I attended VioDy West week before last. I’m not even going to consider attempting to sum up the content, but here are some things I noticed and some I failed to notice:
I got to roll with my adopted brother for the first time. It didn’t feel like a new thing. In fact, I only realised it was a new thing some days later. There was none of the initial measuring, adjusting, and fumbling there tends to be when learning to play with new bodies. The dood also turns out to be one of my top three favourite people to roll with. I’m sure part of it is that we practice the same games with the same teachers, and neither of us are too proud to follow instructions. I also believe (but have no proof whatsoever) that the way people roll is very indicative of their personality – or maybe that there are some key personality traits that can be masked in everyday interactions, but make or break a rolling relationship. Still working on a list, but it will definitely include respect (for self and others) and a bone-deep understanding of and investment in consent (which isn’t ‘just’ a feminist principle: it is the underpinning of a number of other personal qualities).
It also made me think about the people I hate to roll with – there aren’t many, but they are there. Although they come in a few varieties, they seem to share common traits, too. I want to work out what they are, and to see if I can work out how they manifest in their interactions.
It’s damn great to have a large chunk of my favourite people in the same place at the same time. It can, however, make me selfish and oblivious and kind of an asshole. I literally forgot what it was like to be a newbie at this kind of gathering. I don’t think I helped anyone – which isn’t my responsibility, but it’s a value I thought I subscribed to. I also fear I was actively unhelpful by not thinking about how certain behaviours (the stories we tell, the language we use to tell them, etc.) can make ‘normal’ people feel that they don’t belong. I don’t like the idea of being selfish. I like even less the idea of acting the elitist.
Being familiar with the content and structure of the activity, and not feeling social pressures, allowed me to focus on other aspects. So, for instance, instead of focusing solely on what is being taught I can look at how it’s been taught, and how it is being learnt. Not being concerned about my social standing allows me to focus on how other people are interacting. The game doesn’t get repetitive: it gets deeper. I don’t see an end to it yet.
I had an epiphanot doing gun retention. It turns out that if I bring a gun to the party but don’t shoot it, and allow my opponent to grab it, I’m back to doing hand-to-hand with a physically superior opponent, with the added concern of a weapon being in play. Although this is damn obvious and I understood it conceptually, until I had gone through it physically I hadn’t learnt it in my bones, so to speak. For me, it’s an entirely different kind of learning. So there were two lessons here: the lesson itself, and how I learnt it.