What is it about combat sports that speaks to me? (Redux)

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During some restless teenage years in Bangalore, it was boxing and kickboxing with a dog-eared edition of The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

Then ensued a long break where activist adventures and delusions of revolutionary grandeur across multiple continents held captivation for head and heart, with ciggies and booze emerging as two bosom travelling companions.

Now, as I come to the end of my significantly mellower and peaceable thirties (rooted in Minneapolis of all places on earth, whoulda thought?) – I’m back to being obsessed with combat sports.

(MMA this time around…and that dog-eared copy of Bruce Lee’s brilliant text still floats around our living room).

Funny.

As the glory and responsibilities of being a family man bless me with identity and meaning, there is still one part of me, a restless part of my soul that clamors for full realization.

This need for the relief of realization, as I’m starting to call it, lies at the heart of that restless part of my soul, which for now finds a modicum of groundedness in seeing two cage fighters beat the crap out of each other for my entertainment.

Of course, my obsession with combat sports will not be without self-critique.

How can it be?

That will negate the quest for full realization.

Simultaneously, I celebrate the fact that it grounds that restless part of my soul.

I think one reason might be because it helps with fear – fear that resides in the pit of my brain, causing it and thus me to do dumb shit.

I go back to my many escapes, from what feels like lifetimes past.

And in this most blissful of life stations, happiness running over, struggle always coupled with joy, love in my life like never before, I now know that the relief of realization lies in inviting this fear – the fear of death and ending – into my life as an authentic friend and loyal travelling companion.

This fearful friend then makes me grateful for the life I’ve led thus far and whatever might lie ahead.

At a less pristine level, it also makes me very, very grateful for crazy-ass cage fighters like Gamebred and Showtime, defying the bookies against bigger, heavier fighters and knocking them the fuck out.

(Now, if I can just deal with the inherent toxic masculinity interred in MMA, we’ll be good…)

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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***

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

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.

Towards a healthy engagement with monotony

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Life truly is a series of standout moments. Many of them in fact – all floating in a sea of monotonous reproduction in between.

I think we live in a culture that is consumed by an unquenchable desire, and thus unquestioning laboring, for the highlightable moments in life. Our pop culture is replete with neatly packaged moments – good, bad and everything else – that we are told constitute a life we ought to lead.

But we’re not culturally attuned to figuring out the monotony in between. (For starters, it would make for really, really boring television.)

The very fact that I call it monotony – as opposed to, say, journey, which I’ve been told might be a healthier way of looking at it – is a bit of an indicator already. Monotony means repetition, and repetition is a surefire path to boredom in this world of ours, dominated as it is by pop culture soundbites.

I’m not great with monotony for this reason. It’s the reason that one of my greatest life endeavors has been to entertain myself during the monotonous tasks often required for the sustenance of life and love – the monotony of taking care of business so to speak. I do believe this somewhat unhealthy relationship with monotony has been one of the reasons I have struggled in the past with alcohol and cigarettes as coping measures.

Monotony reminds us of the moments that constitute our life across the multiverse and the myriad timelines we exist in – good and bad. It is in getting mindful during the vast spaces of monotony in one’s life that I believe I might get a healthier engagement with those unforgettable moments – timeless joy from the good and endless strength from the bad.

Thus, in an effort to understand life better I am realizing the need to engage with the monotony of life just as much as I seek glorious mile markers. For it is indeed the boring and non-scintillating activities that are necessary for the sustenance and nurturing of loved ones who make those moments of true joy possible.

I believe a major factor in getting to a state of mental, emotional, and spiritual flow – not delirious joy and happiness but rather a baseline state of fairly mundane satisfaction – is a healthy engagement with monotony and boring activities.

Among other things I can think of that help in this regard is understanding the hidden good side to monotonous life activities (apart from any plant-based intoxicants that serve as reward that is).

And here’s what I think that good side is:

It’s safe to say that if one is engaged in these activities then it likely means there isn’t acute stress or pain in one’s life at that very moment. This might change in the future (or you might access pain from your past), but when your life is at a state where you are regularly engaging in day-to-day boring-ass shit, it is a likely indicator that your life isn’t in any immediate danger and that a relative amount of safety is present.

It’s a good thing to remember in this dance with our demons…

 

What does my fierce and wise little warrior girl teach me?

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To love first and ask questions later.

To develop a lot more patience and keep working on it, cos boy do I need to.

To always respect her agency and not be an authoritarian asshole.

To realize that this is a nurturing partnership and that I have to be the responsible, caring adult in it (not the other way round).

To keep learning while being rooted in the present.

To accept, even be grateful for, the fact that life isn’t ever going to be perfect.

To seek out health and well-being as a family, rather than wealth and acclaim.

To ditch the masculine, patriarchal bullshit as much as possible, and to never rest easy with that particular endeavor.

To be cool with doing boring-ass shit that’s interesting to a toddler, over and over (and over) again.

Above all…to be beyond grateful for her and her mother.

Of course, occasionally I get these messages from some of the strangest actions and expressions on any given day that I can only paraphrase thus:

“You will respect my inalienable right to kick and scream during the poopiest of diaper changing sessions.”

“I own you and you will bend to my cute, darling will.”

“It’s your job to make sure I get the nutrition I need and it’s my job to eat, smear, spit, and/or fling as I so desire.”

“What’s your problem anyway? I eat well and my other, infinitely superior, parent keeps me well nourished with breast milk, so stop your whining.”

“If I want to play with the most uninteresting object in the household, then so be it.”

(“Honestly dude, even then it’s only because I possess the kind of brilliant imagination and wonder that said bye bye to your piss and vinegary ass a while back.”)

“Food is meant to be eaten, yes, but you, with your limited and backward adult brain, simply cannot comprehend all the other uses for it. I on the other hand can…and I don’t understand why it bothers you so much when I explore these other uses.”

(“I’m sure there’s a billionaire art collector in Europe who’d pay top dollar for my Swirling Yogurt Smear On Cheap Ass Dining Table – Daya S.V. 2017)”

“You need to really get it through your thick skull that I am of infinite wisdom and eternal truth. You are not the authority of anything. You are in fact full of shit and I see right through you.”

“I am awesome. You are extremely lucky, like once in a gazillion lifetimes lucky, to have me and my mother in your life.”

“Yes, I do want to swing on each and every swing in the park, and no, I’m not ready to go home. For a glorified butler, you sure do ask a lot of annoying questions.”

“Pick me up. Now. Put on music. Now. Dance. Now. Do not stop until I say so or fall asleep. NOW.”

“Remember, mama #1, appa #2, always…and don’t be thinking you can rest easy with that silver medal, slip up and your ass is off the podium.”

“Yes, that feeling of gratitude you have for me and my mother is what you should be feeling…more where that came from.”

XOXOXO

*sigh*

🙂

On freeing myself mentally and spiritually (aka the myth of the blue pill)

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The Gratitude Project – Musing 15

I’m grateful for the ongoing process of freeing myself mentally and spiritually.

I have a long way to go of course.

For instance…

Freeing myself, say, from capitalist cultural values both complements and competes with my ongoing struggles to free myself from internalized sexism and patriarchy;

Which further complement and compete with my ongoing struggles to free myself from internalized racism and trauma;

Not to mention that gosh darn little decolonization of the mind thingy I have going on that just keeps kicking me in the balls.

Why oh why didn’t I just take the blue pill?

Oh, that’s why…

Because the blue pill is a fucking myth.

It was never an option for me.

Which is why I’m grateful for a mind and soul that yearns for love, liberation and all that hippie dippie shit;

(The rabbit hole might stink on occasion, but it’s still my home.)

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