Dale and I used to train every Sunday together. We would then go to an afternoon lunch. During these times we would talk of philosophy, religion, relationships, metaphysics and how they all related to Aikido. It was a great growing process for myself. I remember in particular a sunny summer day when I was preparing for my Shodan exam.
Dale was also preparing for his Sandan. Within a few weeks I would be demonstrating the physical, mental and spiritual skills I had been practicing for about five years. During those years I had put on muscle and became more flexible and confident. I was pushing myself to levels beyond what I had experienced at Army boot camp. To have the precise know-how mentally and physically to deal with attackers and manipulate the energy which they sent me. All of this was not without a price though.
I was stressed out. My muscles ached, my joints hurt. I felt stabbing pains in my back. I couldn't keep enough fluids in my body because of my constant training and sweating. I had nightmares of doing the exam less than perfect and feeling sensei's disapproving stare as he said, "Do it again". I was constantly tired from exerting my body to its maximum potential.
During this time frame I was having girlfriend problems. I had several, but one was special. The problem was she preferred someone else. I found it annoying that other lady friends I had felt it was now their chance to pursue me... before I had tried everything to get back the girl I wanted to date. These thoughts occupied much of my time.
I told Dale of my dilemmas. Of girls and sprains, dreams and thirst. He was good to talk to because it seemed he was having the same problems I was. He was confident of his Aikido skills, but he was nervous about doing his test. His body was sore and yes, he was even having difficulty with girls.
We whined and complained to each other and sympathized the entire ride. We got to the restaurant and each off us reached for the front double doors. We opened the doors on either side and held them so a physically handicapped young man in a motorized wheelchair could exit the establishment. Perhaps he had multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. His body was small and twisted. His head was normal sized but slanted to the side form a neck too weak to hold it straight. His hand was contorted with a finger touching the control knob operating the chair he was confined to for locomotion.
I looked at Dale, he looked at me. We both knew we had the same thought. That young man would love to have just one of our problems. In unison, we both said, "Yeah".
We went inside and while we were eating, we planned our next training session.
Ken Blaylock, January 25th, 1997, Aikido North