Harry Potter Day, as it was Harry Potter’s birthday and the beginning of almost every book, is tomorrow, 31 July. I suppose he would be…, well, I don’t know. The first book was released 26 June of 1997 in the UK. Harry turns 11 at the beginning of that book (after the intro bits, that is). Worth each book, he was a year older, but the books didn’t release each year… so, based on the release of the first book, we could say that Harry would be 35 now… However, at the end of the last book, he’s already all grown up and all, so that messes with that completely.
But the series is now over 24 years old…
So, let’s put it this way: This 31 July will be the 25th opportunity for the world to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday. Let’s just enjoy that, then, shall we? 😉
I was discussing yesterday with a friend how I never had a favorite color as a child (and still have none). I knew I needed an answer to the question that almost everyone posed to me, so, I took stock of the favorite colors I knew of the people around me in life. One neighbor girl was really cool. And so, I figured her favorite color would be an acceptable one to have as a favorite color, since she was so cool. Her favorite color was green. So, whenever anyone asked, so was mine. (Though, I regularly forgot this fact, unless explicitly asked for it.)
In my Duolingo lesson today, I was reminded of this conversation and that time in my life. Nowadays, I just tell people that I have no favorite anything. But most of my childhood involved the green answer. And so, it felt as though Duolingo knew all about me when t ave me this phrase to learn and practice:
Do you ever have so much that you want to say and share with the world that it just feels like it would take far too much time and effort, either for yourself or regarding the other person’s time and patience, and so, you just say nothing at all?
Or when, simply out of some degree of fear, you just don’t say what you really, truly want to say in a given situation?
I wonder how many wonders in life are lost that way, how many friendships never discovered nor deepened…
Perhaps it would be a service to all creation, if we were to start asking people directly and openly what they would like to share with us today, each day we meet them. And then, if we actually listened to what they had to reply each time.
A couple years ago, a certain job opening was made known to me. For years – maybe ten? -, it had been my dream job. But, on that day, when I was stressed at learning of its becoming available, I had a great talk with my cousin to help me sort through what was going on inside my body and mind.
As it turns out, I didn’t want the job anymore. Who I was was beyond the job. I had outgrown the dream. And I don’t mean in age. I just mean that who I had become at this point in time was more than that dream, more than the person who had had that dream ever imagined she would be. I had outgrown that person and that dream.
And, though it was a tad stressful at first, it turned it to be a wonderful thing, much better than the dream the job had once been.
Today, walking the running/walking trail loop at the park, a girlfriend and I were nearing the area with pull-up bars. Growing up, and even as an adult, I had always dreamed of being one of those guys – as I only knew guys who could do it – who could walk up to a pull-up bar at a park and just do a pull-up, like it was no big deal, and then continue on their way, returning to their different reason for being at the park in the first place. They weren’t there for pull-ups. It was just fun to do a pull-up whenever a bar was around like that, right?
I longed for that for myself in life.
I doubted that I ever would reach such a goal, but I never gave up hope entirely. When I finally got myself sorted emotionally, and had joined my current gym, my doubt lessened, at last, but did not disappear.
Now, remember how we were about to reach the pull-up bars on our walk today? Several years ago, at those same bars, a different girlfriend wanted to attempt a pull-up. She absolutely could not do it, so I told her to bend her knees and let me assist. I might have assisted in lifting her more than her own arms did. It was comical, but still satisfying for both of us, because she had experienced her first pull-up of any kind.
Those same bars always remind me of that friend. (She had joined the gym with me, but she moved out of town after about a year. At that point, she and I both almost could manage a real pull-up. Depending on whom you asked, we both got it. But I don’t really count it. 😛 ) So, on a whim today, I asked the friend with me to do a video for me, so I could send it to that other friend.
We went to the bars. They were super hot. I had to adjust my palms to the heat of metal that had been baking in the sun all day. After a matter of seconds, though, I figured I could stand the heat enough, and we started the video. I grabbed onto the bar, dropped my feet from under me, and did a few pull-ups. Four was all I did, as I doubted another was in me at the time. I said as much, and we laughed about it, as we headed back into our walk.
It wasn’t until I was thinking about it later, after the walk had finished, that I realized that, well, I had just achieved a dream of mine. And not just any dream, but a long-time, doubt-filled dream of mine.
So, why hadn’t I noticed? Why was I more excited about remembering that I had even had a dream, than achieving the dream itself?
And I realized: because I had outgrown the dream.
At the gym, after every work-out, I do a maximum effort set of pull-ups. From the day I got my first pull-up (though I did two rounds of that one rep), I have done this. For a long time, that max effort was one rep. Then, it became two. Then, it was two or three. Then, it was mostly three. Then, it was four or three. Today, after the morning workout that had had 45 reps of banded pull-ups (in sets of nine) in it, it was five.
I once dreamed of being able to do a single pull-up at any time, anywhere. After a few months ago, though, that dream transformed into ten pull-ups at any time, anywhere. So, doing a single pull-up in the park was no big deal for me today. But it was a big deal for me for most of my life.
