Friends from afar

08.2005 009Portillon d’Oo Lake, Pyrenese, France. Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2005

Today, we reach out to the world more often through a digital screen than by foot, by car, train or air plane. We set our eyes on screens that reveal us a digital world but which at the same time obliterates what lies behind it and is real, much more real than any pixel image. Our eyes are in fact confronted to a screen which is a wall to our mind, a wall full of images inside our towns which are forests of walls.

It is no wonder to me that we are coming to an age when our mind feels unsecure when confronting what lies behind that is fully real. In a world of walls for our eyes and our minds, how can we welcome the friend coming from afar to share knowledge?

Today, I train in the spirit of being realistic. Not in the purpose of entering a street fight which is not what endangers me most now and today. What is really endangering me is that I set walls and screens to my mind and also to my practice. Therefore, I go out and walk in the forests and the mountains. I practise there, in the thicket and up above the woodlands.

The first benefit is that we look at another distance. The proportion of moving forward is much greater than turning round. In a city, we look onto a wall within the width of the room and we turn at 90° every 10m.  For our eyes and mind, for our knees and hips, the exercise is completely different.

In the wilderness, we become happy to meet a newcomer who acts differently from us, for up in the mountain, a new companion is a support in difficulty.

The Aikido I foster welcomes the friend coming from afar to share study. I go out and when I come back to the dojo when in town, I keep the scale of the forest and the mountain, so I look onto the other differently.


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