In my dojo, we sometimes play a game I also played as a child. One person holds out their hands, palm-up. Another person holds their hands palm-down, just above the first person’s hands without touching. Both people look into the other’s face – or anywhere but down. The person with their hands on the bottom attempts to flip their hands over and on top of their partner’s hands. The person with their hands on top attempts to avoid this by moving their hands out of the way before getting tagged.
It's silly and fun, and largely about timing. But it’s much more than that. It’s about everything that makes timing work. It’s about relaxation and observation. It’s about awareness. It’s about feeling what my partner is about to do before their body even begins to move. So it’s about being present for exactly what’s happening each moment.
This week I played a similar timing game with someone from another martial arts style. We each held a glove in one hand and took a fencing stance. Our objective was to tag the other person in the chest with our glove while avoiding being tagged ourselves. Timing was key. But in order for the timing to work, I also needed to be in the right position. I needed to set up my attack. I needed forward pressure and commitment and speed.
And before I could do any of that, I needed to observe what was happening. I used to think when the time was right, that is when things would happen in my life. The stars would align or the winds would shift and then events would occur. At some point later, I began to think it was more like: when I’m ready, then things would happen. Once I could see an option or recognize an opportunity, then I could reach for it.
When I finally accepted that leaving my unhealthy marriage was an actual option, I could then envision a way to move on. When I had a stable and supportive household, I could then leave my steady job and start a business. When George Floyd’s murder was so clearly captured on video, millions of people could finally see the racist system and lift their voice to demand change.
This week I began to think of timing with even more nuance. The founder of my martial arts system wrote about each of the fighting principles in our curriculum. He ended each technical explanation with: keep in mind how this fighting principle relates to all other fighting principles. In fighting, timing requires awareness and positioning and forward pressure and line of attack and so on. It cannot succeed in a vacuum; it is interconnected.
Just like many things in life.
I have heard the phrase "timing is everything" in many contexts and I have always taken that to mean everything is about timing. Timing is the critical piece that brings everything together. But what if it's the opposite? What if timing is made up of everything? And it's all the other things that create the timing?
Maybe timing is just recognizing the confluence of various factors coupled with a willingness to act. So building keener awareness makes for better timing. And maybe if we arrange those contributing factors intentionally we could harnessing the awesome power of timing to do some good in the world. I think it's worth a try.
Information and Inspiration
Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.