Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Unified Belt

What in the world is pun jap surapt? I’m sure I’ve butchered the name of the specialty martial art, but what is it? Rather, why is it? I mean, wasn’t tae kwon do exotic enough? Hell, the wax-on/wax-off folks hadn’t even used karate all the way up yet before venturing deeper into the martial arts beyond. Now, they’ve explored themselves into a strict prawn-and-prune diet and cracking cinder blocks with their ear lobes in preparation for a much-anticipated training retreat in a remote mountaintop compound with sprightly yet ancient guru whose tutelage is certain to secure victory in becoming the unified belt champion of both the feather weight and black jellybean divisions of the Snap Dragon Wah Chu League.

Good grief.

I mean, how many ways are there to kick somebody in the face?

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This is what we do, isn’t it? Twist and fold ourselves like origami paper until our situations are unique and special? You know, how there’s no other heartbreak like the one you’re trying to recover from? And there’s no other father-son tension like the static wall you scale every holiday? Your weight loss challenges are just so …


And we hate this! I know I do. Believe me, for someone with “Above Average” on her license plates (seriously), the last conclusion I want to land on is the fact that my trials and troubles are much like everyone else’s. But they are. Different dates, names and circumstances, perhaps, but yearning, frustration, resentment and anxiety are yearning, frustration, resentment and anxiety at the end of any day.

I had to remind myself of this (quite rudely, I’ll admit) over the past two weeks. A long-standing contract came to an end sooner than I’d expected, lurching me into a financial pre-panic. What about my household? What about my programs? What about the spring break trip with my little girls? Property taxes? My new handbag?

I’ve spent the last 14 days weaving a substitute safety net until the heavy duty replacement can drop into place. At every stitch and purl, I whispered affirmations to myself … This has to happen … That will be so … Such and Whatever cannot take root … At every turn, I had trouble answering, “why?” Why, in real life, would my situation be so uniquely perilous that my list of needs and deeds might rank higher than anyone else’s?

Well, because I’ve trained on a mountaintop with a fishy old man.

Yeah, well, this unified belt is also commonly known as “unemployment.” Get over it.

Not at all to undermine my special purpose; I do have one. My circumstances are special, too. Just … only … to me. And that’s okay. I’ll continue to treat my challenges as matters of national security, but also try and remember that others are neither likely nor obligated to do the same. More importantly, this is the year I stop letting other people’s issues, insecurities, frailties, biases, hang-ups and bullyakkey edge ahead of my own. Karate. Tae kwon do. Pun jap surapt. It’s all a kick in the face. Block when you can. Duck when you can’t. I’m going to be a better fighter this year. To the rest of you, good luck out there in the ring.