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Monday, May 30, 2011

In A Fight

In brain science and in hand-to-hand combat, the person who has the ability to calm themselves while under the threat of fighting has the upper hand. A person who can calm themselves can use an incidental strategic advantage collected by their slower upper brain as well as their faster reactions of their reptile survival brain. 

A friend of mine was once in a bad situation where a group of thugs were threatening to roll him and rob him. He looked around, figured it would be easier to defend himself if he were in a small space where one person at a time was going to come at him. So he backed in between two parked cars against a dead end wall and proceeded to wait. The thugs taunted each other to go in after him; but eventually one of them said, "Look at him - he's too calm. He's got a gun. Let's go."

Defending oneself in real fight is a whole different matter too, but again - calm observation and questioning one's own assumptions can pay off...

At 24 years old, I was once walking uphill on a one-way switchback to the little Mesa to a party in a remote place in Bolinas near the beach at night. As I walked, I began to suspect that someone was behind me, matching my footsteps. Was it in order to sneak up on me for some nefarious purpose? I shuffled my feet. The person behind me matched my footsteps again. The houses I was passing had occupants who were on vacation, or gone to bed and locked their doors... So I decided my advantage was that he did not know that I suspected what might be going on.

At fifteen paces, I turned around, still walking backwards and started blabbing to him in an over-friendly way in the dark silence. "Oh, hi! Were you at the beach like I just was? I didn't notice you there. Did you get that shirt at the freebox? I love the Freebox... I'm going to a party; are you going there too? "

He stopped, somewhat shocked...not answering me. Which indicated to me that he might have the nefarious intentions I imagined. Now I knew how he was dressed. But there we were...walking along, twenty feet apart. So I kept blabbing to him and decided to choose my battle ground to conduct a little test. I wanted to control where I was going to allow him to get closer to me to see what he might do when we came to a steep switchback.

When I reached my chosen spot, at that point I said, "Oh shit! Forgot something at the beach, gotta go back..." Sure enough, he ran the last ten feet uphill across the street towards me and pushed me down. But because I was smart to think ahead, I was on the ground parallel to the outside edge of the road; next to me was a steep drop off. I had a significant advantage of familiarity with the terrain.

While I was on the ground as he was coming close to me, I realized that my legs were a whole lot longer than his arms. I remember thinking, "Some part of me must have been planning this." As he loomed over me, still saying nothing, I crouched in a fetal position, saying, "Oh, you're going to help me up." He still said nothing. As he bent over me, all I had to do was extend my legs and plant them in his crotch to toss him over the steep edge of the road. I got up and ran. When I breathlessly arrived at the party, I explained what had happened. The guys in the part all went out looking for this attacker. But there was enough time to for him to disappear.

Later in the daytime, I went back to the scene of the crime. I saw that what I had done to evade the attack was an even better plan than I imagined. Where he'd landed off the side of the road, there were many poison oak bushes...

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I'll put what I mean in the positive,
leaving behind passé routines and shortened regrets.
Who, how and what I love shows my genius.
Coincidence-control is my delight.
I count on timing to take my talents for the ride they deserve 

Around a cycle of return, they're crying, "Me! Me now!"
Humility dazzles wealth.
I'll help with respect, merging with your bonding language  
to inspire, laugh & free you -  
because I am so often connected,
helped, awed and laughed. 

May my ruthless emotions be artful & tactful;
allowing others to misunderstand,
accepting who they are now,
releasing the curse and blessing
of glimpsing what is not yet born in everyone.

I'm always learning what "appropriate" means,
expanding connections & meaning-making.
My complaints are fodder.
I will design a way though artfully
dancing around my own resistance & fears,
forgiving myself again, in gratitude

as I learn what I can do, and
how I can do what I know.