Sensei Wisdom & Art

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The other night as we were at the end of kickboxing class, my instructor, Sensei V, told us that the hardest part of our workouts is just showing up. Once you’re in the gym, the rest is easy. The hard part is when you’re home sitting on your couch looking at the clock. Thinking how great it would be to cozy up in your pajamas with a bowl of ice cream and forget class altogether that night. But once you’ve gotten dressed, driven to class and walked through the door, you’ve committed—committed to your health, your community of peers, and your training. Sensei V told us that he knows what it’s like to sit on our side of the mat. When he was young and training from the bottom, sometimes hours at the gym seemed tedious or too hard. This was especially true when life threw him challenges. He reminded us that we all go through hard times—family issues, moving homes and jobs, death, illness, injury, depression, divorce and, sometimes, just feeling sorry for ourselves. Sensei said that he’s gone through most of these things in his own life. But the discipline to just show up has gotten him to where he is and can get us to where we want to be too. Whether that’s to black-belt status, to better health, mental clarity, or all of these, showing up consistently and doing your best is key.

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After class I was still thinking about this idea and how it applies to life and to our art. There are a lot of days when I say, “Oh, I’ll get back to that painting tomorrow when I have more energy or when there isn’t so much to do…or so many good shows on Bravo.” Think of how many times we’ve abandoned our work in favor of the couch and television, our friends out on the town, or good old sleep. But the only way to get to where we want to go is to travel…sometimes that’s quickly and sometimes it’s little by little…with baby steps taken each and every day. Sensei V’s words really rang true. The hard part is showing up—to class, to the page, to the canvas, or to that overflowing closet you’ve been meaning to clean out for two years. Show up, stand in front of your work, and challenge yourself to be consistent in taking care of the things that need to be tended to. Once you start a project, inevitably ten minutes turns into twenty which turns into an hour and then you’re in your groove. But the most work I’ve done in my life has come from short bursts of active creative engagement. Show up. Every day. Even for a little while. And see what amazing things you can do.

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