It's been a few weeks since I've had time to write, here. Work has been overwhelming, all-encompassing, and largely unrewarding on anything other than a bi-weekly payment level for the better part of a month, now. The majority of time that is left on the periphery of each day, before and after the office hours, is getting consumed by gym time (which I'm trying to re-establish as a 3-4 times weekly habit) and dojang time (mine, Christine's, or the kids -- often a combination of two or more of the above). Add into this mix a work "party" (awful), dan promotion ceremony and performance (great), video projects (fun, but time consuming), a two-day ice storm that did its best to paralyze Our Fair City, and shopping/preparation for our upcoming family ski trip (exciting, nerve-wracking) and you get a jittery, buzzy blur of a month, one that is rushing by both far too quickly and much too slowly, lots of activity and effort without much of a sense of accomplishment or completion.
I find myself walking around in a more or less constant state of vague apprehension, satisfied that I'm getting things done and that things are under control, but also uneasy at how quickly things could spin out of control if something goes wrong and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Times like this are rough on me, emotionally. Prolonged stress tends to get my self-doubt and insecurities revved into high gear, and my moods tend to shift rather suddenly and drastically as well. For example, at Saturday's dan promotion ceremony my mom, Christine, Miranda and I (we let Trevor sit this one out, at his request) did a performance of Chil Sung Ee Rho. I was pretty heavily invested in this, emotionally -- it was my first effort at creating something interesting and new to present at our dojang, we put a lot of work in, and after the debacle the work party had become Friday night (bad party, terrible food, tons of folks I could do without ever seeing socially mixed in with lots of folks I love being around but who were equally ill at ease) I really needed this to be a good experience.
Anyway, the form came off great, and we got lots of compliments for some of the more creative twists we threw in (beginning in a square formation facing away from each other, and also breaking out of synchronous movement for several portions, and instead doing the movements in order of rank after which we would sync up again) . The dans all did wonderful vignettes, and Mr. Delenela in particular wrote a beautiful, moving biography that brought a lot of tears to a lot of eyes that day. And while it was a small turnout, audience-wise, I was still happy with myself and proud of my family for our contribution to this celebration of the hard work and dedication of several of our fellow students.
I felt great, but was rather stirred up, emotionally. Where I'd started the day eager for companionship and camaraderie, perhaps a party or evening of mixing and mingling with my dojang friends and family, I instead found my self rapidly plunging into a very introverted mood. Too much noise. Too many people. All I wanted to do was go home, maybe have a few friends over to hang out but simply not able to handle being around large groups in noisy places. I was a bundle of nerves until we got to a restaurant afterward and I was able to stake out a location at the end of table where I could at least be in something of a virtual corner, someplace I could take the level of social interaction down to something I could manage. It helped that we were also seated near most of the folks I would have invited to my house to hang with, people I can feel at ease with socially under most any circumstances. But by the end of the evening I was desperate to get home and curl up on the couch and just not be around so many people.
And I'm still in a bit of a tailspin, really getting down on myself. Did some sparring last night and wound up limping in pain for hours after my second match. Not because of anything I did, or anything my sparring partners did. Just because of dealing with this ongoing pain in my right hip and groin, problems theoretically caused by an out-of-alignment sacrum which is causing me all sorts of referred nerve pain. It's getting better, slowly, so slowly, but after 3 months of physical therapy I'm getting frustrated. Of course, I'm not doing the exercises that I need to do to fix it as often as I should, and I've started running again, which is no doubt putting extra stress on the joints and causing some backsliding on my recovery. So there's that.
I create my own problems, my exercise and training choices all contribute to the slowness of my recovery from this injury. I know this. And mostly I accept it, and I am able to factor the obstacles the injury creates to my Tang Soo Do performance in without driving myself nuts. The pain and instability in my right hip messes with my balance, makes throwing certain kicks difficult, and acts as a solid distraction when sparring. They're all getting better, but it's a slow, slow process, made slower by my constant training. And I accept that, mostly. But last night, after I sparred and was soundly trounced twice, I went home and just glowered and sighed away the next two hours, arguing with myself:
"Why do you bother? Why do you keep trying? You're never going to be any good. You suck at sparring, always have. You're fooling yourself."
"But I am doing well! My kicks are damn good, although there's always room for improvement in form and technique. My spin kicks are really starting to feel like they flow correctly and have real power and some speed. I look at the students I've trained with over the past year and I can see, consistently, that my extra time training and practicing has made a noticeable difference in our relative abilities. And I rarely spar against anyone who is not far, far more experienced and trained than I am, not to mention younger. I am doing well."
"Yeah, yeah. Keep telling yourself that. Those guys are going easy on you, and you still can't keep up. You can't even figure out when to kick when you're on the mat, ferchrissakes. And your technique isn't all that. You've got nearly 3 years to go before you reach dan. You'll be lucky if you can still walk by then."
About this time I start just telling my head to shut up, and try to focus on TV or a book, and I try to remind myself that of those two voices in my head, only one is worth listening to. Only one is trying to build something, to make something new of and for myself. The other one consumes all sorts of energy eroding and chipping away at the foundations of something good. Something I've spent over a year building, piece by piece, and which I know is turning into something worthwhile and strong and lasting.
But sometimes it would be so easy to just give up, give in. It seems so attractive. It's seems like it would be so much easier to be nobody than to be somebody, to be a sheep, to just blend into the murky blur and stop trying so hard. I don't think I actually can do that -- I'm just not wired that way.
But there's always this sense that it would be easier to be me if only I were.
Mood: Unsatisfied, down
Now Playing: "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven," Godspeed You! Black Emperor