Archive for martial arts

In The Thick of It

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09/28/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Ok. I’m going to get to the heart of the matter.

Life is weird. Life is hard. I don’t know why, but I’m going through a blue period.

It isn’t as though there’s any reason that I can discern for it. Life may be hard, but I am living my dreams. I am writing for the masses. I hope to make some money at it someday. My work is being read by more and more people. I am having fun losing myself in the universes that I create.

I also feel alone even when I am surrounded by others.

I somehow don’t know how to react to the taste of success. It could be seconds away from my fingertips, and I would have an attack of nerves. I’d get cold feet  if I had to give a speech in public. Maybe I should just read it in someone else’s voice!

I’ve gotten colder. I’m not going to lie. My inner warrior took over. My mind has been on nothing but self defense and survival for so long now, that I can’t seem to shut it off and just breathe. I can’t put down the sword.

How often does one receive an anonymous gift of flowers?

And how did I forget to breathe when I got that gift? It doesn’t seem right to me.

Plainly, I’ve more work to do in learning to accept friendship, gratitude, love, admiration, and respect. I somehow got the impression that I didn’t deserve any of those things. I’m not going to delve into my past. I’ve already been there and done that. It’s time to move on.

I made a video tonight with new free editing software. In truth, I’m not at all sure how I did it. I didn’t add any effects. I didn’t speed anything up or slow anything down. It just sort of came together and turned out pretty well. My writing is the same way.  I don’t know where the fuck the next sentence is going to come from, but I plunk down one and than another. Before I even realize what I’ve done, I’ve amassed more than a thousand words inside of an hour.

I feel like my life has been that way. I don’t have a plan. I just get up, suit up, show up and hope to goodness that something good comes from my efforts.

Life often fucks with me when I make too many plans. So I have to tread with some care, it seems.

I’m awfully tired lately. I have a short fuse. People who waste my time become nothing but irritants.

And I’m worrying everyone around me. Co workers shake their heads and wonder why I go silent. Friends ask me what the matter is. My parents cock their heads and furrow their brows.

I feel like telling them all to back off.

But I won’t. It isn’t anyone’s intention to get under my skin or to try to make me admit to things that I don’t want to talk about. But the only answer I have for such a question is “don’t give up on me.” I can’t speed this along. I’m obviously in it. I’ll figure my way out of it. I always do.

Though I wonder if I’ve spent my entire life living with such a pattern. Perhaps these mood swings are seasonal in nature. It might explain why I brood so much during the fall.

Then again, maybe I brood because I haven’t yet learned to recognize my own progress.

It’s a lesson we might all need to be reminded of. It pays to take stock, but to focus too narrowly on one single detail can be toxic.

I’ll hold onto my flowers. I’ll keep writing my stories. I’ll keep blogging, recording my voice and making my vids.

I’ll keep trucking. With some better rest along the way, even I might learn to see the bright side of life.

Until then, maybe it’s best if I just get through the obstacles in my way and move along until I give a damn again.

Anyways, enjoy the vid. I made this bad boy myself 😉

 

 

 

 

Writing Samurai

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/17/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

I’ve become a writing samurai.

The samurai part is what happens to me when I’m told I’m not good enough. I fight to reclaim the honor that  I feel was stripped from me. I do it fast, and I try to be as efficient as possible.  No motion will be wasted. No time will be spared for excuses from myself or from others.

You can all guess what the writing part refers to.

But the reason for my change of attitude is more complicated than I thought it was.

I thought I was making this shift because I’d submitted my writing to one publisher and had been summarily rejected.

“Thanks, but no thanks.  We’d be happy to have you try again.”

If  I hadn’t been so shocked at the rejection, I, like some of you, would have noticed the last words of the previous sentence.

I decided to try again anyway, to show these bastards what they missed the first time. (cue maniacal laughter!)

I wrote with a vengeance. I edited. I wrote some more. I had friends read and edit my work.  I read it aloud to myself.  I read it again to two of my friends when I thought I was ready.

