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Najestique's Commentary on JaJa Swintons'
"The Missing Component in Stick & Move"
LISTEN!: The Missing Component in Stick & Move.
by JaJa Swinton on Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 9:25pm ·
When I was 18, I took the hardest hit I’d ever taken in the toughest fight I’d ever fought. The fight took place in a small dojo on 31st St, near Herald Square. It was the summer of 98, and I was taking mixed martial arts lessons with a lanky, baby-faced Filipino guy from Tulsa Oklahoma. I was sparring with a short burly dude, who was solid 200lbs. I was probably 165, sopping wet, but I was quicker than him… until he hammered me with a right cross. Suddenly the room erupted in fireworks, and the thunder was Sifu Dan’s voice shouting, “Get outta there! Get OUTTA There!” Dazed but moving, one thing was clear: If I didn’t regain my focus, and clear my vision, I was finished.
This vignette is an apt symbol of where I am spiritually, right now. This past year, we as a family have taken some hard blows. Many of you have been privy to some of those disappointments, curve balls, whatever you’d like to call them. They hurt. A LOT.
We left Germany with a plan in mind, and almost immediately (really even before we left), it was coming apart at the seams. I had planned to secure a job before we left, find a place, settle down. Blow number one: It was a month before I found a part-time job, at $9hr. Not enough to make it in this area. I went on to take another part-time job at Bruegger’s Bagels, to try to make up the difference. It was a feeble attempt to be sure, but an attempt nonetheless. At that point, I was also finalizing grad school applications, for an MFA in Painting. My heart was set on teaching painting at the university level, on pursuing the call to make Christ known through the Arts.
Blow number two: I was rejected from all three programs I applied for. Furthermore, I’d applied to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for a scholarship. A few days after my last rejection, I received a letter in the mail, stating that I had to provide a letter of acceptance to move onto the second round of scholarship cuts. That one hurt too. A LOT. I was rejected from all of the salaried jobs I applied for, with Crystal’s help (she’s a great administrative assistant J!), save one… and that one God clearly said no to. As I saw it, I had one of three options: 1) Be bitter 2) Fight harder & be bitter 3) Admit "epic fail" and take his instruction. At my wits end, punch drunk, but moving, I knew one thing: If I didn’t regain my focus, I was done.
Slowly the double vision became single, and my inner panic turned into resolve. I’d gotten sloppy. Looking into my opponents eyes distracted me from his hands, a definite no-no. In a way, that’s precisely what I'd done at various points during our transition.
The real danger wasn’t in having my plans, aspirations, and financial base stripped from me. It was in taking my eyes of the One who controlled all of those things. In boxing, if you don’t keep striking and moving- "Stick & Move"-you risk getting pinned down by your opponent blows. If he outweighs you by 40 or so pounds, and has arms like Popeye... it's a bad day. What was my plan coming in? Go to his body, bob and weave, stay away from his hands. However, I didn't focus on Sifu’s orders during that round. He kept telling me to stick and move, keep moving. I got tunnel vision, and but the cross helped me hear him again. My focus returned, and my vision cleared, when I heeded his instruction.
Amongst other things, this is an ongoing lesson I’ve been learning this past year. I’m used to trying to fix things, confronting situations head on, rather than sitting idly as things collapse around me. But God is teaching me, he’s teaching us, how to listen to him while the blows are falling. For me, the clarity of his voice rings louder and truer in those times than any other. He ensures victory when I’m willing to take instruction… as the blows fall. One other thing Sifu Dan and God have in common: neither ever let me fight out of my strengths. Sifu always pit me against those of greater skill and size, in addition to handicaps he'd impose. Go figure. But that forced me to approach the situation for what it was, not what I wanted it to be. I'm learning to listen when He instructs from the sidelines. I do fine when I listen; you already know what happens when I don't.
Pic of the Week:Here's a screen shot of last week's Thumpin' Thursday feature, HEAT on Youtube.
Thumpin' Thursday 8- 11-12
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