Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Look What the Cat Dragged In

Yeah, yeah. I'm alive.

Since my last journal entry, things have been hectic and somewhat complicated. Both of my kids have had chicken pox, my daughter getting it just before we flew home from North Carolina after Thanksgiving, and my son popping up with it just a couple of days before last weekend, thus forcing me to cancel the Chrismahanukwanzakah Cocktail party I had planned for last Saturday night. Given how snarky I've been feeling about the holiday season this year I was really looking forward to a little mirth and merriment, so the party cancellation kinda put me in a bit of a tailspin for a few days. Now I just want this month to get done and over with. Get 2006 here already. This year has been utter shit, and I'm ready for a fresh start.


Otherwise, the only new news of note is that I have finally, after mulling it over for nearly 3 months, taken up Tang Soo Do.

I've had two classes so far, and it's going "well." By "well" I mean that I feel awkward and embarrassed and utterly lacking in confidence. But honestly I feel that way a whole lot of the time anyhow, and it's not because I'm standing around in a white cotton suit trying to do forward and reverse blocks and defensive stances. I'm one of those guys that makes up for an inherent lack of confidence and a certain degree of shyness by talking louder and acting brash. Not aggressive, by any means, but something of a clown. It's funny, but it's exhausting. A performance I put on that entertains and gets me approval (mostly) but also leaves me feeling so, so tired.

On the matt last night, though, that crap all dropped away and there I was: nervous and awkward, my muscles coiled tight as a friggin' spring instead of loose and relaxed, self-conscious and self-aware to an extreme degree, embarrassed by my repeated errors and fuck-ups and apologizing, apologizing, apologizing every time I failed to do something right the Very First Time. That was the real me out there. Scared to death. Utterly mortified. Knees unsteady and shoulders hunched, feeling alternately embarrassed and foolish, too big and too small in equal measures. That's me, with my shields down.

All the bravado and crude humor I use to mask how acutely uncomfortable I can get in social situations was left at the edge of the matt. There's no place for it in martial arts, no way to bring those defenses into play. Humility and respect define the instructor/student role. The things I've used as self-defense for most of my life do not, cannot, come into play here. Not if this is going to be of any use to me. Not if I'm going to learn new methods of self defense.

It was terrifying. I felt like a coltish 13 year old kid, awkward and unsteady, hips locked rigidly in place, arms and legs -- which never felt so haphazardly attached to my inflexible and off-balance torso -- hesitant, wobbly, moving into the wrong position, the wrong location, the wrong side, fists facing the wrong way as often as not. My "kya!" shout of focus and power strangled in my throat, sounding more like a weak old man's attempt at clearing some phlegm. I haven't felt so utterly inept, so completely unskilled and incapable, in 20 years.

And yet Kyo Sa Nim Nunan walked me through the basics, encouraging me all the while, telling me that I was doing great, told me repeatedly to stop apologizing for making errors when the whole point of this is too make errors until I no longer make them. Complimented me on my strength, my stamina, my attempts at getting the rigid protocol of respect correct. Tried to make me laugh with his dry, dry sense of humor. Eye contact. Approval. Patience, above all.

And in the end I got some of it. I did some of it right. Usually not the first time, but I got some of it right. And I hope that tonight, I can do better. I think my ultimate goal in undertaking this art, this discipline, is to gain the self-confidence that I lack. By hiding my fears behind my own bluster for so many years, I've protected and nurtured my own weakness. I hope that by stripping away my own defenses I can finally let that fear and worry wither away, and my own confidence to grow in its place.

This obviously cannot be a simple process, nor a painless one. Which is why, I think, it's a worthwhile one. I need to do this.

Mood: Good, but tense
Now Playing: Nothing.


Mike said...

"On the matt last night, though, that crap all dropped away and there I was: nervous and awkward,"

Yeah, Matt can definitely be that way.

Melanie said...

I have a lot of people who read my journal who know me in real life, some have journals, some just read me..

In some ways I'm glad that my livejournal is open to the public and fairly easy to find, for people who know me, but I hate that I need to make some entries private or friends only.

I don't really feel comfortable talking about anything to do with sex or sexuality openly, since people in my church have access to it, as well as co-workers. Damn my openness!

Sometimes I've thought about a secret public journal where I write about my other sides, but I figure I have enough written about me online. The naughty stuff will just stay in filters on lj.