Reflection: A Road Less Traveled By, by Michael Aloia

There isn’t much more that can be said about 2020 and the effects it had on the world that hasn’t already been thought of, spoken about, argued, or even presented. Everyone has had their own choice words to describe 2020. As equally relayed are the emotions attached to what we have been saying and thinking these past twelve months, it does, without much debate, appear as though our world as come completely undone in some respects. Maybe, to some degree, it has. But is that really a bad thing? For change to occur, things often need to be shaken up to get us moving forward and to have us do something different – and different isn’t always a bad thing.

But enough about that….

This past year, and the one we are currently living, has been one of self-reflection – taking stock in what we do have, who we are, what we are truly thankful for, and what we have accomplished in spite of the state of the world or differing views and opinions. There is always something positive.

Having the opportunity to speak to and work with various martial artists over the years has been very enlightening for me. I learn so much, not only about that martial artist and the person who is the artist, but of myself as well, during the whole process. Often the questions I ask are questions I am pondering or wrestling with myself – as if I was asking the person in the mirror. But that’s the thing: it’s not me in the mirror at all. It’s a myriad of people who are all looking for something similar but who have chosen different ways to venture through the journey. So their answers or insights, though may have a hauntingly parallel response attached to them, each are uniquely different and heartfelt, simply because it is their experience that makes it such. The journey is shared but the experience of each is each our own.

Each martial artist speaks from their heart because of the subject matter – whether it is in their words or in actions. As humans, there is no greater subject for us than that of ourselves. It is the one thing that we are most in contact with but not always what we are most connected to. I have found that for the “artist,” many are deeply connected with themselves, since many spend a whole lot of time soul searching and contemplating the path they have chosen and the decisions that they make on a daily basis. These decisions are often reflected in their work, their training, and their creations. This is not to say that non-martial art individuals don’t do this as well, because of course they do. However, martial artists are usually those individuals who choose to dive super deep to find out what truly makes themselves tick and learn how to harness that ticking to really hone their craft and create things that only others dream about doing. This constant digging deep to find out more makes the artist type resilient and unwavering, especially when it comes to what they do, their specific art, and even with those they choose to pass on their knowledge to. Self-reflection seems to be the key to mastery – self-mastery.

To reflect is to be open to what really is and what really isn’t. It is an acceptance of truth, even if it’s truth we don’t want to hear. Reflection, if we are being honest, is self-accountability to make change. And as mentioned earlier, change, though not always the easiest thing for any of us to accept and follow through with, can be something positive.

We all lost something in 2020; no one was spared the rod. But if the events of the last year have given way to anything positive, then it gave way for each of us to redefine who we are and what matters most. It was a moment to reflect and find ourselves again so we can continue to move forward. Rather than looking at all that we have lost, look at what is available to us and all that we still have to gain.

Martial arts have taught us to face a challenge head on, choose the higher road, and take full responsibility for our actions – and in some cases, even our inactions. This is no different, because after all is said and done, and life returns to some form of normalcy, there is still so much more road to travel. Let’s travel it well.


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