Sometimes I feel a hand on my shoulder. If I hadn't won it as a prize, I probably wouldn't have gone to that big dance event. If I hadn't been there, I probably wouldn't have heard about the things that were being said behind my back, and I wouldn't know why, less than a year after the loss of my sister, people I'd thought of as friends were turning their back on me.
If I hadn't been there, I certainly wouldn't have done the stretching classes, which were an optional way to start the day. As is my habit, I arrived early, and the instructor informed me that dancers usually arrived for the last ten minutes of her class. She was right. For about fifty minutes, I essentially had a private lesson. As we were alone, she asked about my experience as a dancer, and I told her that I hadn't been dancing for very long, but had already found trouble heading my way. After she drew the story out of me, she gave me her take on what had happened, and also gave me some advice on how to deal with it.
The second morning, I did the stretching class again, and the instructor asked how my lessons the previous day had gone. We talked again, and she explained a few things about the dance scene, as she saw it. After about thirty minutes, other dancers started to arrive, and her focus shifted more to instructing. I decided to leave early, so that I might get to my first dance class on time. As I was leaving, she said she would be conducting a yoga class that afternoon, if I was interested.
That yoga class, and the two stretching classes, were little spells of calm in what was mostly a trying weekend for me. As it happened, I'd won two passes to the event, and had brought a good friend with me. Those moments were good too, but I found that stretching in a relatively quiet part of the venue was particularly restorative.
This morning, I ordered some books relating to martial arts, and particularly stretching exercises relating to one South East Asian martial art. I did two yoga classes since my experience at the dance event, but fate decided that back problems would put me out of action for a while. The yoga classes had been good, and again the feeling of yoga being restorative was repeated. During the practise, though, there was also the feeling that it was drawing me towards something familiar. Pieces of the puzzle were still missing, and it was for me to fill in the blanks.
I still don't have all the pieces in place. Maybe parts of the puzzle will always be missing, or maybe the puzzle keeps changing. What's clear is that I'm a martial artist and, however much I try to diminish the influence of that aspect of my identity, it's a fundamental part of who I am and who I'm meant to be. I just have to work out what being a martial artist means for me - there are so many paths leading through that forest, and the journey taken is arguably more important than the destination.