Wherever I am, There May I Be

I was reminded of the importance of being present as I read Master Frankovich’s previous blog post. The post was about drills and their specific benefits. Of course, the benefit of doing a drill in class can be lost on a student if he is not mentally engaged in his environment. The idea of being present where I am stood out clearly. I’d like to expound on this idea further, and how it can apply to martials arts training and life more generally.

The Author, Sarah, on the trail.
The Author, Sarah, on the trail.

My name is Sarah. I am a blue belt in Taekwondo and a green belt in Haidong Gumdo. I am a 7th year teacher, 10th year mother, 3rd year martial artist, and 4th year homeowner. I use these descriptions to give you a small idea of who I am, what experiences I’ve had, and why my thoughts on this topic of being present are valuable. The idea of being present where one is has been reiterated throughout my life. In high school, trying to pay attention during Spanish class instead of dwelling on my deteriorating first relationship. During my last class of Family Communications at my community college on a Tuesday evening, when earlier that day I had found out I was pregnant. Teaching Cultural Geography on an early release day instead of eagerly looking ahead to celebrating my birthday! And of course, fighting the temptation to create a Menards shopping list for rebuilding my deck during drills in Haidong Gumdo.

The examples I give are all small pictures of how life, whether past or future, crowds into the present. Of course, everyone spends time thinking about the past and future. However, if the majority of our mental activity is spent on memories past or things yet to come, we miss what is right in front of us. What am I not doing right now? Who am I not fully devoting my attention to in front of me (my son, my students, my friends, and family)? How can I more closely engage in this kicking drill to improve my muscle memory and develop as a stronger martial artist?

"Embrace the Suck"
“Embrace the Suck”

My boyfriend and I went camping over Memorial Day weekend. It had rained steadily the day before and that Monday, we went hiking on one of the most sketchy trails. It was steep, the supports were falling apart, it was slick with mud. I was wearing tennis shoes, not sturdy hiking boots. I started to complain. It sucked! My dear, empathic boyfriend told me, “Embrace the suck.” Embrace it? I just wanted it to be over! I wanted to be off this path and onto level, dry ground. I wanted to literally be out of the woods. Sometimes I feel that way about being a mom. When will these behavior problems correct themselves? Sometimes I feel that way as I continue on my path of earning my black belt. Will I ever perfect my round kick? I want the smooth sailing now. But if I am wishing for time to pass by, it will. And I will not have learned from my experiences. I will certainly not have embraced the suck.

Master Kim
Sarah Olson with son, Gabriel, and Mark Wurdeman joining Kwanjangnim Jeong Woo Kim after training.

It occurs to me that my son will spend far more years of his life as a successful adult than an occasionally difficult child. I will not get to see him daily, experiencing with him the trials and successes. And I will spend far more years as a black belt instead of as a colored belt. I will miss this period of struggle. As I try to remind my students, high school will be soon over. Enjoy it while you can! “This too shall pass” is a promise, and a call to attention: be where you are! Don’t wish it away!

I wake myself to where I am, to the reality that is the present. I embrace the suck and pour my mental energies into now. And I pray, God willing, wherever I am, there may I be.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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One thought to “Wherever I am, There May I Be (guest post: Sarah Olson, student)”

  • Joan

    Well said Sarah!!

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