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Breakthrough! I haven’t had any time to write and the first time I send something out it’s a completely incoherent blast about a tiny physical breakthrough in an obscure martial art? Yes. Yes it is. Because it feels good enough to fuel me through a few minutes of typing before I pass out to get what little sleep I can before class tomorrow.
We were up on the mountain (yes, yes the mountain. There is a half finished giant post about Kung Fu. More later.) and I was doing the shenfa (body method) punches again and again, pausing to have Shifu slowly rotate my shoulder yet again, talk about it being like a train piston, facing off with Andy to trade punch for punch to watch his shoulders spin and try to imitate his movements. All like I have done night after night, struggling to get the movement, the key to this art. Suddenly… there was a vision in my head. I saw my shoulder as the little triangle of muscle on the visible man diagram. What if that triangle where to flatten upward and float over the top? Could that be… I threw one. Then another. Whoosh. Suddenly… it was effortless. I felt it. I freaked out, shouting and jumping and yelling. Andy got the gist of it and wouldn’t let me stop. My stance was still off, my hips are no where close yet, but that next key… that next powerful part of the puzzle was in my hands. I could feel it. It was incredible.
These are the moments. These are the moments in the endless chain of activities I’ve tried to learn over the years that hook you and keep you coming back. First there is the struggle, night after night of trying to do something that’s been described to you again and again, feeling awkward and lost and hopeless… but if you’ve been through a path like this you know that somehow, in some way unfathomable to you at the present moment, the next breakthrough will come. And it will fill you with a surge of elation and strength so powerful it will keep you pushing through to the next pop of realization and the next.
One down. A lifetime of little breakthroughs to go.