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  • Writer's pictureJohnny

Grappler's Retreat 2022 Day One

"Three Hours of Sleep.

Empty Streets.

Donut Holes and a Sandwich.

Tiny Planes Full of Sick People.

Arrival to the Smallest Airport I've Ever Seen."

The Airport

It is amazing what good sleep can do for the mind. Reflecting on the thoughts that go through my mind on the airplane. I don't even know where to start.

As I munch upon salty calamari, I sit in a small, disorganized airport hiding my bald head from the bright sun. The plane dropped us off on the runway and I was guided through construction to the "baggage claim" tent. After a short wait a truck with two low paid workers began throwing our bags onto the floor. People scrambled to grab their bags before other luggage buried theirs.


After hastily grabbing my bag, I took notice of my surroundings. Bright blue sky, large complex clouds, and a green mountain ridge were all around me. A growling stomach led me to the airport's overpriced restaurant that nests nicely in the middle of all the construction. What weighed heavily on my mind was figuring out how I can be happier while working towards my goal. I knew I had to change something but I wasn't sure what. The quote on the cover of my journal helped me ponder.

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough"

Just the day to day grind and constant waiting for things to fall into place eats at my mind. My new job is great and pleasant but it is not what I want to do forever. In my prayers I just hope that all of this work leads to a happier future for my family, friends, and girlfriend. Hopefully one day I can pay them back properly for all that they've done for me.

The Romanian

One of the other campers picked me up at Santa Rosa as he was driving from San Francisco. His white BMW pulled up and I sat shot gun next to him. His name was Adrian and he spoke with a slight accent which made me question where he was from. As he drove along the coast I learned about Adrian's story. Hailing from Romania, his mother (and some personal experiences) ended up convincing him to come to California to live. His stories were interesting and I was surprised to learn he was already a purple belt after two years. Made me feel a little nervous as to what kind of people were coming to the camp.

As we arrived into the small town of Mendocino, I didn't feel well about coming here. We slowly were introduced to others that were at the camp. Blue belts, purple belts, an MMA fighter, and other practitioners with 10+ years experience. My mind was enveloped with a cloud of negativeness. What am I doing here?

Besides my clouded thoughts, the camp itself was beautiful and quiet. Hidden away in the red wood forest was a club house, dojo, wash house, and guest house. One thing I was surprised was there is internet here. I had already let my friends and family know that I wouldn't have any connection here so I think I'll leave it at that. Challenge myself to meet new people and see how my mind changes.

How will I feel without it?

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