By Sir Guillaume de la Belgique
For all the similarities between the events of Pennsic and the events of the historical Middle Ages, there's one way in which the two things are very different. One of the prevailing concepts of the medieval era was a certain sense of change and ambition. The invading barbarian hordes (or whatever they're being called in academic circles these days - persons of migratory inclination, perhaps) wanted more of the Roman luxuries, the pilgrims of the 11th century wanted to see the Holy Land, consumers in Europe wanted more imports from the east, nobles wanted more authority over the tenants on their lands, knights wanted more lavish armor to impress the ladies who watched them in their tournaments (knights are kinda prima donnas that way). One of the hallmarks of Western society was that everyone, regardless of station, always seemed to want more.
Like the Middle Ages, the week of Pennsic can easily turn into a mad rush from one activity to the next: fight in the morning, then take a class, go shopping, have dinner, go party hopping ... and suddenly you wonder where the heck the week went. After fighting approximately seven zillion challenge fights the other day, I was laying there with my head on the thrusting tip of my great sword (which does not sound comfortable at all unless you've just fought seven zillion challenge fights) with barely enough energy left to stare at the sky and continue breathing. Then, a nice young lady came by and asked if she could take my picture. I'm not sure why she wanted a photo of a stinky, sweaty old fighter, but I was happy to let her use her camera as long as it didn't involve me having to get up.
She gave me a copy of the picture, and ironically she'd captured, not the sense of utter exhaustion that I felt at the time, but an image of something there isn't enough of at Pennsic, in medieval history or in the world at large: contentment. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not every moment needs to be full of getting, doing or learning more. Sometimes we need to take the time to lie back, look at the sky, and appreciate what we have - because what we have here in the SCA is pretty wonderful.
May you all find your own moment of contentment at Pennsic.
The full line of Guillaume's books and audio CDs, including "Here Comes the Reign, Sir Guillaume!" and "Bringing Chivalry to Life" are available in Ceridwen's Closet, space #74 in merchants row. Readers who have enjoyed Guillaume's columns in the Pennsic Independent may also want to visit his websites: