Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Hidden Temple

At the risk of creating an unmanageable deluge of posts over the course of three days, I would like to draw our attention from the current, all consuming meditation on testing, and focus on something more important: the flag. The Shaolin flag that is.

After suffering injury in gale-force winds last month, the flag was sent away for some reconstructive surgery, but has yet to make a reappearance. Every time I am meandering to Temple either from the subway or from work, I get a little lost in thought and then realized I have no idea if I am on the right block. The Temple may be everywhere, but I need a giant red banner to show me where that is!

Ok, so this isn't really about the flag; it's a big old metaphor for training. Sometimes, I feel like without the flag showing me where I am, or where I'm going, I can't get there. This isn't just in reference to a test or certificate ceremony. It can be a part of a move that I need to appear before I feel like I am making progress towards nailing it. It is about setting up false deadlines and benchmarks for myself in an effort to make progress more tangible and more visible. But what I have realized in the last few weeks, is that, you don't need the flag to find temple. It might make the journey a little more challenging (or if you're inattentive like me, a lot more challenging) but it isn't actually important at all. The marker doesn't make the place more real, and trying to find overt markers for my training doesn't make the training I have done or will do more real either. My bawang zakui isn't perfect. I can't do it one handed; I sure can't do an aerial. And while I do aspire to those things, their absence doesn't negate the improvements that are there.

Realizing this is helping me, slowly, release that anger and frustration that comes from not performing to my desired level. Last night was a really fun class, the chi was out of control. And for me, it was because I realized, I haven't reached the level I want, but look at how much I have learned and how much I have grown. Just as climbing up the stairs in an unmarked building is like sneaking in to a secret ninja society, finding those hidden realizations and achievements in myself is equally rewarding. Maybe not as rewarding as the day I can wear a big red flag that says SHAOLIN WARRIOR HERE. I've never been subtle. But still, it's a start.