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Home > Columns > Paul Schweer > August, 2004 - Inside Every Gi
by Paul Schweer

Inside Every Gi by Paul Schweer


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I asked a friend who works in retail if it doesn't get to him sometimes, dealing with all those people. "No," he said. "They're just noisy blurs from which money extends."

I do the same thing, handle things the same way. Sitting in a restaurant my food is brought, my drink refilled, by a blur of somebody I don't see. Don't try to. The jerk in the sports car. The bag lady. The cop. Fuzzy categories. Friend or foe. No one of consequence.

And I know perfectly well that a person is no more waitress or cop than I am a three-legged camel. I'm back here, behind what you see, what I'm showing you. Just like you. Just like everybody. Just because I don't see them doesn't mean they're not there, doesn't mean they don't deserve recognition.

It cost me so little to acknowledge someone, why do I so seldom do it? I do, after all, like it very much when someone acknowledges me. But them first. I'm too busy hiding, safe in my camel suit.

I've heard you can't hide on the mat, that whatever you are is there when you train hanging out and flopping around -- like it or not -- for everyone to see. And the longer I train the harder it becomes to ignore the other people being flushed from their cover. Which is, I believe, a small miracle. If not always easy.

It's probably what got me on the mat in the first place, my teacher's humanity. His insistence on seeing, on recognizing each and every person inside each and every gi. His refusal to accept anything less than the same recognition for himself. His demand that we do likewise. We'll probably never quite manage it, and I'm probably just seeing his camel suit, but we do what we can.

And maybe each time we try it gets a little more real.

~~~

This column was originally published in the Jiyushinkai Budo News.

© 2004 Paul Schweer.


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