Fall in love.
That's an invitation, not a command -- but you do have an opportunity to do so, right now, right where you sit. Think of it (if you must) as a lesson in ukemi, but really, it'd be a lot better if you just went ahead and jumped out of the airplane without need for so much justification.
Did you do it? Have you fallen in love yet? If so, stop reading. You've got better things to do. If, on the other hand, you're ready to stop reading without having fallen in love, go ahead... this article's not for you.
If you're tempted though, if you're curious, but not quite there yet, read on. Maybe some justification can be the sun-hand while the shadow-moon sneaks up behind you.
Because we are all falling, no matter what else we do. We're falling toward the center of the earth. (Actually, we're all falling toward each other... it just happens that we'd meet in the center if everything else wasn't keeping us apart.) The earth is falling toward the light of the sun. The sun is falling toward the dark center of our galaxy. Fall, because energy goes from higher states to lower. and so do we. Because the mortal terminus beckons, and every dodge of this way and that, every curl and filigree, is a straight line in death's geometry.
Why then, in love?
Well... come on, now. Do you have a better idea of how to take the fall? You could fall in money, or you could fall in labor. You could fall in cleverness and seriousness and prestige. You can fall in worry or despair or anger. You can fall into power. Or fall in failure or fall in success. You can do all of these things and many more besides, but if you undress each possibility, is there not Love's lovely flesh revealed? Fall then, closer to the skin of existence, into the bosom of the infinite, into (or out from) the very womb of life.
Are you in love with someone right now? It's good to have a companion during the vertiginous decent, but it's a mistake to see them as the source of your love. If someone makes you feel breathless and palpitating, if being near them or if thinking of them makes you feel something like terror, except you like
it and want more, that's good. If you feel dizzy and distracted, yet full of clarity, that's good. Bow down and kiss the feet of your beloved in gratitude, and wash their toenails with your tears. Just remember that they've awaken you to love, which is always all around, with them or without them. People in love are in something far grander than each other.
In love, we are infinitesimal. In us, love is vast.
The mortal error of limited love is twofold. The first mistake is in thinking that your love resides in your lover and no other place. The second is to think that love exists without lovers.
Or, perhaps you have no love-ally at the moment? No one to be in love with? Then let go of your clinging to the ledge of longing, your dependency on another for love. Let go and fall. What was it about the last one for whom you grieve so? What is it about the one you dream of, but have not yet met? Name any element, and it's somewhere near to be found. The color of his eyes or her hair? It's there if you look. Their smile? Well, put it on your own lips and dare to show it to the stranger in the car next to yours. Or is it the way you felt in your lover's company, or imagine you will feel with them? Then feel that feeling now, because you can. To be in love you need only have love in you.
Or are you among the outcast, dead to hope, numb to joy, or quartered by grief? I know. I know. I know.
If you grieve, I know what you feel. I know that feeling of powdered glass under the skin. I know the knot in your chest and the vice on your temple and the crushing inward collapse when all support is gone. And if you've gone beyond grief, I know also that serene and sterile refuge of routine, where risk seems minimal. Off the roller-coaster and into the easy-chair, and who would blame you? Not me, certainly. But an honest friend would tell you the truth, whether you're ready to hear it, and whether or not you feel it.
You're still in love. And you're still falling.
He-Who-Invites, and She-Who-Invites, are asking you now, how could you forget? Don't you remember the sunlight on the dust motes? The smell of green in the summer? The newborn in your arms, whose eyes locked on yours and recall you to something ancient and nameless? Remember someone's lips on yours? Remember your dreams? You're invited.
You're invited to the place between memory and anticipation. You're invited to come to your senses and feel the light in your eyes, the sounds in your ears -- and the darkness and silence beyond. Feel your skin. Feel what's touching you now, whether clothes or chair or air. All of this is the body outside. Feel too the body inside, your heart and your lungs. Feel your stomach. Feel your blood, your bones, and your nerves. There is your lover. Now notice there's no difference in the inside and outside!
If it's disorienting, you're falling again, and that means you've come back to yourself.
Think of it as ukemi, if you must. Ukemi
means the receiving body
. To receive
with the body. Be incarnate... let life into your flesh. Receive your lover's body if one (or two, or three) is available. Make your bodies one. Take the meat and breath and serum of the world, and make that your true love. Receive your own body. For heaven's sake stop reading right now and return to your body, and don't come back until you've shivered with goosebumps or felt adrenaline quicken or cried because of beauty or smiled because you don't know why. Take with the whole body!
Uke seizes tori's body. Tori receives uke's body. Uke receives the technique. The ground receives uke. Uke is thrown. Uke falls.
It's uke who's doing the aikido.
Uke takes nikyo. Uke receives sankyo, yonkyo, kotegaeshi. The pain and the strain and bruising... are they different from a lover's sorrow?
Uke cartwheels out of shiho-nage. Uke tumbles with zenpo-nage, summersaults with irimi-nage. Uke falls. The acrobatics and the carnival ride and the playground slide... are they not the same as love's lavolta? Uke flies!
You bankers, make all the money you can, and with my blessing. Just remember how best to spend your capital. You soldiers, fight and kill if you must, also with my blessing. But look beyond what you fight against, and remember what you fight for
. You critics and cynics and judges and arbiters of value... grade honestly. But when you condemn, you risk losing the very purity you seek. Who can judge love, or assay it's value?
Students of aikido, fall in love. Fall for your partners. Fall for your teacher. Fall for your dojo, your style, and your lineage. Fall for aikido and all aikido lovers everywhere. Fall for the world and for yourself. Forget about your perfect posture and your impeccable balance and your tedious technique.
Just fall down until it hurts, and keep falling down until you can't stop laughing.
The doors of the dojo should be ready to receive everyone.
But only lovers can stay.
Finally, should you need a parachute, simply open your heart and drift safely beneath its all-encompassing canopy.
Still Point Aikido Systems
Austin TX, USA