Monday, July 18, 2011


So begins the week of recovery. My right leg is definitely banged up from the fight, and my foot is swollen. I don’t think it’s broken but I guess it could be potentially cracked. Hopefully it’s just bruised, in which case I can just train around it. I had my second appointment with my therapist this morning, and it’s going pretty well. I’m much more open and honest that I have been in the past, but it is still very difficult for me. Because of a new friend of mine I am getting more and more comfortable talking about my emotions, but it will be a long process. His capacity to emote is vastly greater than my own, and I struggle with my defense structures to match his openness. This process, though challenging sometimes, is teaching me so much…not only about myself but about the people I interact with. Perhaps most importantly it’s helping me to recognize my own shortcomings in a healthier way, and in so doing it is allowing me to understand the other people in my life as human beings, just like me. It sounds pretty obvious when I put it into writing, but our minds are not always governed by logic and reason. So much of my thinking, as much as I want to imagine that it is grounded in empiricism, is merely mythology and superstition. This is not always a bad thing, for even the most intelligent people are prone describing phenomena they do not understand in mythological terms, but it becomes destructive in my mind when I start using mythology as a scapegoat. And recognizing this tendency in myself is only the first challenge; the real battle is rewriting these patterns in a way that is not destructive to myself or the people in my life. Interpersonal relationships define our existence. For too long I have tried to pretend that I’m some sort of island, removed and independent from the other relationships in my life. This sort of pattern is characteristic of all forms of dissociation…for all dissociating means is simply not being present “in the moment”. When I look at my life through this lens I can see dissociative tendencies everywhere, in the most mundane daily tasks and in highly stressful events. Something definitely shifted in my psyche on Saturday; for the first time since I started fighting I was completely lucid in the cage. My mind did not separate the experience, for the first time I OWNED it, all of it. This experience was a breakthrough, but it’s just the beginning. I have so much work to do.

On a related note, my memories are starting to come back. They are coming slowly, but I’m remembering more and more every day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This is letting go

So it's all over. The emotional firestorm, the rage, the sorrow, the regret and the that single moment everything came to a head at once. In the lead up to the fight I experienced some of the most intense emotions I have ever felt. I was so afraid that my head was in the wrong place, I was too distracted by my circumstances to focus...I had been having nightmares on a regular basis, I would wake up crying or in a panic; Jealous demons would assault me at random, when I was least expecting it, or I would suddenly feel the sense of loss acutely and it would overwhelm me. The attacks were relentless in that week leading up to the fight, and all day yesterday as I was trying to get into the right frame of mind to do what I had to do. And then suddenly right before the fight a sense of calm washed over me that I have never known. Earlier that day I had made an offering to the river, asking the spirits of the masters to guide me, and it was at that very moment my prayer was answered. Suddenly everything washed away. I was like a man standing on the beach, staring into the ocean as a massive tsunami approached, but instead of running for my life and knowing there was no escape, I stopped took a deep breath and embraced that moment, and let it crash through my soul. And in then in one massive crescendo my soul let go of that weight, for the power of that spiritual tsunami was far greater than my ability to hold on.
And then it was over. I was awake, I didn't black out for the first time! I remember everything, I stayed myself, I stayed in the moment!
I asked the masters to hear me, and my request was heard. The spirit of the thing itself acted through me. The darkness is gone. I left it in the cage that night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Calm before the storm

There could not possibly be a better time in my life to be fighting that now. So many things have come to a head in my life...this fight will serve as a cleansing by fire. No matter what the outcome of the match, I am victorious already. I will emerge from this trial as a new person, with a new perspective, new goals and ambitions, and the spirit to finally stop resisting these winds of change. The time has come to embrace them and let them carry me wherever fate would have it. I don't need to let go of the beautiful memories because they are painful. I don't need to run away anymore. I'm tired of being jaded, of being numb. Once upon a time my heart was open to the world, and because I got hurt I hid it from sight and encased it in armor. And as the years and decades went by, I misplaced that part of myself and lost my way. But it's still there, buried underneath the sands of time. Shovel in hand, its time to uncover my buried treasure. It's time to become the person I was born to be. I am free.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The memories wash over me, like so many ocean waves. They pulse with feeling and emotion; at night they come alive, like ephemeral phantoms, dancing in my mind.
I remember. I remember the first time I saw her. I remember how the light played on her face. I remember the worn karate gi, the calluses on her hands... I remember the intensity that burned in her eyes, filling her being with a vibrant and earthy energy. And I remember her smile, I remember the tug on my heart...I didn't want to leave. I wanted that moment to last forever.

