I had one of the coolest moments at fencing the other night. It was one of those moments where you sense that you have stepped out of time and you’re living in a single moment. It feels like each breath is new, every sense crisper. The focus switch is turned up to maximum, and everything is totally clear. It was one of those moments where you can feel everything in and around you and you’re aware but not overwhelmed. It isn’t a feeling that happens to me very often. So when it does happen I take note. It happened for a lot of reasons, and achieving that particular moment took a lot of work. But it was such a moment to live for.
It happened when the members of our Company were lined up facing forward, sword in hand executing footwork and blocks. There were 32 fencers, each a power unto themselves and together a force to be reckoned with. Every person there, striving for perfection, competing to win, but also each person pushing to be better than they were one block or one step previously and so competing against themselves.
At first people were unsure and so we practiced together then as we moved from practice to competition the look on people’s faces changed. It was like I could see people honing in, banishing distractions in their mind and focusing just on the calls for a block here or a step there, a fire inside them. To me they seemed totally focused and enlivened in that one beautiful moment.
Eventually as people made mistakes and moved to the edges and only a few people remained, the focus narrowed in and the moment intensified. The calls came quicker yet more quietly, like wind fanning flames. Usually our group falls to talking when they have completed a task but not in this moment. In this moment when people stepped out they turned around and watched those remaining. Except for the constant calling it was nearly silent, only the responsive click of steps, the swishing of blades, and labored breathing from those still competing could be heard.
And when there was only one left standing the unrelenting calling ceased, and everyone who had fallen out earlier cheered. They cheered the winner even though it meant they’d lost. They cheered and laughed together and shared their stories. We were part of something greater than ourselves, competitors but comrades, friends that feel like family. We were Terrasylvans. It was a moment worth living for.