Last night I went out to practice iai.
Yesterday was a Monday, the sort of Monday that has you swearing that you will submit your resignation letter in the first 10 minutes after arrival and never really improves after that. The sort of Monday filled with meetings that never really seem to resolve anything and a commute that leaves one drained just in time to try to generate something of a personality.
And so I went out to practice iai, increasingly my refuge (along with writing) to maintain my sanity in a life seeming gone not so bad as bland and tasteless, a sort of endless poi dish that one takes day after day knowing it is nutritious but having no other redeeming qualities.
At first I began almost going through the motions, doing the most basic of kata to warm up; then, I began to notice the world around me.
The sky was that blue-green that almost defies description, the color that only appears right at evening and right before morning, transient as the moment just before sunrise and just after sunset. The weather held its coolness from the morning rains with a light breeze, mocking the fact we already halfway through May.
Our yard is exceptionally green this year, an outcome of the rather large amount of rain. Our new resident hare, Joey (so named by Nighean Dhonn) was out about an evening silfay, cautiously eating the grass while watching me practice. Fireflies began to pepper the yard, far more than I have ever seen any year since we moved here, their yellow-green luminescence moving in and out as if they were teleporting across space instead of moving through it.
The crickets (or frogs, I am never sure) sang their background chirps as the high pitched squeaks announced the evening bats out for the hor de' oeuvres of the night. A random toad, as pale as the concrete he hopped across, appeared out of nowhere on his way to a rendezvous with a nameless appointment he did not seem inclined to share.
All of a sudden I found myself practicing iai not alone but in the midst of world going on about its business - or rather, kindly welcoming me into its business. I was no more a stranger to this dance of movement and sound and light than any of the other creatures there.
In a sense, I think it was iai in its most pure form, of being one with nature as one practice the forms, sliding in and out of the fireflies, not alarming the hare, seen as nothing more than a thing of shadows not to be feared by a toad. The sky in its strange and seldom appearing color reflected the purity of form to which the apprentice always strives: memorable yet not standing out, unique yet blending into the balance of whole.
I cannot say that this moment made up for the day before. I can say that it gave a sense of peace and serenity where none previously existed.