I wish that I was speaking in metaphorical terms...but I'm not. Alas...
A couple of weeks ago I was walking down the sidewalk on the Benoa Peninsula in Bali, Indonesia. It is a place that I really love and, for a lot of reasons, really love having to go there for part of my work. I tend to stay in the same area when I visit, eat at the same restaurants, go to the same locations for meetings, and so on. It's all fairly predictable.
A simple fact of life in Bali (and all of Indonesia) is that where there are sidewalks, they are built over rain gutters and the concrete surface is actually like a giant removable tile. Reliably, about every 50 to 100 feet one of these sections has been broken or removed altogether. Under circumstances of normal lighting and paying just a little bit of attention, the obvious pitfall of falling into one of these is avoidable. In fact, after you've walked the same street a few times, you start to remember where they are and go around them without really thinking about it.
On my last night in country, I was there with a couple of my teammates. We had decided to try a different restaurant a couple of miles in the other direction. I didn't know that it meant walking through a long unlit portion of the road. My sight was impaired enough by the lack of lighting but, the fact is, I was further distracted because I was reading and replying to emails on my phone. I'm sure the sequenced picture of what happened next is pretty clear. I stepped into one of these voids and suffered the natural consequences of walking in the dark while texting. As my shins hit the far surface edge of the sidewalk, I braced my fall with my hands which actually meant my phone and my iPad as I was holding both.
The story in this for me is that save a few scratches on my hand and my iPad, I suffered no injuries - that is if you don't count the injury to my ego for face-falling right in front of two female co-workers who routinely give me a hard time to begin with; I had now provided them with tremendous material rib me with for who knows how long. As for the lack of injury, I fully attribute it to working out with all of you. Several years ago - or even a few months ago where a prolonged break from working out had me pretty out of shape - this would have resulted in days of soreness if not greater injury altogether. On this day, it was just embarrassment, a couple of bruises, and a good dusting off. My iPad has some nice gouges in the back but its still working just fine.
I'm early in my martial arts career. There is a lot that I don't know by instinct yet and I know that I'll never get to the peak of the learning mountain. There is one thing, however, that I'm acutely aware of: Being out of shape is the worst thing that can happen to you in an instance of needing to defend yourself. I know this personally for the simple fact that in some of our workouts, I find myself breathing like a freight train. While this is getting a lot better, I know if I were actually attacked in such a moment, my chances of getting out and away or successfully defending myself would be greatly diminished. As we learn the techniques of surviving a situation of needed self-defense, I think its a great reminder that our physical conditioning is so core to being able to function long enough to diffuse, defend, or get to safety. It's hard to do much at all after you've been at max heart rate for even 30 seconds (I can hear Danny's voice in my ear as he's pummeling me on the floor: "Control your breathing; control your breathing!).
So I'm still a little embarrassed when I think about it, but I found myself immediately very thankful for all of you. I was seeing stars at 25 minutes in those first few classes. In a few short weeks I'm approaching a modest level of conditioning and may be rapidly approaching the best shape of my life trusting a continuance of the journey. I also have a certain wisdom about when I turn north instead of south on the road that goes to the end of the Benoa Peninsula: Put your phone in your pocket and watch where you're going!