In mathematics, there is an infinite set of numbers between 0 and 1. There is a bigger set of infinite numbers between 0 and 2. An even bigger set of infinite numbers between 0 and 1,000,000. And so on, and so on. Infinities come in different sizes: some bigger, some smaller. Still, infinities are all infinite. They’re infinite within their defined boundaries. That’s just math.
3-time NBA Champion Lebron James can dunk the basketball with one hand over 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo at Staples Center. I can throw the 250-pound man coming to punch my face by applying kotegaeshi (Aikido wrist lock). No fucking way I can dunk the basketball like Lebron, much less over Giannis. Although Lebron might be the greatest athlete on Planet Earth, he doesn’t practice Aikido. He can’t do what I do, either. Just saying.
We can do what’s possible within our defined boundaries, within our inherent limitations. Whether the monster slam dunk or the finishing Aikido technique, they represent our invented infinity within our boundaries. No, all infinities aren’t created equal. Yet, our infinities represent what’s possible within our respective limitations. Consider that.
The French Aikido Sensei said, “You can’t do the impossible with (Aikido) technique.” You can do what’s possible with technique, within the laws of physics, time and space. You create your infinity. You create what’s possible.
Can I do or have anything I want? Yes, I can do what’s possible within my defined limits. I’m not chiseled 6’ 9” Lebron, one of the GOAT NBA players. Even if I trained relentlessly for years, I ain’t dunking a basketball like Lebron. Lebron’s infinity. Not mine.
I can throw 5 men attacking me. My infinity. I put in the work. I just trained, like Lebron trained his mind and body to dunk the basketball on any defender whether it’s Giannis or Kawhi Leonard. We create what’s possible, by putting in the work, by grinding it out.
You can’t do the impossible within your defined boundaries, like breaking the laws of gravity. Although, Lebron comes awfully close on his basketball dunks. We train to do what’s possible within your own defined boundaries. Maybe not everything is possible. What’s possible arises from grinding it out, by putting in the work.
Why train? For the pursuit of greatness? Maybe. To prove others wrong? Perhaps. Yet, that soon devolves as your never-ending story. Just saying. What about train because you love? Just asking.
30 years ago, when I first began training with Mizukami Sensei, I came into Aikido wanting to prove, “I’m not weak.” Growing up at home, I got from Dad that “I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough.” I wasn’t enough like Dad for his approval. I wasn’t free to be me.
Sensei never asked me to be like him. He granted the space to fail and rise up when I fell down, to accomplish. I listened from an empty mind, mushin. Worked my ass off. I was good enough for Sensei. I was good enough for me, too. Sensei was the father I needed to grow as the greater man.
My dear friend Cheryl is thankful for the tragedy she experienced in her youth. She discovered meaningfulness in her very worst of times, arising far greater on the other side. Today, Cheryl makes a profound difference in the world, coaching others to heal from trauma, and to thrive. Cheryl is the strongest, kindest person I know on Planet Earth.
That being said, I’m not thankful for my abusive childhood. Dad terrified me as a young boy, making me feel lesser than, so small. No, I’m not so enlightened. Yet, I got my lesson in forgiveness. I don’t forgive Dad for his violent, cruel acts. I forgive him for being human, for being imperfect. I forgive him for fearing, not knowing how to raise me. Dad had suffered far worse in his childhood with his father. I had compassion for Dad.
I forgive myself for not being strong enough to stand up to Dad, to protect my Mom from his anger. I was a little boy, who could only do his best, which was being silent and weathering the storm.
In the bigger picture, I’m grateful the universe brought Sensei and me together. Sensei created the infinity within my boundaries.
I get that we have power when we choose what we have, rather than what we yearn for. I chose my Dad. Dad was my dad. Yet, to become the man I wanted to be, I needed to find the one who would grant the space to do that. That was Mizukami Sensei.
Sensei passed away several years ago. Still, I have him when I need him. I heard his voice, “One at a time” when I interviewed for a new job with 4 Program Managers, who asked questions for 45 solid minutes. When I hate on me, I listen to Sensei, “You’re a better teacher than me.” Nothing but mad love and respect for Sensei.
Our infinities come in all shapes and sizes as we do. Some bigger. Some smaller. I’m good with my infinity because Sensei is in mine.
Who’s in your infinity? Who are you grateful for? Just asking.
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