Fatherhood demands all that I have to give. Since little Phoebe was born 14 days ago, sleep, privacy and normal sense of time have all but disappeared. Yet, I do not really seem to care too much; my little daughter is a fascinating and all-encompassing creature. Fatherhood is not about having time, but rather it is about making time for her, my wife, family, our three dogs. Perhaps if I were a younger man, then i would hold a myriad of resentments about missing out on the life I left behind two weeks ago. However, the only thing that Inow hold is my beautiful daughter, who fades in and out of sleep as I type with the fingers of my right hand.
Phoebe is adorable. Even though she remains in a wiggly worm form, I am excited to watch her develop into whatever she chooses. She will be the master of her life and my purpose for all that remains of my life is to help, build and encourage her. I will never be the angry father at a sports practice or at parent interviews who asserts his child needs to become the best. After 16 years of education, I know that she become great by being supported. She may not become rich or a brain surgeon, but it will not be due a lack of opportunity; her choices will lead her to her destiny. Fatherhood should be about loving mentorship and joyous interactions. Good will always defeat evils in our world; a father’s role is to offer philosophical values, an education that serves his daughter versus corporate America, a connection to the magical imagination, the skills to protect and survive, and love that is not unconditional, but always abundant and offered.
My life has changed. I now need to re-negociate my expectations at work, at home, and for the future. Travel will be tricky, but i can figure out how to make that happen for all three of us. Phoebe will see the world through both her own eyes and the lenses my own exploration have created. I will continue to work hard at my teaching career, but I will need to adapt and evolve to use technologies to maximize the time I now have to work with. Regardless of my time, I also need to the ensure my wife feels supported and understood throughout these challenging days and nights. She is a wonderful mother. She often doubts her abilities or her powers, but I watch her with admiration for the choices she makes and the time she surrenders to nurturing our little daughter in these tough first few weeks. She will be fine, but we all need to hear positive affirmations when sleep is difficult to find. Unlike her, I still have my jiu-jitsu to escape into. Without that escape, perhaps my days would become more and more impossible. It is a brotherhood that I will remain faithful to, even as those two sessions a week become tough to schedule.
The Brotherhood of jiu-jitsu demands what I do not know I have to give. Discipline, support of others on their journey, body awareness and health, and a fascination with the never-ending puzzle that presents itself each time I step on the mats. It demands that iI fight until I approach Death; it forces me to become cognizant of how fragile life can be in the arms of one who simply wants to watch the world burn. As I roll with other men who share a similar sense of responsibility to the safety of their families and the society around them, I gain momentum like a snowball rolling down a hill. I come into my own Self and understand just how much I have left to enact within my lifetime. While the burden might feel heavy at times, such is the way and such is the path that presents itself before me.
I remain a white belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I can now see the holes in my game. I also see my strengths and have learned how to maximize my attributes to keep me safe on the mats. My ego has softened and the fear of tapping to my opponent has become a little ghost in my ear in lieu of a dragon flying with flame and fury. I sense where I stand among my team-mates, and I know that most remain superior in skills as we continue to move forward as a unit. My goals are no longer focused on trying to tap them through submission. I no longer worry about somehow showing I am have inner talents that no other competitor has. I see myself and understand that to progress i need to spend my mat time practicing my escapes, my defences, survival and recovering my guard. To ignore these foundational components of my game will keep me down. I would only hear my ego grow as I reach for the unlikely kimura, because my base and posture remain weak.
While I remain a white belt, I feel strong in my rank. With three stripes, I see the honesty in that as I roll with the new additions to the team or with partners from other gyms. As I stood next to Master Royler Gracie at Gracie Woodbridge, I knew that this was the strongest I have ever been. I also realized while writing this blog entry that my blue belt partner for that particular visit was the referee for my first ever match in September. The Brotherhood is close in its ranks, and each new practitioner I meet along my journey stays close to me; I acknowledge that I will meet them over and over again wither through social media or visits to their gyms, competitions or seminars. I know that I am not so far from the day when I will achieve the rank of blue belt, and that will be a night of great accomplishment for me. It will be an accomplishment not for me alone, however; it will be the sum of what the Brotherhood has taught me from Toronto to Hawaii to Denver to Prince Edward Island. Much like Fatherhood, Brotherhood is a responsibility to those who matter in that arena of our lives. My only concern as I move through the magical month of December is to ensure that I remain true to both of these, my most essential and fulfilling, roles.