Lucas Weismann

On Returning To Something You Once Loved

Sometimes coming back to something is like coming out of a hibernation.  Take anything, a sport you love, going back to school or even writing. If it’s been a long time, you’re probably feeling aches and pains.  You might feel like you’re moving through molasses or honey.  That’s no real surprise.  You haven’t used those muscles or those neurons in a long time and it takes a while to get back into the swing of things.

After awhile however, things warm up and you’re going to start feeling good.  Really good.  This is something you love after all!  It’s amazing to hit that ball, throw that opponent, or get those words on paper.   You now want to do the thing!  Great!  Don’t go nuts.

“What? But I haven’t been doing anything!  I haven’t gotten off my butt in so long!  How am I supposed to catch up?”

Short answer:  You’re not.  Lost time is lost.  Just accept it.  You had other things that were more important to you at the time.  Video Games, The Netflix Original Series Marco Polo, or some member of whatever sex/gender combination you are attracted to.  Congratulations.  You spent that time.  You’re not getting it back.

The worst thing you can do when re-introducing stuff back into your life is to overdo it right away.  Why?  There are a few reasons:

  1. You could pull something.  Yes, even metaphorically.  You need to warm up before you can be at your old strength.  Sorry, that’s just the penalty you pay.
  2. You might uncover old patterns that lead to your burnout (if that’s why you took a break).
  3. You’re likely to exhaust yourself without having built up a reserve.

Part of your goal now is to build up a habit and make it stick longer than it did before.  Your goal is consistency, not marathon power sessions.  So, here’s what you do:

  1. Limit your time.  Leave yourself wanting more.
  2. Tell people how excited you are to be doing the thing.  People knowing you’re doing something will make them ask you about it when they see you, so telling people you see often will not only make you more interesting than if you’re just gossiping about celebrity nonsense like the rest of the people at the watercooler, it will also make them have something to ask you specific to you.
  3. Set a goal.  Goals come later, but right know just know it needs to have a specific “win” state.  We’ll work more on setting goals in a future thing.

Okay, these are some basic guidelines I recommend as someone who has taken breaks from things I love and returned to them sometimes, years later.  What things in your life do you wish you hadn’t given up?  Which things would you rather do than watch movies?  Maybe try one of them for a bit and see what happens.

Another Winter Gone – 23

The war ended and with it, Marcus’s engagement in the military. He took his money from the GI bill and enrolled in classes at what would later become St. Cloud State University. He took a room in a boarding house not far off of campus and worked in the summers painting railroad bridges on a moving crew. They pay was not bad, but it went much further for Marcus than many of the other men, because he neither drank, nor gambled. His mother, a staunch teetotaler instilled temperance in him from an early age, though time would soften his stance.
Knee-deep in the surety of youth, he believed water was the best thing to ingest where possible and due to his love of tea, he managed to avoid the problems that others might run in to, had they insisted from each lake and river, wherever possible.
Unlike his mother, he didn’t see drink as evil, merely unnecessary. He understood the need for the men to relax after a hard day’s work and why seeing the obliteration of drunkenness was attractive- especially the guys who’d also been “over there.” No, he did not begrudge the veterans their liquor. On one occasion, it was either the anniversary of VE day, or the Normandy invasion, he raised a glass to absent friends and lead the men in a drinking song most of the Veterans seemed to know. It was this character of being both strict with himself and knowing how to win friends that won him the loyalty of the men in his crew, just as it had won him the loyalty of the men in his squad. Read more

On certain regional pronunciations

     “I don’t give a good God Damn about what you think.”  The fat man was livid and actually slapped the table as he shouted, his walrus moustache bristled, “If you had enough volunteers you wouldn’t have kids calling the matches for wrestlers in their own age group.”

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Benji the Wrestler

As a young child I had a lot of problems dealing with bullies and rumors and kids at school.  That’s not a revelation unique to myself, I realize.  Most people have.  But I was lucky in one major respect.  That is that my dad had a technique for helping me to cope with these situations, while at the same time instilling a love of wrestling for me.

Enter:  Benji the Wrestler.

Benji was a kid who wrestled.  He was a lot like me.  He was so much like me that it seemed a strange and amazing coincidence every time I heard a story about him.  (Okay, I’m gonna level with you- he was me.)

Every time I seemed to be going through something tough- a bully trying to beat me up, or turn my friends against me for whatever reasons motivate people to be awful to each other, there would be my dad.  He’d come to my room at bedtime and tell me a story.

The story had three main parts:

1) the problem (the bullies, the “mean” teacher, whatever it was that was making my life hard to deal with as a kid),

2) the “Problem-solving part” This almost always came in the form of my dad asking me something like “Sounds pretty tough Luke, what do you think Benji should do here?” afterward we’d workshop any solutions, no matter how sensible or senseless or emotive and he’d treat me with understanding.  He also never talked down to me as a kid and I really appreciated that.  Heck, I still appreciate it.

3) The action sequence.  This was super important!

A) it served to give me time to absorb what we’d talked about, all while preventing the stories from becoming lectures or preachy.

B) it indoctrinated me into loving the sport and associating a difficult pastime with positive memories

C) It showed that even a kid with problems at school could (with hard word and determination), be the hero.  It would be a challenge, sure, but since Benji never gave up, no one could really beat him.  (Even if he lost a match, he wasn’t truly defeated so long as he maintained a good attitude).

I miss those stories.  In retrospect, I miss how these insurmountable problems could be faced and I could take the time with someone who cares about me to work through options together rather than having to face them alone. I miss the reminders of how you can work around any problem if you find the right solution rather than just reaction to it.  Not surprisingly, I also miss wrestling.

