It is impossible to leave the last practice in Pireus this Sunday without a heavy heart. My time in Koushikan dojo has been one in which I have felt positive intent in every meeting. There is an athmosphere to this place that makes every new encounter feel like i am shaking hands with long time friends, even when I am looking into faces I have never seen before. Every mistake that is unveiled in the application of my technique is a discovery that is delivered as a gift to me from my partners on the mat. Every time the flow of someone’s technique is interrupted, it is interpreted as a positive discovery that we in a joyful manner can explore further on our path to bettering ourselves. It is a heaven on earth made through the hardship of intense practice.
It’s not only the pleasant atmosphere of the dojo that makes leaving difficult. The trip to Greece that has been a roller coaster ride from one experience to the next. At the same time there has been a lot of other things going on that I’ve been forced to deal with. I have been turned down by two potential employers, one of the refusals being in such a manner as it may be a case of illegal gender discrimination. There has been phone calls, text messages and emails every day presenting me with problems that falls within my various areas of responsibility and needing my immediate attention. There has been intense and emotional correspondence with people that are close to me back home, constantly reminding me that the challenges of dealing with both my own and their lives is not something that simply goes away when I leave for a different country. There has been the noticing and being noticed by someone in a way that I’ve never quite experienced before, and that is working together with everything else in derailing my mind and emotions. I probably need to move on. I probably need to get away. I do not want to go.
Once in the car, I pick out the laptop and immerse myself completely in writing. I have always lived life as a continuous series of intense experiences that drag me along whether I choose to acknowledge them or not, and this trip is no different as the curse and blessing that is my attention deficit disorder makes me unable to live in any other way. Still, this has been a pretty intense ride even for me.
I feel the need to “breathe with my mind” to allow recent experiences to settle in a proper way and not just revert into a total chaos of jumbled emotions and fragments of memories. I sit in the back seat of the van as my mind breathes paragraphs of text into existence on my screen, letting myself know what I have been part of and making me ready for new experiences.
As if part of my cleansing process, the roll of thunder pulls me away from my writing and makes me look up into a beautiful open landscape with rolling hills framed on the background of mountains, all being immersed in an intense hailstorm that is hammering on the roof of the car. Dimitris laughs and shouts “Welcome to Arcadia!”
I look up from the screen to take in my surroundings, filling my lungs with air smelling of the ozone that accompanies fresh rain on dry ground. I notice myself taking in this lovely distraction, taking pleasure in how it seems that both me and the entire world around me is being washed vigorously. This perfect moment passing within the space of a second and being locked into my memories, my mind then goes back to the text of its own accord and notes nothing more of the passage along the road to Tripoli.
We arrive at our hotel. We decide on who stays in what rooms, and I get to share a room with Dimitris and Jan. We wash up, change clothes and head off into the mountains to go to a picturesque little village with cool, fresh air and yet another amazing restaurant. Then we drive back and start exploring the night life of Tripoli.
I’m still a bit shell shocked from dealing with my own emotions, and tag along quietly behind the others while they search for the right kind of bar. I am completely unaware that a new encounter is about to knock my partly derailing mind onto a new set of tracks.
(The next part is going to take quite a lot of writing. Be patient.)