Skip to main content

A Good Deal on Self Respect

"Money doesn't buy happiness. Uh, do you live in America? 'Cause it buys a WaveRunner. Have you ever seen a sad person on a WaveRunner?" - Daniel Tosh

Confession, I did not go to jiu-jitsu this morning. I would like to say that I was sick, or that I was taking care of some very important business,  perhaps volunteering at the ASPCA or cleaning up the park. I was doing none of those things. Instead of working on half guard drills I was at the TMobile store buying a new phone. 

To be fair, my current phone was really old and had an annoying tendency to randomly shut itself off in my pocket. And I was eligible for an upgrade so I could get a fancy new phone for half the price. Which I did. Now I can do all kinds of things with my phone. I can check email and Facebook. I can download free time sucking games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. I can even, occasionally, when I am feeling very old school, call people. Welcome to the year 2000!

I am really not an easy sell. Cold calling does not work on me, mainly because I usually know what I want (and don't want). It is near impossible to convince me to buy your product if I do not already want to buy it. And if I do want it, I'll find you. But that does not mean I do not like to shop, or rather, to buy. (The act of shopping I hate) Thankfully my tastes are relatively inexpensive. I like clothes from Old Navy. I buy $10 shoes. I adore handmade beaded necklaces from people who are selling their things on a blanket on Bedford Ave. 

Why is it that getting new gadgets is so exciting? Because we live in a society that is constantly pushing products. Drink this, eat that, wear this, watch that. If you listen to your television you NEED a new car, a giant flat screen TV, a fleece hoodie, and some Pepsi, not to mention a vacation in Jamaica, Proactive acne wash and a purple pill to cure your depression. Thankfully, in the midst of this constant commercial bombardment, there is the martial arts.

The hardest thing about training is that there is no quick fix. The sell is there: you will get stronger, more confident, skinnier, healthier. The thing is, you are going to have to work for it. And sure, you can buy any color belt you want from a martial arts supply store, but it will be meaningless. To actually be a black belt (or a blue belt or a green belt or a purple belt) you have to put the time in. You have to sweat.  

This is my favorite part of training, and it is true of both karate and jiu-jitsu. The thrill of buying a new gadget only lasts so long before it becomes just another thing in your pocket. New shoes make you feel sexy but they are still just shoes. But pulling off a successful triangle choke after months of struggling? That's a real accomplishment. Realizing that you can do ten more pushups then you could last week. Finally remembering your kata.  The exhilaration of an hour long sparring session. It goes on and on. No Black Friday sale even comes close.

So yes, I like a good deal as much as the next person. And I'll admit my new phone is pretty sweet. But I am feeling a bit guilty. (Not to mention slothful. Throw in a few more of the deadly sins and we can make a horror film starring Brad Pitt.) Tomorrow it is back to the dojo, I promise. And Wednesday it is back on the mat for all the drills I missed today.  

Some people like to define themselves by what they do. Others, by what they have. I prefer to define myself by what I am. I am a black belt.  I did not buy it on sale at Target, I worked my ass off for it.  And hopefully some day I will earn another one. 

Of course, I have to actually make it to class first...


Popular posts from this blog

November 20, 2018

This morning, while out walking my dog, I watched a mother put her young boy onto the school bus. "Have a good day," she said. "Listen to your teacher."

The boy, who was about five years old, replied that of course he would, although it was unclear which of his mom's wishes he was agreeing to.

Listening. So and so is a "good listener." We talk so much about it, but many of us have no idea how to actually do it., so caught up in the words inside our own head that it is almost impossible to hear anything else. Yeah I am listening to you, but not really, I am really thinking about the next thing I am going to say. I am listening to you, but not really, because even though you know an awful lot about this, deep down my egotistical brain still thinks I know better. I am listening, but not really because even though you just showed the technique in perfect detail three times, and I swore I was really paying attention, somehow when it was my turn to drill it…


For the past two days I have been feeling sick; an obvious side effect of spending so much time getting breathed on by small, germy children. This morning I was feeling much better, but not well enough for BJJ, so I decided to go to a yoga class instead. Turns out I was not quite well enough because about halfway through class my body was like, "Hey you, sick girl, you are kind of tired, this feels kind of yucky actually. How about you spend some time in child's pose instead."
As a lifelong athlete I am really, really good at getting messages from my body. I am less skilled, however, at actually following them.
This was not a difficult yoga class. But for me, today, it was impossible. My brain really did not like that. As I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing, the ever helpful voice in my head was saying things like "Everyone must think I am so weak. The teacher must think there is really something wrong with me. I should push through anyway. This is pathetic.&qu…

Roller Coaster

Its the roller coaster that gets me. The fact that you are just going along, doing your work, slowly climbing up, everything is going exactly according to plan, then Zoom!, down you go, fast, maybe not all the way to the bottom again, maybe somewhere halfway, but man you got there FAST! And now here we go again, back on the slow climb.
Some days it feels like you are doing everything right, you are busting your ass to accomplish all of your goals in every way that you know how, yet things just aren't going the way you want them to. On those days it is easy to get angry at the world. Don't you see I am doing my best here? Don't you see how hard I am working? OMG just get the f&*k out of my way! Stop asking for more of me! Can't you see I don't have any more??
But the thing is, that down part, it is on the track. It is part of the ride. it has always been a part of the ride. We knew if was coming, we could see it at the top of the long climb up. We didn't know…