There Is No “Finally”

Shawn Blanc’s work ethic:

Black belts, college degrees, marriage, beautiful homes, awesome cars, and huge audiences are all wonderful things. But these milestones — these goals — don’t define your worth, character, or happiness.

They are milestones. You celebrate them. And then you get back to work.

The reason is this: if you are committed to showing up every day, only until, then you’ve set yourself up for disillusionment.

This is true of many things; art, fitness, martial arts, languages. You are never finished. You’re always trying to improve.

Something I realized early as a martial artist is that a black belt test is the equivalent of being accepted to an undergrad program at university. A black belt is a minimum requirement to being able to learn more. It means you know enough to not get broken easily, not get smacked in the face if your partner doesn’t treat you with kid gloves, and you no longer need constant correction.

I’ve attained ranks in two different martial arts schools, and have a teaching (師範 shihan) endorsement from one of them. I’ve dabbled in probably a half dozen more arts, picking up little bits of beautiful movement or principles that I find useful. I’ve taught several students the distilled basics of what I’ve learned over the years. I constantly contemplate putting together those elements into a unified theory of movement. And I still consider myself to be a beginner.

There is no destination. There is no end. You’re never done. Like he said, “You simply show up every day.”