In a wonderful inspirational blog post Andrea Harkins, an Internet acquaintance of mine, wrote about the question we all ask ourselves from time to time, “Who am I?” I’m going to simply go off on a bit of a tangent, and I hope that nobody takes my musings as diminishing what she has to say in her article. It’s just that she and I are different human beings and each of us has different thoughts to share. She has truly been a role model to me and I loved her article. ‘Nuff said.
I certainly do ask myself, “Who am I?” from time to time, just like anyone else. But for more than a year, I’ve also been asking, “What am I becoming?”
I think the first time I asked myself this question was when I very nearly killed a man during sparring. My inner voice was trembling with fear. I had no idea that I was even capable of killing someone. I’d only been training for less than a year at that point and assumed that I couldn’t kill someone even if I tried. Since then, I’ve learned that my ability to inflict great harm does not in any way diminish the good inside me. I’ve learned a great deal about trust and have been seeking to be trustworthy. Accordingly, I have been seeking and will always be seeking to control my techniques. Accidents happen and I don’t have perfect control yet, but most of the time I have peace knowing I am getting better. Sometimes I do still tremble when I ask myself that question, but by now I can reassure myself and continue learning Karate, which is, among other things, a study of how to fight and how, if necessary, to end a fight.
Sometimes I ask myself, “What am I becoming?” with a tone of awe. This happens after I’ve made a quantum leap of understanding in class, after a significant tournament victory, or a great performance during a belt test. I’ll often feel like pinching myself to make sure that I didn’t just dream it. My heart soars, and yes, I do feel proud of myself. I look forward to better and greater things. I know I’m one step closer to my goals and dreams.
When I watch those who outrank me, I have part of the answer to the question, “What am I becoming?” Don’t get me wrong, these folks are human beings with their quirks and flaws. They’re not perfect. When I reach 3rd Kyu, 2nd Kyu, 1st Kyu, Shodan, and beyond, I won’t be perfect either. And I certainly won’t be identical to any of those who I look up to. What I will be is a better version of myself – mind, body, and spirit. So when I look at those who outrank me, particularly the “ones who have gone before,” I get little glimpses of my future.
I like where I’m headed.
P. S. – If you’d like to read more by Andrea Harkins, check out her inspirational blog, “The Martial Arts Woman.” Andrea also has compiled her own writing and the stories of other martial arts women in her new book, publishing soon!