Sayaw

By the time I was there, moving around the Fire, I had already been through the flames.

A year before, my wife had told me she no longer loved me. Several months after that, around my birthday, I lost my Mother unexpectedly.

Before that first Sayaw, I was numb. Far too numb to be self-conscious. And far too tired from hours of physical and mental training to care. My head and heart were as heavy as my tired body.

At my mother’s funeral I was the life of a party that no one else was attending. I was cracking jokes and laughing. It seemed that everyone appreciated how I was trying to lift their spirits but they were becoming worried about me. They had reason to: try as I might, I couldn’t turn off the Entertainer and be a Son. Everyone was upset and morose and many of them were there for me, but I couldn’t tap into that part of myself.

I was there in the room when she passed. I saw the fire go out. It was not like the movies when they take someone off life support and they just go. It took all day. We watched the fire go down and the coals cool until nothing was left but ash.

I don’t need to be here for this ceremony. This is for everyone else.

That was only partially true.

I couldn’t face the situation on it’s own terms. I just kept up with the jokes and ironic observations at how a white lady from a small town in upstate NY probably never expected to have so many Filipinos at her funeral.

At the end, when they were all filing out, someone told my wife “You take care of him.” But by this time it was only guilt that kept her by my side, and it kept her from leaving until several years later. She was numb too.

I was by myself, not yet aware that I was not alone.

By the time I was there, moving around the Fire, I had already been through the flames

I was devastated when she told me she wanted to leave me.

I didn’t see it coming, but I really I should have. The spark between us was gone. The will to go on was shared only by me and one person is not enough to carry the weight of two.

This fire was dying.

So many fears kept us both from facing the inevitable. That refusal spilling over and onto other relationships. I regret that some of my last words to my mother were angry ones because I refused to fight with my wife.

By the time I was there, moving around the Fire, I had already been through the flames.

It was at the Sayaw, around the larger fire, that the tears finally came and it was because no one could see them.

“Sayaw is Tribal. Sayaw is Primal. Sayaw is Restorative.” -TTK

The Fire roared against me at one side, twice my size. It demanded that I pay it proper respect. I had to face it.

The Darkness at the outer edge shielded me from the onlookers: Cool, Comfortable, Safe.

My movements forced and deliberate at first, became meditative. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. I was still tired and sore.

My feet stomping in diamonds, thrusting in spearheads and turning in slashes around and around..

My Blade, always an extension of my body, became a totem. It told me where to cut and where to relax. It assured to me that I could Trust it to take over and to take this moment for myself.

To relent.
To catch Fire.
To burn.
But not to return as something else.
But to become better than I was.
To Feed.

By the time I was there, moving around the Fire, I had already been through the Flames.

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