I had attended the Fall Clinic in South Carolina for four years, and now it was time for yet another. Except now I had this gloomy feeling about attending. My thoughts were full of “been there done that” attitude. Then, after seeing the class schedule, nothing really caught my interest (no offense intended). But, after all the mental stress and things that affect me internally through my daily life here in Chicago, I found myself needing to fill a void that was growing. Now the decision was simple – I’m going! Not so much for training, but for those people who I’ve bonded and spiritually connected with over the years. I guess that I simply missed them. 

My traveling companion for this trip is none other than my sensei. From the very beginning, this trip is a good thing. I so rarely get the opportunity to have one-on-one time with him, due to busy lives. Within conversations the travel time flies bye and before I know it we are at our destination. 

OK, things are looking great.  I’m ready for the clinic. As I train on day one, my fears came to pass.  There are classes where I thought “Hey, this is cool”.  There are some that I think are a pretty good workout.  Then there are the ones I just completely don’t get and find no gain from, at all.  Technique wise, I’m not sure I’m gaining much.  But throughout the clinic I discover a change in myself.  A peculiar thing happens when I am asked questions by lower ranks.  They wanted to know my thoughts, my points of view, and my experiences.  This is very new to me. I don’t normally have people ask me these things.  Anyway, out it comes and I can’t shut myself up.  On top of this I think to myself that I have an opportunity to observe instead of take and I grab my notebook and walk over to the kids’ mat.  Off the mat I get numerous requests to do treatments and give input on healing.

Words of wisdom from my sensei: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I’d like to think that I made this transformation.  In the end I have the opportunity to sit down and talk with my peers, higher ranks, and some of the Professors. This is where true healing begins. It’s funny how everyone there is family but there are a few that you specifically seek out because they know you best.  Destiny eventually shows itself if you are willing to see it.  On the way out of the hotel to begin the journey home, my sensei and I run into a younger DZR family member who happens to be traveling to the same airport. Since it is 3:00 AM,  we offer to join them, and travel together. The hour and a half trip is filled with talk of who we are and where we are heading in life. 

The fact of the matter is that the events leading up to that point were set in place specifically for that young family to have that moment. As I sit here writing this article I can’t help but feel ashamed. The selfishness I had leading into this travel was completely out of touch with the person I am trying to be. I walked into this experience wondering what I would gain and I ended up I giving, giving, and giving again. With that, I have gained something that can never be defeated. I never truly grasped the reality of what it is I do until I received this ability of “True Heart.” In my roles as a firefighter, medic, healer, father, son, and martial artist my whole existence has been set on a path for the preservation of life. Whether it’s physical, mental, or something on a spiritual plane, things have never been clearer. The reality of it all is that we are all here for each other. Not many people see things in this manner, so I walk the lonely path. As I do this, I will gain strength knowing that one day soon I will see my friends again.

I have no hidden agenda with these things I share with you. All of this is not to talk about attending clinics or praise specific professors.  I simply wanted to share my experiences with you all, because it has had such a huge impact on my life. I hope that you all find your true self and grasp the moments that make life meaningful. Stay true to yourselves and keep walking the path.

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