I remember that day, how nervous I was walking through the park...the rush of sensation when I spotted her approaching me. I remember her touch, the sound of laughter in the air. It was June. We made love that night for the first time, under the stars. The smell of champa filled the air. I would have given anything to suspend time; I remember watching her walk away.

I remember the storm...I can hear the music in the background, I can see her in the candlelight. I remember the poems, inscribed on the back of leaves. It was autumn.

There are so many memories, some so beautiful they cannot be expressed in words, some so painful that they rend my soul to pieces...

I remember the ginkgo tree. Last night I picked a few of the leaves and let them fall into th e river. I watched them swirl and dance, and one by one, disappear.

The Night

The time is drawing nearer...I feel that intense focus starting to take hold, that familiar pull, like there's someone hidden in the shadows, tugging ever so subtly at the corner of my being. All of the chaos, both external and internal, swirls ferociously on the perimeter, but I have entered into the eye of the cyclone. It is this place where all falls silent. Everything is slowing down, time begins to distort. The moments stand out in crystal clarity, every sense is heightened, words and language, thoughts and conceptions shift to another region as I look on them from the outside. That 'I' that I know is growing sleepy, but another 'I' is stirring from its slumber. As the day must inevitably grow weary and succumb to the night's velvet lullaby, so must my sleepy self rest...and give into the night...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Here and now

I spent most of the day yesterday wandering by myself through Castlewood, stopping to read and swim in the river, or just to reflect. Distractions come and go, but my mind is not attaching to them anymore...its not fighting them. They just are, and then they pass...and my mind is still in the moment. That is my goal this week, to keep myself in the moment as much as possible. In the moment there is nothing left to do, nothing left to pursue. When I am assaulted by sadness or anger, I am trying not to resist it now. The spirit of the thing, whether it is negative positive or indifferent, simply wants to be heard. When I let them pass the discord that their presence causes is only temporary, and my spirit remains unmoved. If I fight then that conflict, that turbulence spreads through my mind and body like a cancer and the reverberations shake my foundation. My mind will remain clear for the fight if I can just keep myself firmly grounded in the single purpose of the present moment. When the moment and I merge, the thoughts of victory and defeat vanish...and the spirit of the thing itself is revealed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

When Samsara stops...

Six more days…

I completed the intense phase of my training yesterday. The remainder of my time before the fight will be primarily focused on restoring my body and trying to reach a state of mental and spiritual clarity and focus. Now I must bring my full presence of mind into the moment, until I am surrounded and enveloped by the present, until the moment and my consciousness merge into one. No beginning, no end. The chaos consuming my mind of late cannot be destroyed or wished away. I cannot project my struggle onto the shoulders of others. I cannot run from the darkness anymore. It can only be understood…I am at a point in my life where I must make a choice. Lack of self-knowledge has invited this chaos into my life, has brought me to the threshold of life and death, has left me broken and bewildered…There is no one to blame but myself, and it is myself that I must confront if these cycles are to come to an end.

What has happened of late is my karma, and all of the pain, agony, anger, and sorrow must each be felt in turn, completely, so that closure can be achieved. I embraced a dark path thinking I could serve as a lantern, but the truth is that I was desperate, for my own darkness (that I had been running from for my entire life) cast a shadow in my mind and weighed heavily upon my spirit…and it colored everything I did, until it eventually consumed me. I took a man’s wife before they had brought their relationship to a conclusion, and now the same fate has befallen me. I was young and selfish, and I because of my recklessness I caused great suffering. My actions not only hurt this man, but also hurt the very person that I thought in my ignorance I was trying to “save”. No amount of intellectual tricks or justifications could change the reality of my actions, and because our relationship started on such an unstable foundation, the way it unfolded should have been predictable. We loved one another, as much as we were capable of doing so, but without self-knowledge the intensity of our feelings would never be enough to make things okay. We could only deteriorate once the euphoria started to fade, for a house build without a foundation cannot stand for long. We projected our demons onto one another, until the chaotic maelstrom that resulted nearly consumed us. The pain and suffering that I cause during this period of my life is difficult for me to comprehend. I cannot hope to atone for my wrongs, but the longing to do so, and the sorrow, resonates from the core of my being. Karma is unforgiving.

