I live! It’s been a while, and it’s been a busy one. Lots to write about, but I’m going to try to keep this one short.
On the clarity of your ideas depends the scope of your success in any endeavour – James Robertsons
A thing I’ve been wrestling with lately – more than usual, anyway – is over-commitment. I feel like I have, or want to, priorities, attention, obligations, and work to do in every direction sometimes. There’s my wife (recently official) and my relationship with her, martial arts (recently re-christened Iron Pagoda Fitness Club), maintaining and improving friendships new and old, my day gig, my for-now-part-time business, other business ideas that I play with now and again, gaming with friends, hobby stuff, housekeeping, focused diet and exercise outside of the gym, reading, listening, studying, learning… This list seems to go on forever sometimes, and my tendency is to want to see some kind of improvement in all of them more or less every day. Preferably something measurable. Preferably something quantifiable, plannable, executable, and check-boxable.
Naturally, this produces some problems.
That approach makes a lot of sense for a lot of things. It does not make sense for some of the most important. I can’t realistically check a box that says that I’ve helped my wife have a better day today. I can’t realistically say that I have certainly accomplished things that will definitively make me a better friend to Kate or Ness or Chris or any of the mob in Madison. I can’t say, in advance, that doing X at Y time will make me feel more spiritually fulfilled. Some things I just need to be opportunistic about. Some things I just need to do, and perceived quality or efficacy be damned. I wrote a note to my best friend thanking her for being who she is and tucked it into her gift for standing with me at my wedding. I try to do something every day that will remind the Cap’n that I’m thinking of her and that she and our life together are important to me. It’s more important to exercise consistently and to pay attention to what I eat than it is to measure every second, every rep, every ingredient, every calorie. It’s more important that I show up and work hard at Taijiquan and SPM than that I excel or show immediate, self-perceived “improvement” in every class or with every week that goes by.
Where I start to stumble is, I think, when I forget something that my Sifu mentioned to me the other day: Training is a refuge – a source of peace and stillness – and not a task or a job. It applies particularly to SPM for me, but to some other things, as well. SPM is fantastic because it hurts; bruising my body in destruction drills or having muscles so fatigued that it feels like my shoulders shouldn’t still be in their sockets or my legs keeping me standing gets me out of my head and into the moment. It puts me in the now, where I stop worrying about what I need to do, what I haven’t done, and what’s looming over the horizon. Painting minis does that for me when I get lost in the details of the model. Clean brush, apply paint, clean brush, apply paint, clean brush, correct paint, clean brush, apply paint… Even getting lost in a good novel for hours at a time. All of them are special meditations for me. Refuges from planning, maintaining focus, working against some of my instincts and weaknesses. They’re places where I can flow instead of putting myself on rails.
I need to be reminded sometimes to protect those sanctuaries, and to keep the kind of order required to meet some goals from creeping into my sources of a serenity that is both a goal in itself and a source of energy for continuing to pursue the rest.