um, yeah.

Today was going to be the day I told the world I couldn't actually find work as a software engineer, and instead I work as a male escort targeting gay yuppies who go for nerds, to support my unfortunate habit of smoking heroin and chasing it with a shot of laudanum.

I think I'll hold off on that, though.

I'm back from aikido camp. It was lots of fun--a forging experience. I'm trying to isolate the things that identify those forging experiences (like boot camp): sleep being both insufficient and unsatisfying, lots of taxing physical effort, lack of personal time. It got damned hot after Tuesday, and starting Friday morning the sore muscle in my back hardened to a nasty little knot which is now yanking on various other muscles. Hey, it happens.

It's an interesting strain on relationships, or it can be. It just requires some faith that moods will pass and everything will return to a peaceful, affectionate equilibrium. It's hard to believe there's not actually a problem, but gratifying when that turns out to be true.

So I learned a lot, only some of which was related to aikido. Mostly I noticed how I reacted to issues about status, rank, and the stress and frustration of others, brought on by tiredness, high heat, and stress.

We went to a sake tasting on Wednesday at a lovely sushi restaurant walking distance from the campus. The scheduling was fate, I think, and the only reason I don't think the retreat was scheduled around the sake tasting is that I remember people being surprised and delighted at the intersection, months ago.

There are two kinds of aikido that I talk about. On the one hand, aikido is a martial art whose focus is peaceful resolution of conflict without anyone getting hurt. To that end, the skilled practice looks choreographed, because if the attacker (uke, "person receiving the technique") gets all tense and refuses to fall down, s/he is much more likely to get hurt. So uke attacks strongly, puts up an appropriate amount of resistance, and then falls down. This way we learn about blending and balance-taking, and no one gets hurt.

But the martial art of aikido is the physical expression of a bigger principle, Big Aikido. Big Aikido starts with the idea that we don't have to fight each other. If you are trying to belittle me, I don't have to defend myself by belittling you. If you are trying to punch me, I don't have to punch you back. Conflict is two forces meeting head to head; Big Aikido is to give up on conflict, on "the idea of the clash", as one teacher says. I can sidestep conflict, and find a resolution that doesn't involve me destroying you the way you try to destroy me. It's more than a happy medium or a compromise, although the end result may well be one of those: the resolution comes from moving beyond the conflict entirely. I will not insult you in return...why do you say these things to me? Have I hurt you? What are you angry about?

The martial art is a lot easier.

I got a piece of calligraphy on canvas last week, too--shoshin, "beginner's mind", something that I know from Zen and that I think would be helpful to have on my wall.

Packing continues. Probably going to try and be sleeping in Redwood City by the end of the week.