happy birthday, little brother.

I didn't call, but then, you don't have a phone. Hopefully if I mail a card tomorrow you won't notice the postmark. So, uh, nobody tell him, k?

Packing is to the point of just throwing shit in boxes. I really don't care if it's organized or packed carefully, since it's just going to be unpacked in the coming weeks, all of 45 minutes from here. I have a key to the new house, and I went in, this evening, to get my shirt and checkbook that I'd left there last night. And no one else was there. It's like it's my home or something.

I did drag my sorry ass to aikido tonight, for the first time since Saturday, and proceeded to get thrashed by a friend who turns out to be a 4th dan ("dan" is a black belt degree). "Thrashing" in this case is, as far as I know, an aikido-specific usage, meaning "to throw someone around until they are very tired, preferably heaving for breath". This friend ended up thrashing me when I was throwing him, which I found pretty impressive. I was all tense and couldn't throw worth shit, but that's all right. And I couldn't breathe: it was so easy to breathe last week at the retreat, I guess because I was training pretty heavily every day.

Fortunately, not only do you get points for effort, but the effort is actually what matters, and nothing else--shugyo, constant practice. What strengthens and enlightens us is not being able to throw or fall, although I certainly have lots of ambition towards that, but just showing up to practice and putting the energy into it as long as we can. I don't usually feel that people are awed by my technique (note the possible disconnect between "what I feel" and "reality"), I do know that I train hard and I have fun, which eventually got even the expressionless teacher in Massachusetts to smile. Just as with zazen (Zen meditation), we don't do it to get anywhere (I mean, you can train that way, but I think it will limit where it will take you): the practice itself is the point, the reason, the reward, and the transformation.