I have difficulties letting go of how I see myself. I think of myself in terms of absolutes such as, “I am a negative person”, and “I am lazy”. Once I get an idea about myself, I can’t move past it. It’s fine with such things as, “My favorite color is black” because it doesn’t really matter if I change that or not. It’s not so fine when it impedes me, such as, “I hate people.” I mean, it’s ok that I hate people, but it’s not realistic to think I’m going to go through my life never talking to people at all. Also, it’s not completely true. I don’t hate all people or even most people. Just certain ones, and if I have to be around lots and lots of people, then I hate the idea of it and not necessarily the people themselves.
I keep thinking about how I didn’t care about Christmas this year, in a positive way. Short explanation: I hate Christmas. Or rather, I did. For many reasons, I became grumpy about it right after Thanksgiving, and it lasted until New Year’s Day. I would notice all the Christmas bullshit around me, and I would gnash my teeth at my hatred of all things Saint Nick. This year, I didn’t even really notice it was Christmas until a few days before when my brother invited me over for dinner Christmas Eve. I wasn’t going to go, but then, to my surprise, I thought, “Why not?” I went and had a good time, and that was the end of Christmas for me.
I know it doesn’t sound thrilling, and in some ways, it scans as a subtle neg. “I didn’t even realize it was Christmas until it was over–that’s how little it means to me!” But, you have to take me at my word when I say it really is a positive thing because it freed up so much of my mind and heart in the months leading up to Christmas. I say it started the day after Thanksgiving, but oftentimes, it was earlier than that because Christmas commercials start earlier and earlier every year. I don’t watch any TV and rarely listen to the radio, but that doesn’t mean the collective unconsciousness doesn’t seep into my brain as well.
My point is that I didn’t force myself to be chipper and cheerful and to pretend that I love Christmas while internally seething. I didn’t grit my teeth and endure it while resenting it with every fiber of my being–which I’ve done in the past–I just didn’t care about it. It was so freeing, and it wasn’t something I could make myself do it. Which is one of my issues with how obsessed with positivity this country is. Don’t worry. That isn’t the main point of this post, but I had to throw it out there.
It was strange for me not to choke with burning resentment against Christmas this year, and I was at a lost as to what to do with it. I mean, being anti-Christmas had been a part of me for such a long time, I felt as if I lost a part of myself. It’s not a bad thing, but it is an adjustment. An absence of a negative is still an absence, and I still think about it from time to time. Fortunately, it’s not something I have to replace with something else, but it’s still something I have to adjust to.
There are things about me that are in my core, however. Such as that I’m an extreme introvert. I think the difficulty is that I can embrace that as who I am, but also acknowledge that it can change some day. And, that it probably isn’t going to change all at once, but that it may. Or it may just incrementally change. I hate incrementally change because, well, it’s incremental. However, and, yes, it’s trite, but continuous small incremental changes add up to a big change. I’ve been studying for eleven years. When my teacher first showed me the Solo Form, I thought, “I will never learn all that.” To make matters worse, when I first took taiji from a terrible teacher, he kept showing the first part of it because it was a beginner’s class. I think I took classes from him for a year–I’m not sure because I try to block that time out of my life–or maybe two, and I don’t think he taught me even half the form.
Yesterday in class, we were going over one of the postures in the form that you can do as a single drill, and we were going over some of the finer details. My teacher said, “There’s more you can do, but it’s advanced, and we don’t want to do that.” I perked up and said, “I want to do that!” She laughed and said she’d show me later. This shows how far I’ve come, though. Of three major and three minor things she brought up, there was one of each I needed to work on. More to the point, I understood what I was doing wrong. It’s minutiae that would have went over my head in the first few years I studied.
A better example is the Sabre Form, which I am now currently learning. I am at the end of the fourth row, which was where we gave up last time. I got sick and got into a car accident, which were some of the reasons we stopped the private lessons. I had forgotten, however, until my teacher pointed out that the last time she taught me the saber, she had been unsure with the two movements at the end of the fourth row. That was another reason we had stopped–because she wanted more time to perfect the rest of the form. In addition, I hated the saber the first time we had lessons. I had expected it to be like the Sword Form, and it so very much wasn’t. This was two years ago, and I was wary to try it again this time around. I remembered how much I hated it and how distressed I was by hating it. This time, though, when I picked up the saber, it sang to me, and I knew we were meant to be.
I don’t talk about this often, but I feel an affinity to my weapons that is hard to explain. The first time my teacher forced a wooden sword in my hand (because I did NOT want to do the weapons, no way, no how, no ma’am!), I closed my fingers over the hilt, and I was immediately in love. It spoke to my soul, and I needed it in my life. Fairly soon after, I bought a steel sword, and it became my beloved. I devoured learning it, and I felt as if I was meant to do the sword. It was a calling! It was my life! I wanted to do nothing but the sword until I learned it. I’ve joked about it before, but I’ve taught myself the left side of the Sword Form fairly easily, whereas I have yet to do that with the Solo Form*. I had a classmate become frustrated because we were learning the Sword Form together, and I was sailing through it.
Side Note: In general, I learn things really quickly. At least the basic forms. It doesn’t mean I’ll do it perfectly or not make mistakes later on, but I am really good at memorization and picking things up. Conversely, if there’s something I don’t learn easily, I get frustrated way too fast. I expect that I can pick things up with one explanation, which is not admirable.
Back to the saber. I didn’t get it the first time my teacher taught it to me. It felt foreign in my hands, which greatly disappointed me. My sword is an extension of my hand, and I expected the saber to be the same. I mean, it’s just a bigger sword, right? Wrong. The sword is a delicate finesse weapon that is about control and showing how elegant you are. The saber is about power and strength, and, well, it’s more barbarian. This time around, I immediately understood my saber, and it understood me. There was an understanding, and it’s been so much more enjoyable. My teacher said she once had a classmate ask if you’re supposed to lead your weapon or if your weapon was supposed to lead you. She said it was neither, that it was a synergy, and her classmate got miffed. I understood exactly what she was saying, though. I am one with my weapons, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
*I was two-thirds the way through the third section when my teacher’s teacher started messing with it. He introduced a new version, called the Medium Form, and I’m still acclimating myself to it. He seems pretty done with it, so I should *sigh* teach myself the left side of the Medium Solo Form.