And then when that was done, I edited some more.  I read it aloud one more time.  I even had a friend read it back at me in her voice so that I would not miss a beat.

All told this weekend, I put something like 14 hours into this project, and that was after I’d finished writing it on Friday.  The story that I worked on and submitted tonight by the way (yay me!) had become more than just a quest to reclaim my lost honor.  It had become an obsession.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have my supporters.  J. Marie Ravenshaw and Edward Lorn will always have my gratitude for their assistance in bringing madness to my method … I mean method to my madness.  Muahahaha!  They have both read and reread this piece.   Both have offered words of encouragement, constructive criticism.

Both have actually spoken to me without asking me to be their therapist.

Neither has asked me to put up with their problems on a daily basis.

Neither has proffered lame excuses for not dealing with any of the problems they may face with their lives.

Both will continue to be with me when others have long since abandoned me as mad. They will share my journeys as I dive into my fantasy worlds and resurface with stories to share.  Perhaps some of these stories will make it to the general public.  I hope so.

I’m sure as I move along in this world, I will discover others for whom this is true.  And there are some other people in my life already with whom I share the deepest parts of myself.

But I am going to be honest.  Most of my closest allies on this planet right now may not be blood related.

None of the people with whom I currently live know that writing is my passion.  They hear about it as we talk of other things, but I have shown them nothing of my work.  I have not shown them the sword with which I slay Ninja Dragons and impress the winged ladies of my life.  What they know about me is constantly drowned out by the vicissitudes of regular life tinged with a madness that I cannot bare to put into words.

True madness can be brought about by several things, in my opinion.  I have learned about severe mental illness thanks to my forays into the mental health professions.  There is nothing quite so shocking to me as watching a person lose their ability to function in the world thanks to something that is beyond their control and affects their brains.  When your mind becomes your own worst enemy, nobody has to wish you harm or physically intimidate or abuse you.  You do it all to yourself without even realizing it’s being done.  I would not wish something like this on my worst enemy.

Sometimes just waking up and facing life itself can leave me feeling about as useless as an asshole on my elbow..

But there are other forms of madness that can arise, over time, from other things that are self inflicted.  I have had the unfortunate necessity to learn of this too in the last few years.  I won’t go into details now, but there is something to be said about watching someone else on a certain narcotic or other substance.  There is a journey to be undertaken by the observer as they watch someone they love destroy themselves and the family and friends with whom they are surrounded.  It is a fascinating and alarming trek to undertake when the person you once knew as the light of your life has immersed themselves in a darkness from which they refuse to be pulled.  I will only extend my hand so many times when it is repeatedly slapped, burned, or bitten.

And I am not a Pavlovian dog.  I will not lay down and allow myself to be electrocuted because of some Skinnerian principle of learned helplessness.  If I can’t find a way past the electricity on the floor, I’ll piss on the damned floor and watch it sparkle before I start hopping around, looking for the fuckers who turned on the juice.  And you better believe I’d bite their nuts off before I ran off into the sunset with a pretty bitch at my side.

I have to say goodbye to someone this year.

They are not dead in the physical sense.  But they have died to all sense of reality.  They have taken themselves out the world in which we live, and they have remained enshrouded in the fug of their own ignorance and impotent rage.

That is something that I would not wish on anyone, friend or otherwise.  Yet it is also something that I can damned well live without.

The samurai in me has been at war with my inner healer.  My inner healer wants to talk some sense into this person and remind them that it is not too late to get some semblance of a normal life back.  I want to tell them it is not too late to reclaim one’s soul if one will only remember that they have one in the first place.

My inner samurai has emerged though, and all I want to do is cut through this person like a weed, brushing them aside so I can move on with my own life.   I feel  no pity for this wretched excuse of humanity.  I feel no remorse as I draw my sword and cut them down with my words.  I feel no mercy as I slice off their choking hands at the wrists and toss them aside like garbage.  There is ice in my veins when she tells me that I am broken and I simply stare, willing them to look in a mirror.  I want to quote Clint Eastwood at them and ask what happens at night when the demons come.

