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Home > Columns > "The Grindstone" > September, 2005 - truth, Truth, and Broken Clocks (an introduction of sorts)

truth, Truth, and Broken Clocks (an introduction of sorts) by "The Grindstone"

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This column was written by Mike Collins.

Supposed to write a column. Jun says I writ gudly (that'd be a joke). That really is quite a compliment for a guy who graduated high school firmly ensconced in the "Would you like fries with that?" track. I should write a column that is supposed to have at least a surface relationship to Aikido. Man, I've got no real clue what I can write about. I'm neither a talented Aikidoka, nor an educated guy, so all I've got is my truth.

I'm a guy who's never had an original thought. Ever. Anything I know, it's because I was smart enough to take in something someone else said or showed, and considered it a while and began to understand it. But I've never had a single epiphany of my own, and reached any kind of enlightenment on any level. On the other hand I've had something of a knack for seeing people and recognizing that they had something to teach me, then opening my mind or my heart to whatever it was they had to teach me. I've certainly not been the best student they've had, but I usually did my best at the time, and have always been grateful for what I've been given. And somehow, these people have always given freely. Lucky guy!

I wish I had some sage, useful advice or knowledge to pass on via this column, but the truth is that I don't. And if I did, and I shared it here, it'd be of no use unless you took it in, considered it a while, and began to understand it. Only then, can truth become Truth.

I'm not so much a fan of neat information. Very few things are always right. Even things that are almost always right probably don't transfer to every set of circumstances, so Truth needs to be seen in a kind of a big vista.

Truth, the kind worth dealing with, is a marvelous thing. If you open yourself up to it, and allow it in, without gripping it too tightly, you start to find that you've got access to bits and pieces of it when you might otherwise not have had. And Truth is no respecter of persons. Truth could care less if you're a ditch digger (or in my case, a roofer, but you get the idea), or a Rocket Scientist (and I've trained with a couple of those). Truth is Truth. All on it's own. And if you're smart enough, or lucky enough to recognize Truth wherever it happens to be, you have the ability to learn from anyone or anything.

My experience with Truth to this point has been that it seems to like being considered and thought on, but seems to have no use for being held to too tightly. Seems as soon as I make Truth a rule, the Truth turns to something other than Truth, and even when it's true, it's only sort of like a clock that's broken, it's still going to be right twice a day, but it's not much of a clock.

What's all this got to do with Aikido? Well, just for me, I like to steal whatever anyone is willing to allow me to take, and then go off, consider it, try to understand it, and see if I can find some Truth in it. Sometimes, I find that if there were a Truth there, Truth would prefer that I not find it while looking, and it hides out and waits for me to be ready for it before it shows up. But I've found an awful lot of Truth in places that people have told me it didn't exist. Maybe Truth has a factor of relativity to it, that's worth thinking on a while; that is, maybe Truth for me is not so much Truth for someone else, and their Truth may be not so much for me. But if I don't open my mind to it, then take it off by myself and consider it a while and think on it, and try to understand it, I'll never know.

As a matter of fact, the guts of this column are stolen from my first Aikido teacher, and I didn't even realize that until I'd re-read it a few times to edit myself. I don't think I'll consider it stealing though, since I'd apparently either had it inside myself before he said it, or I took it in so deeply that I thought of it as my own Truth. Either way, by whatever means, it has become Truth for me because of the considering I've done with it, not because he said it. To take it on faith, and accept it without considering it and trying to understand it would be an insult and a slight to what he taught.

I often see Aikido that makes me shake my head, and ask "What is the value in that?". Too often, what that really means to me is "There's something I have no interest in considering, it's too different/difficult/silly/frivolous/brutal to be worth my time". And the truth of that is that I might well be passing up some useful Truth that is not at all what I see on the surface. Sometimes I'm just not ready for the Truth I may actually need.

There is a saying "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". I just hope the teacher, Truth, isn't a vindictive SOB teacher that makes me learn the lesson the hard way. But often, that's been the case for me. I find that there is no way to avoid a lesson that life wants you to have; only stays of execution are possible. But a lesson of consequence always seems determined to be had, and there is simply no avoiding it. I have a mantra I tell myself when I'm wading knee-deep in my own resistance to a lesson: 'There's no way out except through.". I still usually look for exits everywhere, anyway.

One day, I'll really GET the idea that my mind only works when it's open. But I'm pretty attached to what I think of now as "reality" (part of my blue-collar nature). Though I've watched "reality" make some drastic changes over the years. My reality now is a quantum leap from the reality I've clung so tightly to through the last 40-something years.

I realize that I am in some pretty impressive company, writing this column. Please accept my apology now for not offering the rich content that all the other people writing columns here offer to you. All I can share is how I think about stuff, because my Aikido is not nearly as advanced or mature, as it would need to be, to be of any value in writing. So when you see my name, realize that all I offer is an honest bunch of my thoughts, and if you find any Truth in that, by all means, take it away, think on it, consider it, try and understand it, feel free to steal it, I did. And if you find it of no value, by all means throw it away. Truth is, I'm often full of...er... well... something other than the Truth.

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