Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Tale of Two Medals

Attended a tournament today with the entire family. Trevor and Christine's first tourney ever. Stories there, but not right now. Briefly, everyone returned home with a bit of sparkly stuff, and some tears were shed nonetheless.

I came home with two medals. Here's a brief synopsis of the events leading to each.

1. Forms.

Advance to 5th gup two or so weeks ago. Immediately learn Pyang Ahn Sa Dan. Practice it like mad, in the morning at the gym and, at night at the dojang during regular class, and then during post-holiday/pre-tournament prep sessions. Obsess about each and every detail of the form, stressing out about the many small ways in which you could mess this thing up. Think about the form night and day. Worry and fret, but get the form solid and looking good. Attend the tournament. Get about a quarter of the way through the form, wobble on a single kick, and flake out. Start freaking out about your mistake. Forget one kick shortly thereafter, without realizing it, and spend the rest of the form trying to figure out why everything feels screwed up.

Tie for third, missing first by .1 point, and grab a bronze medal.

2. Sparring.

When registering to participate in the tournament, decide that you're going to just take it easy and not bother sparring during this tournament. After all, you've been doing physical therapy for two months for an injury you incurred while sparring back in October, so why tempt fate and risk re-injuring yourself? I mean, you're not even all that crazy about sparring all-in-all, so why push it? Show up, but bring your pads along just in case you change your mind. Run into KSM Sawyer on the way in, who persuades you to spar since there are so few guys in your age and rank range competing that day anyhow. Hit the ring after blowing your form, assuming that you'll just get your ass kicked but not really all that worried about it. Wind up getting a tie, then winning first place in a sudden-death re-match.

Win gold. Shake head in amusement.

So, lesson learned. Let's see if I can actually apply it in the upcoming year.

On another note altogether, one of the judges told me I looked way too young for my group. Specifically, while taking a rest break after tying on our first match, she told me I was lucky that I was allowed 30 seconds rest between matches since that was usually only allowed for seniors (that being anyone over 35). I told her, with a huge smile that a) I was 39 (to which she did the "Are you kidding me?" face...) and b) she was my favorite person in the entire world. I swear, someone could have taken the top of my head off with a side kick and I would still have felt it was a good day.

Mood: Happy, proud, tired, buzzed
Now Playing: Nothin'

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Loose Ends

I'm in a bit of a dark mood today. Trying to pull myself out of it, but so far I'm still kinda glum. Partly it's the now-familiar post-testing comedown. I was so edgy and amped up for this last test that I knew I was going to have a bit of a gray fog for a day or two after, but this one is a bit different.

I had this really vivid dream this morning. In it, I was initially at a Tang Soo Do tournament of some sort. It was odd, as there didn't seem to be any actual competing going on -- it was more of a social function. I remember sitting and eating with Master's Nunan and Riley, speaking briefly with Kwan Jhang Nim and meeting several fellow martial artists who I've never actually met face-to-face. This is hardly an unusual dream, really -- over the past few months my Tang Soo Do friends and family have been taking a more prominent place in my dream-life.

But then it got kind of weird. In the dream, my son Trevor was misbehaving and I told him to stop. Just as I did this, some guy at the table (who looked like a guy who recently started training at our dojang, but who wasn't "him" in the dream, you know?) told me that I should slap him in the head if he acts up. And I distinctly recall how angry this made me feel, and in the dream I came up out of my seat and got three inches from his face and stared him the eye and said "If you ever try to tell me how to raise my kids again, I swear to God I will kick your ass from here to the street and back again." The guy backed down, and then I got up and walked away from the table and suddenly, in the way dreams do, the location changed.

I was now on a sort of patio that was perched atop the stump of an enormous tree, at least 30 feet wide. And my old friend Mike McCrea was there, sitting at a table and he we sat down to have a drink. Now, I haven't seen or talked to Mike is almost 20 years. We were very close in high school, and he was probably the first "best friend" I ever had who was a guy, the first guy who I was close enough to hug and say "I love you" to without worrying whether that looked and sounded "gay" or not. At 17 that was a big deal -- the whole "what if someone thinks I'm gay?" idiocy that teenage boys go through, and so many of them never really outgrow as men. Now it seems so damn stupid.

