The last few years have contained many changes for me in a wide variety of ways. I’ve made some physical moves, from place to place. I have changed the focus of my profession. I’ve added things, released things and recovered things. I came across an article by Dave Lowry in Black Belt Magazine titled, “A Dragon in the Clouds” (Black Belt;Oct/Nov2013, Vol. 51 Issue 6, p32). The opening quote of the article is: “When one is painting a waterfall, it should be painted so there are interruptions, but no breaks.” The quote is attributed to Wang Wei, a Chinese painter of the Tang Dynasty. The article discusses how things may change course, even stop, but that is not really a break in the action. Things continue on…….. An interruptions without breaks.
During the time we have lived here in NYC, family and friends have come in to see the city and spend time with us. For some of those who have come in, it has been several years since we shared time together. And even though our presence with one another was interrupted, there was no break in our relationship. We don’t have to start all over again. We just continue on. I recently reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in probably 20 years. We had both been through many changes in our lives. But as we sat down for coffee, after all those years, and started “catching up”, we were amazed at how little we had to start over again with each other. There was a significant interruption, but no break. We had still thought about each other, and remembered times together, and in a cosmic way, were still connected all those times. Interruptions without breaks.
Dave Lowry used the image of a kata or a form. The movement seems to stop, change directions, slow down or speed up. But the movement still continues. We come to realize a stance is not a stationary place, but a snapshot in time of movement through space; an interruption, without breaks. In September, I will celebrate the 25th anniversary of me starting karate. For 16 of those years, I was traveling around, working out with a wide variety of people, or no one at all but myself. But when time came that I found myself in similar group as my sensei, we started to work out once again. And our relationship outside the dojo continued, and we realized there were interruptions without breaks.
I realize I am on the same journey I started in life, over 53 years ago. My course changes, my paths swerve, I start and begin again. I pick up where I left off, or understand I didn’t leave at all. The forms that give me insight into work of my martial arts, also give me the insight into the work of life. Lowry also discusses the art of calligraphy in the article. Once the brush touches paper, you cannot erase, you can not change the shape of the ink already drawn. You continue on. You live with the strokes you have made. It is part of you now. Sometimes, one needs to step back and see the larger picture to understand the single strokes, the individual moves, the spaces in between, the interruptions without breaks. We step back and see the larger image, that cannot be seen in a single view from close in. So, bow and begin, knowing your form, the kata that is you has already begun. And when you are done, bow, knowing the action of you continues on beyond these series movements, like a water fall, interruptions without breaks.