Of Tragedies, Tomatoes, and Tests

Sunni's picture

It’s been too long since I’ve contributed anything here—primarily because I wanted the long-awaited book review to be next (and it’s still incubating), and partly because I’ve been very busy and a little reluctant to share part of that here. But I’ll explain—a little bit—once we’re in the gazebo.

First, the tragedy: a few days ago, a smallish econocar spectacularly lost a battle with two tractor-trailer rigs not too far from our house. The initial sound was akin to a sonic boom, according to Lobo (I wasn’t home when it happened). The sole occupant of the car was (probably) killed instantly. Some remains of the collision linger, and a memorial spot has already developed ... sobering reminders of the enormous disparity of potential energy between most passenger vehicles and those huge trucks—many of which around here sport double trailers, often carrying logs, rock, or dirt. It has brought the fragility of life to the forefront of my thoughts again ... sometimes to very odd effect. To wit, one of the things I’ve started wondering is whether anyone will take over my unfinished knitting projects.

On to a more pleasant subject: tomatoes. I’m harvesting some from my potted tomato plants! After I figured out that they need daily watering, they’ve rewarded me well with both blooms and fruit. So far only the stupice variety has produced ripe tomatoes, but they’re so delectable we don’t mind. The fruit are smallish—further strengthening my conviction that I put too many plants in each pot—but I don’t much mind that, either. I have tomatoes!

For some time now I have been casting about for something to challenge me—something that would test me both physically and mentally. For a couple of months I’ve been considering one possibility; and last week I began it. It is kicking my ass and my brain, and I am enjoying it tremendously. I’m taking karate classes.

I’ve been reluctant to speak of my quest and its resolution because it’s an intensely important and personal thing to me. I was concerned that I’d get kung fu type jokes in response to any comment I made, or that people might come to expect me to talk about my training with some frequency. But I realized that those were my concerns based on little grounds—most of the time participants here are very respectful of sensitivities and boundaries; and I could voice my concerns and head off most of the stuff I hoped not to see.

Even when I’m not in class, the newness of the movements, posture, and dojo environment, coupled with all I need to learn to be formally accepted as a karate ka at this dojo (which takes about a month), I find that my brain is brimming with karate thoughts. Thus, on that basis it seemed only fair that I let you seven in on my newest activity.

The Snake speaks! I mean writes. Types. Whatever...

I was beginning to wonder if you'd had a relapse of Ear Doom.

I don't know what to say about the traffic accident. Does an experience like that, reminding us that the end could come at any time, give us a truer perspective or just a scarier one? I don't know. The only thing I've ever gotten from thinking about death is lots of insomnia.

I grew Stupice tomatoes back in '00 but I don't remember how they did. My notes say they're only supposed to be 1"-2" fruits, though.

I am 90% clueless about karate and 99% clueless about any mental or spiritual aspects. If, at some point, you feel comfortable writing about the latter, that would be interesting.

As for the jokes, we are all thoughtful and sensitive adults here, and I'm sure we can restrain our impulses. Until you win your first competition -- and then it's open season! ;-)

Ear Doom, heh.

No relapses ... but it has taken an unusually long time for the pressure to abate. Yesterday was the first day my ear felt normalish since the saga began. I apologize to all who were concerned—that was pretty thoughtless of me.

I am 90% clueless about karate and 99% clueless about any mental or spiritual aspects. If, at some point, you feel comfortable writing about the latter, that would be interesting.

I’ll keep that in mind.

As for the jokes, we are all thoughtful and sensitive adults here, and I'm sure we can restrain our impulses. Until you win your first competition -- and then it's open season! ;-)

Fair enough—but that seems vanishingly unlikely. Our dojo has shifted from being more competitively focused to a learning and self-centered focus. Couple that with my total lack of interest in karate competitions, and I just don’t see myself entering any.

Thanks for the info on stupices, too; I don’t think I knew that when I selected them. Also, I’m hopeful to start BONTing this weekend. :)

Quest

As to your quest, I wish you success -- howsoever you might measure it. :)

An interesting issue ...

