Where to Write About Aikido?

I’ve been thinking about doing a regular post to sum up the week’s aikido practice. Recounting my experiences would give me a nice career log as well as an excellent forum to teach back to myself. (Is that the word ‘study’?).

Recording my progress now might give me useful perspective in the weeks and months and years to come. I’d read back to the first few weeks to see how far I’d come as well as to empathize with the newly joined white belts. Who knows, maybe such a collection turns into a book of sorts.

More immediately, such an effort would instill the principals and techniques I practiced that week. I like the idea of summarizing because it gives me a mechanism for organizing that the mat doesn’t. Right now I step into the dojo’s stream to let it carry me where it will or to let it wash over me as needed. If there is a weekly wrap up, I’ve not showed up on that day.

I’m just not sure where to write it. Which is a totally dumb reason to withhold, but it’s the reason most slowing my down at the moment. I’m not really inclined to create yet another subject themed blog, but I’m not sure using up one of my 1000 days each week to write about aikido is the best way to go. Sure I’ve got that main blog I keep ignoring I guess it could go there. When no one is looking, does it really matter?

Maybe I just write stuff up and save it till I’m ready?

Word count: 269
Day 219

The Thing Is

“The dumbest fuckin’ thing is I should’ve known this was coming months ago.” The open window and the natural cadence of the truck’s engine didn’t drown the futility of Olsen’s hindsight. Mark Olsen’s parents gifted him with a common first name and a compelling to the point of use last name. When we were in the larger group, the one including Other Mark, I often forgot that Olsen could answer as well. Olsen adjusted the passenger’s mirror. Maybe he was looking for the older months before these newer ones.

Outside the truck, Oklahoma rolled by unabated. Red water creeks gouged deeply into the sandstone leaving green farmland so much growing room that farmers could afford to leave the Blackjack Oaks and thirsty Cottonwoods lining the creekways. South of us, hovering over north Oklahoma City bright purple clouds drowning in their own water-weight splashed onto Britton road. Maybe coming as far north as Hefner, but drying up abruptly well before getting to 122nd. Bone dry Stillwater lay a windy hour ahead.

I realized the 70 mile an hour barbwire fence had hypnotized Olsen into reticence. Or he purposefully required me to drag this inevitable conversation out of him.

“The dumbest fucking thing?” I asked.

“The thing is that it never occurred to me she’d leave me. I always thought I was the one putting up with her shit—staying with her. Not the other way ’round.” He punched open the glove box and slammed it shut. “But the dumbest fuckin’ thing—please don’t tell anyone else this—the dumbest fuckin’ thing is that I knew the minute I farted in bed and she didn’t react that it was over.”

Word count: 276
Day 212

A Few Less Leaves

I’m reading again. When I was younger I read books voraciously—one after the next. I read late into the night frequently. Once, I read an entire novel in a single sitting. Once I uncovered an author I read everything they wrote then reread it all when I couldn’t find anything new.

Not now.

These days I’m surprised when I’m reading late at night or even remembering to pick up the book I put down last night, last week, or last month. I’ve had to restart books I’ve abandoned afraid I just couldn’t figure it out unless I started over. Worse and more surprising I’ve chosen to not read when I could have easily done so.

The events of a family’s life clog up a day like fallen leaves bunch together to dam an overland stream. The first leaf catching on an innocent obstruction in the flow. Subsequent leaves piling up blamelessly behind the first. Individually none takes up all that much time. Even several in a bunch can’t significantly waylay my plans to read. Incrementally they build till their ceaselessness and unpredictability overwhelm me. Watching television becomes easier to accomplish.

In any case, for now, I am reading again.

Word count: 209
Day 209

In the Distance I See Lights

I’m sitting in a chair next to my daughter’s hospital bed. It’s a scene from more than a few movies. My Mother took the day off to help with the other three. Birthday plans and Baptism plans have been postponed or pushed back. Friends and family have checked in via phone and email and such. Well wishers have wished her well.

But I’ve not been here all day and all night. I’ve not been talking to her so she could hear my voice nor begging God to wake her up. She isn’t cancerous or comatose. She isn’t even all that ill by my eye. No ounce of me is worrying the outcome of this event.

Maybe this is what it’s like to place your trust in God. Maybe this is what it’s like to know His Will Be Done and that you can only hope that His Will and your own run parallel for a span. I don’t think I have and I don’t think it is.

Rather, I’ve just never had something like this go wrong.

Word count: 187
Day 200

Owning the Dojo

It was strange to be with people I don’t know well. Maybe the strangeness was an adult version of being shy; maybe it’s just residual shyness. I doubt anyone that knows me would think of me as unaggressive in such situations, but I am. And have been for some time. I like to know what I am doing. I like to look like I know what I am doing. And tonight, around those new strangers I didn’t.

I showed up to participate in an aikido class. To anyone’s eye I was a newbie. I did not have a gi, instead I wore a t-shirt and a pair of sweats. I’m new enough to martial arts to think that the traditional outfit looks pretty damn hokey. Compounding the effect of my unsubtle raiment was my highly suspicious milling about. I looked like somebody that wanted something but didn’t know how to ask. Or when. Or where. Or why. Someone that was about to cut and run.

This was my third time to the dojo. The first time I’d showed up at the end of the class I’d wanted to observe. The schedule on the website made it look to me that there were two start times not a start and an end. I stayed for nearly an hour of judo before I decided I’d seen enough. The second time I’d been in was a busy Saturday and it was easier to hide. So this time I was back nearly two weeks later. Plenty of time for the several people I already recognized on sight to have lost any inkling of who I was at all if they’d even had one to lose.

It’s a casual place and no doubt comfortable to those familiar with it’s surroundings. They know where all the doors go. They know if its left to girl’s and right to boy’s. They know if it’s warmer than usual, cooler, or just right. They know everyone but me. And I feel like I’ve just stepped into a stranger’s living room.

The small group of kids already there were experienced students of this art I know nothing about, but not particularly gregarious hosts. I am sure to the majority of them I was not only a newbie in my gym clothes but also an old guy. What I needed was an owner. Not the owner, but an owner. I needed someone to take charge and tell me what to do. For me this was too new and too foreign to know where to grab on. Fortunately an owner appeared.

In the years to come I’ll always recall this fear. When I am on the mat from now on, I am an owner. No one stays afraid long in my care.

Word count: 458
Day 183