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Thread: Fall Down Seven Times

  1. #1

    Fall Down Seven Times

    It was a grey, rainy afternoon in Tokyo, that much I remembered. And she was a vision in white, with just a hint of black around her tiny waist.

    She sat up high, straddling me with a sly smile as she pinned my arms to the floor.

    “She must be an angel,” I thought, seeing stars, my head groggy, my mind unfocussed and dull.

    She was drop-dead gorgeous. Absolutely stunning. I fell in love immediately.

    And then the pain hit. Aching, sharp but also dull - a thudding, throbbing pain in my back, head, neck – ****, maybe everywhere.

    A stern voice broke through the fog of my mind:

    "Nana korobi ya oki," the voice grunted.

    …which means, “fall down seven times, get up eight.”

    My angel laughed as she rolled off me. My head finally cleared and I realized that my beautiful angel (this woman is my destiny, I thought – shut up and fight with me, she said) had just taken me to the mat hard in the middle of the dojo I had wandered into to train.

    I laughed as she helped me up, saw the sensei on my left smile ever so slightly and repeat to this visiting gaijin:

    "Nana korobi ya oki."

    Fall down, indeed.

    And the ancient expression, which is about life, not the martial arts, hit me hard. Because the falling down part is assumed, but in a subtle way the getting up part isn’t.

    No, the getting up part is a choice, and you don’t have to have your brain scrambled like I did to understand:

    Life is gonna knock you down. A lot. And hard. Life will take you to the mat over and over and over again.


    And it’s entirely up to you to get up or not.

    We all want to be the heroes of our own stories. We all want to be the ones who **** the prom queen or the quarterback. We want to be the ones that everyone likes and respects; our social always being pitch perfect

    We want to be the werewolf in Trader Vic’s drinking a Pina Colada at midnight…our hair perfect.

    But most of us are not that guy, that girl. And we never will be. Most of us fall down – often, comic in its regularity; sometimes spectacularly.

    And you know what? That’s perfectly OK.

    Because failure is a gift - it’s not the absence of something, it’s the beginning. For It is only in failing that we can succeed – in love, life, art, work, beauty, fun.

    Truly, if our hearts are never broken, how can we then learn to love so purely and deeply that it hurts?

    We are – all of us – bombarded by images and stories of perfection and success. It’s really the definition and purpose of social media now. To post perfection – whether a selfie, a dinner, your cute kid, your perfect date, your weekend in the Hamptons, your pet doing something funny.

    And every time we post these things, we advance the ideal that failure is not an option in our perfect, wired lives.

    But that’s not life – and you know it.

    Real life is your car hopelessly stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, just south of Trenton, where no one truly wants to be or live. At three a.m. with a dying cell phone. And you're way drunk, and about to throw up.

    So don’t’ be afraid to embrace failure, to learn from it, to accept its inevitability. Because it’s always just around the corner of your day, and your life.

    Is your heartbroken? Do you think you're fat? Are you struggling with something? Are you addicted to booze or drugs? Do you feel alone and empty? Are you broke? Stuck in the same rut? Unhappy with your boyfriend/girlfriend?

    Are you tired? Unloved? Just done with it all?

    And do you just want to close your eyes and follow your dreams down?

    That’s OK.

    You are not alone and you are most definitely not a failure. You are human, just like the rest of us. But you do need to face the choice – get up or stay down.

    It is said that only constant in life is change, but that’s not really true. The only constant in life - the thing which all of us on earth share - is failure. And success, therefore – true success – is not the deed finally done right – it’s the getting up.

    Success and happiness are never giving up on yourself, despite the odds, despite the pain of the moment, despite everything. It is the knowing that you are not alone in this, that you possess – little old perfect you – the strength to get up.

    Including me, from the mat in the Tokyo dojo on that rainy Thursday afternoon.

    My angel – who I learned later was part Filipino and part Japanese (herself a gaijin just like me, then), disappeared into the women’s locker room with a lilt in her steps and a sway of her hips that I would indeed come to love.

    After showering and changing, I waited for her outside, full of sheer terror but willing to at least try. Because I had to ask her out, or totally wimping out and failing that, at least to make some contact. Had to bet the ranch here. Had to be willing to fail, had to ignore that my insides were turning to jelly as she saw me on the corner.

    So I made my awkward, fumbling play. She smiled slightly and looked at me with curiosity. Laughing gently as she shook her head no, she thanked me politely for the match and told me that she trained here quite often and that perhaps we might meet again.

    Then she walked away. And then abruptly stopped, turned around and looked directly into my now dejected eyes.

    "Nana korobi ya oki," she said…

    ….with a smile that suddenly conveyed more, that conveyed a suggestion, a hint, a wisp of sexuality, a tease; a smile that asked me with her beautiful brown eyes and perfect lips that I would come to crash into with all my soul if I could… and would… get up off the mat for her.

  2. #2
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

    You captured that old adage well.

    Arigato go zai e mas.

    Best wishes
    M.

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    This is the best story, inspirational, good story telling, sexy, subtle, setting, philosophy, you name it. You've woven these fine threads into a well-meshed story. Well done!!

  4. #4
    Thanks...very much appreciate the kind words!

  5. #5
    Thank you Steven! Glad you enjoyed. Veery much appreciate it.

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