Thank you, Saint. You bring up an interesting issue—I consider myself as being tested every time I’m on the dojo floor—probably moreso by my self than by the sensei—but I haven’t given any thought as to quantifying the tests nor my success.

That said, one sensei said to me the other day, “When you get your gi ...”, which I took as a very good sign of progress. (The dojo has a probationary period for new students, to ensure that there’s a good fit between student and dojo; only after that period is one permitted to buy and wear a gi, and is considered a full-fledged student.)

The Body Feeds the Mind and the Mind Feeds...Zombies?

I was going to start martial arts training for exercise and self-defense a few years ago, but never shelled out the money when I couldn't commit to doing free push-ups at home regularly. I looked at Brazilian Jujitsu (sp?) since a guy I worked with recommended the class to me. It still isn't out of the realm of possibility...just as soon as I can do anything - Wii Fit, Callentics (sp?), push-ups or even walking - regularly and to success. Coincidentally, I think it is the lack of brain engagement that keeps me from some of these things.

Anyway, best of luck in the endeavor.

PoS

Murphy's Bye-Laws

Ground fighting and tragedies

Yes, the Brazilian style (i..e, ground fighting) is extremely effective, especially given how many fights end up horizontally! (I also like kick boxing and Aikido - hope I spelt that correctly).

The car accident Sunni referred to makes me pause - having (very personally) experienced something very similar, quite some years ago. It did have a bright side though - it helps you to look at each day quite differently, and remind you that nothing else is ever likely to hurt as much or be as tough. So make the best of each day as though it is your last, and don't let things get to you - as long as you're alive, there's (usually) not so much to worry about.

Cheers from downunder :-)

Ah, aikido

That was the martial art I was originally interested in—but after accompanying a stepson to practically all the studios in a reasonable driving distance, we both didn’t like any of the aikido dojos.

[I]t helps you to look at each day quite differently, and remind you that nothing else is ever likely to hurt as much or be as tough.

Thanks for sharing some of your personal story, Shaun. You helped remind me how truly fortunate I’ve been thus far in my life; I’ve had little pain of that sort and no challenges as large. Cheers back to you, my friend!

Commitment.

Pint, you tagged a few reasons why I joined the dojo: I wasn’t diligently pursuing any exercise on my own initiative; and I think much of that was because most exercise quickly becomes boring. Even changing the activity every few days still creates a pattern. I see karate as the best of both worlds for me. My success is largely determined by my commitment to it and my diligence in practicing and perfecting my form; yet I have sensei and sempai who are available and willing to help me. The training manual has a quotation which I immediately took to heart: Ninety percent of success is showing up.

I'm glad to hear you're well!

I had started to wonder if you'd gotten ill again ... and am glad to hear you're just busy. It sounds like you're deep into a great and consuming experience. May you find great emotional, physical, and mental rewards!

Cool!

I'm sorry to hear about the accident. They're rough on the soul. But rest assured that Lewlew and I would be fighting over your pieces of unfinished work if your kidlets didn't pick them up first. That said, I wish you many, many, many more finished projects before that happens. Billions, even.


As far as the karate goes - that's so cool. Iorek and I were very seriously considering this at the beginning of 2009, but the only classes we can find are based solely on little kids, or they are private lessons, which cost a fortune. We got a bit discouraged, and stopped really looking.


I wish you the very best in your karate ventures. I've heard that it really focuses your mind, and your body. I am one jealous wolf. ;)

Focused mind/body

If you want a taste of the benefits of karate without the cost, you might consider getting one of the better videos teaching T'ai Chi. It is not difficult to self teach, with the video being a bit better than the books - though either would do, I'm sure.

Here is an excellent resource for T'ai Chi and related disciplines. They have videos, books and even offer free lessons.

T'ai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion." There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice ... has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren't in top shape or the best of health.
-- Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publication, May, 2009

No fighting, please!

[R]est assured that Lewlew and I would be fighting over your pieces of unfinished work if your kidlets didn't pick them up first.

The snolfs have both taken first steps in learning to knit, but have not yet stuck with it, so I don’t know what may happen there. But I have a strong aversion to the thought of anyone fighting over the stuff I’ll leave behind. It’s just stuff ... certainly not worth wrecking relationships for. Was it in Cryptonomicon that Neal Stephenson offered a wonderfully creative way of divvying up an estate?

