|At Hong Kong, February 2012, before the retreat.|
Photos belatedly, yet also timely, shared by a sempai.
My hair was so short!
For this post I wish to lay to resolution one thing that had hovered around me like a hungry vulture.
I had started out 2012 highly optimistic. A quarter of the way through, something gave on a part of my life that left me broken-hearted in so many ways. In March of this year, I decide to take time off from my kendo, needing time to heal and sort out my heart and my spirit.
Things built up through the four and a half years I have been practicing, starting out nice and sweet like all good intentions usually do, and then somehow not surviving the random tests that the Universe threw to poke at their authenticity. I had my failings and my failures. What made them more painful was the realization that there were also people who failed me. It would not have hurt so much if the way it happened was like a clean strike that left no doubt of its intention to slice through a hand, eviscerate, or cleave one in half. But it happened in subtle stabs and little sabotages, leaving no evidence behind, no witnesses. By the time I realized I was wounded and losing too much blood, I was too weak. It became a time when kendo brought out the worst in me and also made me feel the worst about myself. I discovered reservoirs of hate, anger, resentment, jealousy, and other unpleasant things hidden within myself. I came to kendo hoping to learn calm and peace in the midst of adversity and I learned the opposite.
It was not just the practice of kendo, although that in itself was already a challenge that consumed every ounce of my courage. It was the the little things around it that when you gather them together could be as dangerous and damaging as a Portuguese man o' war. The things on the side that most people dismiss and take in stride. But I came to the dojo with all heart and took things too seriously perhaps, trusted too easily. Now I know oh so much better.
Yesterday, after more than eight months of absence and avoidance, I went back to the dojo. I wanted to see what I would feel, if I still wanted to come back, if I could bear to come back.
Here's a very useful advice: staying away for a good chunk of time does help. A lot. Never ever underestimate the value of a retreat, in all its shades of meaning. There will always be a time when it is the best thing you could ever do for yourself.
(During my retreat I had: written a novel, redecorated my home, painted a lot, redesigned my career, read too many books)
As I walked towards the dojo, I could feel my heartbeat becoming erratic. Two-thirds of the way my fingertips were as cold as ice and I had to breathe through my mouth.
I came in when the session had started so I would not have to talk to anybody, and I stepped out during the break for the same reason. But one thing that the retreat had brought me was clarity. As well as the calmness of distance. That clarity was completed when I was inside the dojo with the reality of everything and everyone in it. That clarity guided me, and then finally, I knew what to do, what to say, and knew not to care if I, in turn, be the cause of hurt or disappointment. I have been making too many allowances for others, I think it's time I take mine. As the wife of the club president had told me while she was convincing me to come back, "Everyone is selfish." She has a very good point.
There were other things that unfolded that evening, very close to my ever vulnerable heart, but already tangential to my kendo practice. One thing I have decided though, I will return to practice next week, and see where that leads me, armed with my new clarity and gifted with a new shade of courage (I hope!)
Eight months ago I truly believed I will never return. There were many things I believed were hopeless eight months ago. Maybe a few more will prove me wrong.
|Dinner after practice|
December 2012, after the retreat
Love my long hair now