Now I am at a crossroads. I have contemplated taking my own life, in shame, but if I were to take this action all I would do is further the cycle, and my death would not dispel my demons. They would live on, moving to infect the lives of others, and the cycle would continue. The only way I can hope to atone for my mistakes is by ending this cycle of suffering. I cannot do this without self-knowledge. I cannot do this if I run, if I project, or if I look for another person to “save”. I will atone for my mistakes by becoming the man that I should have been, the man that I was meant to be. This I must do on my own. I know if I try to connect with another woman I cannot trust myself not to perpetuate the cycle again. I am the one who must be saved.

I am taking this vow of chastity, for a minimum of one year and continuing as long as I need it to. If ever I choose to embrace the affections of a woman again, it will be as a whole man, one who has self-respect and self-knowledge. This cycle stops now.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Damaged goods...

People say that time heals all wounds. This statement is might be true up to a certain degree of injury, but once that threshold is breached time doesn't heal shit. The passage of time finds one still alive perhaps, and living in a culture that is completely paralyzed in a state of primordial horror at the thought of one's own mortality, this is always viewed as a good thing. People in this culture take everything for granted, as if they have all the time in the world. Unconsciously we all know that we are living only on borrowed time, and it could all come to an end without any warning. No, the passage of time finds one covered in horrible scars, missing limbs and losing the functionality of once healthy members. The passage of time leaves one alone and forgotten, discarded once those profiting from your enslavement realize they've tapped out their investment's potential. The passage of time leaves one bitter and resentful, or simply insane.

People fear what they do not understand. People fear even more what they do understand but fight tooth and nail to pretend that they don't. People say that they serve lofty ideals, things like love and commitment and virtue, honestly and courage and loyalty...and it's all bullshit.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Scars of time...

“There is some comfort in the emptiness of the sea. No past. No future.”

My mind is in chaos. Everything is so distorted. I’m supposed to be focusing on the fight…

I thought I was doing okay, but my mental state fell apart again when I showed up for jiu-jitsu yesterday. I was waiting in the parking lot for someone to show up and open the gym, and I was beginning to think that no one was coming. My wife's car eventually pulled up however, and she was with one of the instructors from the gym. Instantly jealous rage shot through my veins, my entire fragile facade exploded into fragments and any semblance of rationality evaporated. Suddenly I became vividly aware of every smell, the thundering of my heart in my ears sounded like the roar of the ocean, liquid hot fury made my skin feel flushed and feverish. My vision began to narrow and I was plunged into a desperate battle for control of my emotions...the searing pain seemed like it was coming from every angle, threatening to consume me.

After class I was plunged into a dark spiral, down and down into a psychosomatic hell I descended...the minutes of the day became hours of torment. I was no longer myself; powerful primal emotions destroyed my composure and my humanity. It was only after some time that the anger receded that the sense of loss threatened to overwhelm me...alone at night staring at the ceiling, it was more than I could stand. Dark dreams tortured me when my waking mind wouldn't fight any longer.

I don't know how to let go. I've never been able to...I just want desperately to hold onto the moments. I just know that they will start to fade, I can never live them again.

...I was walking down the beach. It was beautiful and the sun was beginning to set in the west. She was laughing and running through the foaming surf, but as I began to run after her, I collided with a transparent glass wall. Pain shot through my head, and in a panic I began pounding on the glass and trying to get her attention. I was crying and trying desperately to get around the invisible wall. She was still running through the surf, the waves were crashing at her feet as the sun dropped over the horizon. Smaller and smaller her form became, until she finally merged with the fiery orb, rapidly fading, and then she was gone...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tomb raider...

I spent the morning doing a one on one wrestling lesson downtown with the most skillful wrestler I have ever encountered, and though I am pretty green in this area of my martial expertise, I am already starting to notice the effects in the short time I have spent with him. If I am going to make any kind of professional go at mma, this range of combat cannot be overlooked or underdeveloped. After my lesson the day was still relatively young and since I was already in the area I went for a short bike ride up to the art museum. I wandered the galleries, gazing through these little portals to the past, suspended in time. I was struck a ceramic piece from Ancient Greece depicting some form of unarmed grappling, and a feeling of history washed over me, if that makes any sense at all. Maybe I just mean a feeling of historical significance as I saw myself as part of an evolutionary path leading up to the present moment. I’m having trouble defining this, sensation...

