The Gifts of Discomfort

shinaiNow that I feel normal again after the grueling Kendo practice last night, I could start piecing my thoughts together. And here are just some of those that popped out of nowhere during and hours after training:

Never, ever expect anything to be easy when hard work doesn’t come first.

When I left Manila five years ago, I also said goodbye to my usual routines. Gone were the sanshou training, regular running schedules, body combat classes at the gym, and weight training. These activities were on top of the usual daily grind that includes long commutes to and from work, marathon meetings, volunteer activities for rowing, and more. Since I came back to my hometown, the once active lifestyle transitioned into a  sedentary one. Kendo is the first physical activity that I’ve committed to with rekindled enthusiasm and fervor. But the 2-hour practices with only two very short breaks in between are stretching me to my limits. I remember thinking after one of the most difficult drills we’ve done last night that I shouldn’t be a wuss because I’m only getting what I deserve. I can never, ever expect it to be easy when I haven’t done anything to stay in shape all this time.

Embrace the gifts of discomfort.

Nothing initiates growth and progress like discomfort. I used the thought as a mantra to keep me going when all my body wanted was relief from the intense discomfort it was feeling. I truly believe that in time, it’ll be easier to perform those drills. I’ll just have to hang on long enough for my body to get used to them.

Never underestimate the mind’s power to make things happen.

One of the things I love most about sports and martial arts is that they help in cultivating strength of will. It may take a while for a seamless mind and body connection to appear. But initially, you can trust the mind to keep the body going if it chooses to. The body will eventually catch up and stay in synch with the mind.

Things get better.

Things get better once discomfort fades away. It always does if you decide to commit to whatever it is that you choose to do. But you have to be careful not to get too comfortable once things begin to flow smoothly. It’s like climbing the proverbial mountain. You get to rest and enjoy the scenery for as long as you want. But you  eventually have to leave that place unless you want to get stuck longer than you have to.

Other people’s passion and commitment are inspiring.

There’s only four of us who’ve been showing up since I started practicing Kendo. I didn’t meet the others who were present at the first practice that I missed. So every training, there’s only the teacher, the other two students who’re siblings, and me. Our teacher is in the process of relocating from Manila to Davao. So I could just imagine how busy he must be with all the arrangements involved. But still, he never misses training unless he’s traveling. He takes the time to teach his new students and even pays his share for the venue’s rental fees. The siblings, who are the youngest among us, seem to share the same commitment. I honestly don’t think the club would’ve survived this long without them. I couldn’t help but think that it’s usually the most dedicated and passionate about their hobbies, whatever they may be, who do whatever it takes to pursue them.

 

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