You statements

Sulking, Edgar Degas-You were angry.
-No, I wasn’t.

OK, you were in Brook No Contradiction mode. You stated The Truth, leaving no room for my thought or my perception or anyone else’s. From my position it felt like anger: there was the force of you, ready to push aside any other view, because it was wrong. So we could unite, where we should be, behind you.

Quite sexy, actually, definitely to my taste. Often, I am prepared to fall into line. It is so much easier, and it is so nice to have a single position we can all unite in- and- wearing, sometimes. Sometimes, I want to say-
steady on…
I tend to think…
er…

Or even, Now just you wait one damn minute. Though that is quite rare, obviously.

OK, you weren’t angry, you weren’t even confrontational, because no contradiction was stated so there was no confrontation necessary. You were just stating The Truth, in an entirely reasonable way- though from my position it felt forceful.

Non-violent communication values I-statements: I perceived X, and I felt Y. This is not a demand, except in the most passive-aggressive way: in confronting a demand with an I-statement, I take the moral high ground so you better do as I see fit. Sometimes You statements are a necessary preliminary to useful communication:

You are completely wrong
and it would be really good if you just stuck your head down the loo and flushed it
to save everyone else the bother.

Under the wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai

I am wary of I-statements. Sometimes they can be part of a joint endeavour to reach the best way forward, and sometimes they can be a fencing match.

Not losing; natural stance

Shinpen Suikogaden 1

 Do not think of winning; 

think, rather, of not losing

-Twelfth principle of karate

Nakasone explains this in different ways. Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu said, “Knowing only how to win and not how to lose is self-defeating”, which is a practical way. Only to consider winning “breeds excessive optimism and causes impatience”. Given the worst that can happen, will I deal with that? Follow the saying, When angered he can make even a ferocious beast crouch in fear, but when he smiles even little children run to him. We avoid arrogance, and cultivate humility, because pride comes before a fall, hubris before nemesis.

Or, the thought of winning and how wonderful that would be skews my thoughts now, and prevents me from being in the present; and makes a set-back more disconcerting than it would otherwise be.

A trick from gymnastics is to picture in my mind completing the task- a dive with triple somersault, say- correctly. Thinking of winning in that sense fits me for winning.

Or, “not losing” can simply mean “be prepared”.

 Ready stance is for beginners.

Shinpen Suikogaden 2Later, one stands in natural stance.

Learning, we learn particular stances, which can seem unrelated to fighting- why balance on the outer edges of your feet, feet parallel four feet apart, knees bent and above the feet? We learn the stances from earlier masters who have found what works, and then adapt the stances naturally as we spar. There is a continual motion between conscious competence and unconscious competence, working on understanding then profiting unconsciously from our understanding, and in combat the mind is tranquil as we respond automatically. In a golf swing, the novice’s brain is all active, and the master’s fires only in the necessary place.

Similarly, practice kata exactly, and move freely in combat.

Be constantly mindful, diligent, 

and resourceful,

in your pursuit of the way

Miyamoto Musashi, aged thirty, after winning sixty duels, considered that he had a natural talent but was not a superior martial artist. From that time I practised fervently morning and night, seeking to grasp the principles of the Way more deeply, and around the age of fifty I came to a natural realization of the Way of Martial Arts.

Indeed. As I progress in enlightenment, I realise how far I have to go.

This is the last of the drafts I have had sitting around for eight months, and since starting it I have stopped practising karate. I feel that Genwa Nakasone’s commentary does not reach the bottom of the Principles, and that meditating on single words of them- “mindful”. “Diligent.” Mmm- might be of benefit. I went back to the book after months, to try to glean more from it; and it tells me the gleaning is all the effort of life.

Leaving karate

File:Falls of Kirifuri at Mt. Kurokami, Shimotsuke Province LACMA M.2011.135.2 (1 of 2).jpgInsensibly, I moved from “I won’t go to karate tonight” to “I don’t go to karate”. None of my reasons would have been enough by itself. Even now, the shin guards are in the bag, ready.

There we are, dancing, kicking and hitting without hitting anything. I had just found what a difference hikite makes to my snap. When I punch or block with my left hand, I pull my right hand back, palm upwards, fist at waist-height. This seems counter-productive. The non-striking hand is needed for defence. Yet it feels as if it adds force to the blow. I don’t feel great aptitude for sparring (kumite) and while I felt I could get to Presence, or singleness of mind, in kata, I did not feel it in kumite. “Don’t be so tense,” people said.

I felt no hostility because I was trans, yet I did not like practising without my wig. I kept an old one, the hair flat, almost matted, for sweating into. Sometimes, I had to take it off, as a Gi is warm. Once, last Summer, I came home and ran a cold bath to cool off. I used to go round the community centre turning the radiators off. I was perplexed and disconcerted when S, who is about 4′ tall- ten?- went round turning them all on again, after. This felt like a challenge. How to respond?

File:Hokusai portrait.jpgCertainly not as, when we were advancing across the hall, turning, advancing back, and always turning back foot muarte so as to move down the hall towards the door, to crowd her against the less experienced children. That felt like bullying. Then we practice second kata together, I concentrate on hikite to get my blocks full focus, and she did it faster than I.

