So continues my blathering about the transfer of skills and attitude from one part of my life to another. Whether it resonates with anyone else out there is questionable. Hopefully, yes. Otherwise, well, I'm just enjoying putting my thoughts into order, so bear with me.
One of the big things you learn by sticking with martial arts is how to take a few knocks. During my year of intensive training for my first blackbelt, my arms were so covered in bruises that I drew sidelong looks from people in shopping centres. But, to me, they were badges of honor. They hurt, but I'd earned every damned one.
In many ways, physical pain is actually easier to bear than emotional pain. Physical pain from bruising etc heals. Might seem obvious, but there are few things as painful in life as rejection of one sort or another. Emotional pain often leaves lifelong scars that stop you from progressing, due to fear of being hurt again.
But the act of being knocked down - either physically or emotionally - is one we all go through. Some more than others. And the resilience to get back up, again and again and again, is a learned skill. It does come more easily to some bloody-minded souls than others. But it can be learned by anyone.
Martial arts is good at showing you what you can handle. That you can absorb more blows than you thought you could. That you can learn to be better - as long as you don't give up when you aren't perfect the first time. Or the second.
I've mentioned before the gentle art of the hajime class in aikido. Two to three hours of unrelenting action, yelling, bruising, throwing, falling, getting up, falling, hurting, getting up. Part of the agony is not knowing how long the class will go on for. It's up to sensei to decide when it's over. Your job is to access your warrior spirit. To dig deep inside and find the reserves and sheer determination to keep getting up even when your legs are jelly, each breath is painful, and your head is spinning. It's astonishing how far you can push yourself, if you just decide you WILL NOT fucking give up.
We are, in our Western-world lives, far to easy on ourselves. We choose, too often, the simplest path. And we complain when things become hard to achieve. This is why 1 in 100 people who start a martial art (or writing a book) actually continue past the first month. 1 in 1000 of those who continue past a month make it though to one blackbelt (or one novel).
We praise our children for simply existing, for being genetically gifted in some way - beauty, speed, intelligence. In doing so, we do our children a vast disservice. We should praise their tenacity, their determination to learn a new skill, their persistence in gaining each step towards understanding. Not how easily it came to them. How impressive their ability to keep getting back up is. Not how easily they did it the first time.
We need to praise their resilience, not their existence.
Doing so grows adults who can weather hard times. Who can take a publisher's rejection without bitching that the story is 'misunderstood'. Who can logically weigh up a good editor's suggestions for improvement, instead of as a taking them as a disparagement of the writer's genetically-gifted talent for writing. Who can keep submitting, even after dozens of rejections. Keep working to improve their craft until the acceptances outweigh the rejections.
So find your determination. Find your warrior spirit. Keep getting up, even after your heart is bruised and your ego is mashed.
Instead of seeking recognition for unearned 'perfection', seek the will of the warrior-scholar. Seek to learn.
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many