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.