So, where do I go from here?
Forward, just like my kakizome for this year says.
You see, I think dreams, rather than merely being a destination, are really just a starting point. As we grow in who we are, so do our dreams grow. What seemed colossal at one point in life, suddenly seems minuscule later down the road. But the colossal dreams we have today would have been too much for us back then. We needed those earlier dreams in order to help us become who we are today, to help us create these new, even larger dreams. Without the relatively small dreams, we never would have made it to the big ones of today.
So, yeah… I think dreams aren’t a destination. They are a starting point.
In the tournament today, my age and belt level had only three women, so, the black belts set us up to spar one another, with one girl having a sort of bye. So, I was put against the one girl who had shown up specifically because her instructor wanted her to spar me. The winner of our match was to spar the other girl next.
I was that person.
I won that match, too.
It was very cool.
However, the videographer for my matches totally blew it with the videos. He shook the camera terribly at all the important moments, without clear reason. So, the videos are near-useless for evaluating how I did from an outside perspective. (And he was the same one who did an amazing job last time on the video’s angle and stability! We will be discussing this, he and I. 😛 )
Nonetheless, I felt comfortable regarding the matches today. Though the advice is to jump into it as soon as the head judge says to go, throwing a kick or strike before the opponent has a chance to move or think, I didn’t really like doing that last tournament. It actually was much more stressful for me, and I was near-panicked at the risk involved.
I had seen how the upper belts, black especially, had tended to take their time in attacking one another. It was easy and casual to watch, though still exciting and filled with bated breath when they sparred. The action moments were frequent and awesome, but no one was in a hurry to dive into them as soon as the head judge said to go.
I was amazed by this. I immediately wondered at why I hadn’t done it myself. Then I remembered that the fast-hitting people always beat me in tournaments as a kid. So, I had taken a page out of their books. Those books apparently come from many instructors in the organization. However, not everyone does as he says. And, besides, that approach just isn’t my style.
In sparring in class this session, I took on seeing how it felt to be chill in my own skin in the ring, fully comfortable in patience and intention. When the head judge said to go, I prepared myself fully to receive an attack, but usually never had one. In those first moments, I learned much about the opponent in front of me, and I used it to my advantage. I watched how the person moved, reacted to blocks, dropped guards for certain movements. I didn’t wait long, but long enough to have an idea to use. And then I used that idea. And I usually destroyed.
Today was just the same. I watched my opponents in the eyes. I saw where they looked on my body, while keeping an eye on the tension changes in their own bodies. There was always a bit of a rise and a clench just before a move was made… and the eyes told me exactly where she had set her target. It was a mostly easy block, followed by a bit if pummeling from me. That is, of course, when I hadn’t already attacked her. Because, as a friend said upon seeing the videos this evening, I was on the offense (though the videos were messy, they were still clear enough to notice). Though I waited those precious moments at the beginning, or throughout as I planned my next moves and sought my own opportunities for points, I was still the one managing the ring.
And that was, surprisingly, not a surprising feeling for me. Frankly, it felt natural, as though it were where and how I always belonged: being in charge, running the show.
It was really, really cool.
I still have much, much room for improvement, of course, but attitude is everything in things like this, and my mind seems to have found its place beautifully.
Thank you, God and Universe. I a extremely grateful for all that was today. Happy Christmas in July and Kakigoori Day and, now, Titanic Day!!
I enjoy waking up ridiculously early each day. I accomplish much before the hour that most people wake up, before they usually make it to work. And I love it.
I go to bed extremely early, too: by eight-thirty, usually. And I love doing that, too.
You see, when I get up so early, I have no distraction from the rest of the world yet. They neither reach out to bother me directly, nor distract me indirectly, as I wonder what they might be doing and if I shouldn’t be doing something similar. No, I know they are sleeping. Period. And that knowledge gives me immense freedom of focus for wherever I want to direct my attention. So, that’s what I do most days.
And then, later, when my alarm goes off at six pm to remind me to start getting ready for bed, I feel no sense of sadness, no desire to get out and do something, no need to fiddle around. I have done so much, I am truly satisfied with my day – I can go to bed with an easy mind and heart. I can go to bed not only excited about the upcoming rest, but also excited about the joy and focus that await me tomorrow morning.
Who would have thunk! I, the sleeper, who never even got to watch the good cartoons on Saturday mornings, because I slept too late…
It took having to meet a friend out for dinner at a very popular place for me to get my scooter back into shape, at last. I do not risk stressful parking situations (which include valet parking), and so used to use the Vespa whenever parking might be difficult. It fits almost anywhere, and usually gets to park right up front, because it can’t really go in a parking spot and ‘waste the space’. Tonight, of course, was no different. They let me park right in front of the front door of the place.
Anyway, that got me going. I called the place down the street to see if they had an air option for tires. They did not, but the car wash across the street from them did for free, he told me. So, I headed on over. As I looked for the air location, the owner of the car wash found me and asked if I was looking for air. We got into conversation about riding frequency and how things have been weird the past several months, and so I never got the bike back into running shape after the freeze in February. He shared about the bike he recently ordered from Italy. He asked if I had ever washed the Vespa. I said how I hadn’t but that I had just been considering it, given the style of car wash place it was, and how it would be just right for washing a bike.
