Oh, the Spectacles We Make!

Being socially house-broken means that we usually don’t laugh when people fall on their patoots.  Unless it’s slapstick, and then it’s okay to laugh.  Slapstick usually means it’s intentionally funny.

But what about those times when it’s not?

We all agree that humor is tough to do, and then someone on the blog mentioned the closeness of laughter to crying.  The memory of my first black belt test came rushing back.  It isn’t funny.  (Or maybe it is.)  I gotta admit that yes, we must’ve all looked pretty funny–on the verge of tears, with our tongues hanging out and sagging in our twisted stances.  But bear with me, ’cause there’s a lesson in this.

Here’s how it went down:

  •  6 months previous, my sensei announces that he will hold a test, and I am eligible.  (Serious??  *uncontrollable laughter*)
  • After a lot of sweat, The Big Day arrives, and a dozen or so of us brown belts are onstage.  The watchful eyes of the peanut gallery are upon us as we “warm up” with hundreds of exercises in sets of 50’s.  Then we run through the entire curriculum a couple of times.  (So, when is the test going to start?  I am getting seriously tired.)
  • We spar for about half a lifetime, and one of my partners kicks me onto my patoot (hoots and hollers from the peanut gallery, but no sweat–they’re usually vocal)
  • We run through the curriculum a couple more times.  (Oh no!  Is this finally the real test starting up?  I am completely drained.  No way I can pass now.  Hmmm.  Guess I’ve got nothing to lose anymore.)
  • So I keep going, limping through the moves on automatic, even though I know I look slapstick ridiculous with my stumbling moves.  Maybe I only imagine the snickers — my brain’s not working so well, either.

My conclusions:  I did my best.  I couldn’t do any better than my ability at the moment.

Sound familiar?  You bet.  It’s the same in writing.

When the test was finally over, my sensei peeled me up off the floor and tied my new black belt around me.  But, wait.  Hadn’t he noticed all my mistakes?  All my sloppy moves?

Yes, of course he had.  What I hadn’t realized until then was that it wasn’t so much about perfection as much as it was about persistence.  I hadn’t given up, and that’s what mattered.

The same is true for writing.  There’s always time to perfect our ability if we give ourselves enough time to persist.

As for the laughs along the way, whether they’re real or imagined, I ask you:  who’s gonna end up with the last laugh?  The one who stays in the game, or the one who never tries?


6 thoughts on “Oh, the Spectacles We Make!”

  1. Oh Sue, you had me laughing. I remember my Black Belt test. They asked me to do a lower-ranked form and I completely forgot two moves. Oh well, right? I did my best – and I passed, too. You’re right. You gotta stay in the game to win.


  2. I studied in Kung Fu. In my black belt test, I had to defend bare-handed against a guy with a (plastic) knive, a guy with a 5 foot staff, and multiple attackers after warming up on one attacker. I hit the knife guy’s arm so hard, the knife flew across the room (desired effect). I took the staff away from the staff guy and chased him (audience laughed). As I was disbanding the multiple attackers, from my POV I saw bodies flying. In the video, I look like one of the hippo ballerinas in Fantasia. But I was a different person after the test then before. I’m sure you, Sue and Liz, were too.


  3. Okay, first… I love “socially house-broken.” I don’t think I’ve heard that before. Well done!

    And I’m such a loser. I think I got to second-degree or first-degree (whichever is better) YELLOW belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. It was so long ago I don’t remember a thing.


  4. Liz, that happened to me, too. I just kept going, pretending I knew what I was doing, and when I was done, I gave a loud kiaaa and found the sensei chuckling at me.

    Keenan, we’ve done that exercise, too. It’s a hard one!

    Thanks, Kate.

    Sam, your kids are little, right? Still plenty of time!

    Thanks, Peg. And I think the yellow belt test is probably the hardest one of all. You passed–kudos!


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