From Your ‘Zero’ and Beyond…

Where do you go from your reinvented ‘zero’, from your reinvented starting point? Mizukami Sensei would say, “Just train. It’s like you have to get somewhere.” Amen. Kobe might say, “Put in the work.” Sensei said, “Make it work.”

After every Aikido black belt test or promotion, I had to go back to school, back to the Dojo. I had to work on my next greater-than version of myself. I took my next baby steps from my new ‘zero’. Be humble. Grind it out. Whether that was waiting out the punch just a moment longer, maybe even taking a hit, then end the attack with iriminage or kotegaeshi (Aikido throws).

Creating that greater-than version of myself meant practicing Aikido techniques hundreds of times more. No, I would never get the technique perfectly. Yet, I tried to make it work, regardless of the strength and speed of the attacker. More so, I had to overcome me, get out of my own way. Get out of my head. I had to be present as I could be in the moment. Have mushin – the empty mind.

One can only create from nothing, from zero. While practicing Aikido with Sensei, he would constantly remind, “Have no preconceived notions.” Explicitly, Sensei instilled in us being open to any kind of attack whether it was strike or a grab. His lesson was awase, to match up with any attack. “Everything natural.” Create my Aikido from nothing.

In retrospect, now being older: “Have no preconceived notions,” was Sensei’s metaphor for approaching life. No closed mind. Have an empty mind. Have an open mind. Have feelings out. Be open to life occurring.

O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba said that there is no real external opponent. He said, “True victory is victory over oneself.” I “apply the technique on myself”. I get out of my own way. I move beyond my Zero, by loving and forgiving myself as much as I can. And I just train.

In training so, I can be as authentic as I can be. I do my best to make a difference for others, in the same way that Sensei made a difference in my life. Perhaps, we each move from our Zero with an open mind, with an open heart, wanting to make a difference.

My therapist Lance asked me if I made any New Year’s resolutions. I thought about it for a moment, being as present as I could be. I said, “I want to enjoy life as much as I can.” Now, I created that from nothing, from my zero. That was definitely unrecognizable given my past, my childhood. I nearly pulled that one out of my ass. Just saying.

Maybe, as we each move beyond our own zero, we do what we love, do what gives meaning, and do what gives purpose. Perhaps, one of the highest purposes in life is having fun, as for no reason.

So that means I train hard getting better with the jo (wooden staff) and bokken (wooden sword) with Sensei Bobby. I’ll fail often, yet learn from my mistakes. I’ll have fun.

I’ll write about becoming the greater-than versions of ourselves, and the healing power of forgiveness and compassion. I’ll work with my Editor Lisa on my posts on the Good Men Project, where we try to make a difference in the world to some degree. I discover different aspects of myself while writing my next book, too.

I’ll see movies with my dear friend and hero Cheryl because we have fun. Amazingly, Cheryl actually likes and dislikes the same kinds of movies that I do. After all, who else loves off-beat “Booksmart” by first-time Director Olivia Wilde and all 8 “Fast and Furious” movies? Just saying.

Yeah, the year has had its share of challenges whether it’s finding my new assignment on my Program at work or dealing with my late parents’ estate. Life shall continue with its trials and tribulations. Yet, even amidst the drama, the chaos, I discover ways to create spaces of fun. I can eat California Roll sushi with Logan. I can see “Birds of Prey” with Cheryl. Yes, it’s all good. In fact, it’s sublime.

As we all move from our Zeroes and beyond, do what you love, do what’s fun. Like, no shit! No, I’ll never be the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) of anything. Yet, maybe I can have the Most Fun of All-Time. That’s something at least worth playing for. Just saying.

Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood


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