It was about this time last year that my son and I had earned our high brown belts. High brown was the last belt before testing in to the dreaded “prep cycle.” Prep cycle is the term we use for the three months a person has to prepare for their black belt test. Three months of
exhaustion. insane workouts. mental and physical strain. hell. I had heard the stories of the experiences of black belts past. I didn’t care. I had no doubt in my mind that earning my black belt in tae kwon do was my dream.
It felt as if I had said that no less than one thousand times. So often that the word had begun to lose meaning for me. So, as the ever-curious person would do, I looked it up in the dictionary (.com).
I read the first definition of “dream,”
a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.
and I was comforted because that was exactly how I viewed earning my black belt. An ambition. An ideal. Cherished. But then, I continued to read and discovered it also meant,
an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy.
Crap. That wasn’t what I meant when I said the word “dream”! I meant in the best possible way! Something I would do! Accomplish! All of the amazing things the the first definition inferred. I was indignant, as if the dictionary (.com) people had written that definition directed just TO ME! I would prove them wrong, they would see!
As I sat there, I told myself I knew exactly how I would prove them wrong. I would… I would… ummmm… wait, how exactly would I prove the dictionary (.com) people wrong?
That is when I realized in order to achieve my dream, I needed to stop thinking of it as a dream. If I continued to use the word “dream,” I would have allowed the smallest percent of my thoughts to wonder if earning my black belt as unrealistic. I had to switch my mindset from “earning my black belt is my dream” to “earning my black belt will be a reality.” Without the switch, I was leaving the achievement of earning my black belt to chance. With the switch, it would then be a goal and I would need a plan to achieve it.
So, I sat there. I wrote down my plans, which turned into a practice schedule. I knew the test into “prep cycle” was 4 months away and that I knew I had to know my curriculum at a minimum of 90% proficiency. I knew I needed to build my stamina, endurance and mental fortitude. I knew I needed to practice it all. My written practice schedule worked on all of it.
Before I knew it, four months passed and I had worked hard so I could prove it to myself that I felt confident in my knowledge of the curriculum, and of my desire pass the prep cycle test. Was I nervous. Uh, hell, YES. Was I prepared? Did I pass? That is for next time…
This evening, I am focused on the black belt characteristic of courtesy, because lately I have seen incredible displays of it and also a complete lack of it. Courtesy is one of those beautiful qualities that I think is the hardest to learn and maintain daily, but when it is done consistently, it is beautiful. Here is to its beauty…