Today we sit on Sensei’s deck,
the ocean glinting twenty miles away.
Weathered bamboo clatters softly overhead
as we settle in to sit, scattered lightly
like leaves blown into cool shady corners,
or lizards, basking on the warm wood in the sun.
I choose the shade.
Forty minutes? I’m used to just fifteen.
I see the sea, feel the air,
hear the birds, and close my eyes
as Sensei sounds a small, clear chime.
A dozen little birds chatter down the hill,
a faraway crow gives three short caws,
and I wonder what might come up in forty minutes
that’s managed to keep itself hidden from fifteen.
A small plane hums overhead, and I think of flying.
When I flew I got bit, hard. I loved flying.
I had a great teacher, and a community of friends.
I was never going to stop flying.
And then I stopped flying.
I worry, briefly, about that rhythm to things.
Flying, engineering, music…
Is it just that, the rhythm of things?
They come, stay for a time, and go?
They go with good reason, but they go.
A neighbor’s horse gives a sharp snort.
Right. And horses too.
What about Aikido?
The thought of someday not training anymore,
not wanting to train, not missing it…
It’s unimaginable, gut-wrenching.
But could it go, too, in time?
The flying, engineering, music, and horses,
those were things I was trying to become,
was trying to get good at, would be someday.
They were places I did not belong,
and was struggling to get to.
When I saw this about each one, I let it go.
As I begin to realize this profound difference
the gut unsnarls and breathing relaxes.
Aikido from the first has felt like home.
There’s no trying, no struggle, no someday.
It’s who I already am.
I won’t let that go. How could I?
Instead I let the worry go.
It’s silly, like worrying that I might
somehow float off the surface of the earth.
The wind takes the worry like a kite with a broken string,
and in a moment I no longer see it in the sky.
My attention is drawn to the deck, to sitting.
I wonder how long it’s been, and how much longer.
“Don’t be looking for the end, keep going deeper.”
I remember Kayla Feder Sensei saying once,
I return to breathing,
noticing the thoughts that come,
and letting the breeze carry each one off.
Sensei sounds his small, clear chime again,
and I complete a last full breath.
When I open my eyes I’m mildly surprised
that everyone is further away than they felt.
But I’m very happy to see them again.