Happy New Year, my wonderful readers! If you don’t follow me on Instagram (please do @melaniegibsonauthor), you haven’t seen my taekwondo goals for 2020. I wrote these in my office one day in late December and have them posted above my desk.
A coworker likes to share the phrase, “You’re never too old to learn, and you’re never too young to teach.” Often we look to role models who have already forged the paths we want to travel, but we shouldn’t discount those who may be behind us in achieving a particular goal but whose perseverance and unique aptitude can be a refreshing lesson in never giving up. My last post was a call for black belts to learn from everyone they encounter, no matter what rank they are. My new challenge for my fellow black belts is to find inspiration from others.
I’ve been wanting to spar with some of the senior team fighters over the past few weeks, but I’ve been too shy to ask. They’re half my age, a head taller than me, and very skilled in competition sparring. I felt like I’d slow them down if I asked them to practice with me. I do like the younger kids I usually practice with. Some of them are former students of mine, so I feel very comfortable with them (and now they’re all almost taller than me), but sometimes I really want to be pushed and challenged. I want to be forced to think and practice in a different way. I want to learn new things. Hopping around with tweens and teens isn’t always going to cut it.
I’m writing this at my desk on a quiet, pretty Sunday afternoon while I sip ginger kombucha to ease my perpetually irritated stomach, try not to feel overwhelmed about some assignments my managerial editor has given me for my book, and hope I wake up in time to jump on an 8 AM conference call.
I really, REALLY didn’t want to go to taekwondo on Tuesday.
I was two days into a busy week and just wanted to zone out at home, drink some wine, read a book, and not participate in life. That week I was both covering for a coworker at my day job who was on vacation and two taekwondo coaches who were also on vacation. I had taken two weeks off of work at the beginning of the month, so I was very willing to help out a coworker who’d had my back during that time, and the taekwondo coaches in question work very hard for the dojang and very much deserved a break…but damn if it isn’t tiring to be “on” for about 12 hours for an entire work week (including having to teach a workshop to 40 people on one of said days).
So forgive me if I wasn’t in the jolliest of moods when I showed up to the dojang Tuesday evening.
I have a distinct memory of a decision I made on my fourth birthday.
I figured that since I was four it was about darn time I jumped off the high diving board at the community college pool where my dad taught swimming lessons in the summer. The earliest photo I have of being in that pool was dated when I was nine months old, so I was no stranger to the water. I don’t remember the climb up the 15-foot ladder, but I do remember plunging with glee like a little bullet into the pool.
That leap was a change. That leap was a commitment. That leap was a risk.
Like many friends and former classmates, I turned forty this year. It was interesting to see how people celebrated (or not). There were a few Vegas trips. There were a few parties. There were a few moments of contemplation. Mostly I saw a renewed energy and excitement about the future that we haven’t always associated with turning forty. My generation seems to be grabbing forty with gusto and running with it.
A few years ago I was visiting my brother and his wife in another part of the state. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and we went to my sister-in-law’s parents’ house for lunch. Her brother, sister, and brother-in-law were there, as well as her sister’s two children.
“Are you going to make good choices today?” her sister said to her kids as they ran off to play. Her tone was sunny, but there was a shadow of consequences lurking behind.