Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Showing Up

The other day, I asked Justin why he's continued in Tae Kwon Do for 5 years and he wrote a nice entry in his Xanga about it. It made me think about why I'm continuing to learn Tae Kwon Do--and why I continue any activity I voluntarily began.

One reason I continue is that I don't let a bad class or a clumsy day get me down. I keep going because I know that clumsy days are inevitable, and that continuing to work through them will make me better.

Sometimes the important thing is just showing up.

Yesterday was one of those showing up days. Before class, I'd picked up the boys from school, entertained a friend's son for a while, emptied the dishwasher, tidied the living room, supervised Eli while he played with our new pet rats, and figured out what to have for supper. This is typical. Usually when it's time for all-belts, I'm very ready to leave the house again!

Not yesterday.

I was sitting there with the kitty on my lap and the cold rain outside, and I just did not want to go. I knew I'd be clumsy after a week long break.

"I just don't feel like punching and kicking anyone," I said to no one in particular.

But I went anyway. It was mostly habit that got me out the door.

This is the way it is with lap-swimming for me. If I thought about it each time, I would never go! It's just not that fun. But sometimes I'm standing in the shower with my suit and cap on before I realize I'm there--I've gotten there by habit. And my joints and muscles appreciate it later!

So I arrived at the dojang to find everything in motion. Master Hughes was supervising the moving of the rest of our weight and workout equipment into a room that adjoins the dojang. I joined in, glad to be part of it all, glad to see my TKD friends. All that helps on a day when you're just "showing up."

It was probably about 3/4 of the way through class before I finally felt glad to be there.

I think Robbie has not yet discovered the "showing up" aspect of any activity. After his sword class Sunday, he complained to me that he found it "boring" and that he wanted to quit. I didn't say much--when he's in that mood, he won't listen; just wants to argue.

It takes some imagination to understand that bad days and boring days are just part of any activity. You have to keep your sights on some distant goal: becoming a better martial artist, earning a black belt, winning a tournament. Whatever it takes.

This is the way it is with swimming. Habit gets me there and helps me ignore the fact that I hate getting wet in the winter. My reward: fitness. In ballet, I get through clumsy classes by remembering that just showing up and going through the motions will help muscle memory, and eventually help me become the dancer I want to be. When I was learning piano and got discouraged, I'd remember how wonderful it was to listen to my mom play and how I'd like to get that good.

So I guess that's one reason I am sticking with Tae Kwon Do--because it offers me a distant, worthwhile goal (becoming a strong, focused, graceful martial artist) so that I can get through those "showing up" days when they come.

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