Anyway, somewhere along the way -- either due to distance (he was in WA, I was in NY) or simply to the divergent paths our lives took -- we lost touch. I remember the last time I spoke to him -- it was just a week or so prior to the beginning of the Desert Storm back in Bush I's reign, and about 6-8 months after the last time I'd seen him, at his wedding in Tacoma (I was one of his groom's men). He called kind of out of nowhere and, after we chatted for a while, he intimated that he would probably be out of touch for a while, and that he couldn't really say why. He was a West Point graduate and an officer with the Army, so I have no doubt that he wound up going over there.

After that, we never spoke again. I doubt anything "bad" happened to him -- I think I would have heard had he been wounded or killed. Instead, I figure he just got busy with his life, and being on opposite sides of the country made things complicated. Newlywed, probably sent overseas, and very on-track for a successful career once he returned. And I was never very good at keeping in touch in those days, way too wrapped up in my own college-aged crap to write letters or pick up telephones.

So we just ... never spoke again.

I really regret that, now. I've tried to track him down, tentatively, via the internet, but really haven't ever found anything. I'm not sure that I'd get back in touch if I found him -- it's been far too long, and it would be very, very awkward.

But I hate loose ends.

So, anyway, in the dream we just chatted, and talked about old times. The details of that part are fuzzy, but it was nice. Warm. And it seemed so real, and I remember thinking in the dream that this was a good thing, that it was nice to be back in touch with someone I'd lost touch with so long ago, to finally tie up this loose end in a positive way. And then, Mike said he was going to have to go, and we had to climb down, over the railing of the patio, as there was no staircase. And in the dream I remember very specifically that I lowered myself with one arm, and that I was proud to be strong enough to do that without a problem.

And then we were walking along, and I knew that this was going to be the part of the dream where we talked about why we had lost touch. What was it? Was it something I'd said? Were we just too different, he in the military and so focused and together while I was deep in my college slacker phase? Or had we just gone on different roads? And I was so happy that I was finally going to know this, and we were going to get to see what strange and interesting turns our lives had each taken over the past couple of decades. And we were just chatting, heading toward our cars, making a few jokes, edging up to the big questions....

And then, my alarm went off. And as I woke up, my brain started sorting the details of the dream and my conscious mind explained to me, quickly and succinctly, that none of what I'd imagined had happened and that it was just another dream. And I felt the most distinct sense of disappointment, followed by sadness, as it became clear to my waking self that none of that had really happened. And then I got angry, because I really felt like if I'd just slept a few more minutes it would have all been made clear.

So, as a result I've been walking around with something of a dark cloud over my head ever since. Went to the gym this morning to work through it a bit -- I usually skip on Tuesdays because I attend an early class at the dojang so I can train with Christine, but given how close the holidays are getting and how much vacation time I have left I figure I can shave an hour of my work day here and there if I want. Hammered my way through Pyang Ahn Sa Dan and got the movements committed to memory so that I can begin working to polish it up for a competition at the end of the month. And while I felt better after working out, I'm still walking around with this vague sense of loss, weighing on me like a small stone in my chest.

Mood: Kinda down
Now Playing: Patty Griffin, "A Kiss in Time"

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Post-Gup Test Feelings

So yeah, yesterday was quite a day. All of the members of my family that train in Tang Soo Do tested for rank. My mom, both my kids, my wife and I -- three generations, three separate tests. A very long day, but a wonderful day nonetheless.

First, at 9:30 yesterday morning, Christine and Trevor tested for 8th gup/orange belt. Christine was enormously prepared for this test -- she could have tested three months ago, but she chose to pass on testing until Trevor was ready to advance so that he wouldn't get demotivated. Because of this, though, the last couple of months have been a bit frustrating for her, training-wise, as she is eager to pick up new stuff but couldn't really do much in the way of new curriculum until she moved up. But she hung in there and kept plugging away at her basic stuff, and her preparation really showed on the mat. Her form and technique were solid, and her attitude was assured and confident throughout.

Trevor did very, very well also. At the beginning of the test, during line drills, he seemed distracted and had trouble staying focused -- he kept watching the other testers to see what they did before he would perform a technique. But as the test got rolling his confidence seemed to take hold, he began to trust himself more, and by the end of the test he was rock solid. He made some errors in one of his forms and had to redo it, by himself, in front of the testing board, and he didn't flinch for a second. No stage fright, no frustration or embarrassment.

That was the first time I nearly cried yesterday. It was far from the last. And when he broke his board I had to wipe a few tears away before I could take more pictures.

