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Another kind of magic

Bless Deb’s twisted little overachieving heart. You never know what unexpected quarter inspiration is going to come from, but it’s such a blessing to get your creative urge goosed into action just when you feel your will to resist the darkness has completely drained, and you are becoming a colorless drone.

When the taxi arrived at the office to pick me up last night,  I’d been there for 14 hours, after having gotten less than adequate sleep the night before. I arrived to a dark, quiet apartment at 11:30.

All the children and Very Aries were sleeping soundly. I took off my tie and my shoes, fetched a bottle of white rum, a shot glass and a big tumbler full of cool water and sat down at the dimly lit kitchen table with my Android phone to read a couple of blogs before hitting the sack.

After the first shot and half a glass of water (Ah!!!) I began reading Our Little Charmer’s latest rant. Now there’s good rant and there’s tiresome rant. But it only took a few sentences to sense that she was cookin’ when she wrote this posting. And I could identify: that strung-out, used feeling that comes from being über-busy for weeks (months!) on end, and continually putting off those projects you promised yourself you would do; or worse, promised someone else you would do (sorry Justin). She captured the feeling that comes from wanting to engage in the more interesting and satisfying work of one’s life and just seeming to find… well… seemingly everything getting in the way. After the second shot and a goodly slosh of water (Ah!!!) I sat in that dim kitchen and stared at the clock on the stove. Shortly after midnight.

Now, you need to know that one of the more radical moves I’ve made recently was to return to aikido training after 18 years. I started doing aikido while I was in graduate school, and trained fanatically for seven years. In the end I was an assistant teacher at the school where I’d come through the ranks, and eventually got my teacher’s blessings to take over a school a friend was leaving behind in Davis, California to follow his wife’s career. Then I came to Hungary and for various reasons decided to retire from the art. It was mostly a time thing. Between family and work, I just can’t make serious evening commitments.

But then  a few months ago an acquaintance told me there’s a dojo near my apartment that has classes on Tuesday and Friday mornings from seven to eight. For nine-to-fivers, don’tcha know. The temptation was too much. I went to watch a class, and it was just what I wanted. I like their training. I liked the teachers.

So I got my hakama out of storage, bought a new judo gi, and showed up for the next class. My fifty-three-year-old body was pretty sore after the first class, but not as sore as I’d expected. All the years of morning chi kung and yoga  paid off. Now I’ve been training for about a month, and I’m getting back into that condition I’ve only ever achieved from aikido training. All that rolling, slap falling, getting twisted up like a pretzel, and swinging around heavy wooden weapons just makes you tough. And I can tell my body unloads a ton of toxins after each session. I’m finding those arthritic old-age pains I was just beginning to get are now disappearing. My eyesight is improving. And I just generally feel more alive.

So it was just the other day that I said to Very Aries that I’d be damned if I was going to let my work commitments keep my from training on Tuesday, because I would miss Friday class due to a business trip (Istanbul! More about that later.) and next week Tuesday is a national holiday in Hungary.

Isn’t it just like the universe to test our resolve after saying something like that?

So there I sat in the dim kitchen staring at the stove clock. Tired. Rum buzz (“Why’s the rum always gone? Oh. That’s why.”). Brains addled from marathon editing. Generally feeling like 21st century civilization’s bitch. But I felt a fire had been lit in my belly (Thank you, Deb!). “Damn it! She’s right. If I keep putting the muse off, the next time I go looking for her, she’s gonna tell me, ‘Not tonight, I have a headache’. ” So, it’s time to get writing.

And what’s more: I decided I didn’t care how tired I was when I got up less than five hours later, I was going to the dojo to train. Warrior training is not a luxury in the apocalypse.

And so I went. And it was good. I can’t tell you how gorgeous that post-class shower felt. And then walking out into the fresh air: sublime.

And what’s even more: I resolved that I wouldn’t let my trip to Istanbul go to waste, blog-wise. Even if it’s only a paragraph or two. I will blog while I’m there. I mean, for God’s sake: I’m going to the very edge of that quarter of our world where the changes are downright volcanic. There must be something worth observing.

A samurai never lets his vigilance lapse.