I said I'd practice Tae Kwon Do today before work. Good news! I did so. Bad news! It continues to show just how incompetent I am. For jacknives (hands above head, on ground, with outstretched legs, raising legs and arms at same time in a crunch + reverse-crunch combo), I'm pretty sure I can knock out the required 20, though I had a waterlogged stomach when I tried to the point where after 10 I decided it was a bad idea to do more.
The real problem is knuckle pushups. I struggled doing ten with bad form; I'm supposed to do twenty with good form. To some extent, me having nails so long I can't make a proper fist can contribute to that, but only to some extent. That's 95% just me sucking.
I got a picture-perfect keema-sogi/riding horse stance/wide stance, and I maintained it, something I can never manage in-class for whatever reason, and I breezed through blocks and strikes. Good so far overall, right? Well...the problem came in when after I did my eight self-defenses, I moved on to one-steps.
There are ten choreographed one-steps to perform. (After that you get free one-steps but that's a bit awkward to practice without a partner since they are literally improv.) I did...the first four. By the end of those, I was winded and dangerously pale.
So what I didn't do today? Free one-steps, ALL kicks (of which there's at least 23 by my count I am required to do on every test), and ALL forms (of which I know 12 I believe the total count currently is). Those, combined with sparring, are the most grueling part of a belt test.
And I didn't do them because of concern for my own safety. I mean. Time was technically a factor in that I set a deadline and was reaching it...but that was just an excuse I used to justify quitting. After all, I wrote this in the time I coulda been continuing to practice.
Of course. Everything past this point was added on as writing throughout the day because I didn't have enough time to write it all down at once even though I thought out most of it at one time. (The whole, "Concepts lightning-fast, words slower, writing slowest" thing, and all that. But I digress.)
For emphasis. This is me. Doing the EASIEST parts of my Tae Kwon Do routine. (Which'd by and large be in a test.) And I wasn't even putting much effort into them! Good technique and decent flow, sure, I was doing that. But with the exception of my stance for drilling (that being the aforementioned perfect keema-sogi), no effort was put into having either power or speed.
And yet. In spite of me doing nothing. I was dangerously pale.
Worse. I'm pretty sure breakfast bowls (which I had today) give better nutrition than my default eggs breakfast overall AND I didn't walk around the lake today meaning I was going in fresh. Yet my hands and other limbs are still doing the shaking thing they do when I'm deficient in something, this case nutrients of some sort. (It couldn't be hydration at fault because today I'm actually for once NOT dehydrated unlike normal.)
Now. To be fair. I'd probably need WAY more nutrition for a test regardless. We're talking, devouring a Subway footlong four hours in advance with nutrition snack food athletes use to replenish as the test would drag on. (Bananas, yogurt, chocolate milk, etc.) And even then that might not be enough given my hyperactive metabolism but it's as much as I'd be safely able to consume since I don't want to vomit during a test again. Butstill...I'm just. so. so...WEAK. (At least physically, though at times you can argue it's true mentally/emotionally as well. But that's for another time.)
I know the moves like the back of my hand, for the most part. I could do these things in my sleep. (Aside from my mind blanking out like a moron which happens to everyone at times and is to-be-expected and not penalized.) It's instinct at this point. I can autopilot and still have reasonably decent technique and flow. With thought, the only imperfections to technique are physical limitations; the only imperfections in flow are correcting technique.
...It's just that. No matter how much I try. I can't actually surpass a certain point. I can't break the physical boundaries my body is inflicting, no matter what I do. When I do workouts, I get sore for at least a week if not two. That's a sign the workout was too intense. Easy solution, just scale it back, right?
...The problem is...when I scale back, I don't get sore at all. Which is a sign that I got nothing out of the workout and need to push harder in order to actually improve. Soreness from my understanding is essentially muscles breaking down to be rebuilt stronger. (At least in theory.) A process which is meant to last a couple of days or so for most body parts: no more, but also no less. Too little time, and they're not really rebuilding; I don't gain anything. Too much time, and I risk serious muscle damage because they haven't healed yet by the time of the next planned workout.
Yet no matter what I try, I can't find that Goldilocks middle zone, where I get just the right level of workout to give me the healthy strength conditioning I need. (And for that matter even if I did find it. Would it actually be working for my body build? I am built for endurance, so a workout should focus not on building up my immediate strength but my long-term strength and that's not something I know as much about. But what I do know is that the techniques to train sprinters and endurance runners are mutually exclusive and destructive to one another which is why you must choose between them and cannot be both. My body is more suited towards endurance.)
I'm also not flexible, at least not on my legs. (My arm flexibility is probably really good.) No amount of stretching I do changes that for me. There's workouts I do to theoretically increase my flexibility, but they have the same issues as my workouts for strength conditioning, in that they leave me too sore or not sore at all, meaning I'm not actually improving from the process.
