Saturday, August 27, 2016
In work, in sports, in relationships, sometimes we feel like things aren't moving - or aren't moving fast enough.
For me, the time between the ages of 20 and 30 had the greatest acceleration I have known. At 20 I was a forklift driver in a warehouse in suburban Chicago. I graduated high school with no money for college and my parents had already retired and moved away across the country to Reno, Nevada, essentially leaving me on my own. I knew how to work hard, since I started working almost full-time since I was 14. I had lived on my own since 18 and was basically happy going to work and doing my job. It just didn't feel like my future. Fast forward 10 years and I had two college degrees, spoke a foreign language and lived 10,000 miles away in Japan. It felt like I had literally reinvented my life from zero during those years. I look back on those long days and nights and wonder how I ever got through it, but somehow I did. That first year in Japan, 1991, I used to open my desk drawer, stare at my return ticket and imagine flying back to Chicago the next day - giving up on my dream of living in Japan because it was just too hard to move forward. The next morning when I woke up I would always close the drawer and get back to what I had to do. One day at a time.
This year I'll be 50 years old, having lived more than half my life here in Japan. The dreams I had when I landed in Japan at 24 have all come true beyond anything I could have ever wished for. I am lucky far beyond my expectations.
I started a new job this year that is a big challenge for me, and I often think back to when I was 20 and starting my professional life. I worry that things aren't moving fast enough...sometimes I even want to go back to my old job and my old life, telling myself it might be easier. Of course that isn't true. As Lincoln's quote above suggests, What's most important is just to keep walking forward, even slowly, and make sure not to go backward even a single inch.
In the martial arts as well, there are times when we feel stuck. New techniques, new skills, new awareness just isn't racing in like it used to as a new white belt. Sometimes we even feel like we have seen it all before, wishing we could go back to the wonder of those early training days. I think about being back in Singapore with my brothers and sisters at the place on Yan Kit Road where it all started, amazed by every new things Guro Fred or Guro Lila would show us. Back then, there weren't any other black belts except Fred and Lila. Now we are all teachers, too.
My Kali journey, like my Life journey, keeps moving forward. Sometimes slowly, but always forward. I am forever grateful for the experiences I have had, even more grateful for being able to share them with my students, who will be tremendous teachers in their own right and go on to grow teachers of their own - one black belt at a time.
Don't worry so much about SPEED, focus on DIRECTION.