 

Meditations 3 – Determination

A quote about determination I remember from wrestling:

The point is no to go until you can go no further. The point is to keep going while you can go no further.

This has been true so often for me.  I also realize that my physical ability usually outstrips my mental fortitude.

Over the last few years, there are ways that I’ve allowed mental lassitude to become a norm for me. Usually, by not exerting myself enough physically or testing myself and my actual limitations.

From today, I’m reinstating my habit of saying that “I’m choosing X over my health, or want (some short-term happiness) more than (some long term gain).

Last time I did this, I lost 30 lbs of fat and got back in shape. Looking forward to seeing what it does this time.


Where are the areas in your life that need shoring up?  The areas of slack that you’ve allowed to come into your life?  The areas where you’ve forgotten to do your maintenance?

What would your life be like if you chose them instead of the easy things?  What if you made what you say you want a priority in what you do?

What would you do next?

An Ode to Jake.

Dad and me.Many of you know how great my dad Jake​ is. For those who don’t, you’re missing out. I would love to hear anyone’s best “Jake” story. Because there are a million of them, and I would do him a disservice to pick just one.

 

 

In the meantime:

Dad,

Thank you for being the guy who gave me my first pocket knife, hatchet, canoe paddle and being the one who taught me how to use them.

For being the guy who taught me the meaning of the phrase “If you knew wrestling, you wouldn’t get into this situation.”

For quitting jobs with high pay to take lower paying jobs that allowed you to come to my wrestling meets and then going on to rock those industries and become the best at that.

He plays the bluesYou are the reason I know “That which one man can do, another can do.”

Thank you for being the dad all our friends wished was their dad growing up.

Luke

RE: Henry Rollins and Anger

One of my favorite current thinkers is former frontman for the band Black Flagg. He’s humble, he’s enlightened and he’s angry. He has a fury that drives him to get up on stage and be big and bombastic in front of crowds night after night.

He finds ways of saying things that make me question what I think I know, connects with the inner bullied-kid in me and hits my anti-authoritarian streak hard. In many ways, he’s like a less-bitter more down-to-earth George Carlin.

And I get it. I am able to channel anger through him that I can’t seem to access on my own.

That’s what I’m having a hard time with. My own lack of anger.

Read more

Dance Lessons from Martial Arts

(This is an old unpublished post form October 2014, when I was training with one of my dance partners in Chicago and she invited me to an Aikido class).

The last week with Ruby Red has been interesting for me for many ways.  For the last year, she has been mostly living in her hometown of Chicago and has been studying other movement disciplines like Weightlifting and Aikido.

I decided to accompany her to the Aikido class; something I’ve never experienced before.

I’ve spent many years as a wrestler and a dancer.  Aikido seems to me to be an odd combination of dance and blues dancing.

One of the first things that struck me about Aikido was how little tone was used to accomplish the attacks and counterattacks.  I spent most of the first class working on dropping muscle engagement; much the way a novice dancer does in Blues Dancing.

I also noticed that like dancing it was much easier to understand what my opponent was giving me to work with.  Any tone in them made them easier to move and relaxation in my body made me harder to move.

My background is not in a traditional eastern martial art.  I’ve studied some Boxing, some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, A lot of Wrestling and the martial philosophy I was raised with was heavily influenced by Jeet Kune Do.

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I wore a gi; unlike Aikido there was no veneration of a master or bowing to a shrine.

We train for Boxing and Wrestling in shorts or sweats depending on whether or not they’re trying to make weight for a competition.

Aikido brought with it a sense of tradition, both in the proscribed movements for the attacks and the bows to the sensei each time that assistance was given or a concept/move was demonstrated.

This was very foreign to me.  Especially since the moves were named in Japanese and given translation.  (Much like attending a Yoga class and using terms like Tadasana instead of Mountain Pose).

In my first week this caused me to itch somewhat.  A lifetime of experience pushing me to eschew tradition in favor of expediency was seemingly at odds with this way of learning.

Deciding to open myself up to a new way of looking at things.

Overall, the feeling reminded me of the first time I went to a tango class.  There was a lot of vocabulary which seemed to be in a foreign language more to add the feeling of connectedness to the culture where the pastime originated rather than to create clarity for the student.

Because Aikido seems to be a very defensive and reactive art, the attacks in my first class were difficult to reconcile with what I know about leaving openings for your opponent.

It was much easier to accept when I learned that Aikido was originally meant as a fighting style for unarmed opponents to deal with armed opponents.  The overhead chop to an opponent was particularly difficult for me to do, and I kept overreaching because it was felt so unnatural to expose my ribcage to an opponent that I couldn’t feel the “right” way to do it.

Eventually though Edward (the very, very patient sensei) helped me to a greater understanding of what the goal was.

There were a few things beyond patience that really impressed me about his teaching style.

  1. when a student performed an attack inconsistently, he would first show how to modify his defense and THEN have them re-attack in the desired manner.  This showed the flexibility and understanding he had, as well as inspiring us to try other finishes to the moves.
  2. His patience.  Seriously, it was so apparent it needed to be said twice.
  3. He also broke down the moves in several ways, while performing them consistently so that we could focus on different aspects of them; not try to see the whole thing in one go.
  4. He also used physiology, bits of martial philosophy, real-world application and historical reasons for the development of the techniques in passing as if it were incidental, but drawing attention to the reason the technique is done in a particular manner.

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with him in his class.

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