Me and My Friend Tom

Call Me Tomahawk

  No purpose to this pic; just lookin like a badass.  🙂

 

On Monday, I went to a Memorial Day BBQ with my older sister, whom I’m visiting in Tucson, AZ for the week. I was fairly nervous to go to the party, fearing I would stuff my foot in my mouth and alienate my sister from her coworkers, her friends and her very job.

“Eh, you’ll be fine,” my sister said. Not believing, I fled to hide somewhere in her house until she had gone. She chased after me, hogtied me with shoelace, stuffed me in the back of her SUV, and headed across town.

All joking aside, I sat in the passenger seat as we rode to the party, determined not to talk myself out of what could potentially be a good time.

The barbecue was held by one of her coworkers who had apparently been up since 5:30 that morning, grilling every type of beef and pork he could find. There were people there, of course, as well as food, drink and…tomahawks.

I originally called them axes, but my sister’s coworker explained that tomahawks are in fact the weapon versions of axes and hatchets. I begged his pardon and gazed longingly across the yard while he and several men collected at the wooden block at which they were going to throw the bladed sticks of destruction.

Meanwhile, the mothers and one of their teenage daughters sat at a picnic table discussing their families, their jobs, school and the goings-on of the world. My sister melded in perfectly to the conversation while I, though interested in the subjects (especially when they switched to the notion of weak gravity and dark matter), found myself more and more distracted by the whistling of metal and the satisfying snap of embedded wood.

My sister glanced over, saw the expression on my face, and said, “You wanna throw one, don’t you?”

Did I?

I was up and over before she saw me move.

My lesson was quick – keep the tomahawk vertical when you release; don’t let your wrist snap to save your arm. I stepped five paces away, turned around, tried to remember the ridiculously easy instructions, and let the first one fly. It skirted across the top of the block and fell into the grass. When I tried again, I heard it: the whistling of metal, the snap of the wood. The tomahawk stuck.

“Wow; not bad,” the coworker said, and he and the others laughed at my squealing enthusiasm.

After I had finished my turn, I stood back to watch the men and a few kids, mainly boys, give the tomahawks a whirl. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two nine-year-old girls in pink t-shirts and flowered skirts giggling nervously and pushing each other towards the throwing area. “I’ll do it if you do it,” one whispered, and the other one tentatively began practicing with small sticks she found on the ground.

When their turn was finally up, the second girl delicately crossed the yard to the throwing area, wobbled under the weight of the first tomahawk, then gave it a wild, massive hurl. It smacked the side of the block and landed in the grass. She tried it three more times, all with varying yet inaccurate results.

After studying the block a moment, she looked up at the parent in charge and said, “Can I try again?”

On the next round, the girl pushed her skirts aside and watched her hand, practicing the motion she had been taught and getting her aim nice and ready before releasing it. This time, her throws were more precise and generated much more power, and the blades nicked the block rather than falling flat on their sides. She didn’t stick any, but as she handed the tomahawks to her friend, I noticed a much calmer, contented smile on her face, a deep satisfaction at something she had been hesitant to try.

I was a little sad that my sister hadn’t come over to try it, but I could hear her response in my head, complete with her patented, nonchalant shrug. “Eh, it’s okay.”

Despite my anxieties at coming to the party, I was very glad that I followed along. Being a self-professed ball of nerves, I do my best to shove myself into situations that I know I will enjoy, so long as I can relax and enjoy the moment.

I’m the same as that nine-year-old girl in pink – though the tomahawk was my soother, it was her bane. Though my sister had felt no real pressure or anxiety in going to the party or throwing the tomahawks, I knew that she too has had moments that she has worked to confront over the years. Overcoming the fear is the triumph, the satisfaction, the knowledge that when given the opportunity, you faced your nightmare and survived.

I would love to hear about a moment that others have overcome – whether it was a social situation, going to a certain place, meeting someone or just doing something you’ve never done before.

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