My lower-body strength is at least adequate, but my upper-body strength is basically nonexistent. I was a long-distance runner and still am at least loosely equipped such that I'll never fail the scaled 9-minute-mile pace (for my test it's probably an 18-minute two-mile), but I'll still be breaking a sweat and I'm worried about it draining my oh-so-increasingly precious stamina reserves.
I'd be able to keep running longer because my endurance running skills are really, really, really strong (even if my pace went to hell and I slowed down, I'd be able to keep going!)--but could I keep doing the test by STARTING the ever-so-draining Tae Kwon Do portion of it?
My endurance may be fine, but without the accompanying stamina which I am lacking...I can't continue. My willpower is strong, and that would keep me afloat. I can power through anything so long as I am resolute in my conviction that, yes, I can do it. I know that, so I'm not worried about me having crippling doubts that make me want to quit. Those thoughts appear and then I shove them away because I know my own body and know that when I am pushed to the limit I can keep going past it, even if I later pay for it.
...The issue there is. I can't rely on that to pass a test. It worked last time, but only just. I'm not the one who gets to call when to quit. It's my instructor and if they tell me it's time to throw in the towel I have no choice but to since they're the ones actually giving me the test and all that.
I would be able to push my body to its limits and then past that--but there would be serious health concerns for having done so, damaging drawbacks. Heroic Red Rings Of Doom, I believe the trope is called. Or maybe (Explosive?) Overclocking. Same basic principle applies. I'd do it, but be left seriously hurt from having done it.
My instructor has a serious concern that I might pass out in the middle of my test--or even worse. She probably has an idea of how stubborn I am and how much I refuse to give in and how much I can push my body even when I shouldn't. So she knows it's quite realistic that I'd push my body past the point where I'd normally pass out, straight to the point where she's concerned there's a chance I could quite literally kill myself by taking the test and pushing my limits so far that my body absolutely breaks beyond any hope of repair. (And honestly? Honestly. If I'm honest with myself. That fear has merit. I don't know when to call it quits. I can't accept defeat.)
Since that's something we want to avoid. It's something that needs to be worked on. Yet there's only so much I can do. What am I supposed to do? I'm advised to work out more often, maybe even every day--yet there's reasons beyond it being a change in routine/an inconvenience/etc. that I don't do just that.
At every stage, there's intent to keep going. Yet at every stage, there's a seemingly insurmountable obstacle which shuts me down and keeps me from progressing. No powering through it. No going around it. (This is the closest thing to which we have for a solution--working around the limitations of our bodies. But the limitations on my body seem to be getting worse and worse.) No route. Just...stuck. With no way to progress forward, only progressively worse steps backwards as the invincibility of youth slowly drains from me.
I'm, of course, by no stretch of the imagination, "old". No matter how you look at it, 24 isn't actually elderly in this day and age. So you might think it's too soon to think about such things. But it is pretty much scientifically proven that as a person creeps closer to their 30s, there's strong changes to their biology, which are quite literally essentially "the youth being drained", as it were.
The problems of middle-aged people start to slowly creep in because the magical regeneration, the magical energy, the magical aspects of being young cease to exist for some complicated reasons which are easy to read about but hard to really remember on the spot. That effect isn't a literal snap of the fingers, one moment you're young the next you're past your prime. It's a gradual effect. And I'm at the point where the first stages are in effect.
The worst part is knowing that it's going to get worse as I get older. It's already bad, feeling how I can't do things that I used to do with ease. It's already bad, knowing that I have to take effort to maintain what once I could do with ease, yet alone improve. So it doesn't get any better. Only worse.
Yet worse than that. Worse is the constant war within me. What is real and what's me making stuff up? What is an excuse? What is me trying to find a justification for giving up? What is nothing which I am making into something? What is me lying to myself?
...On the other hand...what's an actually valid concern? What could be damaging, harmful if ignored? What precautions are actually necessary to stop myself from being injured? (For instance, not working out a muscle which is still sore; is that really necessary?)
Every time I encounter a problem, I don't know how it should be resolved. My feet. My digestive tract. My going pale. My shaky limbs. My easy dehydration. My inability to gain weight and/or my inconsistent diet. My feeling ill sometimes when efforting. My soreness not going away.
The list drags on and on, but you get the point. I don't have any way of knowing what's an excuse and what's a real issue. And if they are indeed actually issues rather than excuses...how the HECK do I solve them?
How much help would I need to sort it?
