Have you ever had an experience where you just cannot fathom in the moment what the lesson is? Or why it’s happening? That’s been me this trip.
Last week I travelled to Okinawa with some friends from our dojo, and our Sensei to compete in a global karate tournament. This experience has been on my list of things I would love to do one day since I started karate. I’m obsessed with studying karate, and when the opportunity presented itself to go, I knew with every cell in my body I had to make it happen. So my friend Anna (who practices karate with me) and I excitedly researched and booked and reserved and did all the things 4 cities in 12 days trip takes, and registered for the tournament and six months later packed our bags and left. In truth, I had doubts about my skills and competing, that over time as the date grew nearer, completely vanished.
The trip became a lesson in patience from the morning we left, whilst in the car, at 4.30am we received the email that the flight had been delayed. So we arrived and were told we would miss our connecting flight to Okinawa. So after our flight to Tokyo, we caught a 2-hour bus to another airport to depart at 6am for Okinawa. 3 hours sleep and living on snacks, we arrived in Okinawa at 9am and went straight to the tournament. It’s about 35 degrees and 99% humidity and the ground felt like it was moving beneath our feet we were so spaced out. 4 hours standing in the heat for the opening ceremony in our thick karate uniforms. I was so excited it felt like the energy coursing through my body might explode out. I was so proud to be there with my Sensei and team representing Australia. I was grateful beyond belief that this experience was even mine to have. So many students of karate have wanted to travel to Okinawa the birthplace of karate, and here I was!!! Incredible.
Now we moved onto registration. This instantly presented a problem as all my fellow karate students got their registration packs and no one could find me within the system. An hour of hand-wringing and negotiating insanely politely, I was found in the system, but not registered. Not to worry, surely I could do it now then? No. Cue another 3 hours in the heat with my Sensei making calls and having meetings and endless conversation skirting politely with the Japanese around why no one could make an executive decision and just enrol me there since I had travelled 30 hours to be there. It seems my credit card payment wasn’t processed online five months back, and I didn’t receive a declined notification so thought nothing of it. Where was my confirmation email? I didn’t know I was to get one. They kindly offered that if I could find the confirmation email or similar that they would refund my flights and accommodation costs for the trouble, but they would NOT let me compete. I politely argued in my softest voice that I didn’t care for a refund if I could please just compete? Much apologising, much sympathy, but a very firm no.
So, it was now 4pm, and everyone was waiting for me, so I took a deep breath and handled it like the mature meditation teacher I am and gently smiled at everyone in a Samurai controlled way, and carried on calmly. Joking!!!! I burst into tears and turned into a sobbing slightly hysterical beetroot in the heat. Once I started crying I couldn’t stop, so hundreds of other karate competitors had the experience of seeing me bawl my eyes out.
And there was just no way around it. I’m pretty used to talking my way in and out of things, but this situation proved impossible. So now I was utterly exhausted, and in Okinawa and unable to compete in the very thing I travelled there for.
However, in truth, there have been so many more experiences that I have been able to have without the nerves of a competition weighing on me. I’ve loved every minute of it. We trained daily in the most beautiful spaces with our Sensei. I learnt a huge amount about myself and processed a lot of things. I’ve had so many laughs with my friend Anna who competed incredibly, and we clicked into the easiest and cohesive space together.
I have an unspeakable belief that everything happens for a reason, and that the universe has my back and is supporting me at all times, EVEN when I can’t see why. And although I’m still unsure about the essence of why everything happened this way and how I found myself on a tiny island off the coast of Japan to go into a tournament I couldn’t go in, I trust it will reveal itself in time, at the moment it’s all supposed to make sense. For now, I’m just going with the ride…
Sent with love,