The everydayness of it

Karate in the Violeta Dojo was part of my weekly routine. I was no longer a university student with all the time to spare, I worked full-time and was barely able to squeeze in two or three practice sessions per week, maybe an extra Saturday. Karate was usually at the tail end of a workday. What did I hope to accomplish? I had no time to think, I just did, like going to work, or waking up at 3:00 A.M. to my son crying in the other room. It was a juggling act where more times than not the balls eluded my grasp or all the plates fell off the poles.

So I practiced karate half in and half out of it, much like everything I did then: writing, working, marriage. I just kept going, hoping it would all fall into place. It didn't. I marvel now at the discipline of others, young men whose blogs denote a dedication and awareness of the art that I scarcely perceived at their age. When things do fall into place you're at an age that it leaves a bitter taste of irony in your mouth.

I did what I was told, sweated my way from one belt to the other. Learned the katas, where to move and at what pace. I was an optimistic Sysyphus on the slope of the ten-step push-up, then slinked to a bar for two or three beers. Karate was looking at me in the face and I didn't see it.

Karate then just drowned out the day, the mere physicality left me light enough to just be. In that sense it served its purpose. But the hours do add up. Whether I knew it or not, karate was leaving its mark. Maybe that was what Kimo sensei knew. In any case, I was bad enough to retain my humbleness. Whatever the zeal or dedication, or lack of, you know who you are, because the body does not lie.

The Kimo years were a continuous reminder of what my mind and spirit could and could not do. On the dojo floor I could not fool myself. Outside, maybe.

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