Monday, October 27, 2014

Motorcycles, Martial Arts, and Music

My last post was quite heavy in tone, which was unavoidable due to the circumstances I'm dealing with.  There is just no way to sugarcoat the kinds of things I am going through, as they are very foundational in nature with me.

Despite the ongoing storms, I wanted to write a few words about some of the things that are helping me get from one day to the next.  While these things might not be everyone's cup of tea, I do feel that they demonstrate how you have to get some things in your life to focus on and drive forward with during a time of interior storms.  I often talk about how you have to keep moving forward, and sometimes that can be an incredibly hard thing to do.  Having a few things to hold onto can definitely make a difference in simply getting up in the morning, getting through a day, and being able to overcome the restlessness to sleep at night.

For me, the process has seen me immerse more fully in one activity that I had already been active in, embrace an all-new activity, and return to another that I had not been active in for many years.  Together, these three very special things have lent me some strength and encouragement to take another step on the road back to finding myself again.

As far as the brand new activity, that would be my journey into the world of motorcycles.  I'm taking it carefully, I didn't just go out and get a big Harley or go forward without a plan.  There is a lot to know about a bike and you have to respect the power and dangers associated with it.  Taking it step by step, I'm learning to ride from some very veteran riders and I'll be doing the safety course to get my full license.  But I already love the feel of riding.  I need to get experience before I take a longer trip and hit a highway, but I can feel what riding has to offer.

There is a real sense of freedom and independence surrounding the riding sensation, feeling the air rushing over you and the power of the motorcycle propelling you forward.  I cannot wait to cruise by river roads and through rural landscapes, as I know it is going to be a very inspiring and invigorating experience.  My current bike is a Suzuki Intruder, a 750, and I have named her Freya after the Norse Goddess who is associated with love and war.  I prefer love over war, but life has its battles, and it is my hope that Freya helps carry me through all of it, thick and thin.

Learning something new definitely gives my mind something to focus on, especially something as downright rockin' and exciting as motorcycles.  While I wish I could be going through this with my heart intact, but learning about motorcycles and how to ride them has definitely given me something to hold onto during this time.

At various points in my life, I have worked out with different martial artists, and even took lessons myself for a good while.  I have the honor of knowing some truly world class ones, including a friend of mine from college who happens to be a supernatural level martial artist with multiple degrees in a number of various systems. From time to time I've been able to gain great insights just from talking with them, much of which has factored into the present.

This past spring I decided to get back into martial arts as a core part of my fitness training.  No need for a gym, and solid martial arts training is comprehensive as it addresses strength, flexibility and cardio quite well.  It's working.  I've gone down 4 jeans sizes since the spring and moving on the 5th now.   The past month I've really accelerated my training and it has been a pillar of strength for me.

Martial arts demands focus and discipline, and gives a channel for negative emotions to be processed in a constructive manner.  I have to admit that doing some routines with Pantera or Slipknot cranking seems to put a little more behind combos, various types of strikes, kicks, and that kind of thing, but the mind does stay centered on the tasks at hand and that is a big reason why its so helpful at this time.

This latest phase into martial arts, what I did was look across the various styles I had been exposed to over the years.  I gleaned the things that really work well for me and the kind of physical abilities I'm best suited for, which are very practical in a real self-defense situation, and bring them together under one roof for my training.  I'm not worried about belts or anything like that, or whether I can do a beautiful head-high spinning kick, I just want to improve more with each day on what I do well, get a little faster, a little stronger, and carry out techniques a little better.  It is solely a personal development path.

Honestly, I've never trained better, but martial arts has given me something I need right now.  It offers a level of focus and discipline that has come in very needed at a period in which most of me feels like I've been snatched up in a cyclone and thrown across the skies.

The past month, I think I've come to understand and appreciate the nature of martial arts better than I ever have, and I know it is a real positive going forward.  It has definitely been another one of the things to hold onto in the battle of trying to get through each day.  While I'm really struggling internally, physically I'm moving better every day, trimming up more, and making wonderful strides that over the course of the year have seen the decreasing jeans sizes.  It offers measurable milestones and goals to shoot for, and gives me something to reach for.  I'm very grateful for that.

Last, but not least, I have picked up the guitar again.  I was in rock bands during late grade school and high school, and played the guitar for years.  Yet after college I really drifted away from it.  It is very odd, as I've grown to love music, especially hard rock and metal, more and more over the years. I can say without question that I have a true passion for music.  It is a constant friend and ally to me and has been a tremendous medicine for me at this time.  I even worked around the world of music for some years doing show promoting and band booking.  Looking back, it kind of mystifies me as to why I set the guitars in their cases and left them there.  But there's no better time than now to get moving again.

The impetus came from some conversations with a friend of mine who has been great to me at this time and happens to be a very creative individual, very musically oriented too.  He caused me to realize that I'd like to have that part of me back, and perhaps go forward with it.  There was no reason not to, and the thought of it really called to me.

Just taking my two main guitars out of their cases felt so good.  I've gotten in all the things I need to get underway, from new picks, to new guitar cables, an effects processor, and a few new sets of strings.  I will need to work at it to get my chops back up, but I'm rarin' to go and very excited.  A couple of the first songs I dabbled with were AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock" and "Back in Black".  Yes, I'm looking to finding my way to rockin' again and being back.

All the new fancy stuff like online tablature software that you can play along with is definitely new turf for me since the old days!  I felt like a cat in a sushi bar looking through the tablature catalogs containing all my favorite songs.  Already earmarking some Def Leppard, Slash, The Cult, and much more!

I'm also feeling an interest in coming up with some original material in the future.  I'm curious to see what kinds of things I can come up with, as I know I think deeper about music than I ever did when I played guitar heavily so many years ago.

As with martial arts, I think I have a much more matured attitude about practice and drilling, and I don't think it will be all that long before I get into the flow of it.  Like martial arts, guitar will offer its own sets of milestones and goals, bringing along with it a regular sense of achievement.  I think that's a big plus at a time when my confidence had been shattered.

These three pursuits have given my mind something to focus on during a very difficult time.  All of these pursuits involve journeys of their own, with learning, training, milestones and all of the dynamics that come with those kinds of things.  As such, each of them offers something to strive for, things to celebrate, and a sense of achievement and personal satisfaction.

While none of these things can truly heal the kind of deep wounds I'm dealing with, they can help me endure, and I think it is very important for people who are going through terrible storms to do everything they can to not become inert.  The small positives I glean from martial arts, motorcycles, and music really do make a big difference in getting through each day.  If you are going through interior storms, find the things like this that work for you and hold onto them with all you've got.  They can help you to keep moving forward.


Tony Acree said...

The post shows how you are taking command of your life, establishing your own boundaries, and finding joy when times can be especially tough. Well done, my friend.

Thomas A. Erb said...

Man, I felt tears in the corner of my eyes as I read your words. The more I learn about you and get to know you, we are so similar. I too find solace in the writing, martial arts (not as much as I used to) and music. I've been playing drums since I was 16 and it's been a near zen-like therapy for me.

Great to see you've taken control my friend. I wish you all the best and hey, if you ever need someone of like-mind, I'm here brother.

sgzimmer said...

@Tony Thanks for the note, I'm doing everything I can right now, it is a really difficult time, but wanted to share some of the methods that are helping me get through the days.

@Thomas I have had a sense that you and I share some common ground. I really appreciate you sharing this, and I know you understand. Just wish we lived a little closer so we could hang out more!