Miranda and my mom tested in the next session, both of them testing to advance to 6th gup/green belt. Again, a solid test all around. No serious problems to speak of, and Miranda's energy and focus were top notch throughout. Mom managed to not injure herself this time around (she messed up her toes good during the last test), and despite all her jitters and habit of running herself down she showed great technique and discipline throughout the test.

Miranda wasn't able to break her board using a foot technique, but she was in good company -- most of the kids were unable to do it yesterday, and several of the adults had trouble as well. I definitely get the feeling that board breaking problems are contagious. In Miranda's case, she's just scared of the board for some reason. She has a hell of a kick, and when she's working with a practice pad or dummy she can just about kick it across the room. But put her in front of a piece of wood and she begins pulling her kicks at contact, convinced that the wood is going to hurt her foot. She got very upset at not being able to break, but pulled herself back together, sparred, and completed testing without any other problems at all.

Then, finally, at nearly 3:00, my test got rolling. Once again, I was the only adult on the mat -- me, and a dozen pre-teens. There were 5 kids going for their red belts, 5 going for 4th gup (second stripe on their green belt), and three of us going for 5th gup. I had my testing-buddy, Kayleigh, with me though, which was nice. We've tested together every time except once (when I had to do a makeup due to scheduling problems), and she's just a terrific kid. Sweet natured and a bit unsure of herself, I really enjoy testing with her as it gives me someone to focus on and encourage -- she's good, and just needs some encouragement out of the mat so that she remembers it. The other 6th gup who was testing with me was also named Kayleigh: She's a riot, and one hell of a little martial artist in the making. Frankly, I think the three of us showed up the 5th gups a bit with our energy and preparation.

I was so nervous leading up to my test -- more nervous than I've been since I tested for 8th gup way back in the beginning of the year. I'm not sure why, exactly -- I felt a bit shaky on my line drills, but overall I know I was plenty prepared. For some reason this particular test was psyching me out a bit, though. I think it was all the jump kicks. I only started really working on them a couple of weeks back, and I just didn't feel solid on them yet. Regardless, all the nervousness was just wasted energy -- the test went really well, and I only made a couple of minor errors that I'm aware of. In fact I think it was one of my better test performances.

Oddly I'm having trouble remembering details of the test, today. I kind of got tunnel vision once the test began, just listening for the commands and busting out the corresponding techniques, not really stopping to think about much of anything until after we finished our forms and had to sit off the mat for a little while. And by then all the stuff I was stressing over (line drills, forms) was complete and I just had wrist grabs, one steps, sparring, and terminology to deal with, none of which were troubling me much at all. I had to do an improvised one-step, which came out really good -- I think that, judging by a comment of two I heard from the testing board, it actually looked a bit like one of the more advanced one steps I'll be learning soon, so that's pretty cool. It was a bit sloppy, but was certainly effective.

The most significant thing I took away from this test is that I need to be more mindful of controlling my power when I'm nervous. At one point in the test I had to break out of a bear hug and get my opponent to the floor. Luckily, they paired me with Mr. Kannan for that one, because in my nervousness I really put too much power into the break (solid elbow jab to his hip/abdomen) and the subsequent throw (rolled him up and over my shoulder, onto his back on the mat with resounding and solid THUMP). If I'd done that with a less experienced student I could really have hurt them. As it was I apologized to Aravind repeatedly, because in spite of the fact that he is solid and capable of taking those sorts of hits without my really hurting him, it was still a failure of control on my part and it could have resulted in an injury.

Lesson learned. Have to apply it better next time.

Mood: A bit drained
Now Playing: The Shins, "Wincing the Night Away"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Mad Rush, Gup Testing, Latest Paper

So much to do, so little time with which to do it. The holidays season is rushing at me like a freight train, now. Full tilt. Lots of shopping left to do, and our out-of-town guests begin arriving next week. I still would like to hang more lights on our house if I can find the time. Plus we're all testing for rank on Saturday (Christine and Trevor are both going for 8th gup/orange belt, Miranda for 6th gup/green belt, and I'll be testing for 5th gup/green belt with one stripe), so there's extra time at the dojang training all week plus we have papers to write.

