Training Diary – manhood, family, and MMA.

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My heart has been stolen by this most glorious and visceral sport that is MMA. I am truly quite grateful for it’s existence and my ability to access it in multiple forms.

And I often ask myself why?

Combat sports are without a doubt the closest we have in the sporting world to brute self realization.

And with that comes a brief glimpse into a larger realization of personhood…who we are deep down.

MMA is my guilty pleasure because it can sometimes provide battle theatre for the noble struggles of life itself.

Fatherhood and domesticity asks similar questions for myself.

Who am I as a man and a human being?

What am I made of to take on the struggles of tomorrow with as little whining as possible?

What do I stand for and what am I willing to die for?

***Kaliamman Vazhgai***

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Training Diary – Time to be grateful again

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While on the job yesterday, I was inadvertently and fortuitously reminded that I had a lot to be grateful for.

It’s been a while since I put it out there and I know it’s a practice that helps deal with life’s tougher times. Since my training is just as much about balancing mind and spirit with heart and body, it feels like it’s time to be grateful again.

I am indeed grateful for the life the goddesses have blessed me with. For while life’s struggles will always present themselves from now till the end of time, I swim in an ocean of love while dealing with those struggles head on…

Every day I’m reminded of just how lucky I am when I see the brilliance of my partner’s soul, the glory of my daughter’s spirit, the impishness of my cat’s being.

Every day I am in awe of the plenitude of our first world lives even as I navigate the guilt of wallowing in it with nary an understanding of poverty or hunger.

Every day I live with the unbearable truth that tomorrow it could (and indeed, eventually will) all come crumbling down to the never ending march of time.

So I guess I’m grateful for the timelessness of today.

Kaliamman Vazhgai

Training Diary – When the poisons start upsetting the balance

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Dang, when you work full-time as a grunt for your city’s school district while navigating life as a bumbling family man, daily workouts occasionally present themselves as a challenge.

Motivation is so very easy to lose.

More pertinently, numerous daily poisons always present themselves as such easy aids to help deal with the struggles of life.

It’s always a tricky act, maintaining that balance.

Occasionally, the poisons start upsetting the balance.

Coupled with an injury, it’s enough for a person to take stock of lofty, but undying, athletic goals.

And focus on the more immediate, and likely far more important, goal of finding balance in life again.

Training Diary – when our inherent fragility sucker punches us

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Threw my back out this morning.

Not badly, but still.

It really sucks.

A combination of trying a new workout two days back with a ground ‘n’ pound bag, shitty hydration, daily poisons (of course), the sudden onset of below freezing weather in Minneapolis (thanks climate change), and a shitty nights sleep had me get that humbling, literally breathtaking, twinge while I got up wrong from the couch this morning after my morning coffee.

It’s healing better this time around (seems to be an annual thing).

But I get depressed when I don’t train and get soft around the midriff.

So I decided to slow dance to music with some defensive movements inspired by kalaripayattu (look it up if you care). I could only manage about 15 minutes. Really all I wanted was to just confirm to myself that despite the shortness of breath, the ribs getting tightened, and the clearly torn muscles and tendons of my middle back…that I could still move with a moderate amount of grace and confidence (helps with defense I feel).

And I daresay I might have just found another workout. A physically less stressful one for sure, but one that actually requires more focus on breathing and balance due to the temporary fragility imposed on my back.

It still doesn’t justify the beers I’m going to swig or the ciggie I’m going to smoke to numb the daily demons.

But whatever…at least I drove away fear for a brief moment.

Training Diary, Week 5 – Do I just have a crazy goal so I’ll workout every day?

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I’m weak in a multitude of ways.

Like all humans I guess.

But I just don’t feel like I have the mental strength to workout every day unless I have some goal to commit to. And when I say workout, I mean something that gets that heart rate up, a sweat going, and some muscular stress. Even if it’s just for 15 mins. Hopefully more like 30-45.

Every day.

I don’t think I’d do it in a way that keeps me honest and true unless I had a goal to keep my lazy ass motivated. Because really, when I think about it, laziness and the need for relaxation is a critical baseline from which humanity operates from. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we work the week to enjoy the weekend, we labor in order to enjoy the fruits of relaxation after, we sweat so we may later rehydrate with a crisp honey lager.

