That’s the best description for waking up the morning after dying.

Last night, I drove home semi-comatose, drenched in sweat and questioning my sanity. I had just spent a solid hour of repeatedly getting twisted up in some god-awful position and feeling blood, oxygen and hope leaving my brain.  Once, at the simultaneous sound of both my body hitting the mat and the air leaving my lungs one of the other guys made the statement, “That was an interesting sound.” I simply replied that was the sound of my soul leaving my body.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

The day before I was on the mat with the former dean of my college (aka my former boss) while he was showing me how to easily snap someone’s knee.  A few weeks before, I walked around with a sore neck after a PhD of political science showed me the finer details of a properly applied choke hold.

It’s like Fight Club for academics and never have I experienced such kind, intelligent and helpful people completely demoralize me.

Let me qualify this statement with a little background.  I’m not new to the world of martial arts or self-defense.  I hold a blackbelt in taekwondo and I spent five years as a cop.  I’m 45, but I go to the gym regularly and for a middle age dude I’m in pretty decent shape.

And none of it mattered.  Not. One. Bit.

I’m the new guy in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and I am, without question, the dumbest guy in the room.

And I kinda love it.

I enjoy learning new things.  It’s how I ended up building my own log cabin and teaching myself how to sail  It’s also why I bought a sewing machine last week.  Some things take longer to get your head around than others.  Jiu Jitsu seems to be able to wrap my head around all sorts of things.  Both intellectually and actually trying to remove it from my shoulders.

A few years back I began to have a greater appreciation for putting myself into the role of a student more and more often.  Intentionally putting myself in places where I’m the dumbest guy in the room.  There’s something valuable about being put mentally off-balance and something humbling about being on the bottom of the heap.  It does something to my brain by keeping me in a constant state of learning.  Friends of mine own an MMA gym and have been encouraging me for the past couple of years to start training with them. So for the sake of learning something new, here I am marveling at how quickly I can go from thinking that I have things under control to moments later finding myself pinned helplessly to the mat in a game of human chess.

But, the only way to get better is to keep showing up, keep thinking and stay humble.

I don’t have any plans on crawling into a cage fight anytime soon.  But as I sit here stretching out sore muscles I have a feeling this is somehow going to make me better at everything else.