Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I need to go back to school.  Not school in the physical sense.  School in the physical sense is about paying a tuition, sitting down, listening.  But, having been to university, I can surely attest to the fact that going to school physically doesn't count for much.  As Coolio said, "If knowledge is power and power is knowledge, how come so many idiots keep graduating from colleges?"  The answer is that putting your ass in the seat is key, but it isn't anything if your heart and mind are elsewhere.

I haven't been a student in the general sense in a long time.  Of course, I am a lifelong student of karate.  But you get the piece of paper: black belt certificate, high school diploma, college degree...and it is very easy to put the spirit of study; the spirit of being hungry, growing, learning and preparing for the next test that awaits, in your rearview.  You hold that paper and all of a sudden - the lessons are over, you know what you need to, you don't have to stay hungry or grow or prepare for the next test.  Except, of course...nothing could be farther from the truth.  A life without hunger, testing oneself, growth - such a life isn't even worth living.  You get tested in video games, you get tested in sports, you get tested by friends at school, and you get tested by life without realizing it.  Your heart pumps and you either rise to the occasion or you falter.  But either way, its much more interesting than the 9 to 5 that is everyday the same.  We ask ourselves what we're missing - why life seemed so much more satisfying when we were younger.  Was it freedom, time, lack of responsibility?  I don't think it was any of those things.  I think it was the knowledge that we hadn't peaked - that we were still on an upward trajectory, that we were still defying gravity and mortality - that tomorrow we'd be even smarter and taller and faster and stronger than we were yesterday.

This process is called living.  Being tested and believing that tomorrow you'll be a little higher up the mountain than you are today - even if you mess up or fail or embarrass yourself - is what made it so much fun.  That is the essence of joie vivre and we forget this when we satisfy ourselves that our formal learning is at an end.  We forget because we convince ourselves, no matter how little, that it is all downhill from here.

So it occurs to me that I haven't graduated the way that my black belt diploma or the University of Toronto would indicate.  I have graduated at all.  I have still higher yet to climb and my best days are not behind me.  I want to be a student of human nature.  I want to be a student of strength training.  I want to be a student of flexibility training.  I want to be a student of massage.  I want to be a student of basketball.  I want to be a student of the Japanese language and shodo.  I want to be a student of Iaido and Kendo.  I want to be a student of Brazillian Jiujitsu.  I want to be a student of swimming and running.  I want to be a student of my love, Sheba.

I'm going back to school in the most important place of all: my heart.  That will make sure that I sit my ass down in the seats that I need to.