But I need not waste my breath.  I hear them crying melodramatically in the darkness.  I scoff and shrug my shoulders.

Fuck ’em.

But we are fast closing in on the real reason that I spent so much time on this latest writing project.

Every effort that I make to further my dream to write fiction for a living has taken me closer to my inner bliss.  But it has had another affect.  I am removing myself further from the suffocating miasma of this person’s existence.  I am shielding myself from their sadness, their self pity, and their ultimate rage.  I can no longer be this person’s whipping boy, their Pavlovian dog, their indentured servant, their prisoner, or their anything.  I am not and I have never been anything more to them than a target upon which they could foist their self loathing and inadequacies.  I have never been more than a scratching post when they seek to dig their claws.

But I simply refuse to do it anymore.

If I’ve learned anything from my writing other than how to hone my technique and how to concentrate when World War Three erupts around me in such dramatic, “I am the night fashion,” is that practice makes perfect.  The only thing that people need to understand about following a dream is that it takes hard work.  The dream, in this case, is the journey, and not the destination.  The dream is what you begin to become, the spirit that seeps into you as you invite true happiness in.  And there is nothing on this planet that can take that away from me.

Perhaps personal growth and change  is one of the harder parts of learning to write.  I share my story because I want to inspire other writers who may be struggling with accepting that it is their dream to write, whether it be for fun, for a living, or just to escape the insanity of their otherwise chaotic lives.  As I’ve said countless times, we write about what we know.  I have reminded myself this weekend that I know just as much about seeking happiness and meeting a goal as I do about having the love and happiness sucked from my life by things that may or may not be out of my control.  I realize that the best way to meet life is head on.  Take that Succubus or Incubis by the horns and get the happiness you’ve fought off all those other demons for.  Claim that love that you’ve denied yourself because other self-pitying naysayers and hatemongers told you that you couldn’t do it.  Become merciless your purging of such negativity from your world.  You’re the only one that can do this.  You’re the only one that can heal yourself.

I must once again take up the sword that I laid by the river’s edge all those years ago.  And I do it gladly.

I will take back the happiness I lost.

And by the way, I’m not asking permission.

 

Aikido and Life

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/22/2012 by Angel D. Vargas
A young man about 5’8” and a hundred and seventy five pounds enters a Dojo around the corner from his apartment in the city.  He goes in, bows to the Sensei who gives a nod and a smile.  He enters the Dojo, steps into the middle of the practice space and bows to the shrine at the front of the room.  He then enters the men’s changing area and dons a Gi with a top that fits his broad chest very well, but with pants that are one size too big for him at this time.  He finally ties the pants off with a quick flourish, smiles nervously and gets his Obi (belt) from his backpack. He looks at the belt as though he’s forgotten what this fucking this is and why he brought it with him.  With a snap of the fingers of his free hand, he suddenly remembers what to do, and he quickly dons the Obi, tying it off in the way he remembered seeing on the u-tube video just the night before.  He knows his Sensei is nice enough to forgive the new student a few mistakes, but he also knows that appearances matter, and there are rules that all students must obey. He checks himself in the mirror and then turns his head to the left and to the right, checking for other males in the room before striking his best (and most idiotic) street fighter pose.  The top of his newly shaven, bald head glimmers in the light like a cartoon sword just released from a scabbard, the shimmering light moving from left to right.  He nods and then laughs at himself for a full ten seconds.  What the hell is he doing here, anyway?  Who the fuck does this guy think he is?

 

enters the practice space once again, abandoning his flip flops by the rear edge of the tatami mat.  He bows again to the shrine at the front of the room, checks the tightness of his belt (and his pants) and slowly steps onto the mat, preparing to stretch his muscles.  He hasn’t even begun class yet, and his muscles are already aching from work at the factory the night before.  How many boxes did he have to assemble last night, a hundred, maybe two hundred?  Paper cuts on his hands begin to sting, but he ignores all this as class quickly begins. 

