Ya, hoo and the pressure is off.
Yesterday I visited the last state of these United States that I hadn’t been to.
Does that make me legendary?
Today I must do an oil change for my car and by “I” I mean I do it. One of my peculiarities is I do my own oil changes. And I drive a stick shift. It is really not a big deal other than the temperature is hovering around 44 right now. At least it is dry, the snow stopped yesterday. The other interesting implication, given that I change my oil at 5000 miles and this is the second oil change of this trip, is that I have driven for over 10,000 miles since the House of Irony kicked me out 2.5 months ago.
I still have more driving to do. It is off to Phoenix, Arizona where I have a black belt review at the end of November. Yes, it seems I have to renew my belt every two years. At first when I learned this, by getting my belt about two years ago, I was somewhat offended. If you remember, I broke my foot in that process. I paid the price, I was a black belt! But, upon reflection, if you don’t practice something, are you still that? Aside from riding a bicycle, all other skills degenerate. So, I could always say I received a black belt. But to say that I am one, well, I have to prove it. At least one more time.
Yesterday I entered my martial arts studio at 7:30am. At 5:00pm I hobbled out (to be explained) with the black sash that I had just earned.
But the story is not that simple, as is usually the case. In early 1994 I first entered this studio. By late 1997 I was one test away from black. And then I moved to Tucson for a new job. I kicked around down there but didn’t like the systems or the instructors. So I went on with life. Raising kids, having horses, entrepreneuring, volunteering, much like what everyone else does as they watch time pass.
And then I had my Big Meltdown (BM) which has led to this Driveabout. Roughly 3 years ago I decided to restart my martial arts practice. I called up my old instructor (Si Gung) and he agreed to work with me, which meant I studied at home and once a month I drove down to Salt Lake City for lessons. Not optimal, but I had a very un-Zen like goal of getting that black, because, how many folks (especially my age) can make that claim. Further, your body does need to keep moving and think of my martial arts as Yoga on super steroids.
My style is very eclectic and thus challenging. My “manual” has over 80 pages of choreographed moves that I am supposed to be able to execute at any time. There are many more that (seemingly) never got written down. We also practice locks, pressure points, grappling and meditation. The good side is the mental exercise and discipline, balance, control and overall great shape (yes I do have strong abs). The bad side is I do get hurt. A year and a half ago my knee got hurt during a group lesson. I wouldn’t say that it is fully healed yet, but close. And then this:
The reason I hobbled out of the studio yesterday is because sometime during the test I broke my foot. Yes, it did somewhat interfere with my performance, but I persevered. But that is not anything compared to what my mates did. They literally carried me through parts of the test. It is hard surviving one of these tests on your own. But they were lining up to help me when it was needed. Awesome. Still brings tears to my eyes. Thank you.
Is donning this belt, black as night
Cause of any concern and fright?
Is it imbued with mystical power?
Or proof of work, hour upon hour?
5 animals provide the needed influence.
Struggling to find the elusive confluence.
Over and over, repeat and repeat.
Striving for that really deep seat.
Sweat and toil prove all their worth
For every effort put in the search.
It really does come down to pride.
A skill no longer able to hide.
That belt is not worn to say,
Do me no harm on this day.
Instead it is there to attest,
Someone trying to be their best.