Val and I have been training, working, and playing together in San Francisco since March 7. Hawaii will always be my home, however, apart from Hawaii there is nowhere I’d rather be than in San Francisco with my greatest motivator and friend Valerie. San Francisco is a great city and being here with Val in a place with so much culture and with so many great martial artists and gyms has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.
Val and I are a great team. We enjoy doing many of the same activities and continually encourage each other to make the most of every opportunity that we have. While we disagree at times, our disagreements usually result in some change (whether actual or conceptual) that betters us both for having faced it. It is specifically because we bring out the best in each other that we make such a great team.
I always feel touched and honored anytime Val says something like she did in her post on March 6. The reality is, however, that Val motivates and inspires me at last as much as I inspire her. While I have always felt passionately about martial arts, over the years aspects of this passion faded. Before I began training with Val a little less than a year ago, the benefits that I was receiving from martial arts while great in effect had become few in number. The benefits that I received from martial arts were 1) the adrenalin of the high-stakes chess match associated with a fight or hard sparring, 2) the paradoxical clarity and peace of mind that such sparring sessions gave me, and 3) the conceptual realizations that accompanied the reality of the seamless flow between these two concepts that superficially seemed incompatible. While these benefits probably would have been sufficient to cause me to practice martial arts for the rest of my life, the comparative cost of these benefits in form of daily training was increasing over time.
This all changed when I started training with Val. Val’s wide doe-eyed approach to life and her ability to find joy and occasionally even happiness in things that I had come to take for granted caused me to find happiness in things that I had previously come to think of as monotonous. Seeing Val’s eagerness to learn “new” techniques which to me had become mechanical and thoughtless forced me to relive my own experiences when I was learning the very same techniques. This in turn revived long forgotten fond memories of how much I used to love every single aspect of training. I remembered being eager to learn new techniques. I remembered feeling like the possibilities were limitless. As I was reliving some of these long lost memories, I realized that even now after training in martial arts for most of my life, the possibilities with respect not only to martial arts but also with respect to life in general are limited only by my own self-imposed beliefs as to what I can and can’t do.
When one has a partner that refuses to accept limitations that we all seem to place on ourselves as a paradoxical means avoiding failure, it makes it much harder to accept mediocrity. When we have a partner that is as passionate about our goals as we are yet less willing to accept our self-imposed restrictions on own potential it makes it much more likely that we will live up to our true potential. I am grateful to have found such a partner in Val. I am equally grateful that she finds me as motivational and inspirational as I find her. Few relationships present greater opportunity for personal growth than relationships in which both parties serve as mutual motivators to each other.