The Momentum of Truth
At first enthusiasm gets you in the door. You imagine yourself as you want to be, with great skill, great confidence, great power. The reality of the first hard steps in training is acceptable. You can overlook not knowing what you are doing, not being able to do as much as you want, lower in rank and status than other people who have been around for a while. But it is acceptable, because you have a dream of who you want to be, and you feel you have found a way to get there. But that changes. The excitement of the dream fades in light of the reality of the demands of daily training. As if someone had flipped on the lights in the room when you were engrossed in a movie and the furniture and all the features of the mundane world overtake the illusion of the film. Then where are you? In training you are face to face with yourself. That’s you in the mirror, not as you want to be but as you are. The work of transformation is difficult. The results come slowly. Sometimes they are invisible. The difficulty however is apparent. The sore muscles. The demands on your focus. The trial and error, and trying again. The interesting, pleasurable, relaxing and easy things you could be doing if you were somewhere else. But you have put a lot into it. And when you think about it, you get a lot out of it. You know that once you get in the door, and change, and start to move, it is a good thing, it is your art, it is your process and it is working. You are getting it. You are getting good. You know that once you change back into your regular clothes and head back out onto the street, into the rest of the world, the world seems more beautiful, more at peace and more yours than it did when you walked into the dojo, after a hard day of work, a long day at school, a busy day filled with family life. You enjoy that moment, breathe deep and keep on, recommitting yourself to the difficult, demanding process, and go home and get some rest. You notice that the people who have been at it for a long time seem good. Not perfect; but you can see the accumulation of the years of their effort in their skill, their poise and their concern for the people around them. You can see that their training has a momentum that carries them forward into the next posture, the next punch, the next class, the next day, and on and on. Not falling. Not pushing. Just the calm, energized momentum of a skilled practitioner, a skillful life, a life of practice, of life in action. And you notice the ones who fell by the wayside. People you started with who disappeared. Maybe you run into one or two around town or in the park or at school and you see how they are doing. Maybe the direction of their life has some momentum too. Maybe that momentum is carrying them down, not up. Maybe the accumulation of small choices is a burden on them. Maybe they are occupied with trivia and harmful things. They are in a dark frame of mind, frustrated and searching, not at peace, and not focused on a direction, and yet, the momentum of their choices carries them, and maybe accelerates, until the choices they make aren’t really theirs, maybe they aren’t really choices at all. The accumulation of small effects, good or bad, creates a pattern of life, a path of life, a life. At first, we do not notice it. Soon it becomes apparent. By the end it is unmistakable. Seeing only what is near we may miss what is far off. What is possible. Who we can be. What we can do. Through training in something worthwhile we can become free of the danger and degradation of a meandering life, fulfill our potential, become who we want to be, offer all we can offer, and live a real human life.
Photo by Tarleton Brooks Copyright © 2022