Friday, March 11, 2011

The Virtues of Pain

My feet are killing me.  My middle finger won't bend.  And that's from going at 50% intensity.  There are so many habits in me I have to iron out.  It's like preparing your gi.  You have to smooth out the bends and folds with the steam in order for it to sit right.  When the fabric sits, it is at its most relaxed.  With each kink that gets ironed out, the gi becomes more functional.  And thus, more beautiful.

My finger hurts because in my enthusiasm in showing off my skill, I forgot to do a very simple thing: make a solid fist.  I know that at times my fist will hurt because I hit something I shouldn't have, but tonight I hit something badly.  And I know better.  But knowing isn't enough.  Do.  You have to do.  You have to do it naturally - repeat it so much that you can't do any differently.  Did I make a fist of rock each time my arm extended? No.

My feet hurt because I used them very badly yesterday.  It was ego.  I wasn't centered.  I was off-balance inside; pushing, wanting.  From the outside, I probably looked capable.  But inside I was trying to prove something.  My foot would go out and sometimes it would hit.  But karate is about always hitting and hitting hard.  You can't hit sometimes.  If you strike, you must hit.  If you miss, you die.  My knee wouldn't come up.  I would aim for ankles with the wrong motion.  Too eager.  I didn't flex my foot fully on front kicks and extend fully on round.  And that's why I can't flex or extend my foot at all now.

There is a virtue to pain.  One that we largely don't acknowledge today.  Today, we do everything to avoid pain.  We take pharmacological agents to mask it.  We use ice to numb it.  We refrain from painful things in the first place. So much of my life, of all our lives, is spent in resentment of pain.  But pain is terribly instructive.  Pain is the most honest teacher of all.  It is the most steadfast and enduring teacher of all.  We can do everything in our power not to learn from it, but the lessons are always there, waiting for us to listen.  Be it heartbreak or bonebreak, if you don't learn from something that hurts you, you'll probably never learn.

We regard pain in the wrong light.  It is, like so many things, an opportunity. I was on the bus home yesterday, conjuring up all the ways I could minimize the bruising, maintain the range of motion, get back to training as soon as possible.  When really, what would happen if I didn't?  If I just acknowledge the pain, embrace it, and take a moment?  Really reflect on what I did to feel this way?  Use the time of recuperation to make a change?  Take the lesson to heart so that I don't make the same mistake again?

I'm going to stretch my feet now and breath and think about what I did wrong.  I won't be writing about pain anymore.  I'm just going to shut up and listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment