Hey Brian, I didn't say mastery had to be a goal, I was just noting an amount of time spent on a pursuit until a level of mastery is reached.
I'm not any more frustrated by any ranking I may have been given in the past, than I am by the fact that I didn't continue on in college to receive a degree in music. I've been playing, and writing, and recording music for years, and I've never showed up anywhere, or released any music, and had people ask me about my degree or rank in music or recording or music production.
In fact, my being unconcerned with rank, and hierarchy in recent years has afforded me a huge amount of freedom to discover and explore aikido, to question and refine teaching and training methods, and to be open to contributions I can make to the evolution of the art. I've found ways of training and teaching outside of structured classes and schedules. It works for me and the people I train with. And at present, we look at it as more of a "lab" than anything else - with the overview that what we're discovering can be shared with a wider audience. To me it's actually more of an "old school" purist approach. Something along the lines of how people like Takeda and Ueshiba often trained.
I've also, consistently, welcomed people into aikido, in the real-world and online, and offered that the most important thing - when it's all said and done - it to just train
. That philosophy - and reminder - has gotten me through 25 years of training and teaching in different countries, states, and within and outside of various organizations.
I'm glad you have a good situation to train that works for you. And so do I. So, here we are - two people in this boat called aikido - with, at present, very different approaches that still work respectively for us. Look, I commend anyone who continues on with their passions, whether it be aikido, music, cooking... whatever. It's part of what makes life grand.