The year 2014, while full of memorable moments in the dojo, was a year that ultimately brought lessons in patience and perseverance.
For the first time in seven years of dedicated training, I hit a point where I could see quitting. Plain and simple. I was down in the dumps; my energy depleted, and my focus gone. But only in fits and starts. I would miss three weeks of class, then go regularly for three more. I binge trained, to be honest, and there were points where I had to drag myself out of the house to make it to the dojo for a training session.
What kept me going was knowing that each time I did go to class, I felt so glad that I did so. I felt refreshed, excited, and pleasantly tired from a challenging lesson. But then it would fade in my mind, and one day off would turn into many more. I was extremely busy with my family life, and my drive was just, well, not there.
Another thing that kept me going was watching my seven-year-old son's classes. I observed his excitement as he advanced to the “bigger kids class,” and enjoyed seeing his progression as lessons in the martial arts unfolded in front of his youthful eyes.
But why was I struggling? I needed to figure this out in order to move forward.
I could pin blame on many factors if I wished: exhaustion; injuries; absent training partners; not enough time; feeling too old; other interests, etc. I also have to deal with mental depression and anxiety which severely impacts my motivation at times.
However, these factors have never stopped me in the past. And who doesn't have challenges to overcome?
So what I had to do was dig deep and decide what the martial arts mean to me. And two of those things, among many others, is the cultivation of patience and perseverance. I realized that these lulls and challenging moments are just part of the deal. Training to get past them is not unlike training in endurance or technique. At times it's just hard.
But getting through the challenges, and finding joy once again on the path, is worth all the struggle and discomfort.