P.S. Here's how I do it.

Halfway to the Beginning

Another chapter in my black belt quest closes and a new one begins. I resolved to reflect on my life at each belt test; determine what’s going right, identify areas of improvement, and re-align my goals to ensure I’m headed in the right direction. Today, as I don my next belt at the halfway point to my black belt (by forms learned), I’m thankful that I’m still alive (the searing pain in my left hand keeps me aware of this), able-bodied (in the best shape of my life, actually, and somehow with all my limbs attached), of sound mind (arguably at times), with a roof over my head (quite frankly the most comfortable place I’ve ever lived from the walls in), skill and resources to cook nourishing, delicious food (from experience that can rival the absolute best of steakhouses), somehow still with a very special someone who must be better at looking past the now than I am or she’d have jumped ship at this point, and still in contact — no matter how distant — with friends I hold dear (in absolutely no particular order).

As I grow stronger, I become more aware of my weaknesses. As I progress from the beginner into the intermediate ranks of wushu I will continue strengthening my core such that I can win any worthy battle I am presented — so that one day I never have to fight again. I will continue training my flexibility so that no outside force will ever break me again. I will continue training my balance so that I may stay upright no matter how tilted the world becomes. I will train my spirit so that I may persevere through anything, and my wisdom to know when to change direction and where to direct my power.

I will learn to shine brighter each day so that I may help those lost in darkness. I will not fear, but will learn to navigate the darkness so that I may lead those who no light can reach. I will hone my self-control so that I ensure my actions are always my own — not the product of scripting, conditioning, or habits that I have not consciously trained. I will continue to identify faulty scripting and ineffective habits–engineering myself to be a better version with each release. I will continue training my mind so that I can see the world as it is, not how I wish it were.

I will no longer complain, for I am living the life I created and I now believe that energy is better spent on action. I will continue training my imagination so that I can clearly visualize the world I want, and my power to shape my reality to that world I imagine. I will work on my compassion — for myself and those in my life — and I will continue learning forgiveness for the same, because I believe this is the only way to truly be free. I will never again lose hope, because for some weird reason people still say they look up to me and anyone who still places faith in me deserves that at a bare minimum.

If people are learning by my example, I will set the right example. When I do not, I will learn from my mistakes and gently return to the path I know is right–the path I’ve always known was right. I know I’m not strong enough to always stay on this path but I know that I can continue training that–in fact I got angry at the dog when coming home from my test and lost my temper. Shame on me, but I can choose to be more mindful. I will learn to silence the self-criticism that causes doubt and ignore the outside influences that would pull me from my path. I will be the change, and in that change I will be the rock.

Trace… on.

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