Mitch Joel posted an interesting blog entry on Removing the Noise which struck a big chord with me. I feel like there is a lot of “noise” in my life right now, as a martial artist and as a human being. Some of the noise is from external sources, like books, the internet, and general interactions with the world. A lot of the noise is internal–my brain playing tricks and struggling with itself.
I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on the Philosophy of Mind, courtesy of the Teaching Company. It’s fascinating stuff. In particular, one lecture describe how a man who had had the connection between the two halves of his brain severed exhibited a very peculiar trait; if you asked him what he wanted to be, he would say something like “lawyer” (I forget the exact example). But if you asked him to write down what he wanted to be, he would write “race car driver”.
Some days, I feel a lot like that guy.
Some days, I’m a strong believer in the transformative power of martial arts training, and how it can make peoples lives better. I know and revel in how much martial arts have helped me, drawn me into a greater world of physical culture, and generally made my life better. I look upon my accomplishments with pride and satisfaction, knowing that I’ve grown tremendously from the overweight, out-of-shape child that I was.
Some days, I’m a grumpy cynic who believes that we’re practicing how to hit each other in face, and the rest of it is just glorified trappings to make ourselves feel better. I think about reject the term “martial artist” all together, because I think it carries too much baggage that I don’t like. I look at my performance and absolutely shit on myself. I feel like I’ve made no progress in years, and wonder if I should step aside and let someone else carry the torch.
I’ve been reminded how much I love writing and editing, and have been trying to do more of it, where I can. I love it, but it creates noise. Am I a writer, or a martial arts instructor? Are the two mutually exclusive? More noise.
I miss Judo. I’ve been on Wes’s case on and off for a while to start studying Pekiti, but haven’t made it happen yet. Judo won’t ever happen, unless I give up Muay Thai. Pekiti could happen, I think. The scheduling there seems less difficult. Been doing a bit of Brazilian Jujitsu lately, and having a great time with it. Judo substitute, I guess. Would studying more things create more noise, or less (interestingly, the BJJ so far creates no noise at all. I just go, do it, and stop thinking about it when I’m done. Not, perhaps, the most effective learning method, but it doesn’t burden my brain either.)?
Part of the noise comes out of a sense of obligation; a strange feeling like I have to be watching and reading and keeping up with thousands of different information streams, when I really don’t. I’m starting to try and purge some of those info streams. If I can regulate the external noise, maybe the internal noise will start to settle too.
Today, not too noisy. I’ll see if I can keep it that way.