another punch in the heart.
But we get back up.
Sometimes, things just work out. Sometimes, life gives you these neatly wrapped, wonderful little packages to open up and enjoy. It’s a unique feeling when you feel both completely content and excited by possibility at the same time.
A had an unremarkable chain of events over the last few days which led to this exquisite feeling. Late in the week, I got banged up at judo, so I decided not to train Friday or Saturday. On Saturday morning, I used the time I would have spent getting ready for jiu jitsu and training to clean out my refrigerator, go food shopping, and make my lunch and breakfast for the work week– all the things I usually do after practice. I went to help out with the kids’ judo class later in the afternoon, came home, and did some more chores. Then, I eased into a chill evening walking around West Philly with my rad step-sister, Krista, happy to be reconnecting face to face.
This morning, I was up unexpectedly early. I hopped out of bed and did my neglected laundry before scampering
off to judo. When I got home from practice, I found myself with no obligations, no little errands, nothing but time. I haven’t had that on a Sunday in months. As I was messing around on the internet, I got a phone call from my teammate and spirit sister, Joy. I was alarmed at first. Since Joy and I usually text, my brain automatically jumped to horrific emergency. Why else would she be calling? Well, it turns out that sometimes people call each other just to hang out. Joy was in my neighborhood and wanted to know if I had time to chill. And I did. We got a snack a tiny Indian restaurant, and once again I found myself strolling through West Philly under the sun and trees with someone important in my life. Joy and I have both been wrapped up in life stress lately and haven’t had any hang out time together. It felt perfect to walk around Clark Park and just talk.
If my week had gone differently, I might not have been so open to relaxing with my friend. I might have felt torn about hanging out with Joy, not fully satisfied with either the choice to tackle dumb chores and errands or spend time with my buddy. But everything was in place for us to share a couple of hours to ground each other. Today is the anniversary of my mom’s death, and while I woke up in a good mood this morning, all the complicated emotions of her death run like lava through my body this time of year. I can feel them, but I don’t know when they will erupt. I am grateful that the volcano stayed dormant today, but I also know that Joy would accept me even if I was an overflowing with disastrous sadness and anger.
I don’t care that this sounds mad cheesy, but Joy is a gift to me. I don’t know where our friendship is headed, but I know that I have felt more loved and cared for in this world since we’ve become friends.
Sometimes, things just work out.
There are some moments
that you cannot prepare for.
Have faith in yourself.
Friends! My haiku collection is coming out in May! I’d like to share this amazing trailer put together by my friend, DM Gatto.
I wasn’t listening,
but that was no new thing.
It might have been years since I listened,
and then months
since I listened without judgement
and without disdain.
What was new was the realization
that he didn’t notice.
He didn’t notice that I stopped listening.
He would talk and gesticulate
with bright eyes and red cheeks,
and there I’d sit,
beside him on the couch,
or across the table.
Just breaths with small sounds:
He was little more than the morning talk radio,
coming through the speakers for background noise
to fill the room as one prepares the coffee.
It was time for me to see what it was like
to feel silence
and to be empty.
Light and empty.
The songs I love most
are the ones that woke me up
when I was fifteen.
I have no idea how to say this, so I’ll just say it:
I’m in love with judo.
In the past year and half, jiu jitsu took precedent over judo. This wasn’t because I loved judo less. Our relationship was changing. Scheduling and failing body parts were factors, but I won’t use them as an excuse.I lost some great training partners. I let my motivation drift awy and I hit a plateau. Jiu jitsu fit in my life a little better and there seemed an abundance of enthusiastic mat buddies each practice. So I jumped in and it felt really good. I missed judo, but I didn’t believe I could break through that plateau. I was still going to practice once a week, but I wasn’t giving judo the risk and focus it deserved.
Briefly, I found another great training partner, and with her she brought the motivation I let go. During September 2013 through March 2014, we had a visiting teammate at our club. Charlotte is from Switzerland and was going to be in Philadelphia for just six months. She trains in jiu jitsu, but is a judo black belt. She’s also a mat rat. As a teammate, Charlotte demonstrates commitment and focus, but is relaxed and always fun. On top of her many fantastic qualities, Charlotte is a patient teacher. She taught me technique and by introducing new ideas, she made judo fun again. I didn’t feel self-conscious about all my judo problem areas; rather, I wanted to work through them. But Charlotte couldn’t stay in the US forever, no matter how badly my club wanted her to. After Charlotte left, I felt alone on the judo mat. I still went to practice of course, but the electricity of training crackled and fell away.
Over the past few months, something has changed in the atmosphere at our judo club. I can feel the electricity in the room again. I noticed that a lot of the folks who were finishing the fundamentals program were going to judo class. There are men and women close to my size. The mat is full. The energy makes me feel eager and brave. In January, my little six year-old cousin started coming to the kids’ judo program regularly. Since he is there, I started helping out class. While a room of 6-10 years-olds can be overwhelming for me, it’s so much fun. We have a great bunch of kids, really. While they may turn into space cadets at times or fall victim giggling spells, they are kind to each other. The big kids watch out for the little kids, and little kids watch out for the littler little kids. Helping them has centered me in a lot of ways. As we teach the kids basic judo principles, it both refreshes my memory and gives me way to articulate what feels like second nature. More than anything, it’s been so important to me to share judo with my little cousin. Families can bond in all sorts of ways, and I love that he and I can experience judo together.
These days, I walk around with my head up. I feel confident and strong. I want challenges. This is why I need judo in my life. Just as it shows me the parts of myself I don’t like, it always offers me the chance to change. I know judo makes me a better person. It’s given me more than it’s ever taken. That’s why I’ll love judo forever.