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Give the ancient little oak ukelele to your friend at work. She'll enjoy it.
Sell your 5-string banjo, as simple as they come, in its solid case with the rope handle by which you've carried it to workshops. If you haven't learned to play it yet…
Sell the basic-but-serviceable electric guitar, even though you love the curvy shape, and dark, polished wooden body.
Return the good electric one to Michael. He can have fun playing in its dozens of alternate tunings and different voices.
Keep your favorite acoustic guitar, and another to pass around at parties.
Keep the little red electric one. It could be fun to goof around with.
Keep your mandolin and fiddle, too.
Pack up boxes of books. The programming books and cookbooks, Dilbert and Miss Manners, biographies and histories, physics and feminism.
Drop off books on dealing with an addict. Your sister has been gone for years, and someone else at the recovery center will be needing them.
Keep the books about Aikido, music, gardening, and horsemanship.
You are not going to single-handedly restore public access to trails through your community. Find someone else who can use your boxes of files, piles of notebooks, and rolls of maps. You are not the keeper of local history. Give these things to someone who is.
Take down the colorful glass suncatchers that were enchanting 20 years ago, but now just gather dust and block the view. The painting of koi can go, too.
One morning recently a group of high school students visited the dojo to experience a special class, to get a feel for what Aikido has to offer us. They were a very nice bunch of young people - thoughtful, articulate, and open-minded. Aikido is a really broad and challenging subject to grasp in only an hour or so, but they picked things up pretty quickly, and made some very perceptive and insightful observations. It occurred to me that at their age they have developed quite good language skills, and still retain the clarity of vision and honesty that children have - not yet jaded.
A theme throughout the class was looking at Aikido as a practice of noticing and letting go of our resistance in life. Our natural inclination in relationship to others is to be light, open, joyful, loving, to see clearly, express ourselves, and trust. To be connected. But when resistance blocks that way of being we are left with anger, sadness, cynicism, living in fear and confusion. Shut down and alone.
At one point Sensei was demonstrating a blend, with me as uke. He was showing what it looks like when we are coming from resistance, tight, cringing, contracted. Maybe being pushy or reactive. I'm sure I've forgotten the exact words, but he was asking something like "what is my resistance keeping me from expressing?" The kids threw out a few answers safe answers. And then from one girl, "Your love for her."
There were some uncomfortable giggles. It may have sounded like she was teasing. B
This past month or so has been an amazingly varied, intense, and joyful period of Aikido for me. I've had a great time, and learned tons. I would not have said a few weeks ago that I was on a plateau. I wasn't feeling frustrated or stalled out in any way. But in the last few weeks I have felt a sort of acceleration kick in. Zero to 60 is one thing. But when you've already been doing 60... Wow.
I'm not sure why it's been like this, but I'm enjoying the heck out of it, and waking up excited about each day. In my experience, as a native San Diegan, this time of year is one of beginnings. It's blazing hot for months, and then things start to cool off. Rain comes, and the hills start to go from gold to green. I associate the changing light and weather with the start of start of the school year, so it just feels like a time for learning new things. Also, I've been writing a lot here (not just the posts you've seen, but drafts for future posts, or just private reflections), plus putting my thoughts down on paper after class in a notebook I carry with me in my dojo bag. Writing helps me digest information, see patterns, and remember. I've been writing because I've been inspired by everything I'm experiencing and learning, but the writing also deepens the experience and solidifies the learning.
Actually, this all really started around the beginning of August. Sensei did some really revealing and inspired work with us on embodying qualities in our Aikido. We had several classes