Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sml Tk

I rolled on Thanksgiving. Those of you who are new to these pages will not understand what that means. I used to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It was important to me, and I did it five days a week, sometimes six, for hours. For three years -- exactly three years. Very tough sport, that I did too much, and I ached all the time.

The last time I'd rolled was six months ago, to the very day. May 27. Symbolic of nothing, of course. I had been training at a new studio, with my son, but I got an injury, unrelated to the rolling, and my knee swelled up like a half-grapefruit. Took two months to come under control, and I figured I'd give it some more time, not so much for the knee as to let the ache heal. Which it has. I'm a hundred percent. In the meantime I started doing crossfit workouts. It seems I need to be physical. Odd. There was a time that I conceived of myself as a giant disembodied head.

The fellow I do crossfit with now rolls where I used to be, and he's maintained an interest in his HS wrestling program, and he invited me to check it out, Thanksgiving. Not only have I never wrestled, I've never seen wrestling. In passing only. But I seem to be less constricted than in weeks, months, years and decades past, and the idea was actually tempting. It was an act of discipline, but I managed to say yes instead of my almost inevitable no. Upshot is, I rolled, bjj in fact, with another fella I used to roll with.

Really tough. But it was actually surprising how not-stupid I was. I could think. I didn't suck. Six months off and I wasn't noticeably worse at all. Of course it was no-gi, which is much less technical -- a good way to ease back into it. And R, with whom I rolled, might have been exhibiting some compassion on my tired old bones. But it wasn't too long away from the sport, it seems.

It might have been, but I wasn't worried. It was a brain-development thing with me, in that sport, and it took me so very long to stopping sucking -- plumping up the axons and dendrites, loading the synapses with biochems. The body, being a very conservative machine, will not disregard adaptations it has worked so hard to develop, without an atrophying indolence to prompt it. I've been busy with crossfit, which is, more than any other workout program, about athleticism, using the whole body as an integrated tool.

There'd be a lot of crossover between the two, cf and bjj. I used it, albeit differently, so I didn't lose it. If I'd been sitting around eating peeled grapes, or just running, or doing biceps curls to pump up my guns, I'd have been much more likely to lose it. I did have that in the back of my mind. But I wasn't worried.

As for the social aspect, of facing the prospect, for me intimidating, of rolling or grappling or actually wrestling with dudes I've never meet -- it was surprisingly untroubling to me. At the age of near-fifty, it really would be about time to put away the adolescent awkwardness, the crippling insecurity and isolation that has controlled and ruined me since early childhood. Y'think? I didn't actually go up to anyone and invite myself a round -- only rolled with someone I already knew -- but the attitude was different. So there's that.

There is a point here. Who is it who examined the minutiae of daily life in such exquisite detail? Pepys? Proust? Well, yes, but Montaigne, in his essays. Like painting miniature portraits, or inscribing lengthy Bible passages on grains of rice. Or like a flea circus. We have to pay attention to the little things, because that's where life is lived. Politics will have only a statistical effect on our lives. The expression on a loved one's face can change our whole day.

We went rolling on Thanksgiving morning. More than anything else, the undramatic thoughtfulness of the invitation itself was meaningful. I do try to make an effort to not drag my bag of blood-soaked rags with me everywhere I go. But I can't help but suppose it's apparent that mine is not an off-the-rack personality. We can't read too much into these things, but the manifestation of human kindness can mean more than the sum of its parts. A slighting word can precipitate the downward spiral of a damaged soul, just as some casual benevolence can be an airhose that sustains a man trapped deep beneath the mud and rubble of the earth. Nothing so dramatic in the little excursion under discussion, but vision is made up of photons -- smallest specks of color are what make up our perception of reality. The smaller a thing is, the more real.

And then Wednesday last I rolled again. Twice, then. Again, it was good. Should do more of it. Maybe I will. E, with whom I train, had been invited to compete Saturday at a place, but it got canceled for no compelling reason. He'd invited me to watch. Again, not something I'd normally do. But again it seemed like a good thing to do. Sociable, friendly, supportive. Normal. Like what people do. Like the way people are. I should stop defining myself out of that group. I can be normal.

We look for meaning almost everywhere. Something happens and we wonder if it's a punishment from God. Does God inscribe the clouds with meaning? I think he put the meaning in our brains, and we project it. Sort of the opposite of photons. They don't have meaning, or information. They just have energy states. We impose the meaning, and by so doing, create information. Alchemy, then. We filter the universe through our minds and change its nature.

I wonder if I frighten people. I don't think so. I'm harmless. Someone was laughing the other day, telling me about how he and another guy had been talking about me, calling me a "freaky genius". Because I always had information about whatever the subject was. Of course I could only nod and agree. I'm a freaky genius alright. Yep.

You know what this is. It's small talk. Another skill I'm working on.


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