Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Year

Happy new Year!

Farewell to a well above average 2010 and looking forward to my 30th year, a potentially splendid 2011!

Fight of Flee??

I originally wrote this post back in July, when looking at starting a new martial art, but having struggled for motivation, I left it half-written and stopped writing. Now, it is a new year! I'm not going to trot out a cliche about new years resolutions and starting my writing again, but I am going to admit I'm bored at work and had nothing else to do! So here it is.......

Throughout my life, I've had a fascination with and taken part in several martial arts. There was Judo when I was about 10, Taekwando when I was about 14 and Karate on and off from the age of 18. First drawn to these through the film The Karate Kid, something about them fascinated me. I think it was feeling a bit like an outsider when younger and feeling I was learning something that not many other people did - it gave me something different to belong to. Also, being younger, learning to 'fight' was something that made you feel cool and tough.

With maturity you realise that learning a martial art is about as useful in a fight as learning origami. You'd be better off kicking your opponent in the nuts or better yet, running off! The most important lesson in martial arts is this; 'We learn how to fight, so we do not have to fight'. Yes, martial arts do give you the skill to defend yourself. BUT.....and this is important. ONLY after dedicating yourself to learning the art and practising over many years. By this point, you have learnt why you do not need to fight and the circle is complete.

Still, knowing this is different from having learnt through your own experience. Deep down a lot of us would still love to have the knowledge that, when it really came to it and we had to defend ourselves, we could. Without question and with confidence. Wouldn't it be great to be near the top of the food chain?

I'm sure Merlin wouldn't mind me saying; but he used to have some issues with wanting to prove himself. But the journey he has taken on the way to becoming a Sensei has taught him why he no longer needs to fight.

It is a journey that most people who enjoy a fight, don't take. You see it every weekend in the city centre, hear it on the news and read it in the paper. It takes real intelligence knowing why you shouldn't fight, to be able to walk away and 'be the bigger man'.

As you get older, you get wiser. Unfortunately, some people never get older. Rather than learn to fight, learn how to run, fast! :D

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Boss Effect

It's been a while. I find it hard to blog about inane nonsense and have this page looking like my overlong twitter page of day-to-day ramblings and nonsense (thanks to Finn for borrowing/stealing that line!). When I really feel motivated to write something that has meaning to me, then I do and will.

This weekend I spent some time in Yorkshire with the Boss. I'd not seen him since Christmas, and contact last year had been limited to a few occasions due to his serving 8 months in Afghan.

Now, although my leg has been healing well, it hasn't really been challenged. I'd pushed it, but there's pushing it and then there's PUSHING it! This was due to change once the Boss had his way! He's developed into a top mountain biker and wanted to get me out on the trails, answering no was not an option!!

Borrowing a £3k Santa Cruz bike, we headed up to Hamsterley near Darlington. Here we rode a pretty technical red trail and a 4x track. I'd never ridden trails as big as these before and here I was, with a leg at about 80%, hitting every drop and jump I could!

You see, that's the effect of the Boss. He takes you outside your comfort zone and pushes you to heights you didn't know you could reach. It would be fair to say I miss having somebody like that around. Somebody who actually does what they say they're going to do. Somebody who is always striving to reach a higher level and insists on taking you along for the ride.

Case in point. I didn't fancy riding down this 4x track. This place is national standard! I figured I had pushed my luck enough that day and would save it for next time. I had already pushed myself further than normal and I could only ride up on the pedals in short bursts, which made everything that much tougher. However, as I took a few pics of the Boss dropping in and doing some jumps, he appeared on the drop-in ramp with my bike. 'You've got to go down one way or another,' was all he said! I decided not to think, quick gulp of air, bouncing on the balls of my feet to warm the ankle up and off I pedaled.

You see, you always need people around who believe you can obtain higher heights than you, yourself, even realise. That's what keeps dreams alive and keeps us striving to always reach that little bit further. That's the Boss effect.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

You looking at me?

I was walking through the town centre. Just minding my own business. Every so often a pretty girl would catch my eye. On the whole though, I paid nobody any attention and was generally lost in a world of my won. Pressing matters occupied my mind. What should I have for dinner tonight? Mmmmm, I fancy takeout, but it’s midweek, can I justify that?? Chinese? Indian? Subway? I carried on walking and pondering this conundrum.

Suddenly, the sky seemed to darken. Like a sixth sense I noticed him approach. His eyes locked on me as he walked towards me. I held his gaze. This dude was huge! Definitely an MMA fighter I decided. One big, bad mofo.

Like a showdown in the wild west, the town became deserted, the birds were quiet, streets empty, people fled for the safety of shops, windows were shut and boarded….I swear tumbleweed blew past me. This town ‘aint big enough for the both of us pardner.

The distance between us closed and my heart beat faster. My breath became short and I could feel my clammy hands balling in and out of fists. My pulse became loud and muffled in my ears. Ladies and Gentlemen, in the red corner weighing 170lbs we have the challenger…….Everything in life had built me up to this one moment. I stood my ground.

