We are not meant to be alone, but it is far better to pursue our own path in solitude than to lose ourselves in the pursuit of company.
We all need a place we can go where we are able to be ourselves. We need a place where we can live out loud, where we are unashamed of who we are, unafraid of what others think, and undeterred from the pursuit of becoming better than we were yesterday. We need a place we can go where others are in pursuit of the same goal, in their own way, for their own reasons.
We also need people who see who we are, who we are trying to be, and our potential to become even more than we imagine. We need people who see us, who support us, and who push us in the right direction. We need a place and people who bring light to our shadows and where our collective lights shine brighter than our individual lights ever could.
None of this is easy nor is it promised to us, but that does not mean it is not necessary. The plain fact is that such a place may not yet exist for us or others like us and we may have to build it ourselves with the hope that others will find their way to it and to us. If our path to this place is long and solitary, we must learn to enjoy our own company along the way, to become comfortable in our own skin, to become stronger in who we are and what we value because no one was ever made happier by shrinking down for others out of fear of loneliness.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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