Saturday, February 22, 2014

Can't Put Down the Sword

Today I rode to the dojo planning to tell sensei that I was going to stop iaido.

As I rode up to the dojo I saw his silhouette swinging the sword and flowers flooded my mind. My courage wavered and when I walked in and said goodmorning I didn't want to quit. As I got changed I thought about how I could tell him my decision, and as I stepped out my volition shrank to the size of an umeboshi (very small Japanese plum fruit) and I knew it wouldn't happen today.

The number one thing we learn in the martial arts is not to worry.

When you have a problem you think. You think why this problem arose, how you can fix it, and the worry disappears. Then you move and live.

It's all just cause and effect.

Technical perfection and a complete absence of fear are both impossible abstractions. We are not perfect and we are going to have our Great Failure: death. We must accept our mortal fate and continue our lives the way we want, maybe that means the best we can. Maybe that's the -do, "the way".

Aside from that we're focusing on the details, the jutsu (technique).

So we don't worry, but that's just what I've been doing.

Issues of time, I guess. I don't feel like I have enough for all the things I want to do. I've gone far enough in kyudo to see what it takes to improve. I know we should not obsess or worry about success, but I want to be better. That's not a bad thing. I want to improve and I want to spend the time with it to do so. I want something I can put my full effort into and progress in. If I'm spending more time thinking about kyudo than doing it then it bugs me. This is kyudo for me. It is an art and a source of deep friendships and love. If one made me choose one art for the rest of my life right now, I would choose kyudo with confidence, as strage as that may seem.

I think if I could put all of my effort into kyudo it would be beautiful. If I could just cut off iaido, my kyudo would bloom to what I want...

but I just can't.

Thinking is what trips me up. I make demons and angels, but the actual practice is unexplaninably fulfilling for me. I've grown very attached to my sensei in these last two months, and I think he has to me. I love my iai practice.

What it really is is fairly small. It's Friday morning for about an hour and a half and $50 a month. In time if I continue I'll start the jo which will add about another hour a session and another $40. It is a day away from kyudo. It is money I could otherwise use for savings, bills, or anything else. (It's also about not doing martial arts, and the vaccuum which would allow me to enjoy other things and subconsciously process better what I have already learned ... but that's a whole discussion for another post.)

I don't know.

On the paper in my mind I should quit. It moves my emotions to want to quit.

In real life I can't. My body and the outside world draw me in.

Now I'm back in the mind, and I'm being drawn into the labyrinth of details that are too much for this blog ...

but I do have a big point here I want to communicate:

The good thing about all of this is that there is no need to rush, and no decisions to quit are forever.

I don't have to make any decision now. I can think and see how things go and quit next week or the next, or next month, or next year. There's no need to decide right this second.

This is HUGE for me. I usually deal with such matters with an apocalyptic urgency. It's unecessary and unbecoming. This is something I want to change.

Also, even if I stop I can always start again.

I know this cause I talked to sensei about this last week.

I've had thoughts of quitting for the last month and finally voiced them with sensei last week.

That was a very good decision. I think the worst thing you can do is just show up one day and resign out of the blue leaving no room for discussion or goodbye's. What you do in training is learn from a teacher. Of course we're learning physical skills, but I think we can learn much more about living our lives and how to make decisions at the various crossroads we come to. My sensei is there to help me and wants me to succeed, even if it means discontinuing training. A good teacher will always help you on your way no matter what.

So I told sensei about my worries and asked him as someone who has practiced various arts over a long time, what he thought about my worries. He sensed my direction pulling away from iaido and I could see him feeling a big distraught. Wse talked a lot but basically there were 3 main parts.

First, if you're practicing too many arts and your time is spread too thin, you won't learn anyhing in either of them. That's not good, and in that case, you should pick one.

Second, I can stop and restart anytime. The dojo's not going anywhere and nobody would harbor any malicious memories towards me for taking or break or making the decision to focus on other things.

Third, if iaido takes over your life and takes precious time away from my wife and relaxation, then it is not worth it.

There is no need for the sword, but there is a need for our contentment.

Art should support our life, not replace it.

So I continue.

But I don't know.