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Happiest of holidays to everyone! I love martial artists for their drive and passion; it's also what wears on me sometimes. Our strengths can be our weaknesses.
So, as I go into this new year I'm reminded of a lesson I regularly hear from my Sensei: the basic to Shinto is gratitude. I'm grateful for the many opportunities to learn; whether from the good things, the bad things, or even the ugly things...did anyone else hear that whistling sound? Anyway, what attracted me to Aikido is the concept of reconciliation...harmonization, if you will. On a personal level this means making my very different facets work in a more cohesive manner, both in terms of my mind and my body, which are themselves inextricably linked and continually influencing each other. This is "mind-body" as I understand it; the internals; that hidden portion of our training (intended or otherwise), the proportions of which shape every external manifestation in its own highly unique way.
Every day I struggle with different aspects of myself. When I was younger I was very good at finding indifference as a way of dealing with stresses. I could lock out my emotions and focus on the rational aspects of whatever it was I was facing. Over time though, I began to get the sense that I was becoming a rather cold person. I felt somewhat disconnected from the world around me and found that while I had a strong sense of dispassionate observation, it occasionally left me with a sense of being somewhat isolated from the people around me, even those who were closest. My strength became my weakness. Gradually I've been working on pushing the pendulum toward the middle of those two functions of my brain. This issue corresponded with other issues, but the gist from all this is the perspective I now have; the ongoing learning and refining of perspective. For such a plush life, I've had some hard times and I'm grateful now for those challenges. I'm trying not to look at them as detriments that needed correcting (and indeed forcing correction never seems to help me much) so much as examples to learn and develop from (i.e. "correct" has taken on a somewhat open-ended meaning). The detriments that seemed to define the moments of the past now themselves seem almost incidental to the value I've acquired in the present...that is to say, I'm not sure I would change them if I could go back and do so because they provided me with something very pertinent: exercise...not unlike the purposeful burden of adding weight to a dumbbell (why did I just get the mental image of someone "weighting" into me? ).
At any rate, folks, Happy New Year. Don't let the "bastards" grind you down...but if they do, I hope you're able to smile, say thank you, then find the new and improved means to your ends.
One more lesson just popped into mind: Aikido is about self-correction; I suppose this means something akin to the idea that if we're sufficiently able to correct ourselves, the example will lead others to do something similar...the phrase "horses to water" comes to mind as to an answer for the question of why.
And now for more Terry Pratchett reading, my relatively new post-Christmas tradition of self-edification (a true potion for my little bit of misanthropy).