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...

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