And this Saturday is pretty well 100% spoken for already. Due to the spread in our ranks, we'll need to be at the dojang for the entire day, with Christine and Trevor participating in the first testing session, Miranda in the second, and me in the third. If we're lucky we'll be out of there by 5:30, after which a bunch of us will be heading down to the Trail of Lights. I'm hopeful that we can wrap up the Trail of Lights early enough for some of us to head back to my place, get the kids to bed at a semi-decent hour, and indulge in some cocktails and hang-out time. With all of the approaching holiday activity this will likely be the last opportunity to just relax with friends and chill out until well into January. Whether "hang time" will be doable remains to be seen -- it all depends on how things run with the my test, and whether we can get people to meet up downtown at a fairly early hour.

And then we've got a Christmas Party at our friends place on Sunday night after which the one-week-til-Christmas countdown really begins. Guest begin to arrive. Last minute shopping gets more and more urgent. And the seemingly endless cycle of cooking and eating begins. Still, all in all I find I'm not getting my usual "Xmas Grinchiness" this year, despite of the usual holiday stress. I mean, sure, I feel a little frustrated with the whole holiday rush and tumble, but mostly the frustration I feel is because I just want to slow down and enjoy the season and time with my family and friends and can't, as opposed to my usual "get the whole mess over with" attitude. It's nice.


As usual, gup testing brings a new paper topic. This one was a challenge -- the sort of topic that initially seems fairly simple, but which I found more and more interesting and complex as I delved into it. Once again I was able to find a way to take the more abstract qualities of the topic and tie them back in with highly specific instances of my own training experiences, which really helped to lock in the concepts of the paper for me. I'm not sure I am thrilled with the actual construction and organization of the essay -- I feel like it could use a few days of simmering followed by a rewrite -- but I'm pleased with the content, and I simply don't have the time to let this thing sit on the back burner.

Overall, I'm happy with it. So, without further ado...

What Does Pyang Ahn Mean, and Why Is It Important?

Pyang Ahn, which means “peaceful confidence,” can be used both as a proper noun when referring to the name of the series of 5 traditional forms which we learn as part of our training, as well as an adjective when referring to qualities we try to develop as a result of our training. While knowledge of the history and origin of the Pyang Ahn forms are of course important for establishing context and understanding of our art, I feel the true importance of pyang ahn lies not so much in the specific steps and movements of these 5 forms but more in the personal development of pyang ahn in ourselves, both as a result of what we’ve learned and as a key to continuing to advance in this art.

“One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou

The Pyang Ahn forms were created by Master Itosu, in Okinawa, in 1870. Named the “Pinan” forms in Japanese, Master Itosu created these forms from far longer, more intricate forms (Kong Sang Koon, with some movements likely derived from Bassai and other forms as well) because he felt that the longer forms were too complicated for beginning students to learn effectively. The creation of these forms are considered one of Master Itosu’s chief accomplishments, as his creation of these simplified forms was instrumental in getting karate integrated into the Okinawan public school system.

The Pyang Ahn forms are designed to bring out “peaceful confidence” in the practitioner through study, practice, repetition, and (eventually) understanding. They are associated with the turtle not just because their movements are characterized by directness and forcefulness rather than with speed, but also because the turtle behaves in much the same manner that these forms are designed to inspire in the practitioner: Patient and deliberate in action, calm and at peace in the knowledge that should it encounter danger it is protected by its shell.

“Confidence is courage at ease.” Daniel Maher

The most significant resource we draw upon as we begin to study Tang Soo Do is yong gi, or courage. It takes a lot of courage to step on the mat that very first time, and perhaps even more courage to keep coming back, week after week, in the face of training difficulties, injuries, and steadily increasing challenges. Only by tapping on our reserves of courage can we really push through these initial stages of training.

Much like our bodies change as muscles are exercised day after day, this continual exercise in courage leads to growth and change in our selves. I think that the first outwardly noticeable change can be seen in the gradual development of pyang ahn. Many people refer to the “aura” that martial arts students develop over time – a sort of atmosphere of sureness and focus that people who train in the martial arts begin to carry with them in their day to day activities. I think that this is an excellent example of the development of pyang ahn, a sense of confidence that we develop after repeatedly relying on our own courage to get through the tough times.

