Its been a little over a year now since I was promoted to purple belt. It was a odd combination of excitement, accomplishment, and dread when I saw Geoff out of the corner of my eye approaching me with my purple belt dangling from his hand.
I felt a bull's eye craved in my back as the purple belt was wrapped around me. That intentionally or even just subconsciously my training partners would put forth their best efforts in trying to tap me or pressure me or use me as a barometer of their games. I found myself discouraged as I thought about my new competition waiting for me at tournaments. But what I was really worried about was my game, how inadequate I felt to be a purple, the glaring holes that I thought somehow Geoff missed or choose to ignore. "Certainly, I truly do not deserve this promotion," I told myself.
To make up for these insecurities I push. I pressured. I tried to force myself to be better.
Then a random weekend afternoon we headed over to Forged Fitness. In the middle of a marathon rolling session I was matched up with a blue belt. Minutes were passing as I was getting more exhausted, until finally I had no energy left. I got tapped. Gasping for air, I thanked my training partner and crawled to the wall. With my head down and back against the wall, desperately trying to recover, Billy looked at me and informed me "you're not done." He threw back in there with the blue.
I got my ass kicked. I moved, positioned, and defended with every ounce of energy I had left but every time I would find myself tapping. Eventually a brown belt took the blue's place and it just made the submissions more frequent.
I laid there, exhausted, beaten up, dominated. There it no longer matter what belt I held....I was stuck there and my preconceived notices of required skill set for my belt color wasn't going to help me. There is were I was freed from bounding myself to my own expectations.
This liberation from holding myself to my own ridiculous standards has been the most tangible moment of clarity I've had as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner. And its been the best thing that ever happened to my game.
In some ways this felt like a long year. I think about where I was New Years of 2012, celebrating with friends in upstate New York, laughing, eating, celebrating.... but even those seemingly fresh memories have been chipped away by time, losing its color tint, becoming another faded memory.
In other ways its felt like a short year. Changes, road trips, sadness and rejoicing happen so fast sometimes its hard to make it a memory. Rapid moments recall like bursts of light, flashing by as if I'm in a speeding vehicle.
I wake up in a house I own, with my lovely wife and fluffy dog. Most days I begrudgingly put on pants and head to work. Then there are days when I take my time, I find myself in awe. At the random moments and the cosmically planned ones, to which have led me here. Each joyful moment with Sara, each friendly smiles from people I love, each quality meal, each expression of gratitude, each moment, each year....
1. Sufjan Stevens - Sister
2. Sufjan Stevens - Casmir Pulaski Day
3. Kooley High - Dear Raleigh
4. Rosie Thomas - Much Farther To Go
5. Sucre - Hiding Out
6. Rosie Thomas & Sufjan Stevens - Where Are You?
7. Delta Rae - Morning Comes
8. The Welcome Wagon - God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again
9. Right Away, Great Captain - I Am Aware
10. Band of Horses - The Funeral
11. Adele - Chasing Pavements
12. Fort Atlantic - Let Your Heart Hold Fast
13. Sufjan Stevens - Vito's Ordination Song