Category Archives: Ideal

Ideal: Sweating through Chaos

yellow beltAfter 18 months of preparation, I was scheduled to take my yellow belt karate test last Sunday.  Circumstances were not ideal.   I was coming off a few days of a low grade fever, and I had tweaked my shoulder while practicing earlier in the week.  I considered cancelling.   Why put so much preparation on the line knowing I wasn’t at my best?    Why infringe on the teachers’ time?   Or on the effort of the two other students who would be testing with me?

On the other hand, I had entered a psychological sweet spot.  That inner place where countdown planning, commitment, anticipation, and the willingness to step into the unpredictable all converge.  After due reflection, I decided to proceed.

The warm up (cardio, sit ups, push ups, etc) completed in a reasonable 15 minutes. But standing at ready, I suddenly felt dreadfully (I am going to faint or vomit) ill.   To my surprise I actually didn’t panic or self-criticize.

In fact, in that physically chaotic moment, unseen calm and positivity enveloped me.  And I did something I never thought I would do; I asked to leave.

I headed for the bathroom, but after a mere 15 seconds crossing the lobby I somehow felt reasonably better.  I no longer needed the bathroom. I turned around and bowed back in.

Over the next hour plus of demonstration, question and answer, and the final set of push ups, I struggled with speed and form, but again I felt invisibly, yet tangibly supported   By what I’m not sure.  Months of practice?  The teachers?   The shared striving of my fellow students?  The simple ideal of doing my best in each sweating moment?   I don’t know.

What I do know is that I emerged from the experience feeling unexpectedly confident.  In myself.  In the value of chaos.  And in the unseen ways of the karate universe.   Perhaps this is evidence of why the first line of the school’s student creed states:  “To Build True Confidence.”















Ideal: Minding the Gap

February Forest Light

Spring tugged me through the door in my pajamas, out onto the back deck into an unexpectedly balmy February dawn.   The moment’s overflowing freshness, texture and luminosity poured into my eyes and rushed over my skin.  Its enveloping richness exceeded (once again) the mechanics of my camera.

You’re familiar with such spontaneous, Life-infusing instants.  The ones that evoke the all-encompassing, heart-expanding, multi-sensorial Wow!   Whose gifts are preserved far more vividly in cellular and spiritual memory than in megapixels.  It was one of those moments.

Most striking to me was the utter clarity of the trees.  Their bark, indeed their very presence, shone.  Beautifully!

In the midst of my awe and admiration, the phrase “Mind the Gap” zipped into my thoughts.  And I began to notice not just the trees’ brilliance but the light in between.

“Mind the Gap” springs from two sources in my life.  My late father and my mother loved hiking together in Great Britain in May and October.  Over the years they collected tales of soaking rains, lost trails, welcoming landscapes, generous hospitality, and the novelty of public transportation punctuated by the iconic reminder to Mind the Gap.

Brene Brown’s insightful book, Daring Greatly, provides my second point of gap minding reference.  In her encouraging work, she emphasizes the importance of being alert to actual behaviors vs our ideal values and aspirations.

Some days the gap between my current capacity and my ideals feels daunting.  Sometimes draining.  The morning light pulsing between the trees reminds me that connective substance already exists between here and there; between today’s ability and the ideal.  It exists simply because the ideal is sensed and perhaps even pursued.

I’m sure you can add to a list of that which comprises and vitalizes this luminous connection: clarity, caring, Self-embracing, and an intrepid willingness to learn, to change, to grow and to keep on trying.   To close the gap.