Inside-outside, outside-inside

I booked a ticket to Barcelona while listening to George Ezra’s version of the city-titled song.

I’m taking myself on holiday, and it is possibly the single-most freeing thing to think about in this moment. For an instance, I “jumped” from the metaphorical plane and said sayonara to the control freak that decided to stay on said plane.

Forgive me, but in this post – in this time – I’m going to use this space to unpack a few very big thoughts that have circled my mind. Most of the emergence of these thoughts have to do with this class I’ve been taking the past two weeks. It’s called Meaning and Representation. A lot of what we discuss and decipher touches on many of the things I think about on a daily basis in an ongoing, never-ending cycle.  For those of you who don’t know me/ just stumbled upon this/ thought you would get some insight on how to arm bar, I am CONSTANTLY thinking/ overthinking and my “thinking voice” has its own narrative and big space in my mind. In all instances, jiu-jitsu focuses that overactive mind for an hour or three so that I don’t have to admit myself into an insane asylum. It’s as cathartic as prepping, chopping vegetables and swaying my hips to repetitive beats.

Lately, due to extenuating circumstances and laziness, I veered away from cooking and jitsu. As a consequence, I’ve been thinking more about the WHY of why I’m here, which – of course – leads me to ask why are any of us here?  This isn’t some existential crisis, a plea for help, or my internal-self, exposing it’s porous surface to act as a pseudo-philosopher.  It’s merely an observation and realization that this “being,” this “identity,” this thing we call life is way more complicated than we ever imagined. Have you ever stopped to think what is life? Is it the linear trajectory of: I’m born, I grow, I get educated, I educate, I gain employment, I participate, I die? It can be that, but it’s also so much more. There are facets and details left out in that cycle.

A part of this is also figuring out the “I.” Have you ever stopped to think what “me” or “I” means to you? I know, this sounds like lunatic gibberish, but just take a moment. What is Identity? A state of being, a label, a categorization? An association, a name, a culture? What does it mean to say I am Urmila. This is a trick question because there is the obvious answer and the theoretical. There is the cultural identity story that I very quickly sweep over and question why I went so fast afterward. There’s the jitsu identity, which gives me a sense of strength I have that I didn’t have in youth. There’s the quarter-century crisis identity I’m currently (and also at this very moment) realizing. “I” and “identity” start to become very big words when trying to find a place for them. “Identity” has always been a bit of a struggle for me. The question “who am I?” terrifies me on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. It’s not a new concept for me either. Self actualization (forgive me Princess Diaries fans) isn’t so much actualized by realizing your state of being but by realizing that it is unattainable – at least not fully. I say this because the actualized self is always looking for the next stage of actualization. Meaning, if you jump out of a small plane, you want to find a bigger one to test its limits.

Let me refocus this to a moment of actualization in class. I realized that this blog is a bit of a reflection of the book Body & Soulby Loïc J. D. Wacquant. It’s an auto-ethnographic account of this French anthropologist who goes to a mostly black(I have problems using this word to describe a demographic, but I can’t find any other solution) boxing gym, realizes some observations and incorporates himself into that society to gain a better understanding of the culture. You know those times when you have such an “aha” moment that you all you can do is chuckle to yourself and smile? Yeah, that happened.

The realization that this account of trying to find a gym in Italy, attempting kickboxing and not fitting, finding a place that did fit, learning Italian to blend with the society, literally changing colors (of gis) to be recognized as “with” as “us” rather than “other” is so similar to what Wacquant experiences and illustrates in his writing. He realizes that he changes the culture as much as the “culture”(ie. the gym) changes him. It’s also just laughable to remember my first classes in Minnesota. In a very huge stretch of attempting a connection, I – in some senses – infiltrated the gym as one of the few females in Minnesota, and forced my awkward state-of-being on this very serious gym. It changed me by allowing my awkwardness to be cherished and laughed at. It allowed me to be comfortable in my body (mostly because when you’re rolling around with 300-pound men, you kind of have to be OK with everything you are and everything you’re not). It gave me community and changed how I look at this state of being, at “living.” I can’t tell you how I changed the gym precisely. I definitely made it sillier through BJJ raps and terribly infused puns and baked goods (I’m still trying decide how I “fit” within this Italian realm of BJJ. I’m also struggling (well not so much struggling, but letting the figurative gears click and interchange) with this experience, like all experiences in life, is temporary. It moves on, it changes, it adapts. This meta thought leads in my mind when knowing that where ever I go, I’ll need to find a gym to keep this constant stream of consciousness at bay. Does that make me an addict? That’s yet to be deciphered by traditional definitions and standards. Tangent complete, back to regularly scheduled rambling).

Jitsu in itself is transcendent. It’s revealing that that sense of awkwardness and not “being one” with the body and mind and finding solace in this asexual/ androgynous sport of self defense and mental/physical strength. Yes, I acknowledge that MMA and jitsu is seen as a mostly-masculine sport, but once you get past the bumps that are body parts, it’s all about the motion. The mindful meditative process of moving.  

I’m not sure if there’s a space for all of these thoughts (or if this is the right “space” or if you’ll lose patience and call a psychologist for my benefit), but lately my writing has been focused on arts and entertainment pieces, and living alone leads you to talk to yourself without the realization that you are doing just that. You then realize that talking to yourself could be perceived as crazy and move on with your day. So, in an attempt to fend off the loony bin, this is my experiment of poorly adapted ideations and terrible grammar and spelling.

Tell me a dream, and I will create your fictional reality. Tell me the truth, and I will create your dream. -Urmi

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