I think it is interesting that, once we have learned our gicho forms, the next form we are taught is the first pyang ahn form, Pyang Ahn Cho Dan, and aside from Chil Sung Ee Rho the Pyang Ahn forms dominate our forms development over the next several belt ranks. I think that the content of the Pyang Ahn forms, coupled with our own growing courage as a result of continued training, combine to create the inward sense and outward demonstration of peaceful confidence that we seek.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford

While developing pyang ahn as a personal quality is certainly a worthy goal in and of itself, I think that in the context of learning martial arts it is perhaps better viewed as a stage of personal development that is necessary in order to continue learning and growing in the arts. Simply put, I think that if a student does not begin to develop pyang ahn then they will ultimately be unable to continue in their studies effectively. With pyang ahn, a student can face the increasing demands of their training with confidence and patience, sure that given enough time and practice these difficulties can be transcended. Without pyang ahn, the challenges of more difficult techniques will simply overwhelm the student over time, leading them to eventually give up and leave training rather than face the ongoing frustrations they feel.

While studying Tang Soo Do over the past year I’ve repeatedly encountered periods of self-doubt. Sometimes this was fairly minor – generalized frustration at not being able to get a particular one-step, wrist grab, or form right – while other times it was almost crippling. I recall one night about 3 months into my training, after I began attending advanced classes in order to beef up my number of hours or training each week, when I saw some of the 1st gups and dans performing some techniques that were so far beyond my abilities then (now, even!). The complexity and physical/psychological demands of the more advanced forms and the huge variety of blocks and punches and kicks I'd need to learn was really overwhelming.

Now, this ultimately led to realizing that I was beginning to develop courage and confidence, because while watching the advanced students I felt my resolve to continue training trying to slip away. I saw what some of these folks could do and my stomach just sort of ... fell. I literally had a moment of something like vertigo. And all I could think was:

”I can't imagine being able to do that. Ever.”

And part of me just wanted to stop, there and then. Quit. Give up. It seemed almost absurd that I would ever be able to do any of that stuff. It was a complete failure of confidence on my part. Still, I stuck it out and made it through class. And I went home and stressed out about it, listened to the voice of my own self-doubt telling me to just pack it in and give up, and still returned to class the next day.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

And as I look back now, I realize that that night was my own first glimpse of pyang ahn. The courage and confidence I was beginning to develop as a result of my training gave me the strength to fight back my own self-doubt and stick to things even though they were difficult. Since then, these moments of self-doubt have occurred less and less frequently, and have become less and less intense. I’ve really come to understand that learning this art is a long, uphill journey. And like any journey, it begins with a single step, and all it takes to complete the journey is to follow that first step with as many additional steps as you have to take before reaching the end. Nothing more to it than that. No need to get ahead of myself. Just worry about the next few steps, and know that there’s nothing I can’t learn. It just takes time, and patience.

Early in our training successes come fairly quickly: We get stripes on our belts every month of so and learn lots of new things -- 10 one steps! 10 wrist grabs! 3 forms! Lots of kicks and punches and stances! So many new things! But after we hit 8th gup, the rewards begin to get more spread out. Advancement slows, and more advanced forms and more demanding techniques take more and more time and practice to get “right,” The simpler things we’d learned previously could be picked up in just a class or two, but now we’re learning things that can a week or two (or longer!) of effort and practice before they start feeling correct. Without pyang ahn I think that students are certain to lose momentum and surrender to frustration and self-doubt.

And so I think it’s clear that without pyang ahn we cannot possibly progress in our training. If we don’t develop the confidence to silence our own fears and doubts then it is only a matter of time before the mounting demands of training eventually overwhelm simple things like the enthusiasm and fun of learning new things. But with pyang ahn we are able to take the difficulties we encounter during training in stride, confident that with time and perseverence we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.

Mood: Pleasantly sleepy
Now Playing: Neko Case, "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chi Energy, or Seeing is Believing

Yet another fantastic, and fantastically exhausting, weekend as the holidays continue to stampede toward us. My activities for the weekend were dominated by events surrounding Kwan Jhang Nim Ferraro's visit to our dojang.

In preparation for his arrival we cleaned the dojang top to bottom Thursday night. At first I thought this was going to be a real disaster -- due to either the cold weather or the advance knowledge that they would need to scrub some floors and wash some windows hardly any students showed up for class Thursday night. Initially I was the only student there, but finally my friend Mark showed up, as did a couple of younger red belts. And then my mom and my friend Michelle came by as our class ended strictly for the purpose of helping get the dojang cleaned up. If they hadn't shown up I think I would've been cleaning well past midnight, but instead I was home by eleven.

