I went back to training tonight after a few weeks off. The longer I stay away, the harder it is to work back to where I was. I stayed out because I was sick with a cold, and I know that was the right thing to do, for me and my teammates. I needed the rest. I’d hate to be that guy who shows up sick and spreads germs all over the place. Especially when you’re in close quarters combat with people. Training in the martial arts is about spending a very long time doing something to get better at it, and as a result, become a better version of yourself. So a few weeks out of at an absolute minimum of a decade of training? It’s nothing. It just feels like a long time while I’m off the mats.
I also came back to work after calling out sick on Friday, and the long weekend. On Saturday Kt and I went to our annual Sounders game (Seattle vs Portland Timbers). It was a beautifully warm and clear day to march through the streets to the stadium. We had great seats, purchased from a season ticket holder who put them up for resale. The Sounders won 1-0, scoring in the fourth minute of the game. The stadium erupted with cheering. The rest of the weekend was spent at home relaxing.
At work I felt much better and more productive. I think I needed to get things off my chest, and writing that last blog post helped a lot. I also had the chance to fix something today, so that’s a great form of micro-reward. It’s the same thing with work as it is at jiu jitsu. I need to remember that it’s a long haul effort, and I’ll have good and bad days. Over the many years I’ll spend working, as long as I stay true to myself and my passion, I’ll never stop improving.
‘STICK TO THE PLAN’
– Big Sean, Voices in My Head/Stick to the Plan
As you may already be aware I’ve taken up surfing. Usually down on the Oregon coast (Seaside, Cannon Beach) or out at Westport, WA. I’ll either borrow Kt’s sister’s surfboard or rent one from a local surf shop. I have my own full length wetsuit with a hood, gloves and boots. I’ve had a few surf lessons: my first two were in Costa Rica, and another with Kt in Australia. Other than that, I’ve just figured it out as I go. I just know how fun it is to catch a wave.
I’ve been fighting off a cold for the last two weeks or so. It’s prevented me from being able to train. I think without training I tend to lose my focus and drive. When I take time off work it makes me wonder what else I could be doing in my life (rather than a desk job). That inevitably leads to me feeling pretty unsettled, and sometimes frustrated that I can’t make immediate changes to the situation. There’s bills to pay: I can’t just surf and train every day. Not yet, anyway.
These last few days, I’ve been wondering what my passion really is. I’ve come around to the idea that it’s not what I’m doing right now. Working in an office isn’t my dream. I can’t waste years working on something that isn’t bringing happiness to my life. There are two financial roadblocks: paying off my car, and the credit card. Those two things need to be cleared before I can really seek out my dream: whatever it may be, and wherever it may take me. I have to be okay with my dream changing over time, but I won’t let go of it, and I have to chase it as if my life depended on it.
I’m thinking about film school. I’m thinking about Canada. I’m thinking about Hawaii. I’m thinking about Boston. I’m thinking about the kind of work I want to do, but more importantly the kind of life I want to live. All of this thinking is being blurred by the cold I’m fighting and the medicine that’s controlling symptoms.
This blog has always been about me, and a way for me to motivate myself. Now there’s another person in my life, and we have shared responsibilities and shared dreams together. She’s always encouraging me to ‘quit my job and do what I really love’. I’ve been stuck in a mindset, and this blog is evidence of it, that I have to figure out my life on my own. Kt is by my side, and she can get me out of my own way. She pointed out that I’ve been avoiding the obvious: I need to write. So here’s to the endless search for the perfect wave, and the relentless chase after the kind of life I want to live.
I’ve been hesitating to write this entry for a little while now, because I don’t want it to sound like I’m showing off. This whole blog at times feels like I’m just showing off. That’s partly why I wrote the last entry. Having a bad day means my life is becoming normal, after the initial euphoria. This isn’t about instant gratification or selfish wish fulfillment. This is about working hard to accomplish the dreams I’ve held onto for a long time.
One of those dreams has been to own a Toyota FT86. It’s an awesome 2.0 liter, rear-wheel drive, coupé sports car. It’s a combination of two parts of Toyota’s racing heritage:
- Toyota 2000 GT (from the late 60’s)
- Toyota AE86 (from the 80’s)
So it has serious enthusiast street cred. It’s also beautiful, and drives incredibly well. The development of the 86 was a collaboration with Subaru, who developed the boxer engine. There’s already a large aftermarket modification scene – for style and performance upgrades. Mine is absolutely base model with no extras, in silver. It’s badged and sold in North America as the Scion FR-S.
I call it my Top Ramen car, because:
- It’s Japanese
- I can only afford to eat cheap microwavable ramen with the monthly costs of the car
- The AE86 is featured in the anime Initial D, where the main character uses his AE86 as a tofu delivery / drift race car
I love my new car. Owning and driving it is motivating me to work hard so I can afford to keep it. As soon as it’s paid off, I’ll be driving it around America.
‘Look at the whole board.’ – President Bartlet (The West Wing)
It’s time to tell you about my strategy. I didn’t just spontaneously decide to move to the United States. There are plenty of reasons why it’s a good choice. I have citizenship, family and work opportunities here. I have those same things in Australia. There’s patriotic reasons too: I want to develop the citizenship I have, and because some of the ideas in and behind America are attractive. The US doesn’t own those ideals, and they do exist in any number of other countries. I moved overseas for the challenge of it, I chose the US because it sounded like a good fit for who I wanted to become.
For a long time I’ve been committed to realizing my full potential. Before I moved, I came to understand that potential is infinite. Anything is possible. There are at least two problems with that idea.
- There’s no such thing as reaching full potential.
- If you can do anything, what are you going to do?
I could get stuck chasing after impossible goals, or get stuck not knowing what to do next.
So my strategy for moving overseas involved realistic goals: get a passport, a social security number, get a phone, a job, and a car. Things I could do which were within reach. Things I was confident I could achieve. I made lists and ticked off each task. They were low hanging fruit. Once I completed them, I felt a little bit lost. I got caught up in the little tasks, putting one foot in front of the other. I was following the breadcrumbs one at a time. It’s not enough. You can’t play chess one move at a time, or one piece at a time. It’s time for me to look at the whole board.
I need to get to work. The kind of hard work I expected of myself, and from America. It’ll enable the things I really want to do, and my adventure can start in earnest. I have a lot of potential, and I’ve created opportunities to show it. I just need to deliver.
So the other night I found a dice on the table. I picked it up, shook it, and asked: ‘What are the chances of me finding a job from 1 to 6 (where 1 is certain and 6 is impossible)?’ I rolled two 6s and a 4. I thought to myself: ‘That’s just stupid. Never tell me the odds. I’ll show you, dice.’ No matter what happened rolling the dice, I would have found motivation in the result.
I believe life is about creating opportunities to gather experience. I’ve spent the last six months creating this opportunity. I organised:
- my U.S. citizenship and passport;
- a one way plane ticket;
- my social security number;
- a place to live (with relatives);
- a Christmas and New Year holiday in Canada; and
- conditions which will force me to make it work.
My decision to move the United States was driven by:
- the accessibility of citizenship;
- the imperative need to cultivate that citizenship;
- having relatives who could accommodate me; and
- a romanticised view of the United States.
Things that I will keep as a part of my identity:
- martial arts training;
- my love affair with Japan;
- a clean lifestyle;
- intellectual study; and
- my commitment to the pursuit of happiness.
What I’m concerned about:
- finding employment;
- cultural and social alienation;
- getting fat from all the candy;
- getting caught up in things which don’t really suit me; and
- being too Australian.
In less than forty-eight hours I’ll be Stateside.