The 49ers seem right behind the Giants as we write. Yesterday's NFC title game victory over the Atlanta Falcons has them headed to the Super Bowl......The sudden emergence of Colin Kaepernick added to a gifted defense has made them very exciting. And the coach's mid-season decision to go with a gifted but untested quarterback was a huge risk that now seems to be paying huge dividends. I was with friends yesterday watching as the local team fell behind 17-0. More from a sense of false bravado than anything I knew I said that the victor would be the last one standing and I felt the 49ers could be the one. That they needed to stay calm, stay on the ground, that their defense needed to contain rather than stop the Falcons. And it all worked out...........
I began to mull on the sense that the victor is really the last one standing. And I am talking about sports, not combat. And how vital and underestimated toughness is. Toughness is really focus....inner strength.. To stay on track no matter what goes right or wrong. The Falcons were energized by their early success and seeming dominance. But rare for a young quarterback Kaepernick did not panick, stayed on the ground, used the middle of the field with his passing, and surviving a couple of questionable calls, the 49ers won.
Aikido is not a sport with a gaudy victory gets you rewards and notoriety structure. The battles are mainly with the 'I', with oneself. Training is its own reward and the goal is personal development as opposed to an outer victory or dominance. But there is also a need for toughness here. Often times those who have trained for years encounter plateaus, periods where not much seems to be happening. To continue to go to the dojo, to face oneself class after class, year after year, does take a certain amount of inner strength.
I remember giving up on the Giants a number of times during their recent run to another title. And the 49ers have hit enough speed bumps to have certainly raised doubts in my system. But what does it mean to be the last one standing? My sense is that it is to whittle away the 'I' enough that you realize some level of the totality of yourself. Sort of a when you give up being who you are, you become who you were meant to be. A champion for us is one who has scaled the mountain that is the self, one who has walked the journey of one's life. Osensei said winning over the 'I' was true victory, which meant one found one's true mission and completed it.
So thanks to the Giants for what they have brought to our lives. Thanks to the 49ers for what they have done and hopefully what they will continue to do. Yes I hope we get championship number 6. And go Warrriors.....
And as a tune up for yesterday's game, Dennis and I recorded a Miles Davis piece Chet Baker used to play: