Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writers write, Uke falls

What is beautiful?  You see eyes and lips curl to a smile at you, you melt.  You see and hear a little boy wave and say goodbye with a quivering voice, you cry a little.  You hear a voice read you a story, you become a child, you feel just laying on your back, stare at the passing clouds while you smell freshly cut grass, feel the cool breeze wash off the small specks of the mid-afternoon sun across your face, and just watch the lips talking to you, words spilling out like a tune.  You hike in the early evening darkness, you hold on to the end of the day, and wish it is the beginning and not the time to go part ways.  You lie on your bed, in the pitch-black night, and remember things you probably shouldn't, but you do.  You get up three o’clock in the morning and you write.  You write, you read, you think, and you write some more.  You shut your eyes to the world and go inward.  You dream and wake in the slow chilly morning and try to grasp at the slowly fading images in your mind and try to express them in words.  You write.  Writing is beautiful.

I am fortunate to be with people who are driven by expression, whether be from climbing, aikido, architecture, photography or writing.  My life is full of expressions.  To be allowed to feel all the extreme ends of each emotion that is possible in a lifetime is a divine gift I’ve leaned to accept in full humility.  Pain. Sadness. Joy. Loss. Anger. Fear. Confusion. Love.  Emotions drive the world I think.  Good stories are written with these.

I'm exuberant.  I'm excited.  I'm writing. It is now becoming another of my obsessions, to come up with the most beautiful story ever told.  It can be a story of mine, of somebody else's life, of fiction or of non-fiction.  It can be not the most happy one.  It can be not an entirely sad one either, but something that would leave marks and traces across people’s faces and hearts, in minds and in souls.  It will take months, even years, it may even be unending.  I do not mind.  I’ll keep writing.

Writing is a freedom.  You are in a world where you can stuff all your dreams in and just hope.  You go to anywhere you want, feel any way you want, and see what no one else can see.

I am not alone.  Other people write.  Writing heals.  I think the most beautiful writing that can be done is the one that helps mend a little the broken edges and the cracks we all have in common.  Written words can be personal.  It can be shared.   It is better though to share, because people need people, and lives intersect through sharing.

I'm suddenly in the company of writers.  I love it.  To keep pace will not be easy.  I'm with PhD professors, creative writers, and philosophers. You know who you are.  Thank you for the hand.  Like guides, I'll follow where your light goes, but in the end we may head up different ways.  We all do have our own roads.  I’ll keep you company if you need me, and if you decide to keep me company, you will always be welcome.

I'm excited for the idea of the book, Professor Momok.  It is something to look forward to.  Doors continue to open and I look forward to each surprise every turn presents.

Here's a piece by Prixie Tan-Cruz, an Aikidoka, an English professor en-route to a PhD, an anime fan, and a wife to a quirky Chris who is also a freelance writer.  Prixie is a friend.  I am nage, she is uke, but in the coming yudansha exam, roles will switch and I'll be the one doing ukemi for her.

There maybe many more guest writers in the coming days.  I'm excited to let more and more people into my life, or at least in this blog for that matter.  Hope you enjoy.

Ukemi Courage
By Prixe Tan-Cruz

I’m scared of a lot of things. I worry about money, losing loved ones, getting sick, and getting into a car accident no matter how superficial. I’m also scared of failing, of not doing things right, of disappointing people, and of disappointing myself.  I worry about what people will say about me, whether they like me enough or whether I please them enough. This is a long list of fears and worries.  I'm surprised I’m still standing with a perpetual smile on my face.  Still, I know these fears and worries are, in many ways, normal for many of us.  Life is hard, we humans have to do what we can to survive and build a relatively happy life around us.  We fear loss. We fear solitude. We fear failure.

Because of these fears, I’m not surprised that I have a hard time with ukemi. Ukemi is part of the practice of the martial art, aikido. Aikido is a peaceful art--- it has no attacks, no competitions, and so there’s not a strong drive in its practitioners to outdo one another.  Aikido offers many challenges, but to me the scariest is ukemi.

Ukemi is loosely described as the art of falling.  It involves absorbing a violent attack by gracefully falling on the ground or at least try to be as graceful as possible.  It’s the first thing any aikido beginner will learn.  It consists of hurling yourself on the mat like a ball.  Of course, as any beginner will know, this is easier said than done.  In practicing ukemi for the first time, so many fears come into play: Will I land right? Will I break my neck? Will I hurt myself? Will I die?!  It gets worse. Aikido also consists of other people hurling you to the ground.  You have to learn ukemi because eventually, someone will throw you (and throw you hard) and you have to know enough ukemi to fall and land safe.  For a fearful, control-freak girl like me, ukemi IS fear.

Eventually, I learned to love ukemi.  When I realized I could hurl myself onto the floor and roll like a ball, my world turned around in a very good way.  In that one moment, I learned that if I could control myself while hurling myself forward and landing without hurting myself, then I can control my fears.  When I managed a high ukemi for the first time courtesy of a partner who hurled hard, my world changed even more.  Being thrown means relinquishing control.  It is the ultimate expression of letting oneself go.  In that moment, your partner controls and you have no choice but to let go.  That moment full of fear, such as the fear of breaking my neck, turned into a moment of peace then elation as I realized that no matter who or what was controlling me, I could roll and stand up after.  Standing up after something so scary became easy and so fear gradually subsided.

This is how I found courage.  It takes courage to do something that might cause pain but it takes more courage to accept that you will know how to land and stand up after.


  1. beautiful! Prixie's too. And a brilliant idea to do a kind of duet! The sharing of feelings and insight are generous and free--a great way to start my day! Imagine to have friends like you! Full of spirit, fully alive!

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  3. What a joy to see the two of you take turns at being nage and uke, even as Dennis-sensei remains Prixie's sensei. In aikido as well as in writing, you two are a beauty to watch and read and learn from. We are blessed by your example and your friendship. Keep the dance of life going!