Lucas Weismann

An Open Letter.

Dear Non-religious people,

Realize that religious people accept certain sources as credible above all reason. Literally. Therefore, if engaging with them, please seek to understand their point of view and be educated, using their own religious material to prove your point.

Otherwise, they’ll just use “but my holy book says…” and you’re nowhere.

——

Dear religious people,

non-religious people don’t see your holy books and divine inspiration, so just like when witnessing to someone of a different faith, find common ground that doesn’t rely on “First you must believe in my religion.”

Otherwise, they will rightly point out that your evidence doesn’t make sense, because they’re not agreed-upon premises and so- don’t fit into a productive discussion.

—-

Dear everyone

If you want to make progress in a discussion, you must first understand the person whom you are trying to persuade of your point of view. Otherwise, you don’t have a good starting point and will end up frustrated.

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. These techniques are ESPECIALLY important when discussing the BIG issues that matter to you.

Sincerely,

One slightly weird dude, who’s been thinking too much lately.

An Ode to Jake.

Dad and me.Many of you know how great my dad Jake​ is. For those who don’t, you’re missing out. I would love to hear anyone’s best “Jake” story. Because there are a million of them, and I would do him a disservice to pick just one.

 

 

In the meantime:

Dad,

Thank you for being the guy who gave me my first pocket knife, hatchet, canoe paddle and being the one who taught me how to use them.

For being the guy who taught me the meaning of the phrase “If you knew wrestling, you wouldn’t get into this situation.”

For quitting jobs with high pay to take lower paying jobs that allowed you to come to my wrestling meets and then going on to rock those industries and become the best at that.

He plays the bluesYou are the reason I know “That which one man can do, another can do.”

Thank you for being the dad all our friends wished was their dad growing up.

Luke

Guidelines For Living – Names

The seed of  this piece came from my reaction to a piece from Salon.com called “Why I Hate White Belly Dancers”.  It was a passionate article and I found a lot of it to be problematic (that’s PC code for I disagreed or found it offensive right?).  One of the things I couldn’t help but agree with was the practice of renaming yourself something that “sounds” like it’s from another culture.  From there my mind wandered to George Carlin’s pieces about guys with goofy names, then to a buzz feed article about athletes with unfortunate names.
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Things I’ve Noticed While Traveling pt. 1

I’m taking the months of  December and January to visit my hometown of Stillwater, MN.

Some of you know that I’ve been on the road as a traveling dance instructor for the last several years.  While traveling as a dance instructor, I get to take a look at the people around me and see into their lives; see what makes them tick (a bit) and see patterns arise between the way they approach dance and the way they approach the rest of their existence.

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A lesson I relearn every few years. (Needs Refinement)

Whether in Martial Arts or Dance or Life, I’m finding that I should not seek a system or a code.  These are inflexible.

Often there are simple ideas that started them, but they were supple as a result.  The situations were able to be shaped as their situation demanded.

Once you adopt a code, it’s like covering yourself in clay or mud.  In time, it may armor you a bit until it dries out or crystalizes.

Then it becomes brittle and will crack under strain, leaving you exposed.

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Why Are You Holding Back?

A question from George Balanchine was shared with me on Facebook:

Why Are You Holding Back?

Fear and Laziness generally… Most of the time I find myself holding back, it’s either eventually found to be fear or laziness.

Overcoming the inertia of fear makes me feel powerful in a way nothing else can.

Overcoming the inertia of laziness makes you feel useful, like you’re doing something worthwhile.

Find your inner catalyst and go out there and be yourself. Bigger and badder and better than you ever have before. Let it fill you and radiate into your surroundings and you might even inspire others to do the same.

That’s where small victories turn into big ones.  It’s where Life gets exciting!

RE: Henry Rollins and Anger

One of my favorite current thinkers is former frontman for the band Black Flagg. He’s humble, he’s enlightened and he’s angry. He has a fury that drives him to get up on stage and be big and bombastic in front of crowds night after night.

He finds ways of saying things that make me question what I think I know, connects with the inner bullied-kid in me and hits my anti-authoritarian streak hard. In many ways, he’s like a less-bitter more down-to-earth George Carlin.

And I get it. I am able to channel anger through him that I can’t seem to access on my own.

