after my third alarm went off
This post is in response to one my sister wrote on Ursa Minor.
When I was a little girl of nine years old I begged my mother to put me into Karate classes. She responded with something along the lines of "Yes dear, well we'll think about that" I asked her again repeated times, pleading my case of my greatest wish to take Karate. You can't blame her for being skeptical, what with my quitting gymnastics, and swimming, and soccer, and showing next to no interest in anything sport related other than shooting hoops in the backyard until the sun went down (speaking of, what ever happened to my amazing career in basketball?).
I don't know why I decided I needed to be the next Bruce Lee at such a young age, (I think a friend I admired started doing Taekwondo?) but finally at 10 years old, my mom said OK. My first class of Karate I was one of about 2 dozen new white belts. I was short and skinny and had biceps that were about as big around as my wrists. I remember my Dad took me and I think he stuck around the whole class. It was hard and I was more nervous than I ever remembered being before then. It was more push-ups and crunches than I could have imagined Navy seals to be capable of. The Senseis (can sensei be plural?) were strict. They told you to do something and you had to do it. The older kids (and higher belts) were intimidating to say the least. It felt like kindergarten all over again. I didn't cry and I didn't die. The next class half the new kids didn't come back.
I stayed at it, against all odds, a skinny white gal, who mostly even to this day tends to keep this part of my life private (it's like my own secret identity). I got better and I got stronger and I advanced through a rainbow of colourful belts. Many in my classes were afraid to fight me and I was a model student when it came to everything from kata, to kumite (sparring), to kihon (technique). After 8 years I was helping to instruct kids and leading the adult workouts. I was maybe a semester away from achieving my black belt, and then.... I quit.
My reasons for leaving are lame to say the least. I was entering University and outside of my studies my former boyfriend took up most of my time. I think I felt that my life revolved around Karate too much (just 7.5 hours a week at its peak, plus additional exercise) and at the time I wasn't sure I wanted it to define me. Truly? I was scared. I was in too deep and I didn't want to fail right when I had come so far and invested so much. It's a regret that I carry with me, but I do know that I can go back anytime... when I'm ready.
I was lucky though because I got to skip the teenage years of looking repulsed at myself in the mirror. I was watching my muscles build and my confidence soar. I didn't worry that I wasn't the sexpot destined to give 12 year old boys endless dream material — I was the one kicking their ass and making them question what their fathers and society had taught them about women.
Anyway, the point of this post was not to say how I'm a fucking badass (which I am) — I've been exercising at least a couple times a week for the last 15 years but let me be the first to say that it is never enough. Skinny girls don't get to complain about their bodies because nobody wants to hear it. But the truth is that no matter how strong of fit or agile I may be, I never feel I'm the best I can be. I can always work harder, I can always be stronger, more flexible, more confident. Every day is a case of self doubt and yes, even self loathing. If there is one thing I miss the most about my years in Martial Arts, it's the discipline. These days I can't even make myself get out of bed on the first (or third) alarm, let alone do 40 push ups in a row (frankly these days I'm lucky if I can do 10). It's so hard when the laziness sets in and you are watching parts of your former self or the person you thought you were, or are, slip away, but you don't have the discipline to steer your life back on track.
These feelings stretch far beyond physical fitness too. For me taking a couple hours a week to exercise isn't so hard, for you maybe you spend that much time reading, or writing, or painting, or gardening, to which I am envious. There is never enough time in the day to do everything we want and frankly life isn't long enough to do it all. It's true that with the amount of time we spend wallowing and obsessing we could probably cross a few things off our life list, or at least instead of thinking, and planning and searching for our path, maybe we would just be walking along it. Or walking on a different path, fuck, maybe we'd be swimming, but who cares? It's time to stop reminiscing, stop beating ourselves up and worrying about being better than we are, or more than is humanly possible. Summer is on its way and I think it's time to just step outside and clear our minds. These sorts of worries are better spent in the bathtub in the wintertime, so let's put the worries aside for now, shall we?
You know who didn't let a few worries get in the way of being pretty darn great? This guy: (just sayin')