The gap was minimal, we continued to eyeball each other, who would make the first move?! For every action, there is an equal reaction. I was ready. He was ready. Let’s get it on!

Our paths continued past each other. Phew – he was lucky. The sky brightened, the birds began to sing, doors opened and the streets were busy once again. So what was I going to have for dinner?????

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The last days of summer

The sun was slowly setting. Jonas sat and watched the surfer in the line-up. Summer was ending, the zoo of people had gone. The colder evenings meant only the dedicated would stay out, shivering until the light had faded. This surfer stood out. His unabashed joy at surfing clear from Jonas’s perch on the cliff.

It had been a tough summer for everyone. Nothing else would ever be the same again. The loss would always be there. Jonas was savouring the last few moments before life moved on. His best friends Rob and Mikey came and stood next to him, they too were letting go of the remnants of summer.

“Will you look at that guy go?” hooted Mikey. The surfer raced down the line, drawing clear of the trailing wall of white-water he threw himself into gravity defying turn after turn, yet still managing to stay on his feet.

“I’ve not seen anybody like that out here, well except…” Rob’s voice trailed off.

“I know dude,” Mikey squeezed his shoulder. “Nobody, except for Jonas.”.

Rob quietly laughed, “Yeah, he’s even surfing in nothing but boardies, just like J. The crazy kid”.

Jonas turned to them both and smiled to himself – he wasn’t one to brag or be cocky, recognition from his friends was immense, but the taking part was what he enjoyed. His smile faded as he remembered how he would miss the taking part the most.

As they watched the surfer continue down the line, the wave endlessly lining up in a perfect wall of blue, the three of them stood and hooted the surfer as he disappeared behind the curtain of white-water. If this was to be their last memory of the summer, of this place, at least it was a good one.

Rob and Mikey stood looking out over the ocean. Jonas turned towards them and heard Mikey speak, more to himself than anyone; “I’ll always miss you bru.”.

Rob replied softly, “I’ll always miss him too Mikey, at least J is where he belongs now.”.

Jonas watched as they both got in the car and drove away. It was time to move on now.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

There's no place like home

I've been a critic of England for the last few years. Ever since I visited Florida in 1993 in fact! It's no secret I've always wanted to move to the states...................................or South Africa, Australia, Portugal, anywhere else in fact!!

This wasn't helped by having a multicultural group of friends from hockey; Finn, the Coach and Bleeker to name a few who came from other countries! Stories they told of other lands would leave me feeling jealous and wanting something more from my home country. This was then reinforced by my best friend Merlin emigrating to NYC 2 years ago.

For years I just wanted to pack up and ship out. Everytime I opened a newspaper, something else disgusted or annoyed me. Whether it was crime, the government or people in general. To me, my country was a let down. I felt this could be solved simply by upping sticks and hopping across the pond.

Now, I'm not blind to the problems other countries have, but when you live in your own space in your country, you live in a microcosm of the environment - a sub-level to the overruling government - so bigger issues do not always filter down and bother/affect you. It's when they do that you start getting itchy feet and wishing for elsewhere.

It's been like this with England. You all know enough about the state of the place, politics and government, that I don't need to recap. But it just seems to be getting worse, not better. Inner cities are becoming no-go zones and it isn't just the media creating a moral panic. I only need to walk through the town centre keeping my gaze up for a few seconds too long, to have some 12 year old start swearing and cursing asking me what my problem is! That bothers me!!

Going back to my original thread of wanting to emigrate. After a 12 month delay (!), I've just made my 3rd visit to NYC. I spent 2 weeks there over the new year and had the time of my life. I visited places tourists don't normally go. Hung out with friends and lived as a local would. Again, I didn't really want to come home. The city holds a special place in my heart and has a vibe I have never experienced elsewhere. I walk the streets and I feel alive. Again it got me thinking about moving.....

But you know something? This time, I actually felt pretty good once I got home. It was nice to step out of the hectic pace and relax. Don;t get me wrong, I can't wait to visit again, it's already planned for June.

My point is though, there are many amazing places in the world that we hold dear for whatever reason. They will always spark off memories or feelings and transport us back to that time. But rather than think the grass is always greener on the other side, just don't pour weedkiller over your own patch! Nurture and appreciate what you have, rather than always longing for something else.

Maybe that way you learn to appreciate both sides even more.

Word. :)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A new year, A new beginning

2010. The end of the noughties - what a stupid term for them, but I won't go into that here! :)

Last year was an interesting one. In terms of up and downs, it had more action than Russell Brands sex life!

The last few months have been good, really good. But I've also lost focus on a few goals I set and a few things I learnt during my layoff last year. It's time now to address these and bring them back into the spotlight.

Motivation hasn't been lacking exactly. I've got a great girlfriend, great apartment and have had some awesome holidays since the summer, alongside getting a permanent promotion at work just before xmas. But dedication has been short.

I have some stuff I want to accomplish in the short term and now I'm feeling refreshed, that's what I intend to do.