In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch played Dr. Stephen Strange. Rachel McAdams played Dr. Christine Palmer, who’s the great love of Stephen’s life. Yet, Christine married someone else. At her wedding reception, Christine sincerely asked, “Stephen, are you happy?” Stephen answered, “Yes.” He lied.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness failed in resolving this poignant narrative. Maybe the sequel offers a resolution, or not. Still, the narrative was profound.
Are you happy? What makes you happy? What makes me happy? I’m just asking.
In the end, time is undefeated. I have as much fun as I can for as long as I can. I do what I love for as long as I can. I take life’s glancing blows for what’s meaningful to me. I open up. Keep my heart open. Keep moving forward. I love and forgive myself. Just train.
By design, happiness is fleeting, impermanent, and continuous ebb and flow. I’ll be happy, sad, or afraid in life. That’s just life.
The late Mizukami Sensei taught me Aikido for over 25 years. Sensei said, “Wait it out. Take a glancing blow if you have to. You’re not going to get away scot-free. It’s one time.” When the 250-pound man punches or life strikes full force, I wait it out. I take the glancing blow for what’s meaningful. I’m not going to get away unscathed.
Sensei said, “Have no preconceived notions.” I train in mushin, have an empty mind. I invent my Aikido technique and myself from mushin, from nothing. The 250-pound man comes to punch me. I enter the attack and die with honor. Ishibashi Sensei says, “The safest place to be is under the attack, in the danger.” Everything quiet. I choose who I am and what I do.
In the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi: There is beauty in imperfection. I accept my imperfections, my failures. The late NBA Legend Kobe Bryant said, “Failure excites me.” My failure is a possibility of inventing a greater version of myself.
When I was a little boy, I utterly disappointed Dad. I wasn’t the son, he wanted. If I were perfect, maybe Dad could love me? So, I had to be perfect. Consequently, I spent much of my adult life pursuing perfection. In the human design, we’re all imperfect. No one is perfect. No one.
The late Mizukami Sensei saw the greater-than version of me that I didn’t yet see. He said, “Just train.” I didn’t have anything to prove or be someone else. Sensei generated the space to just be me. I was free for the first time in my life.
Ishibashi Sensei says, “Apply the (Aikido) technique to yourself.” It’s me against me. I’m my GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) opponent. O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba said, “True victory is victory over oneself.” I work on myself, not on others. Nothing’s personal. Just train. Put my head down. Make it work. Everything quiet.
I work with my therapist Lance Miller to heal my childhood trauma and depression. I enter my fear inside that I’m not good enough. The fear I got from Dad. The voice in my head that said, “I’m no good” was Dad’s voice. Over the years, his voice became mine. He got that voice from his Dad. The generational legacy of abusive fathers.
I work on myself, not on others. I love and forgive myself. I practice that over, and over, and over again. Gradually the voice in my head transformed into, “I’m okay.” According to the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: There will always be suffering in life. The Fourth Noble Truth is the path to end suffering. I love myself for who I am and forgive myself for who I’m not on the path to end suffering. Just train. I have nothing to do with what goes on inside another person. I have a say in what goes on inside me.
I source my happiness in life. No one else does. There will be times when I’m happy, sad, and afraid. Still, I find happiness inside me. I find my measure of peace. Everything quiet. Just saying. Amen.
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