A friend from Michigan stopped over for a couple of nights during his vacation journey. Like most journeys his has an ultimate goal, but for him half the goal is to have a really good journey. I wish he could have stayed longer. It was a joy to have him in the house. He is a fascinating person full of stories to tell and thoughts to share. His approach to life is very different from mine and the parallax view is fascinating and useful. I believe he is also the most charismatic person I have ever met. Something about him just draws people in. It is not at all surprising that he runs a thriving sword school and has created an amazing camaraderie among the students.
At one point we spent some time discussing archetypes as applied to real people. He considers himself a Paladin. A Paladin is similar to a Warrior, but is driven by ideals where a Warrior is driven by the thrill of battle. It was fascinating to listen to him talking about his sword class students in these terms. He made the fascinating observation that many rebellious/punk teens are actually Paladins who see where things are wrong but lack a pathway to make things right and so have to settle for declaring themselves apart from the system any way that they can.
I am neither a Paladin nor a Warrior, I am a Guardian. I do not seek to do battle or to right wrongs, I seek to protect the home front. I’ve been aware of this role as a Guardian for about a month now, but I have wondered about the value of Guardianship as compared to the roles of Warrior or Paladin. I mumbled something to that effect out loud and was pinned by this friend’s stare. He has a very intense stare. He then informed me exactly how important it is for Warriors and Paladins to have Guardians so that they have a safe place into which they can retreat. It was nice to have my role so strongly affirmed by a person I respect. Later we decided that Howard is an Artisan with a little bit of City Watch thrown in. (Edit: After reading this post, Howard suggested Bard as a better primary category for himself. I believe he’s right.)
In a different segment of conversation, we were playing Comparative Childhoods. It was a sharp contrast. He grew up in a New York City project. I grew up in suburban California. He always knew he had to fight his own battles. I was always protected. Until I spoke with him, I did not really understand what “New York City Project” meant. What a social disaster those are for trying to raise children. Unfortunately I do not see a readily available alternate for the people who live there. Sadly for some people getting to live in a rent controlled project is a godsend. At one point in the conversation I mentioned that I have always been kept physically safe either by the intervention of people who care, or more often by my own intuition telling me to avoid a situation or person. A look of relief crossed his face. He said that often with his female sword students he gets into a conversation like the one we were having and the woman then spills a tale of victimization. This causes his inner Paladin to want to go and kill the perpetrator. He was really glad that I just don’t have any such tale to tell. Afterward I was thinking about that, and realized it makes sense that he has had that particular conversation so many times. Most of the women who come to sword classes are seeking empowerment. It should not be surprising that many of them are seeking empowerment because at some point in their lives they were made to feel utterly powerless. I’m afraid my friend is doomed to have more of those conversations, because these women can not truly feel powerful until they have faced their victimization and exorcised it.
I keep calling this man my friend. He was Howard’s friend first. Howard does a really good job picking friends and they usually become my friends as well. At least they do if I get the chance to meet them. But these days Howard flies off to conventions and meets fascinating people that I’m unlikely to ever meet. Then last year I attended Penguicon and I got to meet this particular friend. It was fun, but conventions are busy places and there wasn’t much space to sit around and talk. Having him here at the house was worlds different, he is now my friend too. That is good. I would love to be able to take our whole family and road trip to visit him and his family in Michigan. I’ve no idea when that is even feasible, but I hold it as a dream trip now.