In our style you cannot ask to test. Conversely, if you are called on to test, you cannot refuse. While it may not be my time next year, I cannot presume, so I have started working now, memorizing history and vocabulary, practicing the taiso (exercises) and the katas (forms). Additionally, I have started doing some cardio and am working on losing a few more pounds. All with an eye toward next year or the year after when I will test.
Last week I talking with my Sensei about what I got from summer camp. I said that I had really enjoyed this camp. I was relaxed. I learned a lot, feeling like I was much better prepared to see what was being demonstrated. I offered that next year would be different as I would have to be ready for the possibility of testing.
His reply has been in my thoughts.
The test is today. It is always today.
It might be an actual physical test, where your fitness and skills determine life or death. But that's not all that he meant. The test is today. Am I practicing aiki in all things? Am I mindful of my interactions with others, at work, at home, in the dojo? Am I awake to the possibilities that life offers me today?
If I do these things, then it will not matter when or if I am called out on the mat, for I will be ready everyday, because the test is today.