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Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force


Semi-abstract image of young and old aikidokai bowing

Lately, I have been feeling I am both an immovable object and an incredibly stoppable force.


It’s been a very annoying feeling.


But, I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe just a waystation. A place to sit and ponder. Let’s think this through together, shall we?


I am not the enemy. I am the key. I am the solution. I am my peace. For I am not the immovable object, fear is.


As someone who’s spent much of their life processing (and avoiding) grief of all kinds, I know all too well how intertwined fear and grief are. When I am mourning, it is the grief that breaks me, then the fear that robs me of any hope. They feed off of each other and off of me. Vultures in rapture over dead flesh.


All I can think in those moments is that I have lost and there is more to lose. That loss has stolen my vitality and my life, replacing it with years of mask and a melange of dark matters.


It is grief and fear that mark me both the immovable object and the stoppable force. I am held there in the liminal space. All that’s left in the friction is an arctic anger, usually flung towards myself.


“Why won’t you get out of my way!?” I ask myself. “Why!?”


I think Aikido was part of the answer. I realized it during one of our zazen meditations. What I probably should’ve been doing was counting my breaths . . . 1, 2, 3, 4. But at times I let my mind wander. Every now and then it’ll bring back gems.


When I am at the dojo training, it is a chance for me to be with, not against myself. When your life has been wrapped up in grief and fear, your mind becomes a cacophony of sorts . . . a war zone. And much of my life, I’m realizing, I have been at war with myself. I rush my journey, trying so desperately to escape myself and the ugliness of grief and fear. The tears it brings. The aches. The desolation. Aikido has shown me something else. A chance for me to guide myself and be lost with myself. Every time I step on the mat, I have an opportunity to look my fear into the eyes and choose love.


And where is the fear, I wonder? Well, it’s in the questions.


“What if I fall and break something?”


“What if I’m doing the form wrong?”


“Will I hurt this person?


“Am I good enough?”


“Am I going to slow? Too fast?”


Then that becomes:


“This is too confusing.”


“I’ll never understand.”


“None of this makes any sense.”


The tenderness of the questions are replaced with blame, judgement, and shame. I suppose that’s where most of us run. We run from fear.


I’m realizing what I must push myself to choose each time is love. Not to hold myself hostage and punish myself, but to love myself even harder. Not to give up and run away, but to do it afraid. That’s love. Especially on the days when I do not feel so noble and honorable. Especially on days when the electricity of revelation inflates my pride and my fire. Especially on days when I am knocked down and it is so hard to get back up.


Fear, grief, love, sadness, anger, jealousy, they’re all teachers. Perhaps then, fear is not an immovable object. Perhaps there is no immovable object. Perhaps, really and truly there is only love and opportunity. Which means there is nothing standing in your way. Ever. Just a cliff to leap off of.


So what happens when we are met with fear? We loosen our grip and open our eyes. That is what we do.


We learn to fall.


Joshua Afiriyie is a Ghanaian-Jamaican filmmaker, artist, and educator. He loves binging anime and taking care of his brand new cat, Dr. Dre. He has become enchanted by Aikido, humbled by Aikido, and maybe a little obsessed with it too.


This article is heavily inspired by Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart and by my senior, Shingo, who unknowingly gave me a piece to this puzzle called life.

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