Peaked Experiences

This is the hard part. You’ve peaked and you know it. There are lots of ways to relieve that internal pressure: lift weights, practice maniacally hard, take a slacker break, get yourself laid up with some bogus injury. Some of these will make you feel stronger or sleeker and others will bypass the problem because you are out of commission for a time; but not one of these dubious prescriptions will actively slake the problem of feeling as stale as an old biscuit.

On the other glove, there is some voice issuing from a dark corridor of your soul that tells you that the difference between how you feel right this minute and that blissful  state of the recent past is just a quark’s width away. But in which direction? especially when even the effort of contemplating  a direction seems almost too much to attempt.

At least as a Kung Fu practitioner you have a lot of choices.  There are all sorts of paths you might take. You can switch from forms to fighting, from qigong to strength training then back to sparring. On the other hand, there is also an advantage in belonging to that type of style where you have almost no choices and, peaked or not, it’s back to the weight room next Wednesday regardless of how you feel because, after all, that’s what you do. We call this latter “decision security.”

Stranded on this lonely plateau (or, conversely, in the middle of this depressing valley) can seem a  vast and isolating experience. Self examination at this point may be as abrasive as taking a tour through every one of your dirty closets but it will definitely be revealing. This feeling may have come on with the suddeness of a hawk’s shadow. And it may disappear like that same hawk lost in the sun. Though it is well nigh impossible to enjoy feeling as though you are hog-tied in barbed wire, you can turn a moment of paralysis into a modicum of reflection.

One question: are you peaking because more progress seems impossible? Or is there plenty of room for improvement but the cost is too high? Is the so-called “real world” robbing you of your martial ardor? Are you about to change something fundamental and huge and you don’t know what? Might you be on the ledge and about to jump to a new level of martial maturity in the art? This can be thrilling but painful.

The only answer is that we don’t know the answer any more than flying reptiles could have envisioned their descendents as the beautiful birds of today.  All I know is that there is so much fake evolution out there: people who find Christ because they want a parole, stock brokers who have suddenly reversed their opinions on buying Apple after a 100% run up, politicians who would never attend a tea party but now stand on the porch, hat in hand.

The martial road isn’t really that lonely because there is a world of people who, when you bump into them, know instantly what you are about. For thousands of years we’ve been pursuing a particular vein of perfection. It is about a uniquely cryptic personal evolution and there are fifty ways to take that next step. I’m tempted to tell you about them but, as we both know, you are already just a step away.

One Response to “Peaked Experiences”

  1. Jeff says:

    So true, of so many things. I can’t remember the exact quote, but Hemingway said, of the writerly admonishment to write every day, that he would rather dull his pencil through experience, then have to work extra hard to sharpen it back into writing shape, than to sit there with a lovely sharp pencil and nothing worth saying.

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