Tag Archives: Confidence

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.”















Mission: Sleeping (and living) well with the Unexpected

fire deptThe second day after arriving at my new home last November a neighbor asked me to join the volunteer fire department.  Lacking training, I wouldn’t need to do any actual fire fighting, the neighbor explained.  Just traffic control for roadway accidents and other unfortunate events occurring within this stretch of the Ozarks known as Inspiration Point.

I like to lend a helping hand when asked, but this request seemed way out of my league. I didn’t know anything about using radios or directing traffic. The many county roads shooting off like twisting branches from the equally winding highway within the Fire Department’s (IPFD) territory were a mystery to me.  Furthermore I generally tend to safeguard my non-working time, and, at that point, I definitely preferred known and steady rhythms to Unexpected’s chaos.

I can’t explain why, but on that November day, with only a few moments deliberation, I stepped beyond my comfort zone and answered my neighbor with a “yes.”

Have you recently jumped beyond your usual ring-pass-not?  What has your experience been?.

In my case, suddenly the unpredictable and I were linked via radio and phone.   My car trunk was loaded with a stop/slow sign, reflective vest, light batons, and a military surplus winter jacket from the war in Afghanistan now marked with the IPFD logo.

Initially I worried while I slept.  Worried that I wouldn’t hear the tone out.  Worried that I wouldn’t correctly decipher the dispatchers fuzzy reading of the location and event.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into.   I wondered if I should get myself out, but I’ve stayed.

In doing so I’ve developed an easier alliance with the unexpected. I’ve learned to appreciate the self-confidence and agility simultaneously required and forged in chaos. I’ve come to sleep peacefully knowing full well that my phone’s most interrupting ringtone might yank me from a dream and send me rushing into the night.

I’m glad for the small community service I’ve provided via the IPFD.  I’m grateful for the many experienced volunteers who have helped me along the way and for the transferable strength I’ve gained. After all, a chosen mission — be it responding to a car accident, cultivating a business, tending a friendship, following one’s creative passion, pursuing a spiritual path or living a meaningful existence — necessitates stepping beyond the usual and becoming comfortable with the challenges and gifts of the Unexpected.