We struggle so we may feel joy in all its glory.

So then why can’t I workout every day just for the sake of feeling those endorphins and post-workout treats? Why this goal of becoming a pro fighter?

I really can’t say. What I do know is that unless I have a genuinely hard athletic goal in front of me (that also doubles up as a spiritual quest to figure out this toxic masculinity shit), I’m gonna get lazy with my workouts. And I haven’t exactly gotten the healthiest grip on all the pleasurable poisons I indulge in to help me with the struggles of life.

So I have to keep imagining a beast wanting to beat the shit out of me to get a good sweat in.

After all, we must dance with our demons to defeat the devil inside.

God bless the Tibbetts family

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It is easy in this day and age to fall prey to the baser compulsions of nationalism and parochialism. Especially for folks from majoritarian communities in a demographically fluid country. In America, for the most part, baser nationalist instincts often find a home with insecure, fearful white communities.

It can be particularly tempting to consolidate this fearfulness when faced with the bottomless anger and sadness that comes with the loss of a young loved one. I know this feeling well.

It is a testament to the Tibbetts family that not only have they valiantly resisted such baser instincts but have come out swinging against xenophobia and racism. I don’t know anyone with a heart who could read theĀ  column written by Rob Tibbetts in the Des Moines Register and not be brought to tears. This is a dad I hope to emulate.

As a father to an angel of a daughter, a father who lives every day in mortal fear of something bad happening to her, I cannot fathom this pain. To stride beyond it and extend one’s arms to the Latino community that faces backlash over the tragic death of his daughter is a testament to the gorgeous humanity in the Tibbetts family.

I ain’t a believer in any patriarchal religion, but as a proud immigrant and in honor of this amazing, beautiful group of humans who have made the choice to face their tragedy in the bravest, most honorable way possible, I say this…

God bless the Tibbetts family.

To love and nurture without attachment?

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Off late I’ve been trying to mull over the Buddhist notion of attachment being at the root of suffering. It’s a concept that’s easy enough to grasp at a cerebral level, but remarkably hard to put into practice as a way of finding inner peace and all that other soulful shit.

For starters, the thought of attachment being at the root of all suffering is just that, a thought. It’s a ridiculously simple, and thus enormously complicated, concept that is in desperate need of actionable, day-to-day living suggestions.

It makes sense to figure it out. Who the fuck wants suffering in this world after all?

The hardest part for me in figuring out this suffering-laden-attachment is the deep, painful love I feel for my soulmate Sus and our daughter Daya.

I say painful because I can’t personally think of a greater suffering than the loss of one’s greatest loves. Indeed, the fear of that loss is a whole other realm of suffering altogether, the slow burning kind.

When you are lucky enough to experience a love so profoundly integrated into your spiritual being, it comes naturally with the flip side of crippling fear and anxiety.

I don’t like that fear and anxiety.

I think it makes me a shittier spouse and father.

It makes it harder to love with a true nurturing spirit. Because it ultimately draws back into that corrupted masculine need for control, for power to influence the lives of others.

And when I connect that to attachment, occasionally my eyes open a crack.

I’m attached to the security my loved ones bring me.

I’m attached to being needed by beautiful souls.

I’m attached to feeling like a self-righteous prick because I try in vain to fulfill all those needs.

I’m attached to the natural inter-dependency of family.

I’m attached to the health and longevity of my loved ones.

I’m attached to social norms, with nominal rebelliousness, of what perfect families ought to be like.

I’m attached to others seeing my loved ones as awesome people.

I’m attached to the easy sense of meaning and fulfillment that comes from being a committed spouse and father.

I’m attached to the respect I get from being a “family man”.

I’m attached to being able to say to the world and myself that I have real love in my life.

I’m attached to the envy it generates in people who aren’t as lucky.

I don’t know…

Maybe trying to love and nurture without attachment might just make me a less selfish asshole who can stay the fuck in the present, and be grateful for the love without getting his undies in a twist.