Ever Changing

We all go through Changes*. Yes, I capitalized that word for effect.

There’s “changes”, examples of which include:

  • Trying a different cereal at breakfast.
  • Wearing “business casual” shirts at a convention.
  • Taking an alternate route on the commute home to see if you save time or gas.

And then there’s “Changes.” Big things, like:

  • Losing a portion of your body to disease or injury.
  • Taking up a fitness regimen.
  • Seeking out help for that Problem you have.
  • Shaking loose of a bad habit to pick up a good one.

In a sense, Changes are either reactions to Big Things That Can Hit Life Really Hard, or they’re born out of Desire. I know I’m doing a lot of capitalization, but again, there’s desire and there’s Desire. The latter is born from passion. It’s being so fed up with the status quo that you finally do something about it or you just wake up and say “Let’s do this.”

I went through a combo of a Change when I embarked on my Fitness Quest back in January. Diet, weights at the gym and going back to Karate were all a part of getting healthy. It wasn’t out of any desire to be “Teh Sexxah Geek”**, but more because I was tired of being heavy and out of shape. Even though I’m not where I want to be in terms of fitness and physique, I do know that it’s a hell of a lot better than where I was seven months ago.

Likewise, earning a black belt in a martial art can be a “change” or a “Change.” Some people don’t make it that far, while others stop shortly thereafter. For those, the achievement is a change – and a notable one considering the effort that one makes just for the title of Shodan. While it may be a peak for some, it’s a beginning for others, making it a Change. You step it up at that point – become a leader in the dojo, leading classes, giving lessons, all while you’re training for that next rank.

In other words, becoming a Black Belt can be a change of lifestyle. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, and to be quite honest the idea of quitting Karate after reaching Shodan – especially now – just isn’t in my headspace at all.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sensei Dan is planning on holding Black Belt tests in November. I’m confident I’ll be ready. I’m confident that I can pass (whether I will or not will be decided when I reach that gauntlet). Dan wouldn’t have brought it up if he didn’t think I could. I have every intention on making the Change, but I think I need to make another Change beforehand.

I know it seems pretentious to announce something like this, but if I don’t say it I have a greater risk of chickening out:

On the 24th of October, I will quit drinking.

Here’s a little history. I didn’t drink until I was 21 because I knew that with my luck, I’d get busted if I did. Even then, I drank sparingly – occasionally – until I went to Seton Hill. For a writing degree. Funny how that works, don’t it?

I went dry for Lent this year to see if could do it, and truth be told it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I know I’ll miss beer (especially Guinness), I know I’ll miss wine (especially the pinots), and I know I’ll definitely miss whiskey (oh, Green Label…), but I think it’s time to call it quits. I have reasons:

  • My capacity for drinking has diminished greatly with the loss of weight. This means I’m buzzed on one or two drinks nowadays.
  • That diminished ability has made me more susceptible to hangovers – even mild ones.
  • I just don’t need the calories that come with booze, plain and simple. Getting it out of the way should help as I try to improve the shape I’m. Why settle for good when I can go for awesome?
  • If I have a problem with drinking, it’s that it’s difficult for me to have “just one drink” as opposed to not having a drink at all. Once that first round is down, I want another. More often than not I’ll get it. (The exception to this has been Green Label, which is meant to be savored)
  • A portion of my family medical history does not sit well with alcohol. This is something that has bugged me for the past few years. It’s further compounded by phrases like “cancer” and “congenital heart condition.” I guess I’m at that age where these facts of life become important, because let’s face it:
  • It’s time. That date I mentioned? One day after my birthday – my fortieth birthday. Forty may be the new thirty, but plenty of people will say “it’s all downhill from here.” Fuck. That. Noise. My Dad is still lean and healthy and active at 67***. That’s where I want to be. At 90. Maybe by then I’ll feel ready to slow down.

Maybe it’s a little weird to assert this sort of thing now, but better late than never, right?

Then again, is it really late? All things happen for reasons – even if we cannot observe them. I don’t think I was ready for being a Black Belt twelve years ago.

I am now…

I wasn’t ready to be even something remotely close to athletic.

I am now…

And maybe – just maybe – I wasn’t ready to push myself and see just what I can be.

I am now…

So let’s do this.

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