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There aren't so many times where I have so few words in writing! Usually I can write things that I can never seem to articulate in conversation. But here we are again, and it occurs to me just now that just writing to fill the huge white space out here is cathartic, really. Anyway, off to the bones of the crux of the matter I go. Hi ho. Okay, I'm settled now so it's time. Let me describe.
Aikido is so sweet, sometimes. But so hard too, sometimes. Unforgiving in how little of your mask of acheivement and comfort it lets you keep. 'Blood, sweat and tears' isn't always so much of an understatement! Aikido can be difficult, and all-consuming, demanding, and painful, heartbreaking at times. But I like it that way. I like that I don't get it, I like the fact it hurts sometimes, I like the fact you can't hide if you start asking questions - heck, I even like seeing bruises on my skin. When I was learning to roll those first 6 months I lived with shoulders almost perpetually semi-dislocated, bruised from the edge of my neck almost halfway down my back. I would tense up from the fear of rolling, and the doing of it would then turn into a garden of pain worthy of the fear I had. But, see, I loved it even when I didn't. To do what you want to do so deep in your gut even though it hurts, even though it's hard, even though you can't see far enough around the corner to know if life will ever be easy again. And so for me aikido is often a hard mistress, but how I just love her for it...
Lesson #4769 from Hombu; chase the name of a legend if you want, if it makes you happy, but in the end they all fade like smoke. It's your training partner who becomes your world and everything in it - if you can bear to throw yourself in. And so I don't mind if my partner is miles better. If they have expectations that are so much loftier than I have for myself. As long as we belong only to eachother, even if only for the space of a turn, it's okay. It's just okay. Together we make music; no matter if my part if often the simplest or gawkiest or the least anadorned.
Demanding, much? I expect everything and nothing less.
So many fragments - see? See how hard it is to string them together for this post? We've had the index of the bits in my head; and now for the chapter.
My dojo holds a smaller class every week where only a few of us usually go. Mostly the teaching is very hard, it's usually a 4th Dan, a couple 2nd Dans, a 1st Kyu and myself who go there. Which makes for amazing classes. But they are usually very hard. But sometimes... at times the classes hurt so much I wish I did not care enough to just keep coming and coming and coming no matter how the wind blows. At other times I don't feel the sting of it.Sometimes the difficulty inspires, and sometimes it destroys. I think it depends on the giver. I don't want to go into much here - I just think it depends on who gives the class.
And it did. And it has done. And it still does. So so much.
So what does one do, is there anybody that knows? Play the avoidance game? The 'pick and choose' game of class struggle? (Pun intended, ha!) No, I'm really not going to entertain the thought of my attendance coming down to a whim. Because then the hypocrisy of my reflection would shatter the mirror, I'm sure!
So there remains two options, plus a sub-option for each. Waver until I fold, or fold from choice. Or, stay on tenaciously, or stay on through the solid strength of decision.
I know what I would like to choose. But who can say what one will choose in the moment of pressure?
I read somewhere that today we do the difficult so tomorrow we do the impossible. This past Saturday I did the impossible. Yes! I did. Though not with what you think. It's with rock climbing. I have a paralyzingly fear of falling that cripples me in almost everything the strength of my technique might let me do. Totally. For years. But I've been exploring the dynamics of this, and exploring myself while doing so. And little by little I'm learning that the will can be sharpened like a blade, that you can learn to surrender every part of yourself in the quest to not be defeated. That there is a kind of tunnel vision that is strong and good and pure. That even while you fall off, and fall more devastatingly the harder you throw yourself in, there's a white-hot determination that propells you (eventually) towards the place you want to achieve.
Which is how, on Saturday, while my friends took me climbing outdoors for the first time, I shed the label of being the girl at climbing who was just afraid of falling, to being the girl who just climbed. Full stop. And then I stood at the top of the 15-meter tall beast, bruised and bleeding and shaking uncontrollably for so long, but a champion! Aw yeah!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you swallow it? Through the sheer, paint-stripping conviction that you want it.
I will stay in the class, I will not be determined by that one who can't see me. I will not cry when emotions and body hurt more than before. This will be my teaching wall, and I will rise to the task and become better than expected and so beat it. I will do what I can do before I can see myself as able to do it, not be limited by only what I can see. I will stand at the top and look down at the places I've been, and then I will stop looking down and back because forwards and upwards is where I should and I can and I will go by the end.