The things I lost
The first thing I lost was my pride. My very first night in the dojang, roundhouse kicks to the paddles. Kicked, fell on my ass. I have since fallen on my ass many other times on many other roundhouse kicks, but since I have already lost my pride, they never hurt quite as much as the first time.
The next thing I lost was my fingernails. They dig sharp moons into your palm when you throw a punch, so I clipped them. And another forced attempt at feminine mystique fails.
I lost the piercing at the top of my ear. I’d had it for 22 years, a pretty little gold hoop. Showing respect to my instructor was more important than a youthful attempt to define my counter-culture self. Someday I will have to lose the bellybutton ring I got on my 21st birthday with my best friend at the time. We both wear matching hematite spheres on a steel ring. Someday one of the black belts is going to find out about it, and I’ll have to lose that, too. I haven’t spoken to Irinia in over ten years.
I lost the friend who introduced me to taekwondo. Nothing to do with the art – outside circumstances, and I started taking it seriously while she found other ways to spend her time. Still, it hurt. I kick better now, though.
I lost my evenings. My more recent attempts at dating have been Grandmaster-level failures, so taekwondo six nights a week? An acceptable outlet for an otherwise frustrated sex drive.
I lost my linear sense of time. I have learned down-block at least three times now – once the first time, then the second time less bad, then the third time for poomse. Taekwondo has taught me that our lives move in patterns that are hardly linear: you punch and kick your way forward until you’re back on your mark, just like poomse. You’re in the same place, only wiser, faster, stronger, better than the last time you were here. And then you do it again.
I lost my sense of superiority. Getting your ass kicked every night by kids half your age does a great job of reminding you how much you really still suck.
I lost my glasses. Can’t spar in them.
I lost fat. Grew lean.
I lost my soft feet.
The thing that I hope to lose is my ego. I want to not be the graduate student, the novelist, the philosopher, the biologist, the traveler, the woman, the daughter sister aunt. I want, even if it’s only for a moment, to be nothing but a vessel for taekwondo.