When I was a kid, I was very involved in my local karate school. It’s probably what kept me from going totally off the deep end much earlier than I actually did. There was a lot I understood about the philosophy, most of which translated into

We learn to fight so that we never have to fight.

and

Respect your elders.

and

Always look out for the little guy.

and

Don’t be a bully.

All lessons well learned and well worth learning.

But the part that drove me to distraction — the part in which I never got past going through the motions — was the meditation at the end of class.

Seiza — sitting on feet

I would follow the instructor’s cues to get into position, then bow, head up, eyes closed, and then

Empty your mind of all thoughts

for however long sensei deemed sufficient.

And I could fake it with the best of them. And I did. Through 8 years of karate. Through countless yoga classes. Through recovery meetings dedicated to meditation. Through church, and prayer, and moments of silence in memory of amazing human beings.

I was a fake. A meditation failure. I couldn’t stop thinking EVER. And the harder I tried to stop thinking, the more thoughts I thought.

Running finally did it for me. I hated running; used to joke that I only ran when chased (yeah, I know, been used a billion times). But I was gently voluntold to start walking/jogging/running and I followed the “suggestion” and for the first time in my life, my head cleared and my mind shut the hell up. I’m not sure if it was the repetition of motion lulling me into a state of quiet, or if my brain was just shutting down to prepare for my inevitable demise from halted inactivity, but I think running made me not crazy anymore.

For the first time, I knew what it meant to be right where I was, instead of thinking about being right where I was. Does that make sense?

I don’t know why I shared this. You just always give me something to think about and I guess you have a high level of relatability (maybe not a word?) because I always get memory-triggered by your posts.

Keep going, you’re building something good, I think. :)

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.