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May 25, 2009 / TildeWill

What I Do, and Who I Am

I go rock climbing, but I am not a rock climber.
I ski, but I am not a skier.
I golf, but I am not a golfer.
I kite surf, but I am not a kite surfer.
I fenced, and I was a fencer.

There are things that I do, but for the most part, they do not define me. I wouldn’t say that I’m a guy who hangs on rocks. You wouldn’t know my name on the local level, let alone the national level or find it in a magazine about rock climbing.

Fencing was different. I was a fencer. If I was introducing myself I would say “Hello, I’m Will, I’m a fencer” or “…I coach fencing”.  If you knew of fencing in Lafayette, you’d eventually hear my name. If you were a fencing organizer in Indiana, you knew where to find me. And I had rubbed elbows with enough people nationally that I could go to most any section and have someone vouch for me. I went home and thought about fencing. I slept and I dreamed about fencing. I was a fencer.

Now, now that I have been fencing-free for a year, I am less sure of what I am. I know that I want to be a husband, a father, but that a least half of that goal is not in my hands. I also find it noteworthy that I can rock climb, but I cannot husband. You can only be a husband, there is no action of “husbanding”. Which to me suggests you can’t fake it, or do it half way.

Who am I? I once was  so certain. I think that I was “different” when I fenced – more confident, more self-sure in a way that wasn’t just shamelessness, but was full on back bone. It was the “two-face”  of being a ref, and just being a guy. It was being an expert, a trusted source, and a reliable resource. I provided value to a significant community. Having that has to be like an addictive drug. The more you get, the more you need it until you have to go cold turkey. So I worry now that I’m putting my toes back in the fencing water: Will I become a fencer again?

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