Wise and Stupid Monkeys

Sometimes I think I’m a terrible stoic. I get caught up in weird little imaginations of things that don’t really matter. My emotions get out of control. I get depressed, I get righteous, I get angry and grumpy. I mope. My ego swells and shrinks again. I imagine that some people are better than others, and even worse I think I can somehow tell. I fail as a stoic. But then I remember what life was like before I had my satori, and the journey that led me to Cicero. My emotions were tides. Indomitable. They had a power that would pick me up and carry me for weeks or even months before receding, and I was helplessly caught up in them. They controlled my whole life, and I was lost to them. My emotions now feel crazy, but they are just ripples on a pond. An errant wind blows…

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Strong Body

Strength is everything. It’s the key to real mobility. It’s the key to a balanced and happy body. Real flexibility comes from strength, as does speed. Athletic ability in general can be seen as nothing more than a quest for idealized strength. To me, the difference between a fat person and an overweight person is mobility. I talked about that in my last post. Mobility is key to being healthy. And just like fat people, skinny people suffer from lack of mobility, too. I might refer to “overweight” as being the bad side of fat, but underweight doesn’t quite have the same meaning for skinny people. The more accurate term is “understrong.” It’s a sort of running joke that people who do historical re-enaction are overweight. I suppose this applies to geeks in general. Those of us who fall outside of the normal spectrum of interests are supposed to fall…

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Healthy Body

Rough week for a number of friends of mine. A person who spanned a few communities and was friends with my friends passed away suddenly in his sleep. I remotely watched an online outpouring of grief happen, followed by a celebration of life, and it got me thinking. This person, who I don’t ever recall meeting, was my age. He apparently was one of those people who are able to really grasp the oddity of life, not just embracing it but actively sharing it’s joy with others. Forty five seems a young age to die, but I suppose it isn’t. It should be a young age to die. It really should. If your grew up awkward and not fitting in because you were different, your late thirties and forties is often the time when you really start to blossom. You find a courage and confidence that was unknown to you…

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Good Then Bad

Some nights are good, some are bad. A month or so ago I had a night where I didn’t land a single touch on any of my students. I got maybe a few double-kills when I screwed up, but that was about as good as I was going to do. Frustrating, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I train my students to be better than me at every step of the process, and they do well. I love it when they perform at their best, I do my utmost, and they nail me anyway. That’s a good feeling. It shows that they know my habits and have worked hard on their own skills. It’s absolutely in me to get better. I have the experience and the knowledge to fight at as high as level as I want. Only my mind stops me from reaching the heights. I’m usually okay with…

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A Wasted Life

I am a martial artist. I always have been one. My daydreams have always been about fighting, since I was old enough to know that meant. My nights are spent dreaming of different opponents, my waking moments are stolen moments of thinking about the art, theory and science of combat. Those moments, when I’m not actually training, are stolen from the dreary other thoughts that are required of me in life…things like working and trying to be responsible. Well, not really. I’m older now. I turned forty five a few hours ago. My down time is now spent enjoying life for what it is, more than living in a fantasy. It’s easy to think my younger years were wasted. All that focus and attention on preparing myself for the ultimate confrontation, and it never happened. Sure, the skills have come in handy…but dammit, where was my triumphant last stand against…

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Longing and the Art of Swordplay

I sat down [facing a sleeping] couple. Between the man and the woman a child had hollowed himself out a place and fallen asleep. He turned in his slumber, and in the dim lamplight I saw his face. What an adorable face! A golden fruit had been born of these two peasants….. This is a musician’s face, I told myself. This is the child Mozart. This is a life full of beautiful promise. Little princes in legends are not different from this. Protected, sheltered, cultivated, what could not this child become? When by mutation a new rose is born in a garden, all gardeners rejoice. They isolate the rose, tend it, foster it. But there is no gardener for men. This little Mozart will be shaped like the rest by the common stamping machine…. This little Mozart is condemned. —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry “A Sense of Life: En Route to the…

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