Thursday, April 10, 2014

To Seek the Spear

90% of all the dreams I have follow the same general form. I have this reoccurring dream roughly once a week, and have done so for over twenty-five years. This story is not about that post.

Another 9% of dreams are awesomesauce adventures where I get to stomp asses and slay monsters and fly and generally be the person I ought to have been in my waking life.  As I younger man, I meticulously logged many of these, and have over 180,000 words of material, which I occasionally mine for my other writing projects. This post is not about those dreams either.

I’ve had a few dreams -- maybe ten, ever -- that stick with me, like they’re trying to tell me something. That happened again last week.
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I dreamt that I came to own a yari, A Japanese spear.  It was not ornate, nor should it have been. -- weapons are tools, and not art objects. Its straight blade was about 10” (25 cm) long, mounted to a black-lacquered oak pole. The shaft was one solid piece; it wasn’t one of those chintzy screw-together jobs. The fittings and furniture were all Spartan, and made from weathered-looking brass. The whole thing was about 8’ (244 cm) long, which is short for a yari, but as large as the dual constraints of apartment-dwelling and hatchback-driving will permit.

It arrived at my door in a rectangular box, wrapped in brown paper. I’m not quite sure who mailed it, or why, but I knew that it was definitively mine now, and that I needed to learn how to use it properly. Weapons are tools, not art objects, and the devotion it takes to acquire a skill is what separates martial artists from the neckbearded collectors of Asian-y things.

So, I dug up my classic black karate uniform, packed up my yari, and drove from strip mall to strip mall, seeking lessons, being turned away at each school. Despite being one of the cultural universals, no one seemed to know how to use a spear. Though I was disappointed at every opportunity, I felt like myself -- like the person I should be, as I swaggered around town, in all black, carrying a giant spear o’er my shoulder.  Having spent my entire day off looking, I stood in the parking lot, wondering where to go next.

It was at that point, when a certain young woman from my past (who shall remain anonymous) dressed in white robes came up to me, from nowhere, and muttered at me:

“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”

Another, different young woman from my past passed behind me, and with a playful smile, told me the same.

“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”

More and more, the ghosts of the past filtered in, speaking with one voice, like the chorus of some lost Greek drama:

“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”
“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”
“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”

Then I woke up, peed, and went back to bed, as per usual.

Then I woke up again, showered, dressed, ate oatmeal, derped around on Facebook, and went back to the grind.

As I sat there in my cube, I found it hard to concentrate. That line kept cycling through my thoughts; a venomous mantra.

“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”
“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”
“You seek the spear, none will teach you.”

Fortunately, my shift ended before I had the opportunity to be driven mad. I drove home, and pulled out some old notes and books of mine to review the smatterings of classical sōjutsu that I picked up in undergrad -- but it’s not enough though; at least I don’t think. While it felt good, it brings me no closer to closure.

No -- there has to be more to that chant. There’s another level to that -- but what? I feel like I’m trying to tell myself something -- but what? What am I hiding from me?

Even if there is a statement that reveals that meaning, for it to truly resonate it must also take on that same 4-and-4 syllable rhyming scheme, otherwise it’d just seem wonky and forced. Besides, constrained writing is always easier (at least for me). I have no idea what the solution could be, though “You sought the spear” feels right for the first four syllables.

The whole thing is silly, yet it continues to capture my thoughts.

Input appreciated; serious inquiries only.

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