I think people’s general reactions to being in an art museum are supposed to characterized be curiosity and wonder and while I feel these sensations too, they are nevertheless always overshadowed by this feeling that I am somehow walking through a tomb.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Hurricane

I cannot describe what it feels like to wake up one morning and know that you have lost everything. For six years I meticulously constructed an elaborate house of dreams without a foundation, build on the white sandy beach of some amazing shore on a remote island. So wrapped up was I in the passion of the moment, I decided to build without a plan, without a shred of self-knowledge, and without the guidance of a builder to aid me in my journey. I was captivated by the lush landscape, pulsating with life and color and sound. I fell in love with it, I had found my oasis. Not even bothering to research the climate I had chosen to inhabit, I ignored the intense tropical storms that began to appear on the horizon almost from the beginning. “With enough determination I will weather these storms, I will build a house where we can take shelter from them, for the sunrise in just over the horizon”.

The landscape was beautiful beyond description, but the island presented many challenges hostile to human life. Dangerous predators, venomous scorpions, weeks without rain, shortages of food, and yet all the while I pressed on. I would not accept defeat. Isolated and desperate, my mind began to unravel once again, drifting further and further from the me I had known and plunging deeper into the darkness, where strange and misshapen shadowy apparitions combed the beach and night. Soul stealers, these beings were accursed spirits of past traumas, never sleeping, forever yearning for a body to inhabit. Only one thought remained after their humanity had been unjustly stolen from them so long ago…Revenge.

Days and weeks turned into months and years. I had become delirious from lack of nutrition and consistency, until my gaze began to fixate on the black endless depths of the sea at night. Its embrace called to me, the waves lapping at my ankles, inviting me to disappear into a deep and endless slumber.

And then one day seemingly without warning the hurricane house was shredded by the powerful winds almost immediately. Broken and bleeding I crawled, seeking refuge in the trees…but it was too late. A monstrous tidal surge welled up behind me, and I had but a moment to look over my shoulder at the wall of water in terror before it slammed down and all faded to black.

I woke early one morning, lying face down in the surf. The sun was just starting to rise. In my delirium I looked around, seeing pieces of my house, my life, strewn about the shoreline like so much garbage. Somehow I had survived the onslaught.

As I gradually regained my senses I was suddenly overcome by an empty, soul crushing sorrow…a pain that penetrated to the very core of my being. I finally realized that my dream had died, and I was alone.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I am convinced that the vast majority of people, including myself in this statement, are almost exclusively controlled by their unconscious mind and their perception of a “will” is in a sense an illusion. Self-knowledge, once upon a time referred to as the pursuit of wisdom, is not valued in our popular society, but it is only through the process of acquiring self-knowledge that we can be truly ‘present’ in the here and now. I’m realizing of late that I have spent the vast majority of my life simply reacting to the past, much of which I cannot even recall with my conscious mind…In a sense I’ve been on the run from an invisible menace, which I perceive to be too powerful and terrifying to even contemplate any other course of action. The only solution I could come up with was to run, and run fast I did! But it was never fast enough. I would run and run as fast as the wind could carry me until I stumbled upon an oasis. Finally I could relax, let my cares and worries wash away. “There’s no way it could find me here, for once in my life I’m safe!” My constant mantra…but somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I knew it was an illusion. The key to my own salvation was inside of me, and in rare moments of clarity I might be able to express that knowledge as a certainty. But the cyclone of chaos always returned…and once enveloped in the cycle again, I am at its mercy; just as if I had been swept up in a tornado, I felt like I had no control over where the tornado was headed or where I might end up. The most I could hope for was that I still in one piece when it set me down. ­

Bookstore Musings

In a bookstore in south city, about to head out to my first training session with my new “MMA coach”. We just sort of stumbled upon one another, but I instantly took a liking to him. We compliment each other in that he studies the science of the martial arts and training methodologies, possessing an impressive encyclopedic knowledge of what is on the ‘cutting edge’ of MMA. I am the practical application of this knowledge, the prototype, the experiment. I am curious to see where this relationship takes us. If we were characters in the movie Blade, I would be the vampire hunter and he would without a doubt be Wesler, the gruff and wizened old guy who makes all of the weaponry J

Later I’m off to another gym to spar and do some jiujitsu rolling. Then its back to my friend’s house in South City to put him through a training session in exchange for a couch to sleep on and good company. In My Ishmael Dan Quinn, speaking to us through the telepathic gorilla Ishmael, tells us that the Taker economy, our economy, is based on the following equation: Give productsèReceive products. The Leaver, or tribal economy, the economy our species has known for hundreds of thousands of years, is based on this equation: Give SupportèReceive support. Now that I stand slightly outside of the normal economic life I was used to living this form of economic transaction has moved to the foreground. I believe this way of interacting with the people in our lives builds the kind of real, truly human network, that we so desperately need. When we sacrificed societies based on genuine human interactions in favor of widespread human ‘ownership’, something fundamental to our well-being and happiness was lost…

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Three weeks...

