I probably lose belief in myself at least twice a day.
Why am I doing this. This is crazy.
This is absurd. Impractical. I’m losing money. I should be saving money.
I’m going to run out of money and be poor and get into credit card debt buying a ticket back to the US and I’ll be stuck bagging groceries or cleaning houses again and I’ll be sucked back into the vortex of poverty, unable to get out.
Or, at least, I’ll take quite a hit before I’m on my feet again financially.
I’m an adult– and not some sprightly young twenty-something. I’m 34 years old. I should be pursuing my career, not chasing dreams I had as a twelve-year old.
Worse- it’s dangerous. I could get injured. Seriously injured.
I’m moving to China for a year to study Shaolin.
I’ll be training for six hours a day, starting at dawn. I’ll learn self-defense and acrobatics. I’ll be fighting my fellow students regularly.
Most of the time I’m not worried about it- but at least once a day, my heart sinks.
I’m unequal to the task. I’m not worthy.
But that’s why we do anything, right? Not because we are worthy- but to become worthy.
When we confront overwhelming challenges, we change who we are. To the very level of our DNA, we re-write ourselves- “you turn on new genes in your nervous system and body that code for new proteins and you build new structures inside of you.”
If our present actions become our future selves, what am I coding for? In this action, am I coding courage, bravery, persistence in the face of challenges? Or am I coding irresponsibility, negligence of my family and society, and future poverty?
The thing is, I can’t really know, can I? I’m probably coding for both.
Maybe the level of discipline I achieve during my time in China will translate into the focus and consistency needed to build wealth. Maybe instead of neglecting society, I’ll connect to like-minded people and find my tribe, in a way that I never have before.
The thing about studying martial arts is, it’s what I put into it- can I bring to it the full force of my being? Can I be fully present with the pain, the grit, the challenge?
Four times a week, after working a nine or ten hour day, I hop on a bus and commute an hour and fifteen minutes one way, to study taekwondo under a brilliant Grandmaster. Then I get back on the bus, exhausted, and get home at 11pm. Throughout my workday leading up to the minute I’m off, when I have to rush to the bus stop and eat snacks for dinner, I think to myself at least once: this is insane. I’m not going today. Today is too stressful. My kids are crazy. I’m exhausted. I didn’t sleep well. I’m starving, how/when will I eat? I have no energy for taekwondo. I need to just go home and relax.
It’s amazing, however, the utter consistency with which my body, my brain, by the time I need to leave for class, is ready and willing to get on that bus, and hungry to train. I never miss a day (those four times a week when I don’t have to work late).
When we turn toward what we want, something changes inside of us- we attune ourselves to that thing, and we become more. Taekwondo is literally in my unconscious now.
On days when it’s really hard, these words come to mind-
“I made a promise to myself.”
What promises have you made to yourself, that you cannot bear to leave unfulfilled?
When you’re afraid, just train! When something doesn’t feel right, just train! When you don’t believe in yourself anymore, just train! The only thing that will never betray you is your training. -Sakaki