Thursday, December 24, 2009

the return home

I hate flying. There, I said it. My chest can finally be rid of holding that in.

This past Sunday, I flew back to the land of my youth, Georgia, for the holidays. Interestingly, I hadn't been home in a year. So, needless to say, this journey was, and is, pretty significant. I'm realizing each day that the goal that I wanted to accomplish of becoming my own man, is becoming more of a reality every day. That is a goal that I could not have accomplished by staying here. I know that now.

The coolest part of flying out of Sky Harbor is not just being able to listen to "Goodbye Sky Harbor", it is also being able to watch as the titan, that is Phoenix and it's metro area, flicker and abruptly stop at the base of the Superstition Mountains. It is like watching the tide close in on entrenched sand castles on the shore. Aside from that imagery, I prefer to distract myself from the flight by reading. I remember wondering the whole time that I was preparing to come out here, what it would be like. Would I be sad and reflective? Or just be very thankful that I didn't stay? I'm learning that it has becoming neither.

Virtually from the moment that I landed in the flickering Christmas lights of Atlanta, I have been wined and dined like a royal dignitary. This is awesome. Every restaurant that has been etched in my mind as a monument to my youth has been visited. Every place that I had remotely hinted at being interested in visiting has been visited. In essence, this trip has been all about me. The turnabout is that I realized something very important. While I am attempting to hack out a piece of this world for myself, this world that was a part of my every day has kept on racing through it's life. My cousins that were babies are now toddlers; my aunts and uncles are duking it out for who can have more gray hairs; my parents are slowly acclimating to being empty nesters; my sister is making me an uncle.

There is so much happening and so much that I have missed and that I will miss. Honestly, it hurts. I sat very quietly this evening taking in every nuance of the evening. These are all things that I missed. Did they make me who I am? Probably to some degree. Would I be happy still living here? No. I know that I am where I am supposed to be. Unfortunately, that means I will miss some basketball games and some dance recitals, but in the end, hopefully I will have become the man I was supposed to be all along. Honestly, I feel like each time that I leave here, it makes me stronger.

Its good to know that I have a good, strong family that loves and supports me. That's more than a lot of people have in this world. I am just hoping that when I head back on Saturday and all of this that reeks of familiarity is gone, that I will hold fast to this reflection time I have had. I will remember when trying to make it gets too hard, that I have all these wondrous things going on here. Not that they are here to distract, but to remind that I am blessed. I may not have accounts loaded with moola, but I have love and support. At the end of my life, I'm certain that's all I will really be glad that I attained.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A deadly weapon am I

Beware world, I am a yellow belt.

I remember being super scared of my ju jitsu test just last week. See, I have been taking ju jitsu at church as a kind of release. At first, it seemed like something I would never do. Then, my friend Mark talked with me extensively on the subject this summer while I was at a camp. He told me that it was a rewarding experience. Something that, while challenging, would be extremely beneficial to me on several levels. I need to be challenged. I thrive in an environment where a challenge is posed and I have to use whatever is at my disposal to succeed. Yes, exactly like MacGyver. But I digress...

I started coming fairly regularly this past July. It was definitely strenuous. I took my fair share of bumps and bruises, but at the end of every night I was juiced. I would walk to my car feeling like this world contained very little that I could not do. This in no way means that I was kicking everyone's face in. Quite the contrary, I was apprehensive at times, but I was pushing myself. Every technique that hurt, I wanted to learn how to get out of it. Every move that was punishing my body, I wanted to master. It became, and still is, an addiction of sorts. Lately, my busy schedule of attempting to make my own niche in the design world has hindered my contact in the dojo. Nevertheless, I made it Tuesday night last week for my test. After coming fairly regularly for nearly 6 months, it was time to test my mettle and see if those things that I was pushing myself to do were really being carved into my laborious head.

The class began per usual, with extensive falls, rolls and streams of sweat covering my forehead. We pushed onward into "practicing" techniques. I knew it wasn't practice when I heard a whisper from sensei about my balance during one throw. Onward we pressed for what felt like hours. (I was slightly disappointed when it was mentioned we had only been at it for 15 minutes.) Finally, a break and each man/child going for a belt took their turn in front of the class. I remember wondering why I suddenly was completely relaxed. Perhaps I was too exhausted to allow myself to acknowledge any timidness. My turn came and went in what felt like seconds. Before I could collect my thoughts, I was being summoned to the front. My old belt was removed and tied in a "retired" knot. Then sensei tied on my new belt and bowed.

Sometimes this class doesn't seem like a big deal. Maybe it is because I have occasionally grabbed a beer with sensei. Or because my minster is also a sensei-in-training and we hang out. But for whatever reason, that night was filled with officialness. I'm pretty sure a small parade celebrating me played in my head. I had stuck to my guns and accomplished something. Seems easy enough. But I think this whole thing applies directly to our lives. There are definitely times that I wish my work ethic would correlate with my desire in ju jitsu. Maybe it would be easier if I got out of my own way. If, while the walls are crumbling and plans are going awry, I bowed and forgot about my heaving chest or sweaty forehead. I just need to go with the flow. I know that to some I come across as mellow or laid-back, but there is often times a storm raging in my cranium.

So, I guess I need to start working on the control of giving control. In ju jitsu, I allow myself to step back and watch. That's when I succeed. In life, I need to breathe deep and let it happen. I've heard it said many times from my Dad that a positive attitude is where it all begins. So,come on world, I am MacGyver and I only need a toothpick to take out Antarctica. Good start?