A new week begins. Slept in the car last night as incredibly powerful storms pummeled the area, complete with hail, torrential downpours, and a lightning strike directly across the street from where I was parked that served as a potent reminder of my relative position in the order of things. The air is cool and clean this morning as I sit at one of my favorite coffee house haunts typing this. Sunday is my day off of training, a day for reflection and recuperation. Perhaps I will go on a long bike ride before I head south to help a friend with his training.

As of tomorrow I’ll have two more solid weeks of hard training and another week of mental and spiritual training before the fight. Everything is starting to come together, that intense focus, the calm before the storm, is welling up inside of me. Last night I stood on the river bank before the storms rolled in, watching the water rush by. There was a family of ducks silhouetted on a log, bracing for the tumultuous night to come. I could feel the electricity in the air, permeating my body and making my hair stand up on end. A perfect metaphor for my mental state as my own storm approaches.

It’s only been a few weeks since I walked away from my job, not once looking back, to become a full time wandering bum. I cannot recall the last time I’ve had so much time with myself, disconnected from many of the stresses and distractions of the indentured servant’s existence. It’s a strangely foreign sensation, and a bit intimidating at times. So much time spent in solitude is forcing me to slow down and see the details around me once again. I am reflective much of the days, but when the velvet blanket of night begins to envelop my world, the demons often emerge like nocturnal vampires to launch their assault. Sensation and memory crash over me, like ocean waves pounding a cliff side. Upon waking sometimes I feel disoriented, like a man with amnesia waking after being washed up on the beach. All around him are the remains of ships, some of them older than others. He looks out into the distance and wonders about his own ship that he cannot recall. Are these fragments littering the beach a part of the vessel that brought him here?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A wakeful dream...

My name is Rōnin, and this blog is my story. At nearly 29 years old I woke up one day as if I had been asleep for a very, very long time. Summer. The day was beautiful, the sky was a brilliant azure that seemed to make the life pulsate in everything green. Everything seemed so surreal. I was awake but unsure…for the boundaries of time and space had been distorted in my mind, rendering the past in a dreamlike and distorted two dimensional tapestry, simultaneously both familiar and foreign.

I am what you might call a lost or wandering soul. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. Mountains and oceans and the sounds of birds in the spring, these things have always had more of a pull on my attention than the world I’ve been conditioned to accept, the world of commerce and hustle and noise, the world of strife and work and success. My failure to adapt to this way of being, and my relentless attempts to force myself to embrace it, have damaged my soul and shattered my worldview to the extent that I still wonder if I am truly capable of healing. This profound rift has been present from the beginning, or at least as much of the beginning as I can recall. It is this rift that has challenged my sanity, broken my spirit, and brought me to the very portal between life and death, between this world and that which lies beyond the veil…Passion and despair, serenity and chaos, honor and shame, life and death, such has been the nature of this waking dream of mine.

I am a fighter, a martial artist, a student. This too has been with me for as long as I can remember, though I do not know where its origins lie. I have been a student of the martial arts my entire life, so much so that even when I have tried to walk a different path I am always compelled back, as if under the command of some invisible force. It is a bit ironic, because as far as I can recall I’ve always been afraid of confrontation, always gone out of my way to avoid conflict. Or at least so I imagined. Conflict, however, always had an amazingly sneaky way of finding me wherever I might try to hide…

There are no words to express what it feels like for me to step into that arena, facing an opponent who has spent a great deal of his time and energy training his mind and body to defeat me in unarmed combat. I always wrestle with emotions in the lead up to the fight, but once I stand at that threshold and there is no possibility of turning back something else takes over. There is no anger, no fear, no emotion whatsoever. Time itself seems to slow down, the crowd and the noise fade away into the blackness of the void. There is only the moment. In that moment there is nothing more to say, nothing more to do…it is the calm in the eye of the hurricane.

I remember looking up at the clear night sky, countless stars spanned on and one into infinity, captivating my attention. And then I remember looking at the space between the stars and focusing on it, until its unfathomable blackness seemed to draw me in and it was the stars themselves that became the background. Further and further I was pulled in, as if caught in a black hole’s crushing gravitational field, distorting space and time...the void was me, and I was the void.

This blog is the story of my wanderings. Perhaps not a single soul will ever read it, but this outcome doesn’t matter in the slightest. This is blog is a memoir and a mirror, a reference point for an aimless madman with no sense of direction.