I’ve heard rumors that once a person reaches a black belt, they’ve only just begun to train. All of what happened before was preparing for the next level of training which is sort of like starting fresh at something. Not say that all of the previous belt levels are useless, but they are essentially basics. Many of the black belts I know seem to be on a different plane of learning. It seems they’ve achieved something, are more aware of themselves and their capabilities, they can think a little more out of the box. However, there is an understanding that the real work is just beginning. In a blog by the Budo Bum, when speaking of budo (武道 “way of war”) he often refers to how budo is a journey, in other words it’s not a means to an end, it’s a way of living. The ideas behind budo translates well into the notion that a black belt is just getting started.
I’ve been battling several things for my entire adult life (27 years) from a very traumatic childhood. I’ve achieved a lot, I’ve overcome a lot, I’ve battled fiercely and defeated many things. But, I’ve recently had a blow to my ego. I’ve developed a panic disorder for no explainable reason. It’s costing me my health, my blood pressure is too high, the physical symptoms are too strong, my stomach is being damaged. The high blood pressure alone scared me enough to get me to the doctor’s, but while I was there I experienced an intense panic attack. He decided I needed four medications: an anti-depressant, an anti-anxiety, anti-reflux, and, of course, a blood pressure med.
I had told myself several years ago, as I was weaning off yet another anti-depressant, I NEVER wanted to do this again. Sure, it helped for a time, but the side effects sucked too much. I wanted to be rid the need for a crutch to help me cope with life. I wanted to be my own woman and stand up on my own 2 legs without help. With recent spiritual and emotional achievements, I honestly believe I had “arrived.” I could move on happy into the new land of fruitfulness and giving back. Like I said, getting the news I need so much help hurt my sense of self and my ego.
As I prayed and asked God “why” for the 15th time in 3 days, he showed me two keys things: One was Him sweeping my legs from under me so I had to land on my back, the second was the analogy of only just beginning the battle as one achieves their black belt. Essentially, He showed me that submitting to Him in this way would help me achieve greater things. He needs to break my ego (again) and set me on a new path of conquering. He promises to fill in my weak spots, and sometimes that means medications.
All of the years I’ve been fighting for my life, I was learning the basics, and now the real battle begins. The real work of breaking my ego and forming me into the best warrior I can be looks more intense and has greater sacrifice. Just as a martial art student must submit to their teacher, I must embrace this new thing, and submit to the wisdom of my doctor, and ultimately my God, to win the next battle.