Well met, good gentles of the Knowne World! I am Kanna al Tanmerc'h, and I come to you from the Barony of al-Barran in the mighty Kingdom of the Outlands. I am a bard; I love to tell a good tale, and I hope that whosoever comes by my ramblings on this site enjoys hearing one. And in this context, I hope my tales are of a practical, useful bent.
I'll begin with this fact: I am a newcomer. Indeed, I am a newcomer who has more or less jumped into the game feet-first, and I've no intention of relenting! The SCA was something I'd heard about a bit over a decade before I joined in December of last year. Life only recently allowed me to partake of the fun, and I was excited to begin. (I still am; make no mistake!) I picked up a rapier; I began learning to fight; I entered the bardic competition at my very first event and came away victorious - a very nice beginning. Yet I realized early on that my staying in the game would not be contingent simply on what I did and how much I became involved in. No - what would keep me involved would have to be the very spirit of the game itself, an attitude and perspective that I had yet to firmly name. "When will I know it for what it is?" I wondered. Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to discover it.
Earlier this month - September 3rd through the 6th, to be precise - I ventured out toward the setting sun to find myself at an event called Warders of the Western Gate, held in the fair Barony of Fontaine dans Sable. As the name of the event implies, this took place in the Barony that is the western-most outpost of our realm, and it was only the second camping event I had ever attended. What drew me there was a tourney being held specifically for card-holding newcomers. It was been put on by the a most gracious group of people: House Stuart, from the host Barony. The rules? An entrant would receive points (1-10) for every Warder tourney entered, as well as extra points (also 1-10) for speaking with any good gentles from a list given to us at the gate. The prize? A camp bed, and things to go with it. This meant a wooden breakdown frame, an air mattress and linens (including a beautiful handmade quilt sporting the colors of the Kingdom).
Needless to say, I was enthused to enter. I wanted that bed. I fought in the rapier tourney, submitted some illumination work in the Arts and Sciences competition, even sang before some of my fellow SCA members for the first time in the Bard of Fontaine competition. I did not win any of these, but I knew I would not and vowed to do my best. That was enough for me. However, I did so well that I may as well have won for how happy I was! But it surprised me to no end when I found that these tourneys, as fun as they had been, were not the most rewarding of my tasks in my quest for the camp bed. No; it was my conversations with more seasoned gentles than I that gave me the most joy.
I won the newcomer's tourney and gladly accepted my prize. But believe me when I tell you that the greatest prize for me consisted in words, not wood! My gracious elders, upstanding and chivalrous all, saw fit to bestow upon this humble bard advice - advice that, it would seem, even the best of SCAdians might tend to forget from time to time. I would like to share it with you now, and hope that it may inspire (and perhaps re-inspire) some of you. Most of it is simple, but as is often the case, the simplest ideas frequently prove to be the most important. Here it is:
From Lady Veronique and Lord Wilhelm of House Stuart, Fontaine dans Sable: "Take your time."
From Lady Michelet of House Stuart, Fontaine dans Sable: "Talk to your elders." and "Remember that this is your game."
From Baroness Leona, Shire of Rio de las Animas: "Remember it's a game. Step back when you aren't enjoying yourself."
From Baron Darkes MacBey, Shire of Rio de las Animas: "Don't worry about awards. Just do what needs to be done. Chivalry, tenacity and heart are the most important things."
From Countess Claudia, Citadel of the Southern Pass: "You'll meet a lot of people, see and hear things you'll wonder about. People with histories can tend not to get along. Don't allow yourself to become disillusioned by that. Try to understand as much as you can."
From The Honorable Lady Ana Katherine, Fontaine dans Sable: "Enjoy yourself. If you're not, reevaluate."
From Don Estevan de Sepultura, Fontaine dans Sable: "Be true to thyself above all things. Enjoy the game. Enjoy the people around you."
From Her Excellency Elizabeth Grene, Baroness of Fontaine dans Sable: "It is a game. But if you have the opportunity to take a position of responsibility and want it, volunteer and be dedicated to it; don't do it half-heartedly, because people do depend on you."
From The Honorable Lord Argyle McGreggor, Fontaine dans Sable: "Play your game for you, not for anyone else."
From Her Excellency Adriana of Riverhold, Shire of Rio de las Animas (founder): "Go slowly. Find your place. Get to know the customs, laws and people of the game, but above all, get to know your place."
From The Honorable Lady Constance la Royer de la Tour, Shire of Rio de las Animas: "Just have fun. Don't get too serious about stuff."
The enjoyment of the game - having fun - seemed to be the overarching theme with most everyone I spoke with. They all alluded to the importance of it in some fashion. But I was also often cautioned to "take my time" and "go slowly," and indeed, I can see the merits of heeding that warning. There is much I hope to achieve in the SCA, but I am realizing more and more that what I desire cannot and should not happen all at once. Awards, titles, positions - these things would be nice, but all in good time! Learning chivalry and honor, putting them into practice, serving and knowing the people around me to the glory of my Barony and having fun doing it: these are the important things, and there are many years ahead of me to be filled with the fruits of living them out.
And what about you, my friend? How do you fare in your enjoyment of the world of the Current Middle Ages? Have any of these words been something you've needed to hear? I hope the place this game holds in your life is a rich and happy one. I know it does in mine!