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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obstacles

I first stumbled across the phrase “The obstacle is the path” when I was searching for a title for this blog. While I didn’t end up using it directly, I kept it on there because I thought it encapsulated something very important about the practice of martial arts; that the journey is not about overcoming the challenges put before us, but about experiencing the challenge itself. That learning does not merely take place when you prepare for or reflect upon the struggle, but it occurs inside the struggle itself.

Also, it serves to remind me of another similar, though less prosaic piece of wisdom, as given to me by a college professor: shit happens and the wise ones among us carry toilet paper.

Right now, I’m serving as case study for my own philosophy.

Last week, on the advice of my physician, I went to see a hand surgeon regarding a wart-like growth on my right thumb. I was told that removing it would be a minor procedure, lasting about half an hour. An appointment was set up for today.

I discovered, as I was slipping into the operating gown, that my definition of a minor procedure and the doctor’s definition were not the same. While the procedure did only take about half an hour, the recovery process will apparently take close to two weeks. That’s two weeks of no Muay Thai, no judo, no lifting, no intense cardio. Nothing. I can walk a bit. That’s it.

I would be lying if I said this didn’t upset me. It does, deeply. But, at the same time, it gives me a chance to try putting my money where my mouth is: I suddenly have some unexpected free time. I can use it well, or not. I will choose to use it well. I have several martial arts related DVDs that I need to watch; I have a number of posts to write here, and while I may type them more slowly, I also have the time for it. So look for some more new content in the coming weeks.

And keep on struggling.

3 comments:

morningstar said...

the lesson here is not: wrap wounds in toilet paper.

instead, don't forget to get as much info as possible from doctors. they are your friend. too bad about their employers, the insurance companies, being such major unfettered wankers...

good luck with the healing.

Andrea said...

I was trying to figure out why you couldn't exercise the rest of your body while healing a wound to your thumb when I remembered a line from Lucy Grealy's memoir:
"The body is a connected thing."
Best to attend to that fact, I suppose. Good luck.

Jake said...

I like the quote--I may have to check out the memoir [and this is how I end up with overflowing bookshelves].

The ostensible explanation was that they didn't want my blood pressure going up, because that could cause the wound to bleed. Bleeding wounds are generally considered bad, hence, no exercise.

Which, really, just proves the quote right.

Thanks! :-)