Shake Down

Today was perhaps one of the worst days of work at the coffeehouse in my three years there. That, plus the stress of the draft thesis deadline were enough to make me wither by mid-afternoon, about the time I drove to an artist’s house for our second interview this week. I made it through that without losing it, and as I opened the door to the dojo for tonight’s class, a surge of sadness filled me. But I hated to think that the stress of the day could ruin my karate class for the night and so Jeff’s advice came readily to mind. As you take off your socks and shoes, he always says, drop the baggage of the day and leave everything behind before you bow onto the mat.

And so I did.

My knee felt strong enough to do light kata in abbreviated stances and it never ceases to amaze me how each movement needs eternal attention. There is the harmony of breath and movement, the rotation of the shoulders, the vibration of the hips, the perfect conclusion, the spiraling wrist, and on and on. Hanshi said that in every kata we study the form pathology, we focus on the target, we aim for the perfect conclusion, we breath, we remember to be tense and relaxed in the right moments, we stay balanced and centered, we use power and fluidity. We apply the four basic principles of beginning karateka—hands start and stop together, hands and feet only stop together, natural body alignment, and harmony of breath and movement.

Tomorrow, I enter intense negotiations with the staff at work…something so big it could result in a job change within two weeks. My intention will be to take Jeff’s advice to heart there, too. Before the meeting begins, I’ll leave everything behind, shaking it off at the door. Only my heart and the most honest intentions I can muster will remain. I will focus, I will breath, I will aim for the perfect conclusion—whatever that may be.

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