Awww, I really thought I had posted this. I guess you’re getting more than one post in quick succession.
One of the things I’ve learned as a martial artist is how to quickly read a situation.
This ability to check over a swath of elements in a heartbeat bleeds into other areas of my life. In the summer, a friend’s bush caught on fire. Before one of the other guests had even finished what she was saying, I leapt up, grabbed my water bottle, and put the fire out. Instantly, I knew there was a fire and I glanced briefly around for anything with water in it. I didn’t think, I just reacted with an appropriate response.
That automatic and appropriate action is something we attempt to train in the dojo. Some people get there slower than others, but most eventually are better than the average person at parsing through a bunch of data and taking action.
On the weekend, I was able to do work I’ve never seen before, in part because of this training. I feel that it helps hone my ability to see opportunities that others overlook.
This ability to check things over quickly is also helping in my writing because I can quickly figure out a problem and connect it to the related pieces.
In many of my kata, there is the time before I draw the sword. I’ve been told we are checking to be sure we need to draw our sword. Symbolically, it’s saying we should never be quick to take a life.
Many people learn to do this while driving. There are constantly possible places cars, bikes, pedestrians, and more could be coming at you from. Most of the time, drivers can know there is someone backing out of a driveway while knowing many other things are going on around them and they’ll only react to something important like a siren or an obstacle like a dead animal.
There are tons of things like this in life. I don’t remember every moment I’ve had to retie my boots in a day. It’s not important now. I learned to tie my shoes before I ever even set foot in a classroom. I learned to read before then as well. My brain has been trained to memorize the steps for many things like driving down a road and tying my shoes. I’d be unable to handle my day if I had to consciously think about those behaviours that I’ve trained to react to without thinking about it. I have too many other things I need to think about that are far more important right now like the best way to write scene headers or the best way to write to someone about a potential job.
I do check a lot of things in martial arts though. Particularly near grading time, I will check things I think I should be doing automatically correct, but may have unknowingly become complacent in like my footwork or whether or not my sword is where it should be. Sometimes it’s really best not to assume that you’re doing anything right at all. I think this speaks to the beginner’s mindset.
This type of checking can extend to almost anything. If you show up to watch a debate firmly entrenched in one side, are you really open to seeing that your view of something may be mistaken? Not likely. There are times I believe it’s best to leave all my preconceived notions at the door and pick up whatever hasn’t been altered on my way out. It helps me with martial arts and writing. I may need to try it with music in order to reach a new level.
And that’s how life’s river flows today.