Friday, January 25, 2013
I have been training in the martial arts for a very long time. I have spent thousands of hours in the gym, hitting a bag, sparring, grappling, lifting weights and generally working out. It keeps me in good shape, but honestly, that is a side effect. I have never worked out to be in shape although that is nice. I love that i can run up a set of stairs or play all day with younger cousins or kids that i am teaching and have them get tired way before i do. It is pretty awesome, but truly, that is a nice side effect and not the reason why i keep going back.
The practical side of the training is to improve my martial arts skills. That has always been my quest. The philosophy of Jeet Kune Do is perfect. I see no difference between the spiritual quest and trying to figure out what is the most efficient and effective fighting style. I am a man of peace, make no mistake. It takes way more than it should to drive me to be angry, but i still want to know, honestly if what i am doing works or if there is a better way.
Those are the practical and the side effect, but the addiction runs deeper. Make no mistake, it is an addiction. I need it to feel good as sure as any junkie does. On days that i do not get to go to the gym or get my body moving, i feel groggy and i withdrawal. I love this addiction though. Those endorphins make the world come into focus and when they pump through my veins, i can imagine no sweeter high. I am glad to be an addict in this case.
The thing about the endorphin addiction, and the key that i think makes it a healthy drug, is the fact that you have to strive and work for that high. You do not achieve a state of higher consciousness or feel that runner's high after a single punch or five steps on a run. Opening the door to the gym and stepping in does not put you over the top. You must achieve it and push through the hard parts of the training to arrive at bliss. And that certainly is what it is. There is that point in the work out where everything is flowing smoothly and the body is alive with reaction and action. It is a moving meditation. It is no longer TJ punching the bag when i get to that point, it is just punching of the bag. My ego dissolves away. It is lovely and one of the favorite things i have ever done.
William James said that drugs were a valid form of religious experience. He was right, from what i have heard really, i do not have a lot of experience. I have never needed to because my drug was always found in the sweet sound of flesh pounding into canvas and the music coming out of the speakers. Drugs can do for you what the endorphins do, but it is like the dark side of the force. You do not need to go through the fires and the battles to get there. It is the quick and easy way. The same thing could be seen in the eyes of the people i saw in their cars on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. I had walked there from New Jersey, i arrived on that peak after a grueling day of seventeen miles through the woods. They drove up for a half an hour. They could never feel exactly the same connection and spiritual peace i felt with that mountain, because i mixed more of my labor with her majesty.
I have watched friends who need the drugs. They have to smoke pot, or drink from the bottle they keep ever on hand because they have managed to turn the volume of their lives down. It may have been abuse or a gradual turning away from life living itself over time, but they have found their way to the easy drug. It saddens me a little.
The quick and easy drugs turn the volume of one's life down. The quest to release your own endorphins, the healthy high of your own mind, turns the volume and clarity of life up. It feeds on itself. It is a circle ever returning into itself and it enhances ... everything. I am alive, i am alive. I feel the fire and electric running through my legs of muscles pushed to their limits as i type this and i know it is true. I am alive.
Not saying i would not enjoy a beer right now either. Just saying. That can be awesome too. But, people of the world, find your inner drug and get high on your life. It is pretty awesome, even if you might not think so at the moment.