scott Card & JK Rowling.)

Keep Looking Ahead

I run (or maybe I shamble? Sure, that’s a good descriptor) and I use an app that has several guided runs, where the pre-recorded Coach gives you little pep talks and advice as your phone. I’ve run some of the runs more than once — and honestly, the guy isn’t that inventive — but there are a few concepts that keep standing out for me.

Here’s two related concepts to ponder today:

The past is set.

What’s done is done, whether you did it two minutes ago, yesterday, or last millennium. Pending a Madman in a box, Bill & Ted in a Phone Booth, or ready access to a Klingon Bird of Prey, you aren’t going to be able to go back and change it.

And in most cases, it probably wouldn’t be good if you could anyway. We are constructed, layer by layer, of our experiences. Taking those experiences away changes who you are. But we can’t. So while it’s important to think about your experiences, and unpack what they do for or to you, constantly pondering “what might have been” is an exercise in exasperation.

Learn from the past. Change from who you were if you need to. But you can’t change it.

It’s harder to look over your shoulder than look ahead.

Of course, this comment is in the context of running – but it’s also not in the context of running. It’s really in the context of moving. If you’re moving forward, and you keep looking back over your shoulder, what’s going to happen?

You’re going to run into something in front of you, is what’s going to happen.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. “Pot, meet kettle.” It’s true, I’ve agonized over things that happened in the past — things I was responsible for, things that were done to me, things that were accidents or mistakes, things that were purposeful.

But never forget that old Vulcan proverb: “Only Nixon could go to China.” I can sit here and type these words in, because boy, howdy, do I know of what I speak.

When you’re actually running, and you try to run looking over your shoulder, you have to literally twist yourself to do it. It throws off your running form, you’re no longer looking where you’re going, it impedes your breathing, it generally screws you up.

So what do you think you’re doing to your mental, emotional state when you do the same thing in your head?

Sometimes, you just have to let things go.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments.

On SCA Titles and Problematic Words

Originally published on July 4, 2020.

So this was spurred by a comment on a different post, and it got me to thinking about how, even though we’re trying to create cultures and environments that ended long before the enslavement of humans and the repercussions of doing so tore this country apart, the vast majority of SCAdians are living in a country subsumed in systemic racism and the consequences of it. Thus, this post.

I’m still a big fan of Caussidicus.

So for the few of you who haven’t heard, there’s an ongoing discussion about the titles “Master” and “Mistress” and how they bother people in certain ways – there’s a lot of women in general who don’t like Mistress, and Master is problematic on multiple levels.

I’ve been thinking about this on my own, and doing a bunch of 100% not guaranteed to be accurate, historical, or appropriate translating using an Old English translator, google translate, and a thesaurus to come up with potential words that could be used as titles.

I tried to think of words that indicated what I do as a pelican, and I looked for Old English and Latin because that’s what’s appropriate for my persona… I think.

I haven’t tried to do any validation of the use of these words in this manner. It’s all just very much the beginning of my thoughts on the issue. I still really like Magister, which is most frequently translated as “Teacher” – but also translates as “Master”. But maybe there are options below that will work? I don’t know. So, I’m asking for commentary.

I will point out that just like with arms or names, just because something isn’t passed by the College of Heralds doesn’t mean I can’t use it, it just means it can’t be official.

note: these are -for-me-. If any of them work for other peers, then that’s grand, but I’m not (at this point anyway) trying to make some kind of exhaustive list. I’m just looking for something I can use that I can be happy with.

Latin – Rough Translation
Consiliario – Counselor
Oraculi – Guide
Curagendarius – Overseer, Manager
Praevians – Patron
Praesul – Patron
Caussidicus – Advocate, Pleader of causes
Amicus – philanthropist

Old English – Rough Translation
þeahtere – Counselor
Hléowdryhten – Patron
þingere – Advocate
Rihtend – One who Arranges Matters
Rædesmann – Counselor, Advisor
Wicnere – Officer, Minister, Steward, Manager
Héahleornere – High Teacher
Lársmið – Teacher, Counselor

Fellowship and camaraderie in the SCA

Originally published on June 30, 2020.

SCA Fighting is the physical manifestation of the concepts of chivalry and honor, perceived through the filter of children’s logic. I don’t mean that as a diminishment. Children see the purity of things in a way adults don’t, because (many) children lack cynicism.

