This month's "The Mirror" column was written by Linda Eskin © 2011
I have the good fortune to be able to train 5 days a week, usually 2 classes each day. It's taken some rearranging of schedules and priorities, but I've managed to make this my normal routine for quite a while now. I just plain enjoy it, and I feel better, mentally and physically, when I train at least that much.
Aikido is my opportunity to move, to connect, to discover. It's how I get grounded and settled after a hurried, chaotic day. Aikido is where I express joy and exuberance. It's the time when I can tell my brain to take some time off, and let the body do body stuff.
Besides, I hate to miss class.
I recently had a string of unrelated situations - a sick pet, a vacation, a busy time at work, an injury - that kept me away from the dojo here and there. Not for very long at any one stretch, and I really didn't miss all that many classes. But still, missing any class leaves the day feeling incomplete, and it throws off the rhythm and flow of the whole week. And of course there's having missed the actual content of the class itself.
Each class is unique, with its own focus, a different mix of people and levels. Each presents a new way of learning to feel our way through techniques, or demonstrates something in a way I've not seen before. There are no ordinary classes. It's always "you should've been here, it was great," never "we just ran through shihonage again."
So much in our tech-rich world is available whenever we need it. We can bookmark a news article to read later, record a show we want to see, or catch the replay of a webinar or conference presentation online. We can even record video of our personal life events on our phones, and watch them again minutes, or years, later. Because of this, it's easy to only give some things only a fraction of our attention. We know we could always go back and experience them again if we found ourselves wanting to really pay attention to the details this time.
But Aikido classes are ephemeral and precious. When you miss one, you've missed it.
This sense of "don't blink or you'll miss something important" is made more vivid in Aikido because of our commitment to learning, to acquiring information and refining skills. It's less obvious in other areas of life, but no less true. The details we encounter every day - a friend's laugh, the crisp sweetness of a really good apple, or the way the light shines through the edges of the clouds during a particular sunset - pay attention. The bigger things, too - enjoying a period of relative good health and happiness, learning lessons from a challenging project, or noticing how the garden has grown, bloomed, and gone to seed - these are easy to overlook. They happen, we are too busy or distracted to notice, and then they are gone.
Maybe that's the lesson from the classes I couldn't get to: Many things in life are as ephemeral as those classes. Pay attention or you'll miss something.
"The Mirror" is a collaborative column written by a group of women who describe themselves as:
We comprise mothers, spouses, scientists, artists, teachers, healers, and yes, of course, writers. We range in age from 30s through 50s, we are kyu ranked and yudansha and from various parts of the United States and styles of aikido. What we have in common is a love for budo that keeps it an integral part of our busy lives, both curiosity about and a commonsense approach to life and aikido, and an inveterate tendency to write about these explorations.