I’ve been thinking on the nature of knighthood in the SCA a lot recently. Not only along the lines of “What does it take to be a knight?” but also “What does it mean to be a knight?” What experiences I do have of knighthood are from the outside (obviously), and while I’m sure there are many people out there who would be happy to talk with me on the subject, I am at this moment limited to the echo chamber of my own thoughts, as well as the small amount that makes it out and onto this page.
My understanding of knighthood has changed during my time in the SCA, as is inevitable. When I first started playing, I looked to them as masters and instructors, much like the black belts from my days with eastern martial arts. They were the gurus, the keepers of knowledge and experience. And in a way, they represented a goal to be achieved: one day you, too, may achieve this. One day you too may be a knight.
But what I didn’t realize at the time is I was only seeing the end result of a long journey that took place before my time. That these people weren’t always knights; they became them (or were recognized as such, but that’s a different discussion). First impressions are a big thing, after all. If you meet someone who is a knight (or black belt), it can be hard to think of them as anything else, even if they just received the accolade/achieved that rank a little bit before your time.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that for a long time, when I saw the white belt of knighthood I didn’t necessarily see the time and effort it took to get there. I only saw the master, not the master of the basics.
And I still do, to a certain extent. But I’ve been forced to reevaluate my mental shorthand, if for no other reason than I’ve seen people get knighted, often people who started fighting around the same time (or even after) I did. Some of them even my friends. I knew these people before they got knighted, and familiarity can go a long way to breaking the spell of idolization (not to take anything away from my friends that have been knighted). It can be hard to think of someone as a symbol when you already know them as a person, after all.
And yet, for all the humanizing of the position that seeing friends knighted has forced me to do, I can’t quite make the connection that this is a thing that could happen to me. On some level, I still see knighthood as something off in the future. Something I would love to attain, and will hopefully do so when the time is right. Not as an… I don’t know. A goal? Something I might be close to achieving?
See, even writing about this is hard for me. Even though I’ve been ostensibly working towards this goal, I still can’t see myself as a knight. Not yet. I know I have so much more to learn, and what I have learned has just reiterated that time and again. After all, if I have so much left to learn, why do I get the feeling I’m on someone’s radar?
I probably need to talk to someone about this; spending all this time in my mental echo chamber isn’t doing me much good.