So it’s been a little while since my last blog post! Of late it seems many of my posts have been written in times of distress, anxiety or vulnerability. And that’s great! Those posts are really important to share. But equally important are the ones where I’m not at such a despairing point in my life. So here’s one about the sort of stuff I’ve been up to lately!
Training stopped about two weeks ago and doesn’t commence for another couple of days. I’ve been restless, but also relieved as it’s given my body a chance to heal the odd injury (strained wrist, blistered toes etc.). This, I believe, to be very important because I’ve chosen to take up a new gong (challenge). One of the Academy’s old associates, the Traditional Okinawan Gojuryu Karate Association, recently had an open day where they were giving us a chance to use their new training equipment and check out their dojo. I noticed they placed great emphasis on sliding the foot across the floor rather than stepping. I used to predominantly slide, but after training on rubber and wooden floors, and even soft training mats, I noticed I would get blisters and rip skin off my feet every couple of weeks. I asked Shihan (our chief instructor) about it one night and he said the trick is to glide just above the floor. When I spoke to Kancho (the head of our school) about the discrepancy, he said that we too slide across the floor rather than stepping. This perplexed me greatly, and when I emailed Shihan about it he told me simply that “sliding is relative. Do fukyugata 300 times in a row and you’ll understand.”
To give you some perspective, 80 renditions of fukyugata in an hour is quite an achievement. This is sort of a four hour kata marathon without breaks. My friends and gave it a quick run through a dozen times and I already noticed moments where I dragged my foot, moments where I lost balance, moments where I didn’t fully commit to a technique before moving onto the next one. I think fukyugata is rich in the foundations of good gong fu and I have much to learn from it. Now it’s only a question of when I’ll take up this challenge! Ideally a time where I can rest for the remainder of the day, and allow a few days recovery between my next training session – I anticipate my feet will be rubbed raw.
In the gaming world, I recently passed Mass Effect 3. As a completionist, I absolutely nailed Mass Effect 1 and 2, and it just so happened that the choices I’d made along the progression of the game allowed me to do some remarkable things. Foremost, due to my high charisma and reputation built through dozens of hours of heroic kindness as the kickass Commander Shepard, I forged peace between the Quarians and the Geth, saved all my teammates from suicidal missions, instated a powerful leader of the Krogan who rallied to help me and otherwise made Commander Shepard, the Normandy and his team totally overpowered. It was a fantastic game, and I absolutely loved the ending (though I read about the new ending they released, and I must admit it does seem a little better).
I’ve been working my way through The Last of Us. If you’ve got a PS3, I urge you to borrow it from a friend and play it yourself. To my amazement, I cried readily during the prologue, which was done with such maturity and transparency it still moves me now. The game starts off pretty hard with only one firearm and a handful of bullets, but as you progress you get a reasonably supply of ammunition and crafting material. Plus, as you upgrade your weapons you get better at killing people. I was getting pretty cocky at how good I was at winning open conflicts, and then I was abruptly stripped of all my powered-up weapons and was forced to rely on stealth and inferior firearms once more. It sent me straight back to the start of the game where I felt scared of every enemy, overwhelmed and totally vulnerable to a brutal death if I made a single mistake. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I think I’m pretty close so I’m looking forward to a quiet patch of uninterrupted time to enjoy it’s conclusion.
My mental health has been much better lately. I recently came to the resolution that in spite of how I felt at the end of my placement after my supervisors gave me some pretty critical feedback, I’m actually a pretty awesome person with a lot to offer people, and I’ll make an excellent social worker in some form or another. Finding my place in the world is very groovy – there are lots of positions that I think I would really enjoy, and that would really enjoy having me, but I’m not going to invest too much in applying for jobs just yet. With Japan about a month away, I’m going to just focus on my few shifts at Petbarn and unwinding a little. But I am genuinely excited at the thought of my future career in social work.
I recently came across this website/app called Super Better. If you have twenty minutes, this is an amazing video which will add seven minutes to your life within the next hour, or three hours within the next day, or ten years by the end of your life. I think. The math escapes me, but it’s amazing.
I’ve only spent a few days with SuperBetter but it’s so much fun. It’s a real life video game and it comes with all the thrills of mastering skills with cool names, fighting bad guys, earning experience, leveling up etcetera. I really do urge you to give it a try for a just a single day and see if you like it! And if you sign up, perhaps we can be allies and fight our badguys together!
Just quickly now, in terms of Japlanning, Beth, Craig and I are having another session today! I spent most of last night seriously sitting down and looking at the plans for accommodation, travel insurance and places to go/things to see. It’s fine when it’s an abstract concept far off in the distance – “Oh, Japan is way over there, it would be nice to do this and see that”. But when I actually really thought about doing this and seeing that I got supremely excited. I’m getting more organised and I’ve started learning Japanese from Pimsleur’s audiobooks – a great way to do it, high recommendations from me. I can’t even follow let alone have a basic conversation yet, but I am learning handfuls of useful phrases more-or-less every day, so I’m hoping by the time February 5th rocks around I’ll be competent at basic conversation.
Anyway, I’m running a tad late now. Going to go buy my friend a 21st present, and then head to Beth’s for sweet brunchin’ times. Ja, mata!