This is a question asked of my son Ian, a most excellent teacher, who was involved in a project a brilliant teacher is developing at our philhellene school: Olympic Day. Over the years, birthdays and Christmas, he has collected battle ready chainmail, helmets, swords, and other accoutrements. As a son of this house, Ian has a disproportionate amount of stuff from the period of Alexander the Great.
This began with plastic swords and has moved forward in time to a grownup hobby.
Small ones at The School have a hard time realizing that the armor is real.
The thought, such as a small mind can have, seems to be that the armor and sword must be an effect. That this sword is sharp, this shield heavy, or the chainmail hot is odd to them. They are like the grownup role playing group that has party members carrying hundreds of items, picking up anything that can be picked up everywhere, without any thought about the physical limits of weight.
The trouble is simple. So many special effects movies later, the younglings struggle with limits. Why is the sword so heavy? They can hardly swing it, let alone fight for hours. Why is the chainmail so hot? Wouldn’t that be difficult to wear over a campaign? What of the shield? Doesn’t it dent if hit? If so, how long could it last?
These are realities where a game may cheat (for fun!) and pretend that everyone is equal in strength. Anyone can level up and use the shield, wear the armor, and swing the sword. We are all the same.
We are not.
The armor, like the cosmos and our bodies, is real, not virtual.
The simple, brutal to ideology, truth is that cosmic reality will not give way to our dreams or desires. I may wish at fifty-seven to run like the wind. I once could do so, now I lumber at best. This is sad, but real. Once, decades ago now, I tried to put on a burst of speed in an stadium in Delphi, Greece, and my older body just pulled a hamstring. It would be worse now if I tried that dash for glory! Mother’s Day is coming and I cannot now or ever be a birthing mother. This is beyond me and even mysterious to me.
These simple truths, limitations of reality, turn out to be hard if one has been told one can do anything one wishes, if one wishes hard enough. I cannot, at my age, wear Ian’s armor, hold his shield, and swing his sword as he can. I wish I could. I cannot.
This is a limit that my body places on me, but that limit merely presses me to do something else I can do. If I miss what is, then I cannot ever know what might be.
Our souls know eternity, our bodies temporality. We must account for both. I will be made new, but not yet.
We do what we can and pray for something better, someday, in a deeper reality, in the sweet by-and-by.