Day 1-Home

IMG_8832I’ve not managed to make it home just yet, in a last ditch attempt to pretend that the holiday is not over, I’ve pulled into a quiet bar in Paddington and muster the last of my thoughts together. Looking back I guess it’s fair to say that the recent blog posts are pretty self-indulgent. They were, for the most part, a way for me to review and mark the event but also, most importantly to make sure that I remembered what we had covered. All too often I have found myself sitting at the airport after a gasshuku confused over what happened when… even the stand out moments are difficult to pin down… ‘was that Tuesday or Wednesday?’

I wrote the draft of this, literally- I mean old style, pen and paper on the flight home. Obviously, I’m happy to come back to my loved ones, the dojo, and dare I say it, work… but the truth is that for the last 2 days I’ve purposefully avoided work emails. I reckon I’ve got a good team who should be able to deal with just about anything that comes up and I need to unplug from work. A good idea? It has served to heighten my anxiousness a fair bit but it does need to be done.IMG_0817 6

Tomorrow it is back to life as usual. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad life, by any stretch of the imagination but taking time away always helps me to see just how manic and crazy a life I lead. I won’t get into the details, but I have a few worries at the moment that will untangle one way or the other in the next while and that coupled with work, leads to a stressy Ciara. I need more down time. In a recent conversation someone mentioned that their colleague had stated something similar to which they answered… ‘well, do you have kids?’, honestly, I don’t know how people with kids cope at all? I find trying to balance everything, husband (I am only just getting used to saying that), karate and full on career in no way easy.

As I sit in a bar overlooking Paddington, a guy has arrived, in a very expensive suit but drinking Stella, has his phone stuck to his ear and is nervous as the proverbial cat on the hot tin roof. I’ve no idea who he is talking to, but as yet he has to take a breath. He has that well educated English tone, it’s a tone more than an accent, privileged and the small, what was quiet bar, has become his office. He moves between sitting and walking around the space as if he is lord and master. We are all learning about the woman under discussion and his ‘family values’.

Back to transposing my notes.

I mentioned in a previous blog that as a child I didn’t want to wake up to a life that had passed me by. I didn’t want to be a passenger-I wanted to be remembered for something, to have made a difference (ideally a good one) and to have mattered. Lets face it, on Darwin’s scale I’m pretty much a failure so this is all I am left with!

So, looking back at my time in Okinawa I do have a few regrets. I really want to explore more of this fantastic island. I just never seem to have the time, I can’t make that decision between time to be a tourist and time to train. In my very simple mind, training wins, hands down, every time.  Is this good… who knows…but it feels right to me.

More of Tarquin (that’s what I’ve decided to call him) call. It seems he is discussing his fathers’ new wife. It would seem she has been sticking her oar in… the call has gone from loud to now rather animated, choice use of cursing now also deployed of course in a highly educated English tone. ‘she is rather a bugger, isn’t she?’. I wIMG_3796ouldn’t usually listen to someones conversation, but he is walking up and down the bar right in front of me… I can’t focus…

I did achieve some things in Okinawa. I set myself the task to run to the Karate Kaiken and to make every training session I could, furthermore, I wanted to do another Kata Challenge in Okinawa. Well they were ticked. I also tried to meditate every day. Oh boy, this for me is extremely challenging. I have become better over time, but my brain just does not shut up! I decided to schedule time for me, and to find somewhere to sit… This was Okinawa after all, I had beaches, forests, world heritage sites… well the beach I sat on, had F16s going overhead, the forest had signs for poisonous snakes and a bus full of tourists interrupted me at another site. I can’t see that any good came from me trying to meditate at all.

Tarquin had been rather stationary for the past 2 minutes… but he is on the move again. We are getting to the nub of the matter now… it’s all about family fortunes, or more to the point, who gets what with the new mother figure.

However, the last night in Okinawa, success. I didn’t sleep a wink, I had to be up at 05:00 but I was far from asleep so got up at 04:30 and went to sit by the river behind my apartment. I was where I had watched the crane and turtles all week. It was very dark and windy but there is a wee recess by the bridge where I’d seen fishermen sit so I took a pew. Now it might have been the 2 beers from earlier in the night, but BOOM! The sounds of the water and the wind were a perfect cacophony…yet gentle. Calm descended. I need more of these moments, I made no major break throughs, nor did I bring life into some sort of focus, BUT, for a brief moment, I felt ‘here’. That’s the only way I know how to describe it.

Tarquin has used the ‘C’ bomb… I didn’t catch it at first, he used it in a full sentence which tends to hide the initial bombshell! It’s almost 17:00 in London and more people are starting to fill in so his ability to walk through the pub is reduced. His volume, unfortunately, not.

I need more moments such as the one in Okinawa, I try and use breaks such as this one as a reset point, time to step away from my totally crazy life in London and to just take a breath. Maybe that’s why I love Okinawa so much. Then I am hit by a thought. You could argue that Cork is not massively dissimilar to Okinawa… I have done in previous blog posts. Do I secretly crave a simpler life?

A table of people who have children in their party have asked Tarquin to tone it down. He apologises profusely in his wonderful English tone, it is quite infectious… a mixture between Prince William and a posh Tom Hardy…and he is off…

My glass is almost empty, time to head home and get ready for life tomorrow… I have a plan… I have set myself goals. I will never forget this trip to Okinawa… it’s part of me now and I thank everyone who shared the experience!


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