There's only so much information people like my girlfriends can provide through the internet combined with them mostly not being professionals in the areas I am having these issues. (Though upon reading this I imagine I'm going to be bombarded with them trying anyway. <3)
So how much would it cost to be informed? And once informed, how much would it cost to maintain the correction to my problem? Even if I don't require professional supervision (e.g. professional trainer, physical therapy, constant check-ins with some special doctor)--a very real possibility mind you--there's bound to be costs: fuel, time, equipment, food, adjustments like that.
I can't do that by myself, so how can I do it? How much support is required for me to be able to do all of that?
I just don't have the head for it.
...Speaking of my head. This is something that I've been playing around with for a while. A few weeks at least. Often I've been holding back from doing more about Hannah/Aeris and talking about the element of air. (Even a bit about her spirit totem's unique ability, Unlimited Canvas.) Even going so far as to discuss inside my head characters outside her native rubyverse that might get some of the abilities I otherwise would shift onto her. (Think like, "pull out of thin air" as an expression meaning the air-user has the ability to literally pull anything out because they have mastery over air, including "thin" air. Which is a bit of a gamebreaking ability but it'd probably only be used by people who are up against those who also possess gamebreaking abilities!)
And the reason I feel I've done so much of that is that I probably identify most strongly with air. When I think about air as an element and what it represents, it makes a lot of sense--I am, after all, basically the ultimate ditzy airhead. I have my head in the clouds at all times. I'm crazy, I'm quirky, I'm random, I'm whimsical, yet I have a flow to me, a naturalness in how I just...am.
So those traits aren't exclusive to air (flow is water, naturalness is earth), but they are powerful in air. And while I have other strong traits like passion (fire) and energy (energy), they seem largely subservient to that whimsy, to that mood. I swing back and forth at random between things.
More than that. When I'm messing around with projecting my aura, the objects I'm making are balls of pure air. Know how when I snap my fingers I make a fireball, and can play around with it? And how with a similar gesture I can summon an energy ball? Well, that same type of ball is being made all the time with an ease of manipulation which is much more natural than with either of those two. And it is a ball which is not made of anything tangible--and I think it's air.
Plus. If nothing else. If you happen to think that I'm just full of it. You could say...I'm full of hot air. Perfectly justifying why I'm a fit for the air element right then and there! But also explaining why fire is relatively easy for me to access. Air complements fire perfectly and the two are like right next to one another with air fueling fire. And there's the scatterbrainedness of me.
Like, things are chaotic disjointed and just broken in train in here, as I switch around and what element would you attribute that to if not air? It just makes a lot of sense overall for me and I decided to blog about it even though I haven't really done my research on personality traits of elements.
Which I'm sure there's a bunch of if you look in the right places. I mean it'd take thirty seconds to find a cheap "what's your element?" quiz, there's a ton of those. But I mean, something deeper. Something which is broader than just "cheap knockoff of avatar the last airbender elements". (Though speaking of that show, Aang's rock trick is essentially what my hands do when manipulating the ball of nothingness. Not quite, but close.)
Some day I might actually do research on that to see if there's some serious in-depth thought about it. Something which draws from multiple sources, preferably. (For instance there's a distinct difference between western four-elements and eastern five-elements yet there is overlap between the two.) But for now, I just wanted to leave on a note which will take some explaining.
There's a line that I really, really want to fit into my stories. As in, I've resolved that somehow, somewhere, whichever of my novels I eventually end up publishing first, will have this line in it at some point. It'd be easiest to do and most prominent in the novel I was working on prior to Heroes of Gistou, because in that book it was one of the central themes in fact.
The line is just filled with hope. To the point where I may use it in all my books, all my stories, just because of how much it means. And the line was spawned from the oddest of places. I believe it was me, mentally responding to a line I kept hearing on a show. It was either Star Trek or Stargate but I think it was Star Trek. A recurring line (or if not recurring, then a line spoken which was so memorable as to be immortalized) was,
"Today is a good day to die."
I have thought that was actually a dignified way of responding to danger, in that they would look at it and acknowledge they may die, but that they are okay with the possibility and are going to go do the dangerous thing anyway because it is important enough to risk their life on.
Yet in spite of that being a good line.
I always wanted to make a character have a line to respond back to them with.
And funnily enough.
To this very day.
If you put this in quotes, it will return zero results to a google search. (Google will default to without the quotes because there's no results for the exact phrase.)
Because it is a line that I made up and nobody has used it before. (I was quite flabbergasted when I discovered that this great idea of mine was never once used before, but it is what it is!) And I love it. This line. This line was one of the contributing factors in why I fought off my suicidal thoughts and pushed through them, pressed onwards to the day after, and the day after that, and so on and so forth. This line allowed me to live.
And it might seem silly to you.
But for me, this line holds all the power in the world, especially after "Today is a good day to die."
"And tomorrow is a better day to live."