There was a series of books that I’m trying to remember what they were called. A bunch of kids are living in an old house, and they find… lead figgers? Chess pieces? That come to life, and they tell sort of wacky versions of Ivanhoe and Robin Hood and the Revolutionary War and other stuff all mashed together. Much of it makes no sense, and it’s all wonderful, and that’s what the SCA fighting is. (note: the series is Knights Castle, by Edward Eager.)

The SCA as a not-for-profit corporation might survive if heavy fighting and the Order of Chivalry “went away.” But I think that the SCA as the group of people who get together at a dozen or more events every weekend (before the dark times… before the COVID) and chatter on the phone and social media all the rest of the time would not. Rattan combat is part of the SCA’s DNA in a way that almost nothing else is.

It took me a long time to figure out how to be an armored combatant in the SCA. It’s more than just buckling on plastic or metal bits to your body and dealing with the ache of a heavy helmet, and bruises. At its best, there’s a fellowship to it, a camaraderie that binds people together.

Fellowship and camaraderie exist in other parts of the SCA. Just different fellowship and camaradaerie.

To me, it is the best of the Peerage who embody the fullness of what the SCA has to offer. People like Hiram and Nikolai, Lanea and Ynes, Brennan and William, Hillary and Eleanor, Ragnvaldr and Jaime, Maggie and Elianor, Seto and Sigenandus, Gwyneth and Isolde, among many others who, be they quiet or outspoken, tanks or acrobats, represent the complete package.

Secure in their Franchise, always looking to do better, taking responsibility and accountability for their mistakes, and demonstrating their way to walk the Path, these folks are the Exemplars that, when I bring a new person into the SCA, I point and say “see that person over there? Be like them.”

We talk a lot in the SCA about what’s broken. I’m not going to stop working to address the problems — and problem children — that face the organization, but it’s also important to recognize the good stuff too.

How You Treat People Matters

Originally posted on July 28, 2020.

All y’all SCAdians, come listen to me now.

How I see you treat people, whether in the SCA or in modern-day settings, is 100% gonna affect my counsel to the Crown and my fellow pelicans.

How I see you react to how other people are treated, whether in the SCA or in modern-day settings is 100% gonna affect my counsel to the Crown and my fellow pelicans.

I get that there was a time when folks were more successful in separating their modern lives from their SCA lives. That time doesn’t exist anymore.

And let me tell you something:

You really weren’t fooling anyone anyway. You are who you tell us you are, and you always have done.

So, carry on, as you will.

Words are Hard

Originally published June 4, 2020.

At work, I’m a manager, and a portfolio lead. I do my job with words.

In my personal coaching & mentoring efforts, I do my job with words.

In the SCA, I’m a clerk, an advisor, an administrator, a mentor, and a leader. I do my job with words.

And words are so very very hard.

I messed up today, and I’m sorry. I’m not going to call the person I offended out, because that’s putting more work on them. They know who they are, and I hope they see this.

I will delete -every- comment that gets made here, because I’m not looking for absolution or encouragement from all of my friends. I know you’re supporting me. This post isn’t about me. It’s about recognition of mistakes, and trying to do better. Please respect this.

The point of this post is to say this:

Words are hard. Be careful with them. Think about how what you’re saying affects the people you’re saying them to.

I read what I’ve written above, and I already know that I’m not saying it right. It doesn’t matter. I’m sorry, and I’ll try to do better.

Pelican Stuff

Originally published May 28, 2020.

I am gratified to announce that as of May 27th, Warder Rashid and I have been associated for a year and a day. He and I have officially agreed that he is my protégé. He will swear fealty and receive the symbols of our relationship from my hand when we are able to safely do so in public, for all to witness.

I am also pleased to announce that Lady Reishi and lady Gelis have agreed to enter into association with me as my students. They will be my students for a year and a day, at which point we will discuss how our relationships might change or evolve. They will also receive the symbols of our relationship from my hand when we are able to safely do so in public, for all to witness.

Until then, know that Rashid, Reishi, and Gelis enjoy whatever benefits my patronage carries. They are members of me and my wife Laura’s Family of Choice.

Also know that I believe that within each of these gentles is the potential to be worthy of peerage. I hope all of my friends and all of theirs look forward to seeing them achieve their goals as much as I do.

In strength, in service, and in song, is this done by my hand in the early hours of morning, May 28, AS LV.

Andreas, Magister of the Order of the Pelican, Baron of the Court of William and Isolde.