Monday, April 2, 2007

My Saturday Evening

I would have gotten back to you sooner, but I was pretty tired, and busy Sunday. Which was, by the way, April Fools Day, and I didn't want you to disbelieve anything I might write. As if I'd do such a thing. That's just crazy. Anyway. My BJJ competition was Saturday, my particular division scheduled for 7:30 p.m. I got there at 1:30, to give moral support to a young fella I train with. I'm not all that demonstrative, so I don't know how much support I conveyed. But for me, the mere gesture is enough. On the drive there I found myself in the same mindset I used to have when I was driving out to all those bootcamps and whatnot. Gotta get there. Can’t let him down. He didn’t even expect me. But we define ourselves by our expectations confirmed by our actions. I’m the man who has to do his duty.

Hung around and watched the competitors for a while after my guy finished. I’ve decided that sports-watching is a skill, that I don’t have. I’m really not all that interested in watching, even given my interest in the sport itself. I’ll watch gymnastics once in a very great while, but that’s more of an exhibition than a sport -- it’s a programmed performance. Like dancing. As for direct competitions, aside from prodigious individual feats and displays of technique, it’s only interesting when you care who wins.

It’s a forty minute drive, but I drove home. Just a way to kill time. Something to do. Being busy, to keep the mind calm. Yes, I was anxious. Not worried, just an overly active mind. I’m sure my meaning is clear. Spent an hour and a half at home. Dried my gi. The washer didn’t spin for some reason the night before, and so the jacket was sopping when I put it in the drier in the morning. Still damp when I left. I could have found a laundromat down in C, but any excuse to get home, eh? A way to soothe my mind.

And what to eat? Well, with me, nothing. My smoothy, all day. I knew a wrestler who said he’d get the trots before competing. I monitored myself for that sort of thing. Anyone who’s bothered to read this far into my boring survey of the day will be acquainted with my ideas about digestion and its intimate connection with emotions. As I’ve said, the gut uses more neurotransmitters than the brain. Water isn’t absorbed until it gets to the colon -- last three feet. Makes sense, since if it was absorbed sooner on the way, solid waste would be reeeeaaaallly solid. Tee hee. Point being, any disturbance in the system, as of nerves, and water may not be absorbed at all. Hence, the trots. I’m pleased to find that I seem not to be subject to that inconvenience. Perhaps I lack imagination? That’s what my imaginary friend says. Tee hee.

Got back to the venue at 6:30. All set. A couple of fella came to cheer me on. That was thoughtful of them. I never expect that sort of thing. I’m used to being alone. Not nervous at all. Some agitation, and it took me a while to find the word for it. Antsy. Looking to get started.

And I was trying to find a mental attitude to approach the whole affair with. I think it would be useful to develop an aggressive and ferocious persona. I just don’t know if I want to do it. In ritual magic there’s the idea of the magical personality. No, I don’t do ritual magic. It’s just the manipulation of mental and emotional energy by way of deliberately constructed and imbued symbols. True, entities may sometimes involve themselves, and that is the general conceit. But that would be very rare, and unnecessary from the point of view of the entities. Unless they’re just bored. Candles and swords and pentagrams and incantations. Nonsense in themselves. But that’s how the mind functions, and the idea of an artificially constructed attitude, that one dons only for specific and solemn occasions, is intriguing and useful.

The application is wide. Warriors -- berserkers and bloodlust have been very real phenomena in ages past. Priests -- those who approached the Lord with an attitude of insufficient reverence were struck down dead. Holiness is a practice of emotion as much as of action. Cultivate a mindset of difference, then. Whatever the vocabulary -- self-talk, auto-suggestion or -hypnosis, game face, ritual, focusing -- there is a necessary function that excellence acknowledges and mediocrity ignores.

I, alas, tend to settle on the guise of hey I’m a nice guy, and we’re just here to compete, not to fight. True, that is nice, but it doesn’t really embody the entire philosophy of competition. No, it isn’t victory at any cost. That’s just stupid. But we have not trained so hard, punished ourselves so long, denied ourselves so much ease and comfort and driven ourselves instead to exhaustion, that we might walk away from the prize, for all that it may be only a wreath of laurel, that fades. For all that we wish to please our own self-esteem, the high opinion of men does have some lure -- let’s be honest. Ambition is a good thing.

Upshot is, I won my division -- oldguy bluebelt light-heavyweight. And I won the open division too. Double gold. Sounds impressive, right? Won all six matches. Two by submission, three on points (me: lots; them: zero), and one by advantage. Four of the matches were work. Two were a walk. But I played my game pretty well. No regrets. No one over age fifty. Some of them looked over fifty, though. Some gray, some balding, some fat. That’s a little embarrassing. But they were my peers. I’m just in really good shape.

Here’s the problem. I’m getting ambitious. I’m looking at the World Championship in August, and I’m saying to myself, I’d like to do that! It’s just crazy. I’d be facing guys 30 years younger than me. That matters. Someone my height and weight, and faster and stronger and in better shape, and without all the aches and baggage. You know -- younger. You know what? I think I’m going to do it.

I’ve been training steadily for two years, for no real reason. No goal. Just something to do. A way to connect with my son. A way to expend emotional energy physically. An excuse to be around people. But no focus. I’m okay with that. But I know how I am. Once I set a goal, I work really hard toward it. So I don’t know that I will set this goal -- not the goal to win, that’s just crazy, but to do, literally, my best. That’s an awfully high standard, you know, my best. I’m not doing it now.

I’d have to start running again, and swimming. I’d have to gain eight or nine pounds of muscle. I’d have to get committed to real flexibility. I’d have to bring my brain into working on technique. I’d have to roll with much bigger and better and stronger guys, and with smaller faster guys. I’ve got five months to do it -- enough time to train for a marathon. It’s the week of my 48th birthday. A present to myself, then. Well, for my 50th I’m planning on running an ultra marathon -- 100 miles. It’ll take a year to train for that. So the next few years are all planned out. Or not.

I’d have to develop the mind of a warrior. I’d have to find my dark place, and take from it enough strength and resolve to do all this. I can do that. But I think I’ll need a better reason than just ambition. Excellence for its own sake is a fine thing, although perhaps not entirely practical. Practicality should have its own standard of excellence. And somewhere in there is the idea of expectations, confirmed by actions.

That's it then. My Saturday evening. Usually I spend them wracked with self-loathing, trying to scrub away my filthiness as I sob in the shower after having eaten a gallon of rocky road ice cream while masturbating to the very most perverted and degrading of images. Good times. That seems like a lot to give up, just for some cruddy wreath of laurels and the possible approbation of strangers and perhaps some raised self-esteem. Maybe I'll have to rethink this whole "excellence" thing. I'll get back to you on that.

Jack H,
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Bi-Continental Champion,
Double Gold Medalist, 2007


n said...

future mundial double gold... nay, triple platinum medalist, 2007.

hell yeah. awesome, congrats.


Jack H said...

I've entered my golden years. I think my innumerable future medals will have to be radioactive, to properly signify my amazing excellence. It's all uphill from here. Um. Hooah.


Galen said...

Nice job, Jack! You totally should do it in August; I know you'll kick some.


Jack H said...

Why thank you, Doctor. It was my pleasure. Any time I can kick some old guy's ass, I'll just take that opportunity. I've been taking stock of my life, and this whole "Mr. Niceguy" thing just ain't working out. Next on my list is the chicks. Then the kids. And I'll be stopping by the hospital next week, to put the cripples in their place.