Mine is not the normal story. Mine is not the normal journey to Shodan. It began a long time ago, took many turns, and even some side journeys before I was back on the path to Shodan.

Getting back on the road and toiling towards the goal that always seem so allusive was difficult. I had aged. My body had aged. But my spirit was still the same. Determined. Anxious. Obsessed.

There are no regrets for those things that diverted my path. They were perhaps a necessary adventure that brought me back to my Shodan quest, even more determined to achieve the final goal.

Friday night I felt my feet firmly planted on the path of my choosing. The moment my hands wrapped around the new belt and I heard through the haze of disbelief that my next test was for black belt my soul soared with joy and just as quickly lurched back, free falling towards the ground…black belt. Would I be worthy? Would I have what it took to make the final sprint towards the finish line and be deserving of the title of black belt when I got there?

I remember breathing deeply, grinning ear-to-ear with my new belt in hand and heading to ring the bell (a tradition in our dojo) realizing I was just taking the first step towards a new journey…a journey that was just beginning at Shodan…it wasn’t the destination…merely a starting point.