Aikido Seminars: Reflections Further From the Edge
“So let me get this straight…” my friend says, “you’re flying to Ukraine for a seminar with the person you see every day at your home dojo?” The way he looks at me, words can’t describe. I think I hear the asylum’s ambulance in the distance…
And yet here we are. Kiev in March, saluting the weak sun of spring. No snow this year. Jet-lagged and comatose, riddled with allergies, bodies dry and stiff from hours on planes, smelly and unshaved, we pack into a car and grind our way through traffic.
And then things change. Feels like family. Laughter, big questions and bigger solutions, care and attentiveness, and food, lots and lots of wonderful food. Aikido in a kitchen. This is the part that we often don’t see. We think seminar, we think of the mat, but there is so much more to it.
It’s beyond late, but we’re no longer sleepy, jet-lag knocks you down when it’s time to be up and leaves you haggard yet awake when darkness falls deepest. We laugh about it and accept the four-hour night ahead. New people come in and go, travellers all from the corners of Ukraine. The kitchen is a lung, breathing people in and out relationships. Peace is built in kitchens, and on the mat.
Packed into cars again, we head for the dojo. A wonderful space carved out of dreams. Legs don’t bend, backs don’t bend, knees… The first day on the mat after travel is the worst. Always is for me.
And so it goes in a loop, like the waves we crash on the mat and recede back home to gather strength and come crashing again, ever polishing rocks into sand; individuals into community.
And after all is said and done, after I return home and face the known, I want to return. Thank you Victoria, Misha, Misha, Andrei, and Max!