2012 was a trying year.
I entered in a kickboxing tournament at the university, and forieted due to injury during my first match. I guess it was the luck of the draw that I was against the club’s vice president and he was two weight classes heavier than me– but I had it in the bag. I fought one round even and one round with a point advantage. In the third round, I messed up my game of hit and run, took a few in the face, and was bleeding so much that I called it quits. In the end, he was actually more hurt than I was. The experience left me feeling old, and more than a little past my prime.
One of my cousins was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. He’s a young kid– just finished med school, and couldn’t get a break getting a residency, so that timing was pretty bad. Before I left Canada, the last conversation I had had with him was on a cruise ship somewhere in the Pacific, where he was asking me if dating was worse the trouble. He was wondering if he was the kind of guy who could ever really be good to a girl, and he wondered if all the headache and heartache of the process was worth going after when things never really worked out for him. I felt bad because, well, I wanted to be useful at a time like that. I’ve never had cancer myself, but I’ve known many people have had it– more than most people my age for sure. I felt that such experiences were a burden to me– they made me feel old. Things that I had experienced, I could never un-experienced– and selfishly, I thought maybe that this would be the opportunity to be useful. To feel some sort of “payoff” for all those losses. To have something good come out of where everything else had just been eventual loss.
I sent a slew of applications out for clerkship applications. In the end, of my study group of three, I was the only one who didn’t get a placement. I wanted it really badly– if I had gotten a clerkship, that would have made life much easier for [CM] and I, because our futures in Australia would have been secured. I think I’m okay with [DilligentB] getting a spot– but I was jealous of [CaptainK], because I felt that when it came to law school, I just had him beat. I worked harder and knew things better inside out. I managed stress better. But, among other things, I don’t have his social skills and his natural friendliness. It left me feeling spiteful and a bit dead ended, knowing that I’d have to stay at the top of the game for another year to hopefully secure a spot in another year.
My grandmother passed away in October of 2012. It hit me hard. Despite all my experiences in working with life and death and everything in between, I don’t think it was easy on me. The distance from home at such a time made me miserable– it made me feel guilty for leaving behind family at a time when I was really and truly coming into adulthood. I felt that at that time, I was supposed to be a full fledged member of the family, responsible for others.
Despite all this, in retrospect, I think 2012 was a big year for me in terms of growth. Quite frankly, I feel a bit more… everything… one year later.
With reagards to kickboxing, the reason why I forfeit was because I actually had a reason to look out for my own health. It’s a lot easier to try and be a great fighter if you don’t have anyone to go home to. That’s probably why the most intense years of training for dueling were when I was single, and young. It’s not that one can’t train to be a better fighter if they’re not single– it’s just that things are different when someone worries whether or not I’ll someday have brain damage, or if I might lose an eye or something. It comes down to a question of how much you want to sacrifice in order to getting better at fighting– and in looking at my life, by 2012, I was very much certain that coming home to CM was more important than pursuing my lofty ideals of martial arts. It’s not that I’ve given up my pride as a martial artist– but, I think I’m reaching a stage where it is now so integral to my life that I can handle it like any other responsibility, and not as something new and as urgent. Sort of like how the first time you get a job and make money, or fill out your taxes, it’s a big deal– later on, it just becomes one thing that you always do because you have more important things to make you happy.
I am doing judo now, and that’s a big step for me. It is taking me completely outside of my comfort zone, back to the “white belt” where I am failing, scrimping and struggling at the very basics. Psychologically as well as physically, I think that rebooting my training in something completely different has been very good for me, not least because it has reminded me that I’m still truly capable of learning truly new things.
Being able to learn things that are completely new to me is an ability I’ve always prided myself on, but it wasn’t until I started judo that I really had to test what I was made of. Usually, when I start something “new,” it’s not really new– I’ve got a lot of experience in a lot of different things, so there’s always a starting point that’s not quite zero. There’s always a little bit here or there that crosses over from the experience of other activities. Judo is not one of those events. While being in a dojo might not be a surprise to me, starting up judo is marginally a bit more intuitive to me than salsa dancing or ballet– I’m really that bad at it.
Which makes me wonder how, when I was younger, I ever started anything new. I think the difference was that back then, I started things with friends– we were bad together, so we grew up in the activity together. It’s no surprise that pretty much everyone I keep in touch with has roots in some activity with me, whether it was martial arts, music, or writing.
This time around? Judo is different– because I haven’t taken the time to make friends. I am, for all intensive purposes, alone, training in a void, with everyone as just training partners first and human beings second.
Isolation was one of the themes of 2012 for me. Thankfully, my cousin recovered from his cancer and is now living a healthy life. Walking away from something like that has probably changed him significantly– and I wonder what it will be like the next time we get the chance to speak face to face. My grandmother did not recover from her cancer, and her passing left me feeling very angry and confused.
Isolation is a state in which a lot of important, life changing events happen. There are a lot of different ways that I tend to go about it, without really chosing. Sometimes, I feel that in the end, I am only answering to myself– and there are some things that, simply, no one can help me with. It can make me cynical and even more of a hermit than I already am. On the other side, usually after a lot of though, upon my return to the social world, the bout of isolation is a good counterweight to better appreciate social life.
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say. There’s a lot of ways to really refute that– you can be crippled by some events, or become so jaded that the ‘strength’ that you get is a hardness of a sort that makes it difficult to love and connect. But on the whole, for all the dissapointments, I feel good.
[Zanshin] had his wedding last year. That was nice. It was good to have a really happy thing in the middle of life. It is not the only thing to be thankful for. Despite failing to secure a clerkship last year, I got appointed for office within the university Law Society, I got a job paralegaling at a lawfirm, and I’ve been asked to participate at board meetings for the NCYLC. That’s going to make me a real killer contender next rounds along.
But I suppose the most subtle of ways in which 2012 is an improvement is because I’m feeling really at home now, and that is connected simply to living with CM. It’s true, this is just a basement apartment that we probably won’t stay in for another year– but our home is on our backs, and we carry it together. I find that because of that, small things, like assembling a shelf, or even vacuuming, becomes one of my zen moments of calm.
I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions, as has been my tradition for several years now– one day at a time, I always say. Conquer what we see, and look a bit further every day.