There were other reasons as well. £6.50 per evening, when the tutors are all volunteers, seems steep. Mick’s class on Monday evenings, with its difficult balance of keeping discipline yet entertaining the many young children who turned up, was too much for the children for my taste. That is great- start them at seven, and by fifteen they will be naturals, skilled for life- yet it was not the class I wanted. I preferred Andy’s high-priestly seriousness, his humour there as an undercurrent, carefully fitting moves together. Mick by comparison did not always seem to get quite how to make a sequence of blocks and blows. Andy’s class was where S. was.

I rather resented learning kata by standing in a line doing them. I can’t see what is going on, and I can’t remember the moves from one week to the next. I spent hours in my huge living room with the videos, learning Saifa, Bassai-dai and Seiunchin. I need to do one count repeatedly, and learn what each limb does, rather than running through the whole, however slowly. (The DVDs are still by the telly, not away on a shelf somewhere.)

Lots of reasons. I can’t get to grading on Sundays as the bus does not run, and I have something else scheduled for each second Sunday of the month. Mostly that girl, though.

Moving on

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Brooklyn_Museum_-_New_Year%27s_Days_of_the_Teahouse_Ogi-ya_-_Katsushika_Hokusai.jpgLightning does strike in the same place. Repeatedly, in fact: on the Empire State Building, for example; but it has a lightning conductor, so that is alright.

-How would you like to end?
-With a neat conclusion, boxed to put away and tied with a neat bow.
-OK, then.
Gosh, I like that response. Taking my cynicism and batting it back at me as a challenge. And it is possible.

It really is time to move on. While that Quaker stramash (or stooshie, it is telling that Scots has so many words for a fight) was uniquely ghastly, and while there has always been something to bring my mind back to it- the long grind to my Minute of Disunity, then my appeal, then H’s Disownment, then her appeal heard last week, meeting after meeting anticipated, suffered and relived- it is over. There is nothing more I can do about it, and indeed while I would not be going to a Quaker meeting if I were still in South Wales, I can now talk to those involved with a moderate degree of friendliness, and work with them, and I am supported and contributing in a Quaker meeting which delights me now.

I thought I was safe, with Quakers, if under threat everywhere else, and I was not. I am not safe anywhere- though I am moderately capable, so I can, mostly, look after myself.

-Do you think you overanalyse?
-No.
If I cannot trust my feelings, I have to make decisions somehow.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b9/Katsushika_Hokusai_-_Yoshitsune_Falls%2C_from_the_series_Famous_Waterfalls_in_Various_Provinces_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/726px-Katsushika_Hokusai_-_Yoshitsune_Falls%2C_from_the_series_Famous_Waterfalls_in_Various_Provinces_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgThe question is, how likely is it to happen again? Not, particularly. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats: I know more of myself, it was a bad situation- a clusterfuck, actually, everything going wrong at once. It really is better to spend time searching out opportunities than threats, but I do not think it is likely to happen again, and if it did I could handle it better.

I was hurt because I would not back down- but I won my appeal, and had I backed down I might be whining now about people walking over me.

Actually I would rather be right than happy: happiness seems merely tantalising.

I have the tools to deal with this. I need to look around now, at the opportunities now. It hurt, a lot. I trusted and I was dumbfounded. It really is unlikely to happen again. That is what matters.

Emotional being? Hello?
-I’m frightened.
It really is alright. It is not going to happen again. The tiniest likelihood of the greatest pain may seem a terrible risk, but the likelihood is so, so tiny-
-Why did it happen, then?
-The really most awful luck.
EVERYONE IS LIKE THAT!
-They’re not. Really, really, they’re not, and that has to be in part a rational rather than emotional decision.

O God, how can I practise trust?

And- I have always thought it was my good qualities which led me into that confrontation. I could break that down, and analyse that- but just as you can’t please anyone, so different ways of being work with different people.

Appreciation

I am Wonderful.

Let me say that again:

I am amazing, beautiful, strong
My quivering sensitivity is Blessing, and no weakness
I have a reasonable intellect
I am loving and creative.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Katsushika_hokusai%2C_illustrazione_di_poemi_famosi_-_ariwara_no_narihira%2C_XIX_sec.JPGIn 1987, when I was twenty, I fell in unrequited love, and it took me six months to recover. Quite an effect from two conversations, one very short, and in the anguish of this I realised I had two conflicting self-images. I am the Centre of the Universe, and I am utterly worthless. I think, how wonderful to get such an insight into my unconscious processes, at that age: counter-intuitive, indeed seeming insane, how could I be conscious of either, leave alone both at once. I have been wrestling with it ever since, knowing that I need a synthesis of the two views.

Now I am reading Proust, and I create my self-image in his image, that sensitivity, because he gives me a new way of seeing a human being and I fit that better than I have fitted any other image of a human being before. This is still an approximation, rather than the true human being, and a better one. I think it helps me to appreciate others’ good qualities, with less envy or judgment, if I may appreciate my own.