Then I took Friday off so that Christine and I could get some Christmas shopping taken care of, and then we brought the kids to the dojang for a 5:00 class that was run by Master Cox from Dallas. Kwan Jhang Nim arrived, after having been delayed by weather for most of the day) at about 6:00 or so, and then Christine and I took part in an adult white/orange/green belt clinic that was supposed to have been run by Masters Cox and Riley, but which Kwan Jhang Nim instead chose to run himself. Now, this was a BIG deal -- Kwan Jhang Nim almost NEVER teaches students below red belt.

As I understand it he hadn't realized that the Friday night session was a lower rank session until he got on the mat, so he may not in fact have intended to teach us that night. Regardless, teach us he did, using the rough framework of the red belt/dan clinic he was teaching the next morning -- principals of learning and movement, various breathing styles and how they are properly applied to forms, etc.) but adjusting the content to be a little less difficult. It was a fantastic class, although some of the 9th gups were a bit overwhelmed and rattled by both his teaching style (which is notably more brusque than Master Nunan's) and the more advanced nature of the curriculum.

Then, Saturday morning -- prior to an entire day of running around like a lunatic helping to get Michelle's house ready for the dojang Christmas party -- my friend Rich and I videotaped the red belt/dan clinic, and I got to see what previously I would have considered magic happen directly in front of me. After teaching thee class a series of ta'i chi-style Tang Soo Do forms that can be used to train "mature adults," Kwan Jhang Nim then asked if everyone felt the buzz and warmth in their faces. Everyone agreed that yes, they did, and he said "That's the chi. Well, what can we do with that?" Then he had a couple of the students drag this big potted plant onto the mat, and he proceeded to place his hands near the leaves, and the leaves would then jump or move away from his hands. Or bend toward his hand. Or stop moving when they had previously been swaying. Master Riley had discovered just the night before, while working with Kwan Jhang Nim, that he could do it as well, and he managed to make one leaf move so suddenly and drastically that the entire room gasped.

Now, I'd always heard this was possible. I'd heard over and over that Grandmaster Ahpo can do this stuff from halfway across a room. And while I always kind of wanted to believe it, I also tend to be a skeptic and take a lot of stuff with a grain of salt. I'd always assumed there was a bit of self-delusion going on with this stuff, people seeing what they want to see, and that there could even be a bit of shenanigans going on, here. Well, I was wrong. This stuff is real.

And if seeing Kwan Jhang Nim and Master Riley do it unscripted and on the mat of the dojang where I spend a solid 8+ hours a week on a plant I personally helped clean and tend two nights before and which I know for a fact was not messed with in any way wasn't enough, then seeing Master Nunan and Kyo Sa Nim Brandt do it the following day, when I stopped by the dojang to drop off some stuff and they were just finishing up training, really made it solid and real. While I may not know Kwan Jhang Nim or Master Reily so well that I could say they would never deceive me (though why they would bother is another matter altogether), I can say without a doubt that I trust Master Nunan. And there, 1 foot in front of my eyes, I watched him repeatedly move the leaves of his plant using only the energy emanating from his hand.

I was thunderstruck. Part of me wanted to so much to try it then and there, but I could tell I couldn't do it, not yet. I was exhausted and run down from all the events and work of the previous couple of days, and I didn't want to make a half-hearted attempt to do this. So I kept my hands in my pockets and just ... watched, and simmered in this sense of indescribable wow. Watched something that science hasn't been able to explain happen, over and over, right in front of my eyes. And it made me laugh, later, thinking about how many scientific people dismiss this stuff out of hand simply because no one has yet been able to really explain how it happens. As if the fact that it's immeasurable means it has to be a trick.

But last I read no one really had a reasonable explanation for how, exactly, gravity works either, and yet no one seems to be questioning the existence of gravity. We may not understand gravity, but it's obviously happening so we accept the "what" of it and continue trying to figure out the "how" and the "why" of it scientifically.

How exactly, is this any different from what I saw this weekend? In my mind, they are the same.

So, needless to say, I went home and started messing with a plant. I raised my hand and tried to summon energy through loving thoguhts of my wife, and of my children. The plant stared back at me, silent, motionless, and uncooperative. I think I have a ways to go before I can figure out how to ask it to move.

Mood: Tired, and feeling kinda sick. Illness, cedar fever, or both?
Now Playing: Nada