I arrived at class the other day to see Aiki-Doh!-ka sitting on the sidelines in his street clothes. I went over to say hi…
“AD, how come you’re not wearing your dogi? Class starts in five minutes!”
He looked up at me with sorrowful eyes.
“I’m just watching today. I had some lumpy breakfalls yesterday.”
“Sorry to hear that - hope you’re better soon.”
“I will be. At least now I know the difference between limping and hobbling.”
“Well, if you hurt one leg, you limp. If you hurt both legs, you hobble. I’m hobbling.”
I gave my friend a squeeze on the shoulder, knowing he’d be better soon and back on the mat to continue his flying lessons…
I enjoy walking by the river. The adjacent areas are full of wildlife and I always see something interesting.
The other day, a grey, mystical day, I heard the crack of a branch breaking and looked up to see a deer moving like a ghost through the trees. As it flashed across my vision, I saw it gather itself, load up its haunches and float over a dead-fall. The movement was effortless, and I gazed after the animal, fascinated by the fact that it was not constrained, like me, by a mind full of worries and a body full of tension.
I longed to be able to move like that.
I continued on my way, and soon arrived at the river, where I saw some geese on the water. Their shimmering reflections reminded me that we live on more than one plane of existence.
As I watched the geese, I reflected on a year that has offered me a lot of challenges, challenges that have felt difficult and overwhelming at times, usurping my ‘aikido smile’. I realized that perhaps I was using too much conscious energy to direct my life when I could relinquish control to an older, wiser part of myself, that part which is always helping me realize my highest vision of myself.
As Robert O’Donahue tells us in his book “Anam Cara”, when we’re seeking change, it’s important to be gentle with ourselves and not to impose an overly reasonable mind. Rather, we can commend the self to the care and healing of the soul - let the shadows and reflections of ourselves chip away at our problems for a while, leaving us free to express a cleaner, freer spirit.
I’ve been giving it a go, and guess what…
My ‘aikido smile’ has been tickling up the corners of my mouth…