That’s what I’m having a hard time with. My own lack of anger.

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Jolene – Why the original is still better than the remake

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqKAsVMmEWk]

This is a fun exercise, but I think the original shows awareness of the more obvious advantages (things you can tell by looking at someone- e.g. looks) as opposed to things you’d need to know someone to know about (e.g. – intelligence, wit, skill) that Jolene had over the singer or it show Dolly’s insecurities.

Rather than being a showcase of the literal things that a person “should” be looking for in a mate it shows what Dolly was insecure about and in doing so touches us wherever our own insecurities lie.

That’s part of what makes it real and not just a writing exercise.

***

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Exhaustion strikes

Exhaustion StrikesSometimes exhaustion strikes
between the loves and likes

 

I catch the silence
and space expands
like cotton’d ears the muffled sounds
barely pass
The emptiness fills the space left for silence
and I’m cut on shards of silence
wishing to be alone.
Feeling lonely in the crowd and wishing to be loved and alone-
held in your embrace.

Dance Lessons from Martial Arts

(This is an old unpublished post form October 2014, when I was training with one of my dance partners in Chicago and she invited me to an Aikido class).

The last week with Ruby Red has been interesting for me for many ways.  For the last year, she has been mostly living in her hometown of Chicago and has been studying other movement disciplines like Weightlifting and Aikido.

I decided to accompany her to the Aikido class; something I’ve never experienced before.

I’ve spent many years as a wrestler and a dancer.  Aikido seems to me to be an odd combination of dance and blues dancing.

One of the first things that struck me about Aikido was how little tone was used to accomplish the attacks and counterattacks.  I spent most of the first class working on dropping muscle engagement; much the way a novice dancer does in Blues Dancing.

I also noticed that like dancing it was much easier to understand what my opponent was giving me to work with.  Any tone in them made them easier to move and relaxation in my body made me harder to move.

My background is not in a traditional eastern martial art.  I’ve studied some Boxing, some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, A lot of Wrestling and the martial philosophy I was raised with was heavily influenced by Jeet Kune Do.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I wore a gi; unlike Aikido there was no veneration of a master or bowing to a shrine.

We train for Boxing and Wrestling in shorts or sweats depending on whether or not they’re trying to make weight for a competition.

Aikido brought with it a sense of tradition, both in the proscribed movements for the attacks and the bows to the sensei each time that assistance was given or a concept/move was demonstrated.

This was very foreign to me.  Especially since the moves were named in Japanese and given translation.  (Much like attending a Yoga class and using terms like Tadasana instead of Mountain Pose).

In my first week this caused me to itch somewhat.  A lifetime of experience pushing me to eschew tradition in favor of expediency was seemingly at odds with this way of learning.

Deciding to open myself up to a new way of looking at things.

Overall, the feeling reminded me of the first time I went to a tango class.  There was a lot of vocabulary which seemed to be in a foreign language more to add the feeling of connectedness to the culture where the pastime originated rather than to create clarity for the student.

Because Aikido seems to be a very defensive and reactive art, the attacks in my first class were difficult to reconcile with what I know about leaving openings for your opponent.

It was much easier to accept when I learned that Aikido was originally meant as a fighting style for unarmed opponents to deal with armed opponents.  The overhead chop to an opponent was particularly difficult for me to do, and I kept overreaching because it was felt so unnatural to expose my ribcage to an opponent that I couldn’t feel the “right” way to do it.

Eventually though Edward (the very, very patient sensei) helped me to a greater understanding of what the goal was.

There were a few things beyond patience that really impressed me about his teaching style.

  1. when a student performed an attack inconsistently, he would first show how to modify his defense and THEN have them re-attack in the desired manner.  This showed the flexibility and understanding he had, as well as inspiring us to try other finishes to the moves.
  2. His patience.  Seriously, it was so apparent it needed to be said twice.
  3. He also broke down the moves in several ways, while performing them consistently so that we could focus on different aspects of them; not try to see the whole thing in one go.
  4. He also used physiology, bits of martial philosophy, real-world application and historical reasons for the development of the techniques in passing as if it were incidental, but drawing attention to the reason the technique is done in a particular manner.

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with him in his class.

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