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As the 90 degree days slowly turn cooler and crisper, I can't avoid the fact that another season has passed me by. Gone are the days of smelling fresh cut grass. Instead, the smell of leaves makes me want to cuddle up in a sweater and cozy up by a roaring fire with a good book. Or, at least I would if I actually HAD a fireplace in my house. This time last year I was ramping up for my fifth kyu test. Come November 5th, I will have reached my first anniversary of earning my fifth kyu. It doesn't seem like I have been at this rank for a year, but the calendar doesn't lie….
Just like the year has four seasons, I feel that I have experienced several seasons during my journey as a fifth kyu. I have experienced winter, where I felt like my ability to progress was frozen in a state of constant hibernation. I have experienced spring, where I felt like I was truly blossoming and coming into my own. I experienced summer, which consisted of constant growth. My teachers tended to me and made sure that I had everything I needed to grow. Sometimes I felt like the sun was scorching me and I wondered if I would wither away, but just like a farmer's well tended crops, I survived and prospered despite the adversity. As fall arrives, I coincidentally feel like I have reached the autumn of my training. I feel as if I can unwind a bit and relax. I am still constantly learning, but I feel as if I am floating down like leaves falling from a tree instead of laboriously trying to climb up a mountain.
Coincidently (or not), we have been working on fourth kyu techniques for the past several weeks. It seems somewhat poetic that a year has literally almost passed and I also feel as if I have come full circle in my aikido seasons. Although I have a deathly fear of testing, I almost feel like it's time to test. I don't mean to say that I feel ready per se, but it just feels like the natural course of things. It feels like I should be starting anew and be able to experience the seasons of aikido once more. During the course of the past year, I have gained a bit more self confidence and I think it may be time for a change. Another period of ramping up, stagnation, blossoming, growing and winding down is in order. Autumn is about change; the color of the leaves change from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red. It is a visible sign that they are ready to take a leap of faith and drop from the tree. They do not fear for their future; they trust that they will drift gracefully down to the ground. They will act like a blanket and protect the tree from the winter that is drawing near and they will act as fertilizer in the spring to help encourage new growth. As I sit here with achy wrists from too much nikyo and sankyo lately, I can't help but notice that…… I am finally ready to drop my leaves.