I was reading on another board where an aikidoka stated that long term commitment to aikido is hard.
I would describe it as interesting...maybe challenging...but hard?
For me that provides a slightly negative connatation.
Aikido requires patience and humilty and courage. It seems like a wild adventure without ever having to go look for it. People travel to mountain tops to find what I have found in Aikido....
Well, you asked for thoughts.
First, here is a very personal anecdote, which happened over 30 years ago.
In the early 70s I trained in the New England Aikikai. The dojo was the old dojo in Central Square, Cambridge. Kanai Sensei always taught the evening classes and there was a regular group of students. One night we were doing 2-kyou. I was training in the usual, glorious, way that young 1st kyu students do when they think they have mastered the entire art--and there is only a short step to shodan.
Then Kanai Sensei appeared before me and took uke. I wanted to do the best 2-kyou of which I was capable, but try as I might, I could not put 2-kyou on him. With other students, he would wait patiently and gently sink into seiza, allowing a modest arm lock, but in this occasion he really tore a strip off me and asked severely why I "could do nothing". When he saw the tears welling up, I think he relented and accepted the waza with a short, "That's better".
A few weeks later, when I was due to return to England, the dojo held a special training for me, at the end of which I had to take uke from everyone in the dojo--and they chose the waza. At the end of successive shiho-nages and koshi-nages, it was finally Kanai Sensei's turn and, with a smile and a 'wicked' gleam in his eye, he did 2-kyou.
A few thoughts
As you say, aikido requires patience, humility and courage, but why should this not also be hard--and also not have a negative connotation? What is so wrong with negative connotations?
After almost 30 years of training in Japan, I have broken with the teacher I have had for these 30 years. Have you ever had to break with your own teacher after such a long time, especially a teacher who has been very close and exacting in the demands he makes of his students? It was a major wrench and left me very much sadder, but perhaps a little wiser. I would think that most people would think of this experience as, well, hard.