Long ago, when describing the known and unknown world, cartographers would sometimes say, “Here Be Dragons.”
It was a warning, not just to sailors and kings, but to dreamers and thinkers too: “This is Christendom, the world as it is. And over there, next to that crease in the corner? That’s something else. Best to stay away.”
We face the unknown every time we step outside. And like those explorers long ago, we learn—sometimes gradually, sometimes not—the one irrefutable fact of our existence: Change is inevitable, and no matter how distant the unknown world seems, it will, sooner or later, find us.
For us, unfortunately, the dragons are already here.
The question, I think, is how we deal with this reality. Do we try, futilely, to ignore it? Or are there other paths?
Aikido forces us to consider these questions. At its best, every Aikido technique is a test. It is our chance to confront the unknown, writ small.
And what do we do? We get back up, brush ourselves off, and help our partner do the same. It is training for life, and how to live. And ultimately, it is training for the one inevitability we all eventually face.
Certain events in my life have cast this reality into sharp focus. I can see the dragons, coiled just over the horizon, waiting…
So what am I doing about it? How am I dealing with my reality?
I’m training, of course.