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Imagine three huge roads meeting in an intersection. It is rush hour. Everybody is trying to hurry to not be late for work. Nobody wants to give way for anybody else. Everybody is annoyed with anybody who gets in their way.

A thought that might cross the minds of these guys is that they should get a tank and just run over everybody else to get to where they are going without getting slowed down by anything. Sure, it would get them to work in time, and nothing and nobody would be able to stop them, because all the other cars would crumble to pieces under the tanks treads. However, it would kill most of the other people trying to get to work.

Paris._Arc_de_Triomphe._Postcard,_c.1920

Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The picture was taken around 1920, for a post card. I got it from Wikipedia.

The tank solution is maybe good enough a solution for some people. They just have to make sure to get a tank and make sure nobody else does. Still, the problem remains the same once everybody has their tanks going to work, and this time around they will be shooting at each other.

The roundabout separates the problem point where the traffic jams into six intersections (in the specific case where three roads meet at one point), and brings everybody into a circular path around a common center. Each of these six intersections obviously have less load than the one, thus giving flow where there otherwise would have been a standstill.

npcc.30408        Thomas Circle       National Photo Company           1922

The Thomas Circle in Washington DC. The picture was taken in 1922. I got the picture from Wikipedia.

I really do not know much about traffic and flow, but it appeared to me that the roundabout is very similar to the idea of aiki. Of course, in a grab, which is the equivalent of the intersection of roads, there are not six roads but maybe six million roads (three million from each partner). It is always rush hour, and all the cars are the same (there are no tanks). The signals are there, but in the grab there is a conflict. Not a real conflict, but a made up conflict, for us to study the world we live in.

I live for this idea of aiki. The idea of a different way of living in this world that might appear as very violent and dark at times. It is such a natural way to just do like everybody else, and try to get a tank of our own to hide inside. Gear up, upgrade the weapons and the armour, always make sure to be the strongest one, to fight trough whenever there is a conflict.

Letchworth_Roundabout_1909-2

The Letchworth Roundabout in England. The picture is taken from Wikipedia.

This is the system of our world. It affects all levels of our society. It is not always the stronger “beating up” the weaker, but the threat is there, and things happen as a consequence of this threat. Countries are at war with each other; International companies have their power games; Everybody has their struggles trying to stand out among our peers to get that “decent job”; In big family matters it is the same, the ones with most power have the most influence pushing everybody else back into place whenever they feel it is needed; At social events amongst colleagues or friends it is the same. The stronger the better, and we do because we can. This way of thinking will eventually destroy us all.

When my partner holds me when I want to move it really does feel impossible at times. There is nowhere I can move, and nowhere my partner can move. Still there really is space for both of us, for all our little cars going everywhere. It is just that we are stuck at a traffic jam. We need to construct a roundabout together. Spinning around a common center solves our problems and creates a flow which is beneficial for all. The roundabout becomes rather a mental one rather than a physical one in this case, but it resolves the conflict in the grab.

I believe very strongly in this idea of “The Art of Peace”, “The Art of Non Conflict” “The Art of Aiki“. It is the driving force in my life. It is such a beautiful fantasy world I can visit every day, in the dojo, and I can take little pieces of it with me out into the grey void outside. Outside if somebody does something good it is very often in fear of some severe consequence of their action. I believe we should do what we know is right, because it is right. Not because we want to earn something or avoid negative consequences for ourselves.

View2FromPearlTower

The Roundabout below Pearl Tower in Shanghai. The photo is from Wikipedia.

In addition to being a strong and inspiring idea intellectually, the experience we have with our partners as we do aiki brings such nice feelings of joy and happiness. The joy comes from our partners and they receive the same from us. This is the consequence of the same idea, I think.

The idea of creating something beneficial for everybody, something we can never earn something from, something which in its entirety is dedicated to helping others. It is the only way to save the human race from disaster, I think. It just came to me while half sleeping in a fever haze in a back room of a dojo during an aikido seminar, that it is a little bit like the idea of a roundabout. It creates flow where it otherwise would be stagnation, and it does not give advantage to anybody in particular, but it is good for everybody, when we are in a hurry to get to work in time.

Except, of course, if we have that tank standing in our garage, and we feel that egoistic rage and just want to squash everybody else into a red pulp of blood and metal, just so that we can get to where we want to be.

Enjoy your keiko! Aiki makes people happy!