Many people have described my way of looking at the world as being different from most others. Is that a compliment or a dig? I’ll give you my answer at the end of this blog. I shall start with an idea I’ve discussed previously: Can you change your past?
The most common answer is no, absolutely not! Yet if one would stop and think it out, the answer is staring you right in the face. Last Saturday afternoon I had this very conversation with my old senior student, Bill Groce and a close personal friend of his. He knew where I was going with this line as he had heard it all before and remained silent. I told his friend that I would prove to her satisfaction that one can change one’s past. I had met her earlier that morning and the time we talked about the past was late afternoon. The question I asked her was this: since I met you this morning am I in your past? After several attempts to clarify the question, she agreed that I was in fact a part of her past. At that point I simply asked her if I was a part of her past the day before, or the week before or at any time previously. She said I was not in any part of her previous past. My answer, “You’ve just shown that you change your past continually, as you are always adding to it and I rest my case.”
The young lady sat there looking at me with a stunned look on her face. Groce had been telling her that he operated the way he did because of hanging around me for 20 years listening to conversations like that. After that I had her undivided attention. She said that “no one has ever talked to me about this before and I’ve never thought the past in this way.” She conceded, by the way.
The next idea I wish to discuss is the idea of death. The common thought is we live and then we die. A common statement is that we can’t get out of life alive. So, what is life? Man describes or attempts to categorize life as we know it, yet cannot define what it is. The questions are these: What are we? Are we our bodies? Are we our thoughts? Or are we spirit which animates us? And if so, how does that work? If we are really just physical beings, well, science says that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Since everything is ultimately comprised of energy and everything is nothing more than units of this stuff called energy, the human body must be made of the same stuff. Our bodies break down and decay in the end but nothing is destroyed. We are animated by spirit which simply leaves the body at the end of a process which we really do not understand and I have never heard of spirit dying. My belief is we merely go through a transition into something new. Or maybe something old. And this brings me to Aikido and a new question. What does Aikido have to do with all of this?
Well, it goes something like this: Last night halfway through the Tuesday evening class I noticed that several students were having problems with a particular technique and I mentioned that most people seem to look in the incorrect direction for an understanding. They strongly attempt to master the technique, however, if they encounter problems they should really work toward mastering themselves. As I see it that is the correct challenge. That’s what self-improvement means to me, mastery of “self.” When I move into that realm called self control, or maybe a better description would be “self observation,” I experience a certain feeling and a technical, but not necessarily clinical understanding happens. It’s as if my inner eye opens and I see things more clearly. All this is looking at the world differently from the way I hear others describe it and it brings about less bouncing around and losing my energy to other things. There’s an added benefit, more youthful vitality.
At 68 years old I can still demonstrate jump, spinning crescent kicks at someone’s head while many of my contemporaries are experiencing hip and/or knee replacement surgery. Of course I could be hallucinating and all of my correctly moving joints and conditioning could just be good genes that I inherited from my parents. But I like to think that positive thoughts and an inward looking approach to life has produced all these benefits. And Aikido fits right in with this attitude. This martial art affords me the opportunity to practice a personal defense which allows me to explore variables of timing, a greater usage of space (or sometimes the lack of space) the experience and occasionally the comprehension of certain laws of physics, sometimes even psychic communication with another person (as when you sense what he’s about to do) and just feeling great. As I sense uke’s intentions I do not have to destroy him, I merely deny him balance, timing, coordination and rhythm and I may do many things. What do you think? Where do you fit into this world view? Are you able to shrug off the prevalent pessimistic attitude enslaving the most of the world so you get in touch with you greatness? Do you consider an accusation of being different a put down?
I consider this to be complimentary when aimed at me. I kind of like being different. As a matter of fact my mentor once told me that most of the time the majority is wrong. time and experience have proven him to be correct.
When you think differently, you act differently and the world responds to you differently than it does to others. You just see the world different and you are.