Another wet and cold morning. It’s like I live in Vancouver, or something. The constant disappointment of no snow yet again is only matched by the narrow comfort of avoiding, once again, true Vancouver hell: The special treat of a night of heavy snow followed by a day of heavy rain. Soaked, freezing feet and the constant hammer of ice water on your head. Man, am I glad my job no longer entails hours of trudging through that, with no way to warm up between patrols…
Endurance is part of the martial arts lifestyle, one shared with other lifestyles, like dance. You see clear images all around you of what you are supposed to attain, but it seems like the gap is made of quantum leaps across giant spans. The path seems to only contain impossible steps. And the only tools you are given to try and take those steps seem completely unrelated. Little baby steps. No real guidance for how those are supposed to add up to a leap across a canyon.
If you have the right teacher, though…you will find you make one of those leaps some day. It will be completely unexpected, but you will fly. After that first time, things change. Now that you know you can fly, you start to pay more attention to those little baby steps. You start to understand the value of all the confusing things that don’t relate. The exercises and drills start to have value. And that’s when you learn the value of endurance.
The slow plod is the only path to success in this field. You can, and will, have moments of brilliance, but the rule is endurance. Boredom, pain, draining effort that never stops…tiny drops to fill a big bucket. It’s that little taste of success that keeps you going, but the real flavour is bitter. The bitterness drives some people away, but those who stay become a connoisseur of the taste, like those who enjoy coffee, or whisky. You learn to scorn the sweet and syrupy.
And you don’t mind the cold rain so much. You do…it’s terrible…but you’ve become accustomed to enduring the terrible. It becomes natural to look for the gain in a bad situation. So you endure the cold strikes, and notice that the greens around you are deep and luscious, like you’ve never seen before. You notice that the air is pure, sweet, and more refreshing than any drink…and you can inhale as much as you want. There can be tremendous joy in that cold and brutal downpour.
And if the sun comes out…it might just feel like the greatest day in your life.