Iorek and I were very seriously considering this at the beginning of 2009, but the only classes we can find are based solely on little kids, or they are private lessons, which cost a fortune.

Yeah, training isn’t cheap—but one is (or should be) paying for deep expertise in the sensei. The only way I can afford it is because I’m the third family member at the dojo, which means I get a significant discount.

Surely there’s some martial art close to you that would suit your preferences and budget ... seems to me that if the hard times many predict are ahead, any good training of this sort will pay for itself, in both warning off smarter would-be bad guys and kicking the asses of the dumber ones. I also think Mama’s suggestion of tai chi is an excellent one.

I promise, no fighting =)

Please don't let thoughts of your time here winding down pester you. None of us have a true idea of when our time will officially draw to a close.

I'm glad you are enjoying your classes. That is so cool!!!

Take it easy this weekend, enjoy time with your snolfs and knit a few rows to revel in. My fam is taking off for the weekend to RELAX!!!! Yipee!

Hugs all around.

Yay for you!

I wish I had the stick-to-it-iveness to take on karate or something similar. Enjoy it and learn well.

No Kung Fu jokes from me

....especially since you may be studying an entirely different style. :) I studied Tang Soo Do for a number of years and loved it. I still do some of the forms for my morning exercise.

On the accident theme, 2 friends of my darling daughter were struck and killed 2 weeks ago by a train going north on the southbound track in a woody, curvy area of the system, so we know some of the emotions you must be going through and send virtual hugs your way.

So sorry about your loss

And thank you for the hugs. No one else here seems to have been as affected by the accident as I have—but then, they were all here when it happened, and I was diverted around the site, all the while wondering if the problem (the accident was not visible from the detour’s origination point) involved one of us.

Tang Soo Do? That’s an entirely new one for me. Do you have a web site to recommend as an introduction?

Warm squeezes in return, my friend.

Life is short

Wish I was there to give you hugs - and see your tomatoes. The grasshoppers are getting most of mine. Boo hoo...

Just remember that you are loved. :)

You, too!

So sorry about the grasshoppers—we had some last year but I’ve seen nary a sign of them so far this summer. I’ll try to get some tomato pictures for you.

Please remember the same yourself! :-D

Glad to hear you are

Glad to hear you are studying martial arts. I trained at a school for nearly six years before I had to quit since I moved 90 miles away. I could not justify driving that distance and let my wife take care of a newborn and toddler. Now, more than three years after I quit I still miss training. I studied at a school that taught karate, kung fu, jujitsu, tai chi, and some other arts. Although there are videos out there, you don't get the benefits of learning from a teacher by watching movements on the screen. I see videos as supplements to what you learn at the school. Alas, there are no schools in the same system closer than 60 minutes, and no other schools in the area have yet seemed interesting enough to investigate. I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

I am not surprised you have karate thoughts, as after training for even a short while you start thinking if you really can turn off the light by trying a spinning kick aimed at the light switch. Ha!

Anders

Of karate thoughts and conversations ...

Now, more than three years after I quit I still miss training.

I grok that, even though I’ve been at it less than a month.

Although there are videos out there, you don't get the benefits of learning from a teacher by watching movements on the screen. I see videos as supplements to what you learn at the school. Alas, there are no schools in the same system closer than 60 minutes, and no other schools in the area have yet seemed interesting enough to investigate.

That’s too bad; I bet your kids would enjoy it too, now that they’re old enough. After conversing on the subject with a friend the other day, we agreed that the atmosphere of the dojo is more important than the discipline(s) it offers; a “McDojo” is not a good place for a serious student to train.

I am not surprised you have karate thoughts, as after training for even a short while you start thinking if you really can turn off the light by trying a spinning kick aimed at the light switch. Ha!

I’m glad our discipline doesn’t have a spinning kick! My thoughts so far focus more on things like, “How can I remember all the little pieces of performing this block properly?”, and, “Crap! Which kick is mawashi geri again?”.

Thanks for the encouragement, and for stopping by. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I hope you and yours are doing well.