Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Creating A Legacy: The Pursuit of What You're Passionate About

I started graduate school almost two months ago. It's a lot more work than college, but I love the material I'm learning. I feel like I'm learning the knowledge that I'll actually use once I get a job. I feel like I'm learning a lot, that I've become a sponge for knowledge once again. I feel as though I'm taking in enough and more to make me well-rounded, marketable, and even more interested and passionate about transportation and all things urban planning-related.

Now naturally, I'm training less. I'm writing less for Buddhasport. It takes weeks to get an article done because I write on study breaks, and training is no longer something I go to every day after work or only miss because of a big commitment. My time is now spent learning this new material, using the structure and framework of school to create a future path, or at least a substantial part of it. To show the world that I've accumulated enough knowledge and experience in two years to make an impact beyond the classroom and in the real world.

Not being able to write all the time and not being able to train as much as I like aren't fun. But at the same time, I get to spend all my time doing only things that I'm passionate about. My walk to class is spent largely listening to jiu jitsu podcasts and brainstorming for articles. Once I'm in class, my focus switches to the task at hand, learning as much as I can in 2.5 hours of lecture. Once I'm out of class, I'm either eating, training, writing for Buddhasport, or studying. Down time or relaxing is a meal in front of NetFlix or a brief break to write just one more paragraph in an article, maybe half a page if the idea is really good. The bonus? In each setting, I'm surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things I am, but are diverse in other aspects of their lives as well.

I still interview when I can, and even though I don't meet most of the people I interview in person, I feel like I'm "meeting" some of the people who have impacted my life the most. These people are from all walks of life and have made the martial arts a big part of their lives. I've always kept it a part of my life, and not always through competition; through writing, training, and covering events. Not everyone I speak to is a full-time competitor; some are balancing jobs and competing, some own brands, and some are artists. But they've all MADE time to train and spread the positive aspects of jiu jitsu or MMA because they want others to feel the same impact the art has had on their lives.

Writing about and covering the martial arts has become as much a cerebral as it has become an emotional process for me. When I covered Ring of Combat in September, I realized how different the fights are when you're so close to the cage, away from the crowds and comments and right up close to the fighters. To see the kind of training you've participated in (albeit in a much less intense setting for me!) taken to such a high level by such disciplined and passionate athletes is really something else. To see someone hit a combination, set up a takedown, or get the winning submission or knockout that you know they've practiced for hours in the gym is like nothing you can experience or explain. I've watched so many of these fighters come up through the amateur ranks and now through their early professional careers that I feel invested in them, invested in the sport in a different way than the competitor, but more than just a bystander. Watching how the loser truly walks away with nothing but the consolation of their team (assuming they had a decent turnout from their team) and how the winner is one step closer to their dream is something I can't describe; something that can only be witnessed, felt, and then understood.

When I interviewed Lou Neglia, the CEO and founder of the Ring of Combat MMA promotion, he pointed at my notebook and said "if that [writing] is what you love to do, then pursue it! Follow your passion and everything will fall in to place. Even if it's not your whole life, make room for it in your life." That stuck with me ever since he said that, and I've always made time to train or write no matter how busy I get. I'm currently typing up an interview with the brand 31Fifty, and the owner said that he doesn't run the brand full-time, because he had always wanted to be an X-Ray technician, so he's currently going to school to pursue that. He didn't want to give up on his dream even if there was an opportunity for him to run the brand full-time. He lives a busy but comfortable lifestyle in Northern California, running a company with a positive message, and alongside his wife, eagerly awaits the arrival of their baby boy. He now gets to pursue two things he loves, and has crafted a lifestyle based on his passions.

And that's what my goal is. To pave a path that allows me to pursue what I'm passionate about, to meld together what I enjoy doing and what I have to do to make a living. Writing, training, and urban planning are all dimensions of my life that will constantly change their level of importance and portion of my time they take up, each one will always be there in some way, shape, or form. Some people have fully committed to one thing in their life; I know jiu jitsu competitors who have truly made training and competing everything they do, and people who are so passionate about their work that it encompasses almost all of their energy. While that's definitely one way to go about pursuing your passion (I don't object to that way if it makes you happy) I feel very fortunate to be involved in many things that are shaping my present and future career paths.

And I'm working on another very special project that I hope to launch sometime in 2014, so stay tuned! Hint: women's grappling without all the pink and flowers :)

1 comment:

  1. Cool! I'll be interested to hear more about that project. :D