As anyone reading this blog on a regular basis knows, this has been a hell of a bad couple of weeks for me and my mine. I tend to be even-keeled to a sometimes cartoonish extent, though. It's been rough, but I've never been one to wallow in the Slough of Despond (when I was still in my teens I lost two friends in two unrelated incidents in one week, and I was a sobbing **note the b's people** basket case for a whole weekend, but that horror of a time inured me to despair). Things have been rough at times, but ya just gotta carry on. Every birth is a death sentence, so you have to enjoy life, and to work so those around you get a shot at happiness (this is why I've always abhorred bullies). One role I try to play is the rock, the steady center that will hold when the shitstorm comes. Unlike Paul Simon, I am not an island... you can't just shut yourself away because life is going to kick your ass. Love ends up as loss every time (that "til death do us part" lies at the back of even the most perfect relationships), and is all the more precious because of that inevitable fact.
Saturday, I was able to take solace in routine and in physicality. I went down to midtown Manhattan for my volunteer gig and, during lulls in our class schedule, was able to fight like hell with one of my friends. Six three-minute rounds of tachi waza randori with a bad mofo is a hell of a distraction! At one point, the kids in the class were running laps around the dojo and a couple got a little close to where we were fighting (they were cutting corners, when they should have been on the different colored mats on the border), I actually snarled at one kid, "Move it! You see we're fighting, do you want to be hit by a 400-odd pound meat meteor?"
The dojo is a strange place... it's a place where one puts aside mundane concerns. The conflicts, though real, are friendly... although you are fighting full-tilt, there's a mutual trust, a mutual obligation to keep each other's safety in mind. We beat the hell out of each other, but every time someone crashed down to the mat, we'd be laughing our heads off. I don't know what the parents thought of the whole spectacle, but I do know that I was glad that, in the course of a bad, bad week, I was able to lose myself in the role of a crafty, formidable brute. Not having to think about anything more complicated than fighting another large, fierce terrestrial mammal (which is complicated enough), and being able to channel one's stress into action, without any negative emotions intruding, is an amazing thing. The fact that I've taken beatings on a regular basis is perhaps the greatest contributor to my equanimity. When you've had a giant beating the bejeezus out of you, the ordinary day-to-day stresses just don't get to you.
It's an odd solace.