I get torn about what to do.
Do I continue with what I've built? Do I evolve it? Do I stop and move my life into a completely new direction? Or perhaps do I disappear never to been seen again?
Every few months I'm confronted with this conflict. I never asked for a life of so much recognition. The truth is it was never my dream. When I was a teen and in my early twenties, my dream was to live in a secluded place peacefully where I can live out my days, enjoy the elements around me and die without anyone being aware.
Don't get me wrong, I love what I do. I love training and teaching Filipino Martial Arts to so many. The art has greatly improved my life and I enjoy sharing what I've learned to help others along their own journeys. But, it was never something I asked of. This was the only way I knew how to make a living not for me but for my family.
I don't know if you have ever felt this way but, there are times when I just want to destroy what I've built and simply disappear. The last couple of weeks have been challenging. There are many life changes heading my way that aim me towards my dreams. This is a good thing I believe but, it does create a bit of confusion. There is so much more I want to do than just teaching martial arts. I get tired of feeling obligated to answer people's questions who have no understanding of what my intensions of building have been for the past seven plus years. Most take from me and give nothing in return which is fine, I can deal with that but, honestly, I do feel that I don't have too.
I don't think people take me seriously when I say, "if you want to learn from me you better do it now." They must think it's some kind of marketing scarcity trick.
I love my students, who I refer to as my "real" students. Those who train with me and are a part of my deepest group. They are never the reason for me feeling the way I do. In all honesty, it's the rest of those who just talk and talk and talk. I'm to blame for it all of course. I put myself in the spotlight but, I had no other choice. I needed to so I could build a future for my family.
I don't come from a family that supported college education, or pushed for me to become something grand in life. I don't come from a family of "go getters." There was no financial help for my future. I had to figure out how to build my living from zero scrapping my way through. I got so much shit for it too from my peers and it's funny how so many of them are now doing what I did and what they used to give me shit for. Example, teaching my martial arts online is one.
Throughout my life, it seems as if this is a continuing pattern. I take the front of the storm and once the rain steads it's a grand opportunity for others. It's okay though. I know nobody else in my peer group has the courage to step up and do it and take the hits. I don't mind creating opportunities for others. I'm glad others can be successful I wouldn't want it any other way as far as that goes but, the conflict is, do I continue?
It's a conflict I've been struggling with off and on for years. I don't know if it's a common struggle for entrepreneurs but it is one I work through a number of times per year. I guess only time will tell.
There's something really inspiring about an early morning sunrise.
Waking up early when the sun is just barely peaking its first crack of light has an invigorating experience each time. There is a real magic that happens super early in the morning that doesn't occur any other time of the day.
I love waking up early, at around 5am (sometimes earlier) getting ready and dressed as fast as possible, grab my martial arts gear and cameras and run out the door. I go to one of my favorite nature places near me which is about a 15-20 minute drive.
As the birds begin to sing their morning songs and the morning mist glides along the surface of the lake, the golden rays of the early morning make everything mystically illuminated. Everything starts out so calm and quickly becomes filled with energy.
As I hike out to get my morning martial arts practice in, which is also like a meditation for me, I get to witness so much wonderful life all around. The fishing Egrets, grazing deer, I even sometimes get to spot a quick, sneaky glimpse of an owl.
The connection with nature is so important to me. It gives me so much inspiration and so many deep feelings it's near impossible to put it all into words. The connection to nature is something that so many people have lost or forgotten about. It's easy to get stuck in the hustle and grind of the expected standards, especially living in and near a big city. Which is why I make sure to make it a point to get out there each day even if for just an hour. Just to absorb the light, air, and energy that only nature puts off.
I love training my martial arts while I'm out there in the early mornings. The martial arts allows for me a deeper physical and spiritual connection. Even though I'm practicing my slashes and thrust with the swords, sticks and knives, it's not about any sort of violence. It's about the intense focus and clarity in performing each and every movement with precision.
Martial Arts for me is a deepness in the study of the body and mind. Nature for me is a connection between the physical and the spiritual. When I practice my martial arts in nature I gain a much deeper connection and sense of self. I've been working on capturing these moments with film and photography as a way to journal about my experiences. Perhaps maybe, my creative efforts in my photos and films may encourage and inspire others to reconnect with nature and explore in their own ways how the physical of our world and lives can connect with the spiritual in so many different, wonderful and beautiful ways.
Thank you so much for reading my blog. It makes me happy that you find my writings and other works interesting.
If you're not already, you can also follow me on Instagram at @paulingramstyle where I share more photos and short films from my creative works.
In my youth, I remember the times spent at my family's tree farm in central Wisconsin. It was such a magical place filled with memories of running free and wild in the forest, fields and falling out of the canoe into the pond.
I remember the huge dinners we would have. So many people from family to friends would gather. We would make so much food on the outdoor grill. Stories told as we sat in the porch with 30 to even sometimes 50 people enjoying a delicious home cooked meal. We would go out late at night to catch the stars, moon and northern lights while getting glimpses at the bats.
I remember the times spent in Southern Illinois and in the Appalachia Mountains of West Virginia. I still go back every year multiple times to these places to visit family and the forests and mountains but visiting honestly is getting to be not enough anymore. The dream I'm working tirelessly for is to one day be permanently living amongst the forest, its seasons and running free and wild once again as I did as a child. There is no greater feeling than that sort of freedom.
I can't wait to spend so many nights in the woods, gardening much of my own food, drinking fresh birch sap and seeing where the inspirations of nature takes my creativity. I can feel the time getting nearer as the forest calls me home.
It's no wonder with my heritage that the forest and I have such a strong connection. Even today, as I finish out my time living here in the big city area, I must immerse myself as much as possible in nature and do what I can.
One way or another, soon, the day will come that my dream will become my reality. I cannot wait to feel what that happiness feels like.