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.
“Turn. Face Melanie,” my instructor said at the end of class. It was a Friday night and we had practiced my favorite techniques: hand strikes, forms, and breaking. What was coming next? Wait a minute, we’d already done the standard bow-to-the-black-belts part of our closing ritual: master, second degrees, first degrees. What’s going on? Is there something spe—oooohhh, right.
“Start singing,” he added, giving me a smirk as he strolled to the front of the room. The whole class sang “Happy Birthday” to me. I grinned and covered my face. Continue reading “The Best Birthday”→
“What’s the next part of this form?” my instructor asked, swiveling his head around and looking straight at me. We had just passed what I call the “jazz hands” portion of Palgwe Sam-jang, the green belt form that we were reviewing that night.