And so, he gave me my first wash for free, and helped me with the air in the tires himself. There felt like 15 different steps in the washing and priming and foaming and scrubbing and special water and wax and tire shine and all…., and it took a while. But it was a great feeling and a great result, cleaning that bike. It has wanted a good scrub and clean for some time now, especially since the cover was destroyed by the freeze with ice and snow.
I then immediately got much-needed gasoline, before going home.
And you know what?
I had been considering getting rid of the scooter, as I hadn’t been using it, and I had started to grow afraid of the dangers of it.
But riding on it this afternoon, after the air and wash…, it was spectacular, and it reminded me of why I loved having the thing in the first place.
Going out tonight with it, I was delighted to be riding again. I am grateful that I did this today, instead of letting it sit until I felt it just had to go.
Anywhere it goes, I hope it carries me safely on top of it – I love riding this scooter.
I think I know what has been bothering me so much about all of this lately.
You see, the grammar of the whole ‘Let’s use “they” to reference a single person,’ idea has really, really bothered me. To be clear, English has a gender neutral, singular pronoun. That pronoun is “it”. No one needs to make up something else, but, oh, wait – someone already did. Years ago, people in the actual communities involved in addressing firsthand situations where male or female identification, for whatever reason, did not work, had already begun using a new word, “zi” (though it might be spelled differently – I have forgotten, and mostly only knew it as a spoken word). Why do I know this? Because I interacted with people who were dealing with this firsthand. I’ve been involved with such people for most of my life. Being respectful of people’s identities is not new to me. Commanding people on how to speak, however, is new to me. (And a touch too Newspeak for me, really…)
Growing up, people simply shared when they wanted to be referenced as something other than as the standard male or female. Sometimes, that meant the person was in transition from one gender to another. Sometimes, it meant the person experienced residence in both genders or neither gender. But that person, or someone sharing about the person, would communicate that clearly to any party, whenever that information was needed. It was usually a really wonderful conversation to have, sharing or learning such information from or about someone.
Now, however, things are not only different, but they feel absurd.
No longer are people merely communicating openly about when they have a request to be referenced differently from the standard. Instead, a very loud part of the population is demanding that, in order not to hurt the feelings of those people, everyone must give up gender identity – we must stop referring to anyone or anything as he/she.
(Because we have to be more careful with the minorities than with the majorities? Are they not strong, wonderful, powerful people? I’ve always experienced them to be so. And I grew up in a world of minorities.)
I do not support this approach. For one thing, I have worked very, very hard to be the woman I am today, to have the relationship I have with my own womanhood. I am not a non-gender. (I am also not plural, but let’s leave the grammar aside for the moment.) I am not gender-neutral. I am a woman. Period. Please, refer to me as such. And yes, it is 100% obvious that I am a woman. But, if someone accidentally called me a “Sir” or a “he” – oh, by the way, that happened plenty when I lived in Japan -, I would not be offended. It would be a mistake or a misunderstanding. It would not be a denial of my womanhood, in exchange for non-womanhood.
The biggest part of this all for me, though, is how it feels like everyone seems to be stepping on eggshells not to upset a very small percentage of the population, simply because another small percentage of the population has been and continues to be horrible to that minority.
It has been the same feeling for me regarding the race equality issues that have been so vocalized this past year+. I grew up in a very diverse county and city, and I have lived in multiple cultures. I’ve been the absolute minority in a culture, even considered to be less-than-human. None of that has mattered much to me, nor has it been under much consideration throughout my life. We are people first. And I grew up honoring and respecting and loving people for who they are. And, before they are homosexual, Asian, trans-gender, or allergic to nuts, they are people. And I honor and love them simply for that. Everything else just adds to the opportunities to love.
And yet, from these loud social voices, I have felt a barrage of demands for me to stop being racist, etc. Yes, there are people who act unkindly to people based on race. Let’s help those people work on that – let’s educate those people on the wonders of humanity and the different races within it. Why is everyone attacking right now? Fighting fire with fire never works, anyway, let alone when the real fire is nowhere near where the fighting is happening.
There are also people who are horrible toward children. There are people who are horrible towards different religions. There are people who are horrible to others, period. There are people who are horrible toward themselves.
I think, rather than attacking the world at large, demanding and commanding them to be anti-something, it would prove most valuable to teach people how to love, how to see value in things they have not come to know yet, how to get to know what they likely fear (the fear being why they have treated it horribly thus far).
The most powerful thing in this world is love. So, why does it feel like the vast majority of these loud voices are not using it? They are missing out on an amazing opportunity by pushing aside love.
Yep. I fully believe that we are given exactly what we need when we need it in life. And most of what we need seems to show up when we finally let go of that sense of desperation at needing it. As soon as we allow and trust life and the World and the Universe to provide for us, they do.
And they do a much better job than we ever imagined for ourselves in the first place, anyway.