Things change. Life is a becoming. What happens has consequences. It’s natural. The big changes in life, those that leave a mark, that cause the greatest stress and therefore require a greater readjustment of a person’s life, come sooner or later for everyone: bereavements, changes or loss of jobs, relocations, marriages and separations, births of children. They are both positive and negative stress. You are no longer the same when you become a parent, nor when you lose a loved one. As far as my life is concerned, the most beautiful and intense positive stress was the birth of my son: I discovered that you can’t describe how you feel, you only understand it when it happens to you; the feeling I describe to those who ask me is that I felt finally “complete”. So far the worst negative stress that has happened to me has been the loss of my job.
Two things made it heavier than it normally is: the struggle and sacrifices I made to get to the job I dreamed of and the critical age at which I lost it, shortly after I was 50. It was like being in no man’s land, too young to retire, too old to be hired again.
When I was a child, people knew me as the kid who sang the songs also imitating the sounds of the instruments with his mouth. I remember how amused my uncles and aunts were as I covered some famous Italian melodies of the time. Unfortunately I was not exposed as a kid in the 60s/70s to the great music of those years. Rolling Stones, dei Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Pink Floyd, were there but no one suggested I listened to them.
In high school I had my head among stars, galaxies and nebulae, I wanted to be an astronomer and I had a math and physics teacher who made me dream. Perhaps he was responsible if I became passionate about science until I got a degree in this field and it was thanks to him that I was able to develop the skills to succeed. When I enrolled in that institute and I happened to be in that class, someone was warning me about serious trouble from that professor, a madman, out of his mind, a real nutcase. Others considered him a genius, with a teaching method of his own, very difficult to follow. I mean, the advice was to change class.
It is customary in martial arts practice to refer to a high-profile teacher whom many practitioners draw inspiration from. Today, the true Japanese Budo master has almost disappeared. Nevertheless, many of us express their preference by officially stating which Master we are following or inspiring our practice to. In my opinion, those statements need some clarification.
Besides certain “stalking” occurrences where someone’s tailing his own master, observing his behavior during the day, skulking in the shadows at night outside his home, “following” a master means attending his seminars and training “classes”.
The Ki awakens – How much Aikido in Star Wars?
Star Wars. Jedis and Samurais. The Force and the Ki. How many similarities! When Luke Skywalker in the second film of the original trylogy, The Empire Strikes Back, flies to the Dagobah system to meet master Yoda, he does not recognize him in the little funny being in front of him. Annoyed, he replies to the tiny one’s many questions trying to dismiss him by saying he’s looking for a “great warrior”. “Great warrior! Great Warrior? …War not makes one great“, is master Yoda’s wise reply. Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba would have said the same. So bear with me as the Ki awakens…
This sensation that we call pain in Aikido is something that has always been a source of intellectual interest to me. Indeed, why are putting ourselves through that suffering? Why do we spend hours falling, rolling, getting our wrists twisted in all directions, and receiving shocks from a partner who is supposedly a “friend”? We assume that pain is necessary to progress in the Way. This pain is our limit, it is what allows us to know and to understand. Without it we are nothing. The real difficulty is not if we should sustain it but how far can we go in the acceptance of pain. More importantly perhaps, is to assess when does it become just plain stupidity?