Today at work a drunk crazy guy threatened to beat me up. It was unnerving as I am sure you can imagine.
What was most unsettling about the whole thing was my reaction to it. I did the right thing, walking straight over to the police officer on the scene to inform him what was going on, but my emotional reaction was all off. My chest constricted as my adrenaline surged, making my voice quaver and my hands shake. As the police officer left the area, without addressing my aggressor, I was caught in flashes of rage that made me stumble on the sidewalk, and I could barely maintain my patience with my coworkers for the rest of the afternoon.
At some point I noticed that I was slouching again. I had not slouched while walking for several years. Not only that, but my whole center had moved up high into my chest, as had my breath when both should have been in the depths of my abdomen. Upon noticing these things , I also saw that the muscles of my shoulders and arms were tensed and tight, when they should have been relaxed and supple. I was ready to run or fight but I should have been ready to blend. I should have been unconcerned, I should have been detached, and if this had happened six months ago, I probably would have been.
It took me a long time to recover myself and let my center sink back into its home just above my pelvis, and that means I really need to get back to the dojo. When I am actively practicing Aikido I am more capable with conflict, more centered, healthier and happier than any other time. I had to take time off from practice in order to ensure I could afford to move here, but I have let my training slip and that disturbs me.
O-Sensei was known to say to his students that we do not rise to meet our expectations, rather we fall to meet the level of our training. I need to get back on the mat if I want to keep those things I have learned in my conditioning, and to improve, but I am nervous.
After six months away from a dojo, it will be like starting over again which is something I will just have to deal with, but it is still intimidating. Although, sometimes I wonder what I am so afraid of: failing or doing well? I mean, I was adamantly attending and practicing extremely hard back in Iowa, getting lost in the joys of training. I think sometimes in my enthusiasm I pushed myself far too hard, requesting my practice partners to go faster and faster so I could experience giving or receiving a technique at higher speeds. And then, after about a year, my sensei told me that he thought I should be ready for my first test soon. I was excited, shocked and a little scared. Of what?
I did not feel ready, and I felt silly for feeling that way. In some ways, three months prior to my move, when I became too busy between work and the application process for my current job to make it to class, I was sort of relieved. I told myself I would join the local dojo within the first couple weeks after I moved here, and instead I have put it off for another three months.
I cannot do that anymore. I have to hit the mat, work to earn back what I have lost, and learn new lessons. And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to accept my successes and failures for what they are: mine.