I studied with Miles (and I studied Miles) for a full week as an uchideshi. An uchideshi is a live in student or, literally “inside student”: a student that lives inside the dojo and gets to study his or her own inside and the insides of the others. When you pay attention you can see Miles shift into different roles all the time. On the dojo floor his presence leaves no space and has no tolerance for unmindfulness but still he moves from gentle, patient and being a buddy, to a tiny bit of a show-off and back to the authoritarian Sensei. The fluidity of his presence is reflected in the fluidity of his aikido.
I asked myself: “which aspect of me needs to be born?”. What I saw was that my Professional Voice still needed to be born. I also saw that the journey I’m making is some sort of pregnancy. Which actually means that I have a good and safe time ahead of me before it becomes uncomfortable (big grin on my face). The Father in me is also still unborn, as is The Husband, The Mature Leader and The Best Selling Writer.
It is ridiculous to stay unborn. Just visualizing your big mature body, with a bald head in my case, creates an impulse to liberate oneself. Do you really want to stay trapped in your comfort zone? Really? Without autonomy, still being carried around by your mother, attached to her with the naval chord? Do you want to prevent to ever be vulnerable? Do you want to hide behind limiting thoughts and ideas about how you should be? Or do you want to be born into what you could be? Do you want to be free and take responsibility for your own life and our planet? Do you want to realize the real you?
Do you remember the video where I said how limited I felt after my first aikido class? Here a video taken directly after my third lesson. Still very immature, I admit, but not completely unborn.
As I type this I realize I am looking for father figures, people to look up to. Goddammit, is the pain of growing up without a father still driving me? I thought I was beyond that. But my need is not met. Because what happens is that when I tell my story about what I’m doing here I am all of a sudden the inspiring dude.
This saddens me because it has many implications. It means that chances are small that I will ever feel what it means to have a father. It also means that if I’m amongst the bravest there will be never many people that will understand me and that humanity and our planet will keep suffering from our greed, fear and ignorance. But the most difficult part is that I have to let go of the idea that I’m inferior. Where would I be without something to strive for? What if there is no special species that is more human than me?
Today is my first day as an uchideshi, a formal aikido student. The place where I am at is run like a traditional Japanese aikido school. That means I am not a client that has rights but a student that has duties. There is a strict schedule and the uchideshi’s are supposed to obey the schedule. On Wednesday we do a lot of cleaning. And I volunteered to be the cook!
A week ago it would have been quite remarkable that I volunteered for the preparation of the meal because I am not that confident about my cooking. But what I used to consider big obstacles are shrinking rapidly in the light of the magnitude of my quest. And even the magnitude of my quest is shrinking.