How is your routine lately? Do you even remember what it felt like to just be humming along within its comforting embrace?
A routine, in “normal” times, is that daily rhythm that gets us from one significant time and place to the next. There is a certain comfort to it, a sort of auto pilot feature that helps to keep us at ease and on track. Often, however, it is easy to miss many of the small bits of life that are going on outside its scope. When we pass by things at the speed of life, they can appear blurred and go unnoticed, but when we are able to stand still and take in the whole picture, it comes slowly into focus.
For the martial artist, it can be an incredibly useful exercise to simply stand still and take in some of the situations that often go unnoticed, there we may observe that which is hidden by the leaves (hagakure). Let’s think about that picture for a moment; what does it take for something to remain hidden beneath the leaves? Such a flimsy and fragile thing, and so easily moved, yet without the small effort it would take to explore, all will remain concealed. For the warrior, this can not be an acceptable outcome; we must look where others fail to see and be ever engaged in the quest for knowledge and truth.
For most of us, the routines are out the window, and we are having to find ways to redirect our efforts in order to keep moving forward productively. It would be quite easy to spend our days being disheartened by the current circumstances, but there is much work to be done. We can learn in stillness what we take for granted in motion. O'Sensei taught us, "Do not fail to learn from the pure voice of an ever-flowing mountain stream splashing over the rocks." He is asking us to be mindful so that we may better understand the natural world, and hopefully, discover our proper place within it.
Everything around us has slowed and seems now unfamiliar, let's not fail to learn what we can and bring those lessons forward when life once again gets to full speed.