Thursday, February 19, 2015

During a set break one evening, as we convened at a courtside bench to take some water, I explained to King Calm why Pacific Rim was more memorable than it had any right to be. It wasn’t the script, nor the ho-hum characters, that outlasted the credits. It was this idea of piloting an unwieldy husk into harrowing places. I frankly think of my body in kindred terms, especially when I steer this craft of meat into awkward situations.

These aren’t necessarily bad-awkward situations, either. More often than not, they’re the kind of awkward that leads to self-improvement, and I’ve realized online dating affords far more than a marketplace of flesh. Indeed, its crucible creates unique circumstances you couldn’t possibly manufacture on your own. My goal, at this juncture, is to dive headfirst into such circumstances–at a frequency that will allow for noticeable improvement.

If I were to trace the trajectory of how I like to approach situations, I’d peg my mid-20s as being oddly enamored with skill acquisition, where experiences were simply delivery mechanisms for learning stuff: firing guns, cooking spaghetti at scale, golfing, Krav Maga (to protect myself from the dangers of suburban living), quitting Krav Maga, etc. The people, the experiences themselves–inconsequential. Then, I realized this framework was, at best, turning me into an idiot savant. Or, more to the point, a Renaissance idiot savant.

In a kind of penance, I swung to the opposite end of the spectrum in my late-20s, savoring each experience and seeking sociability. But this, too, wouldn’t last. I’m introverted, and I’ve made my peace with this. Today, I sit somewhere between these two limits. I appreciate experiences for what they are, but I also take stock of the skills I’m honing. On the Good Ship Dating, this translates into how to read body language. How to work a room. How to talk about yourself. How to react to advice given, even when it’s unbidden. How to recover. Just the other day, I had a conversation wend, improbably, to power drilling, and it took every ounce of willpower to avoid a horrifically inappropriate joke. How to exert some self-restraint–if you’re keeping score.

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