Would I do this, just to see what happens?

Would I do this, just to see what happens?

For a few months, a labral tear in my hip had me sitting on the sidelines instead of practicing jiu jitsu. This break allowed me to see jiu jitsu from a different perspective and I noticed something important.

As I was doing jiu jitsu, I had become fixated on winning and losing without realizing it. New expectations started to form. I would be more than a white belt, and I would find a way to progress faster than others. This fixation can lead to a sense of pride; in our society this fixation is celebrated.

But as this fixation took hold of my mind, something happened, something I wasn’t even aware of at the time, and it’s something that I think applies to many aspects of life. My relationship with jiu jitsu subtly warped, and I began to lose sight of why I started practicing in the first place.

It wasn’t about winning. I started doing jiu jitsu because I thought it might help me understand who I am. What am I scared of? What can I do? What am I made of? How far can I go? Who can I become?

When I’m focused on winning or losing, I drift away from my true curiosities and start filling a void that seems to be ever-present. My mind begins to continually process information through the questions, “Am I winning? Am I good?” Of course, any piece of information can be easily used to build a narrative of winning or losing, of being good or being bad. In one moment I’m a winner, and in the next, a loser.

But now with this injury, I found myself on the sidelines and could not even do jiu jitsu. There was no winning or losing because I could not even participate. Now, I was forced to navigate things at my own pace.

I asked myself, “Would I still do this, regardless of the outcome? Would I do this only for the joy of seeing what happens if I continue on?” This introspective moment was a turning point. If the answer is “yes”, which it was, then the only thing that matters is whether I give it as much effort as I can with the day that I have.

What was once a noisy mind, filled with concerns about doing the right thing or appearing capable, had now become quiet and calm. It does not matter whether I win or lose, but rather what matters is whether I'm living in a way that I would be satisfied with, even if it went on for years, or forever, with no end in sight.