Time is undefeated. Yet, time can be our own intimate ally that nurtures us to grow and evolve into our greater-than versions. We take our baby steps from our individual zeroes, our starting points. We grind it out. Mizukami Sensei said, “Just train.” I create my next greater-than version without comparison of my accomplishments and my failures to others’.
In the social media world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms, our comparison to others becomes nearly inevitable. The World seemingly transforms into the Great Comparison Game, where someone is always better than you or has more than you.
While I can foster others’ greater-than versions, my next greater-than version arises primarily independent of others’. They create their best, not my best. Everyone’s best is different. In mathematics, there are different kinds of infinities. Still, each infinity is infinite. In the bigger picture, everyone’s best matters.
In our 25 years of Aikido together, Sensei never asked me to do his best. Instead, he wanted me to invent my own greater-than version. Sensei didn’t want my imitation of his technique. No, I had to make the technique work for me, my body, my strengths, my weakness, and my mind.
In the greater picture, Sensei wanted me, like all his students, to make our lives work. We had to grind it out, put in the work, and evolve our greater-than versions, whatever that might be. Yeah, those versions would all be different. Yet, each version wasn’t greater than another. All versions had merit.
Aikido founder O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba said, “True victory is victory over oneself,” not victory over someone else. This is the lifelong journey of overcoming ourselves. The inherent paradox: At the end of our individual journeys, we shall not win. The journey is the continual lesson of humility, that we must get out of our own way. That our greatest opponent is always ourselves.
My personal evolution resides in Aikido. I’ve trained in Aikido for over 30 years. I made Shodan, 1st-degree black belt when I was 32 years old. I was probably at my physically strongest and fastest. Yet, in retrospect, my technique sucked. I forced throws too often. I didn’t wait out the attack long enough, be willing to take a hit, and match up with the attack. I was way too preoccupied with making my technique perfect. Basically, I was young and stupid.
There’s no perfect or ideal technique. I just trained to make my technique work against any attack or attacker, regardless of size, strength, or speed. My technique evolved over time. As did I.
Now, I’m 58 years old. I’m not as strong or as fast as I once was. I’ve got old injuries, and arthritic knees and back. Still, I can throw using less physical force, because I match up with the attacker more precisely. As Sensei pounded into my head over the years: “Wait it out. Take a hit if you have to.” I’m better at that, now. I know what I can, what I used to do. Time is undefeated. Yet, I evolved my greater-than version with time.
As Sensei Bobby instructs, I apply the Aikido technique to myself. The external opponent doesn’t really matter. I don’t even look directly at the attacker. I stand tall, well as tall as I can, and throw the attacker.
In this yin and yang world, youthful strength and speed transform into the experience of knowing my limitations, discovering a way to make it work. In retrospect, that’s what Mizukami Sensei had always done.
Sensei was 33 years older than me. Yet, he occurred much stronger and much faster. He put in the work. He executed his timing and distance in techniques at the elevated Mastery level. Perhaps, there’s hope for me, after all. Anyway, I just train.
I put in the work and grind it out in my writing. Time is also unforgiving and shall prevail. Yet, I do what I love for as long as I can. I write about what I got from my trials and tribulations, and my path to healing myself. Time makes my writing that much more meaningful for me. Like Aikido, I know that this will come to an end sometime. Because of that, I have joy in what I do.
So I do what I love for as long as I can with joy in my heart. When and if I do walk away, I know gave my all. I’m able to give away all that I’ve been bestowed in a lifetime. That’s time’s invaluable gift in the bigger picture. Just saying.
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