 

Before the young warrior fully comprehends what has happened, Sensei has instructed him and the rest of the class on their first practice move of the day.  It turns out to be an offensive move designed to be countered by another person, and the nature of the counter move is such that the attacker is tossed forward at an angle that forces hapless attacker (at least in theory) to roll forward on their right shoulder and come to a standing position smoothly and without hurting themselves.  It looks deceptively simple whenever Sensei plays the role of the attacker and the attacked, and the young warrior does have a history of practicing martial arts.  But it’s been years, and he’s tired today.  Cautiously optimistic, he finally joins a group of his fellow classmates, and everyone is ready to practice the move. 

 

The young man is chosen to play the attacker first.  He nods and smiles, hoping he can still use his body the way he used to.  A young woman stands in front of him, ready to receive his attack.  The young man has seen this woman before, and he knows that she has great command over this martial art.  He also thinks her quite the beauty, though he dares not say so.  She nods, and the young man lunges at her with a short, overhead chop to her head with his right hand.  She grabs his arm and his Gi, and before he knows it, his momentum has sent him tumbling face first toward the mat!  He quickly remembers what Sensei has taught him about tucking his head, finding the mat with his arm and using momentum to guide himself into a forward roll. The world seems to spin like one of the slots of a slot machine where the lever has just been pulled.  So far, so good! 

 

Unfortunately, the young warrior has suddenly forgotten how to stand up from a forward roll without crashing into the wall in front of him, and as he realizes this, his feet are now pointed straight into the air toward the ceiling.  In a panic, he suddenly draws a breath, closes his eyes, and just follows raw instinct, attempting to stop his momentum and stand upright, stance and technique be damned!  His left palm smacks the mat with an echo that seems to reverberate throughout the universe, and he attempts to will his leg muscles to contract and expand at the right moment, hoping against hope that he doesn’t find himself smacking the wall with his forehead.

 

As though the universe has heard his silent prayer, the world stops spinning, and he opens his eyes, and he then feels the cold draft of reality hitting his exposed buttocks.  There won’t be any Matrix-like poses from THIS Neo Anderthal.  There won’t be any magical moments with dazzling smiles, sparkling teeth, and buxom babes in tight fitting Gi’s either.  The bubble of a warrior wannabe’s glory has been burst, and in the immortal words of Bill Hicks, the unfortunate novice has been “sent hurtling back to the truth.”

 

“Hike up my pants, move fast..Oh God, hike up my pants, move fast!” 

 

The young martial artist finally gets himself covered up again after what feels like a millennium and trots to the back of the group, red faced.  Unfortunately, he spends the rest of the lesson essentially getting flipped over, standing up, hiking up his pants, and trying again.  What had this young man had quoted at him recently about the definition of insanity? Oh wait.  He’s crazy!

 

This is what I was like a year ago when I was taking Aikido and rediscovering  that I really do enjoy physical activity, even if I have a learning curve that demands that I embarrass myself in order to learn proper technique.  Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in all this.  Life is all about risks, some more major than others.  One can risk their hearts as well as the body or the mind.  Some might argue that life does not exist without the risk.  I would argue that it does, but it would be of a much poorer quality than I would like.

 

This is an ordinary world.  I’ve already learned to survive in it.

 

 

But it’s time to really thrive, amigos and amigas.  I want to ask my followers (or anyone else who would like to respond) a question.  

 

What risks have you taken lately in order to broaden the experience that is your life?

 

It’s a pretty open ended question, really.  But life seems replete with opportunities to enjoy happiness if  one is willing to risk their financial situations, their hearts, their very pride in order to reap the potential benefits.  Where do YOU fit in when it comes to taking such risks?  I’d LOVE comments on this.  Feel free to get this discussion rolling with me.

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