Sunday, October 30, 2005

Karate

Hurrah! I've done it! I've just got my black belt at a graduation ceremony this afternoon. Did a few kicks in the air, punched, flipped weapons around, chopped wood with my bare hand, threw attackers on the ground. It was so much fun.

A childhood dream has come true. Just to prove it's never too late to learn anything. When I was a kid, I wanted to chop, kick, and flip in the air like Emma Peel of The Avengers . Yeah, you can guess my age ... whether you remember Emma or never heard of her.

To refresh my memory, I saw an old episode of The Avengers. I was shocked to see the woman I considered most sophisticated and liberated - oh, that smirk, those body moulding outfits, and black leather boots - seem so amateurish now. But times have changed. I'm after a new role model: Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame. Sorry Emma.

Karate has been an incredible journey towards understanding what my body can do. When I look back at the tentative beginnings about six years ago, I'm awed at the strength and skills I've acquired.

To give each movement its intense power, one learns to go inside one's mind and body, and leave out all outside influence. That power of concentration extends to other aspects of life, giving confidence and focus in whatever one undertakes.

It's been a rewarding experience. Sweating and releasing repressed energy. Learning to defend myself. Toned muscles. Discipline was the toughest during the first year. Not just getting to class, but having to bow and show respect to higher belts, even though I felt little respect for certain types. One of the incentives that spurred me to drag myself to the club week after week at the beginning was the chance to admire those muscular male bodies in action. And the thrill of training with all that masculine energy.

Of course over the years, the elation of keeping fit and the deep feeling of camaraderie with other members made karate become a necessity. We're a large family and I love hugging those great bodies.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Les Fleurs du Mal

Derrière les ennuis et les vastes chagrins
Qui chargent de leur poids l'existence brumeuse,
Heureux celui qui peut d'une aile vigoureuse
S'élancer vers les champs lumineux et sereins;


Spleen et Idéal, III. - Élévation, Les Fleurs du Mal,
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

According to Baudelaire, one can overcome painful, debilitating heartbreaks by flapping one's wings towards brighter fields. I agree that the best way to forget is to have a change of scenery, travel, move to a different place, exercise, make new friends, touch others. To make it short, find any distraction that gets your heart pumping for a different cause. Eventually time heals, and one gains new perspective on the situation. Et voilà! Life is full of other pleasures worth living for.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Leaving this world

In recent weeks, I've been thinking of death. The beloved partner of a friend passed away after a motorcycle accident. He had just retired. She is floating, can't accept that he is suddenly not there to touch and feel when he is so present in spirit. I remember his warm, confident smile, as if he was embarking on some fun expedition.

Then, a few days ago, I heard about a friend who passed away in his sleep. He was only 51. I hadn't seen him since we were teenagers. I can clearly see him coming to my house to say goodbye before he left for his studies in Europe. He had large, kind, innocent eyes, and dark straight hair that he kept flipping from his eyes. I will always remember him that way.

Then, there is the nun from my high school who was so different from the rest, never lectured me about why I didn't go to church. Love seemed to radiate from her pores. I could feel her positive energy seeping through me with a mere eye contact or nod of her head. This charismatic person is still alive and well in spirit to all those she touched even though she passed away from cancer recently.

When people I know die, and I haven't seen them for a long time, I feel the pain of those who lived with them, how they will miss them, but I don't feel their physical absence myself. They're still alive to me, in my mind, in whichever way they've affected my life.

Then, there are all these people who died in the Tsunami, in New Orleans, in Pakistan, those who die from wars, hatred, revenge, violence. Even though I don't know them, I imagine the horror of such deaths, and cry for them.

And here we are, lucky to be alive. Why don't we celebrate it more? Every day? Every hour? Every minute?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wellington, my other brother

Just in case my other brother gets jealous, here's some info on him. He is a fabulous architect in Mauritius and has designed some great buildings on the island.

When I went to visit him and his family on the island, his house felt like a fresh slice of paradise. I could sit forever on the wicker chairs on the verandah facing the garden, taking in the warm humid smells, feasting on the hot pink bougainvilleas and lush green plants with giant leaves. The house was impressive with its high ceilings, clean lines, subtle decorative details reminiscent of colonial times. Designed to maximize airflow, the house was always comfortably cool inside, so refreshing when the tropical sun bears down on you.

As a young kid hanging out with these two adored brothers, I learned the art of talking back to compensate for my lack of testosterone power when I felt pushed around. I learned about the advantages of being a girl ( I felt very protected by big brother Well). I also learned about the disadvantages (not being allowed to go out late at night), and in my teens, gave my parents a hard time by endlessly advocating for women's rights. Those great parties that stretched late into the night on the beaches were certainly worth it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Reading

Reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the request of my sons. Movie's coming soon. I'm kind of transfixed with mugles' fears, Death Eaters who Disapparate, the Dark Mark, but I have to admit I'm speed reading this fat book. Other books I'm reading: Last Chance Texaco, Christine Pountney (sad, vivid images are imprinted in my mind), The Big Why, Michael Winter (Rockwell Kent is just flirting so far), Les Fleurs du Mal, Charles Baudelaire (I thrive on French sentimentalism), Alligator, Lisa Moore (love her sensual brushstrokes).

Too many? It's crazy?

Just greedy. It's like being in a patisserie, salivating at the sight of those dainty desserts, buying five, savouring the intense pleasure of little bites from each.

Who cares what the side effects are?

Monday, October 03, 2005

My brother Sem

Did I ever tell you that I have a brother who is some kind of genius but of course this is all subjective, and he doesn't believe so himself. He's done some neat things in medical simulation. He is part of a team that invented a human simulator so medical personnel can practice treatments and procedures on this sort of manikin controlled by a computer which can simulate a wide variety of diseases and pathologies.

It's hard to believe that my little brother, the six-year-old kid I used to coax into playing theatre with me, the one who would comply with enthusiasm to my dressing him up, the one who would smile mischievously, shake his hips and throw his legs every which way to imitate the dance I choreographed on the spot for him, now lectures all over the world. Well, maybe I can claim I did give him his taste for public appearance when he performed with me in front of our large family!

I'd like to say that the scientific brain runs in the family, but I'm afraid my inclination has always been in the creative field. When he taught me how to play chess, I couldn't care less about protecting the king - handsome knights in armour were making moves to protect ladies imprisoned in towers. However, after the countless games he convinced me to play, all of which I lost, I have to admit that it spurred my competitive spirit, and I was eventually thrilled by the strategy involved in chess.

If you're interested in scientific stuff, check his Virtual Anesthesia Machine website