May 13, 2021
I am currently in a hotel room in Virginia, where we are staying as part of a mini-vacation, partly from life, and partly from the pandemic. Today, we ate BBQ, napped on boulders in a middle of a river, spotted a deer munching on leaves while perfecting the looking backwards booty position, interrupted sunning box turtles, oohed at shiny koi, watched a vulture get annoyed at a raven, marveled at a shiny bluebird and walked around many wooded areas. These moments stand in stark contrast to my typical life in DC, where the last time I saw a creature in the half dozen were rats congregating around Dupont Circle.
Usually when I go to places away from my usual routine, I find a new part of myself that I haven’t noticed before. This time was no different. I felt more connected to myself and the natural surroundings around me, while also being able to enjoy the modern conveniences of texting my friends while literally sitting in the middle of a river and essentially posting every significant platypus plushie photo on social media.
When I was hiking in the woods, I thought about how likely none of the mountain bikers who raced past us had ever considered the berimbolo, or that somewhere, it was someone who had probably never heard of Daisy Fresh, but was only obsessed with Dude and Sweetie, the spotted chameleon and the bearded dragon lizard, respectively, living at the botanical garden visitor center. I wondered if the artists with broad brimmed hates who toted easels down to the lake also called themselves martial artists on different days. I watched someone powerwash around a 6,000 pound bell sculpture while wearing a bright yellow raincoat — did they consider before the intricacies of the underhook lapel guard? Probably not.
It has become a revelation to me that for those of us lucky to do so, we get to create our own realities, world, and experiences. Each of these people lived in a different world than me, even though we were in there at the same place, albeit at different times. It is strongly up to me to decide where I want to explore places unknown, and where it is probably a better idea to stay on the marked trails. Where it is time to pause, to listen to the birds, and when it is time to leave because the sun is getting too low.
The world of jiu jitsu can similarly be as broad or as narrow as I’d like it to believe. I may travel the world competing and be as small-minded as before, or I may stay in my little corner of the East Coast and transform myself every day. Lately, I’ve been trying harder to think about what works for me, what I desire for myself, instead of chasing or following what others may do. I may probably never be jiu jitsu famous, have thousands of followers, be able to ask people to swipe up in their stories. I still have doubts about many aspects of my jiu jitsu, will still probably become emotional in situationals, and get mentally overwhelmed when watching an instructional, even if it’s unfair to assume that I can download the information like a computer. I have certain principles that I stand for and ways of training that will probably make others scoff, but I hope that as long as it is right for me, I may be fine with forgetting about what other people think, as long as I remember what matters to me.