The other day I found a picture of me at the dojo I went to for years. The picture was taken after a belt test for another student, and we're all posed for the camera. The picture wasn't taken too long ago, maybe five or six years ago, so I know it was taken during a tumultuous time in my life. In the picture, I'm smiling, a big genuine smile. I look happy, and I know, beyond doubt, that I was happy when that picture was taken. Oh sure, I may not have been happy half an hour later when I stepped outside, but inside the dojo was always different.
I have always been able to push myself harder at the dojo than during any other activity. My personal limits were always there to be pushed, broken, and respectfully ignored. I was always a work in progress inside the dojo, and yet at the same time, more fully a whole person.
I have never been more at peace then in those moments meditating after a hard class, when my body was too tired to be a distraction.
We used to joke that only Martial Artists can understand Martial Artists. You have to be a special kind of crazy to enjoy a sparring class, or to obsessively practice kata. I'm not entirely sure that's true anymore. I think the same kind of crazy applies to most athletes. That ability to take the pain, put in the hours, and give yourself to the pursuit of just getting better at it.
I miss that focus. I miss that wholeness. I miss that drive to push my limits. My mind has been circling around this for the past few days, since I found the picture. I've been thinking about why the dojo was always a special place to me, what about it made me push so hard, and why I have been unable to find that mental space outside the dojo.
I need to find a way to incorporate my "dojo mentality" into the rest of my fitness routine, a way to make it all training.