I do not submit easily. If anything, I resist and fight to a fault. I fight not only when I am right, but especially when I am demonstrably wrong, whether conceptually or emotionally. Granted, this is (admittedly unfortunately) how I ultimately learn. But it is both tedious to those in apposition to me and a slow, slow way of making progress.
Part of me still believes that strength is the same as power, that to advance one must assert himself. And yet, for how many years now, has life shown me the futility of this? All of my relationships to a man have proved otherwise, and still I do not learn.
Or perhaps I learn slowly. I have burned just about every bridge connected to me. Some of them deserved to be, most of them did not.
All of this comes to mind as I have been wrestling with finding a martial art that I can call home. I realize this seems mundane at best, a non sequitur at worst. Yet it’s been a struggle of mine for more than four years now (probably more, I am terrible with time). My first serious foray into the discipline was Aikido, an offshoot of jujustu. I was immediately drawn to it both philosophically and physically. But, over time, I found myself frustrated with how it was taught, and did what I have always done: left, returned, left, returned…
I think that when I do not understand something I run away from it. This is unfortunate, and infuriating to those near me.
In the interim I tried other schools, namely karate and jujutsu. In each and every case I encountered something wrong, whether personal or philosophical. This then set off a period of inactivity, as if I had said to myself “you tried, but this too is not the way, perhaps there is no way?…”.
I noticed that with each new school I tried I was comparing it, whether explicitly or implicitly, to Aikido. The latest sortie (or perhaps soiree?) made me realize the absurdity of this: if I was comparing everything to Aikido, then perhaps that was what I was ultimately seeking, as frustrating as it was to admit.
I am the one who needs to bend as opposed to trying to bend everything around me. Laozi writes:
Perfect mastery works like water / A boon to every living creature / In adverse relation never / At home where most can not abide / Closest to the Way it lies / For position, favor lower ground / For thought, profundity / For engaging, gentility / For speaking, credibility / For ruling, authority / For service, capability / For action, suitability / Avoiding confrontation / Eliminates accusation / There is no other way
Dao de Jing, stanza 8