It is 6:34 AM on Saturday November 20th, 2021. The mornings are now chilly, there is the possibility of some sort of precipitation and the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.
This is the first day of a two week break after two pandemic years of not taking more than a couple days off here and there. I should be feeling more relaxed but the tension remains in my shoulders and a weak shadow of anxiety remains present. I guess the global and national events of the past few years combined with more recent worries do take a toll.
Most recently the sources of stress have been a family heath issue that caused a scare, responsibilities at work to ensure I hit goals, a karate test and other general worries.
All of those immediate worries piled up all at once and even though they are over the stress hasn’t disappeared completely.
The karate test is always a source of fear and anxiety as they have been known to be quite rough. My son and I were going for brown belt with a black stripe – the final one before black belt – and technically it would involve 10 fights. However, the test was a bit more gentle as we didn’t have any contact fighting for most of the pandemic and still must wear masks. When the masks get wet with sweat it is almost impossible to breathe. But we both made it through the physical part OK and have now sent in our written essays for review.
For the upper belt test our Grandmaster Saiko-Shihan flies in from Alabama and conducts a clinic and test. He is very famous in the karate world but such a nice guy. I really enjoy his teaching style although everyone gets very nervous in anticipation of his visits they always turn out wonderfully.
I want to mention that he wrote a book called Chasing the American Dream – Karate Adventure. This was fascinating to me for a couple of reasons. I am tied to Japan having lived there and through marriage. I also love history. Now in Japanese culture it can be very difficult to ask a lot of questions, especially in the karate world. I had so many questions and reading this book a lot of those questions were answered. The history of Kyokushin is especially interesting to me because the founder – Mas Oyama – started his dojo in Ikebukuro. I lived just one station away in Mejiro so Ikebukuro is like “my neighborhood,” the place I know best of all in Tokyo. Reading this book provided a lot of history and stories about the area and so was something I really enjoyed.
One question I had was why the headquarters of our organization was located in Alabama! When I was looking for a dojo I wanted the real deal, something directly tied to Japan and traceable to a true Japanese style. I found that but boy was I shocked when I read the headquarters were in Alabama! I tried getting an answer a few times but it was never really clear. I finally got the answer by reading the book above and it was because Mas Oyama simply wanted to spread Kyokushin to the American south. Saiko Shihan didn’t intend to stay there but it just ended up that way through a series of events.
Well, that is enough about karate for this post. Perhaps I’ll write a full post on everything I’ve learned at a later date.
As for the health issue it was something common that could have been very serious but wasn’t. It was perhaps the first time in my life when I had to seriously examine morality with an extreme reminder that we are only here for a short time. When looking at life through this paradigm much becomes inconsequential. I remember to pay attention to the beauty of everyday life. I notice the sunsets and flowers again. I remember the importance of family and friendships. I get to have experiences for only a set number of years and then it will all end.
So here I am on a chilly Saturday morning at my standing desk, overlooking the street. I’m getting excited for Thanksgiving which brings together family and friends. I just need to somehow learn to let all the stress melt away.
I should mention that for me, sometimes it is the anticipation and preparation for an event that is more enjoyable than the event itself. At 44, I’ve found that to truly enjoy something, I sometimes need to make a mental effort to slow down, to let the event soak into my consciousness and to use a new term, simply be mindful. Otherwise my mind will continue spinning, worrying, pulling up an endless parade of things I need to accomplish or worry about. I need to do that this holiday season as Halloween is already behind us and I feel I haven’t properly appreciated and enjoyed this holiday season so far. Pandemics, politics, and more immediate worries do take their toll. I’m not sure if it is possible to just shut it all off. Perhaps it is like a train that has been running at full speed: it will take a lot of time and effort to bring it to a standstill.
Well, with that the sunrise has just peaked over Montara Mountain and my household is soon to wake up. I also am going to one last karate class this morning before I can truly unwind and get into the holiday mood.