Art Footnote: This is what happens when a pacifist artist illustrates a lesson in martial arts.
Historical setting: Along the ridges of the Pyrenees, 6th Century
The shepherd, our belligerent host, defends his story. “I told you, I was injured by the rod and the lashes when I was fighting. I wasn’t running from my father! I am a fighter, not a runner!”
His persistence threatens his credibility.
I explain, “It doesn’t really matter what caused it. Nic can wrap it for you for a better healing. He’s had lots of soldier training in first aid. Healing takes time. But it will heal.”
It seems no comfort at all for him to receive affirmation from this pacifist who I am. I mean what do I know of fighting or of healing from a soldier’s wounds? But my mention of Nic as a soldier has assigned Nic the persona of fighting hero in the eyes of this man who is so anxious to be known also as a fighter.
“You are a real soldier, Sir?”
“Retired from the Roman Navy.”
“So you are truly a fighter and not a runner?”
“Depends on the need.” Nic answers with simple logic. “Mostly I was a rower.”
The shepherd rants. “My grandfather was a soldier just like you. He had a sword and a dagger! And just like you he was so fearsome he didn’t even carry a shield! He was always far away fighting in the wars killing off the Franks and Goths and the Romans by the wagon load, except when he came back and then his raging riles flailed a fierce rod on all of us. Everyone cleared far out of his way except my father stayed. He’s not a runner. So I came out here to mind the sheep until I learn to be a fighter too.”
“And you will learn that here?” Nic asks.
“I will if you teach me. And if you would hand me the leather thongs I can practice flailing when I train my dog to come when I call him.”
“So you mean you wish to train your dog to run from you as he already does so well?”
“No! I want him to do whatever I tell him to do.[Footnote: another dog training tip for the real world] I want to be the master of the dog, like you are the master of your horse. I want to be powerful like you.”
Meanwhile, I’m quietly at work carving and lashing his rod into a proper and useful crutch so he will be able to move around while his ankle heals; but I whisper under my breath, “Be careful what you wish for, young shepherd.”
Both men turn their eyes on me – the shepherd heeding my warning — Nic only slightly amused.
So Nic will need to explain his unique horse “training” technique himself.
(Continues Tuesday, November 10)
[Footnote: another dog training story from Sandy] “I have never been very successful in teaching mine (Great Pyrenees) to COME for no reason. It was a hoot when I took Blizzard to formal obedience classes and had to call him from across the yard – he checked every blade of grass, the kids on the porch, the trees, and finally got around to me where I was – calling him and jumping up and down. The trainer joked about him all the while. The border collies and golden retrievers all bounded across the yard straight to their owners who would hide around corners or up in a tree. It was funny and embarrassing, and annoying, for me.”