Paul Schweer trains at Shindai
Aikikai in Orlando, FL.
I'll be going to the dojo tonight.
Maybe there's something better to do, but I've done much worse.
I believe it will turn out well for me and those I train with.
When I'm old, I don't expect to be ashamed of what I do tonight.
And maybe I'll learn something while I'm there.
Maybe I'll learn to be aware and careful of myself and others.
Maybe that will make me a better man.
Maybe that will help make life better for my family.
One way or another you will, if in possession of a desire to do good,
struggle with yourself. It's a struggle you'll never win,
but it's also one you'll never lose -- unless you give up.
I believe Aikido can help if you like.
Train hard if you think it can.
Find another way if you think it can not.
Either way, don't quit.
Somewhere in the sweat, blood and bruises must be a reason.
Something we're working on. Something worthwhile.
I'll give you what I got. You probably won't like it.
I probably don't like it either, but there it is.
Can we use it for our mutual benefit?
Shape our technique? Study the principles?
Wear down the rough edges? Find something good?
When I'm alone and just thinking about it, it seems
like what we're after should be seen in what we do;
what we do should develop what we're after.
And shouldn't we be able to work together in that?
Easier said than done.
I'm not even sure what I'm after, or how to develop it.
How can I expect to appreciate what you're trying to do?
Why should I assume we're on the same page?
Why should I expect your help, or even your cooperation?
Well, I'm asking for it anyway.
I'm trying to work some stuff out, and I'm doing it at the dojo.
I'm hoping you'll cooperate, or at the very least
not trample my efforts in your rush to succeed.
I'll try to help you in turn.
Even if I can't for the life of me figure out
what in the world you're trying to do, or why.
And maybe it will all work out perfect,
and we'll all be enlightened,
and we can hold hands in elevated consciousness
singing songs of our formidable actualizations...
but probably not.
Sooner or later, somebody I've helped
will forget. Somebody I trust
will hurt me. My fault for
giving them the chance I guess,
but for something worthwhile I hope.
Or maybe I won't find a mountaintop, or even a path.
Maybe I'm just hacking through the weeds, lost.
Given my inability to define or describe the art,
or even explain my own interest in Aikido,
it's not surprising that my time on the mat
is an exercise in frustration tolerance.
When training, I fail.
Maybe uke isn't attacking me correctly?
Maybe what's being taught doesn't always work?
Maybe I don't understand what's being taught?
Maybe I should just try again.
And when it's time for a little practical application?
When I'm not in the dojo, and my "partner" doesn't bow
and isn't pleasant and most definitely has no interest in my well-being...
will I resort to something ugly, or will I attempt what I've been taught?
And when I fail?
If I recognize God,
that I am His creation
rebellious by nature and in practice,
that He treats me not accordingly...
what am I to do about that?
Careful of myself and others,
deal from strength gently
with danger and delicacy.
More God revealed than man elevated --
having done a moment's good we remain men --
training, like life, at its best God's reflection
seen in humble, thankful, resolute souls.
Is there a secret? Can it be taught?
We, like Ben Hogan, dig it out of the ground.
Skill found in sweat and sore muscle.
Maybe, if we're lucky, a teacher points,
and says, "There." And we see,
for an instant, a principle or truth.
A truth? Can that be learned? Spirit, enlightenment --
whatever you call it, that life-changing stuff --
can we look it up, copy it down, put it in our pocket?
Or is it buried in the stink,
the frustration, the dirty work.
There to unearth, given time
and a teacher. Someone to point,
and say, "There."
Hidden in the practice,
not the shovel or the dirt.
There in the digging,
seen sometimes in the moving earth.
There, where the sweat falls and turns to mud.
There seems to be an underlying and mostly unconscious assumption
in my thinking on aikido and my training that it will someday,
eventually, be something I used to do. This is probably at least
partly born of experience, since most of what I've done I've quit
or completed. It might also be a trick, a way to imagine life
after training or living without it. Such a trick would be helpful
in maintaining perspective, reminding me what's important, why I train.
Or a way of seeing myself in hindsight, which I try to do sometimes.
Good trick, when I can pull it off.
But it's probably not a trick or subsurface defense mechanism.
It is more likely, simply, imagination's failure.
Training never completes, so if I don't quit....
I can't imagine a lifetime living with someone.
Can't imagine a lifetime living with me either,
but I'm stuck with me. I'm everywhere I go.
That's bad enough. Why take on someone else?
Because we're better together. Compliment each other.
Nearer our ideal selves as partners.
But til death do us part? Long time. Can't imagine it.
But we promised, in front of God and everybody.
And we work on it, enjoy it, every day.
Sometimes more work than enjoyment, but both.
Couldn't have one without the other.
Wouldn't have either without trusting our shared promise,
and believing in something bigger than daily work and enjoyment.
My body can't do what it did ten years ago.
I make noises now when I stand up.
I can't work as long or as hard. Don't want to.
Sometimes I fall asleep for no reason.
And I'm young still, for crying out loud. Least I think so.
What happens when I'm old and breaking down and don't much care
about what makes technique work or how to interact?
I don't know what happens when. I can't imagine.
But today I want to train. Maybe tomorrow too.
So I'll believe in something bigger
than just today's enjoyment and work,
something in my training an old man might enjoy.
Something he might work for. Maybe someday he will.
Still, can't imagine.
A Place To Go
My knee hurts.
Seiza probably hurts by design. Builds character.
Relax. Sink into it.
Sensei walks onto the mat, and there is no spring in his step.
Tired or sick? Sick. Very little energy, but not flat.
Slow and determined. He can't really talk, but we listen hard
and train hard. Good class. Very quiet. Very intense.
I wonder at his dedication and question mine;
admire his commitment but fail to imagine it.
I haven't been at it long, and for how much longer I don't know.
It's good for me, I think. I keep going back.
And there's a place to go -- I don't know where else.
Thank you, Sensei.