It is the time to say goodbye to shoes I had bought for 14.90 € thinking that if they lasted 3 months it would have been a good investment.
They lasted about 18 months, they have walked me all around Europe, in Japan, I’m Indonesia and in Vietnam.
I have learnt to give value to everything and everyone independently by the time things and people are around. Because this time can be short.
I have had 3 relevant relationships in my life of which the longest lasted about 3 years “on paper” but in reality maybe less than 3 months and the best most spontaneous and natural part has been the first 3 hours.. I valued most of the time with her and looking back I regret I did not enjoy more. But I have no other regrets.
I did not compromised my values and tried to do the best I could in the time I had, even if you usually do not know in advance how much you got. I work on the hypothesis that I do not have much time in general.. especially in relationships.
Right now I admit I prefer the 3 hours or 3 days relationship idea than anything different, knowing how a difficult person I am and especially where I put my priorities: Aikido is the top of the list. I realized that long ago but the few times I met a special she-person I fool myself thinking I can really split my time and dedicate to this person as much time as I dedicate to the biggest love in my life, Aikido. And then I even end up surprised (for a short time) when I discover betrayal… but knowing it is my choice, I cannot hate the she-person of the moment. I am in truth the one sabotaging any “human relationship”.
This does not mean I did not have life values. I’m not a samurai but trying to live according to bushido values is a good life challenge. One challenge I fail very often on so many levels. But I try to stay critical about myself as I am critical about my practice, even if I do let myself finding excuses now and then.. and now again..
Very recently I have been accused by a beginner that I have understood nothing of the real budo values. My mortal sin has been helping during practice h* (him/her, no need to go in details) with, unfortunately some remote past in Aikido kicking in and boosting h* ego, making h* forget what it means joining a new dojo. In general, if my partner cannot fall properly or even does not know/remember which foot move to avoid possible injures, it is my duty to show the way, usually doing it before saying anything, and talking only when the partner shows big limits in even understanding. But besides these facts, when I join a new dojo I consider all the people there as my sempais and I accept corrections independently of the color of their belts. I have been corrected several times and I have been to practice with instructors of much lower experience and grade than me, in the many places where I have been, and always trying to accept and adapt to what it was required. If that in time (recently happened after 1 year) I feel that that Aikido way does not fit with my own, then I take my decisions and look for another dojo. But not because someone corrected my basic mistakes!
Like water, flow always through rocks and trees, it can be momentarily stopped but it is still water, it does not change its own identity. Water carries and water gives, water takes. My mind, my body, my attitude must flow continuously, taking and giving. Like Aikido. Like life. Water is rich to substance to give to what it comes in touch. And at the same time it is open to accept more from external sources. Difficult attitude, good goal.
I talk out of experience: I moved and changed many dojos in my life because of my living in so many different places, trying to put Aikido always in front of my ego, and that is a challenge that many forgets. I have not always managed and that is why when this beginner complained to me I listened to h* words with an open mind and looking forward to a constructive comment: that could be a learning moment. Shoshin, beginner mind, is another value a struggle daily with in order to put my ego at rest. Unfortunately that person motives were not for a discussion aimed to improvements for both: it was a ranting that turned personal.
Sometimes you have to make yourself as Teflon as well: let the insults and not necessary words fly over you and don’t let the negativity attach. There is already too much negativity around on a normal base. Too much hatred and bad feelings inside one-self that people cannot manage to handle so they try to divert to external sources. Blame the others, blame the fate, blame the gods, so then I do not have to deal with the problems myself. Too easy.
The thing I liked the less had been to be accused to have misjudged h*: I do not judge the people I practice with, in truth I do not judge people, or seldom I do that. People might actually misunderstand my facial expression, or my sarcasm. But I do see one’s person Aikido and there was no misjudgment there: this person was either not able or had forgotten tons of basic, and then it is my task and duty as senior student to help h* improve, and especially do not injure h*self. If then the person did not like my way, please have an adult and honest chat.. but that person was not interested in that, and it is actually fine with me.
I must continuing walking my path: when this person exhaust h* anger to me, I of course addressed my teacher, dojo-cho, and asked him if I had done anything wrong. With his acknowledgement, and my peace of mind, I cannot focus too much on personal antipathies. This is normal, it is everywhere. I have mine, also on the mats, and I try to avoid the people I do not like: in the past it could have been a challenge to overcome these situation in a peaceful way. Recently I have seen the futility of this for myself. Life is too short just to look for this kind of situations and solutions, so I keep working on myself in other ways. And if I manage to come to a final quiet mind (sometimes not easy), I have learnt to leave the fight-able demons at bay, since I got several others that are not that easy!
This reminds me a talk from Endo sensei in Vienna, long in the past. He mentioned 2 concepts, states, attributes that should be in the aikidoka practice, spirit or state of mind: shinken, 真剣, しんけん, as “live blade” or “seriousness”, and chinkon, 鎮魂, ちんこん, as “spirit pacification”, or “quiet mind”. The concept of shinken was taken up and commented by a Japanese aikidoka that therefore understood so much more than me and his article is very interesting.
Long time ago, at my first visit to Kyoto and practice there for a combined seminar with Yasuno sensei, Tissier sensei and Boyet sensei, I had already written about chinkon, of course my own understanding, especially in the work of Yasuno sensei. There though I missed the correlation between the quiet mind and his sharp, effective Aikido, the shinken part, that in the years now I have managed to observe and enjoy better. Unfortunately I haven’t still been thrown by sensei, but I have had the chance to practice with several of his students both Japanese and European (and even more now at Aikido Amsterdam).
So many elements to combine in everyday practice, keeping the same focus both as tori and uke, avoiding the distinction of the roles. Step by step, training after training, all experiences and mistakes help me to build up my own understanding.
All training partners are contributing to this, the ones I love to practice with, the ones I meet only for one technique and that was enough, the ones I avoid on the mats after an unlucky meeting. All give me something, and maybe in the future I will search again for my mats’ nemesis, when my own demons are less strong and my confidence is higher. Now I still have so many challenges in the basic elements of the different senseis I did follow and do follow. So much to learn.. so much interesting Aikido around..
..and this coming weekend it will be the Aiki-wizard in Hannover! And my first visit to that city, where I can already count on a few Aiki-friends… yeah!!