Before enlightenment, hew wood and draw water; after enlightenment hew wood and draw water. I know. What am I going to do? I don’t know. I want to celebrate all my denials and self-protection mechanisms, my struggling on, my breaking down, my struggle to be that lawyer though not ideally suited to it, my responses, my withdrawal, my state now of self-valuing and self-perception and not earning money because the self-perception seems more important. I have the opportunity for it.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Woman_Looking_at_Herself_in_a_Mirror_1805_Hokusai.jpgI could say, with the concepts of normal which tyrannise everyone, and the difficulty of finding that one road up the hill which is idiosyncratically ones own, that this is the way the world is to everyone. In some, Procrustes only shaves off a bit of skin, in others he removes a leg, but no-one fits and all are damaged. We must see the world and make our best way in it.

I could see how much it is improved, how sexual orientation discrimination is illegal, how it is also disapproved by society- some of the US is more backward, but in Europe and the more civilised parts of the US, it is- and there are still pockets of discrimination and hatred.

I could say the world is not how it ought to be, and it has hurt me, and I am angry with it. I have so much anger and it needs a target. The Evangelical Alliance, perhaps, which spread evil lies about transsexuality from a false understanding of the Bible, or the Gender Identity “Clinic” which gave me no support at all, so terrified were they of being seen to wrongly encourage someone who was not really transsexual, or give that hypothetical deluded man even one milligram of oestrogen. I have said that many times.

Or perhaps I just need not to be angry with or frightened of myself, to see the threats but not give them too much weight- what if I had slipped on the mud and fallen into the water yesterday? It would have been unpleasant, but I would have coped.  I think I can cope with quite a lot, and indeed have done in the past. See the opportunities, and my capabilities, and my worth.

It feels like a choice, and I wonder, what will work?

How could I possibly have imagined myself to be so different from how I am?

The world is as it is.

I am who I am.

Audits

I heard of a solicitor in Liverpool who took the old Advice and Assistance forms down the pub, and bought a pint for people who would sign them. He then claimed to have given the basic advice to each, and claimed the fee from the Legal Aid Board.

fat lawyer coining it on Legal Aid

A con, or at least playing the system, which I saw: a firm leafleted an area saying that people may be entitled to state benefits they are not claiming: ask for advice. Anyone who called would see an unqualified person for half an hour, and get a useless seven page letter inaccurately summarising the whole benefits system, and would sign the LAB’s basic advice form, each bringing about £80 or so to the firm.

 

Given that, it was hardly surprising that the LAB’s attitude seemed to be, “we’re going to catch you wasting our money, and we’re going to punish you for it”. My colleague left the CAB and became an LAB auditor. She told me that when her victim answered the door to her, he began visibly shaking.

 

I found the audits pettyfogging and pointless. For example, we were criticised for keeping papers in a fold of cardboard, rather than a proper file which would keep them all in the correct order. What if we dropped a file? Well, we pick it up. We got marked down for that one, and after in another office I had to pull things out of poly pockets before I could read them. Petty, and arguably not an improvement. I also got marked down for not having documentary evidence on a file that I had given my client my name. Of course I have given my client my name. So I drafted a document which recorded all the information we were supposed to take from a client, and told the client all that we were supposed to tell them: and was criticised for not personalising it more. As if you can tell someone that the appeal time limit is one month in more than one way.

Today (in case you have not noticed) I am having a whine.

————————————————————————————————————–

Given my personality, I found the pressure of audits terrible. Just before my first in 1995, I was in the office at 7pm sorting files out, and I screamed at the floor. A good way to release pressure, but not necessarily a good way to convince colleagues of ones reliability. My usual way of dealing with emotion was to suppress it.

I feel that now, when I am working on being conscious of my feelings and accepting them, permitting them and not suppressing them, I can go back to old feelings about old situations, and cleanse them, accept them and let them go. And I feel that this is valuable to do: it was as it was, and it was alright, and my discomfort was bearable; and it is all right now. 

Picture by LS Lowry.

Acceptance?

On this search for self-acceptance, I have still sought who I am innately. This is a hangover from the long quest to find if I were “really” transsexual, and if so, what should I do about it.

But then, ten years ago, I was 35, and now I am 45. Young people equate happiness with excitement, old people equate happiness with contentment, in the middle I equate it with both. I was actually noticing signs of ageing then, it seems I have more to notice now, they may or may not be more noticeable. I notice more changes in the world around me, and remember more how it was different at another time.

And in 2001 I started taking testosterone suppressants, and oestradiol. That changes me. I cried three times in 1996, sometimes I cry daily for a week or more.

The religious path is one of growth and change.

If I am really intuitive, feelings-based, rather than rational, why should that be life-long?

Underneath it all, the Unconscious influences so much of what I do, and my thinking on motivation is so often a post-hoc rationalisation, as accurate as a hurried journalist, not understanding and missing the point.

I am an organism within a permeable skin, always changing, taking in and excreting. How could I, really, get a handle on any of what I am? How could I have self-acceptance, if that depended on any sort of understanding, anything I could categorise or name or define?

I- just- am.