I’m the 57-year-old, third-generation Japanese American man. I’m an engineer. I’m an Aikido instructor. I’m a writer, who’s been generously afforded a relevant platform. I’m grateful for the life I’ve lived. I’m lucky to be alive. I’m proud of my life and I have nothing but mad love and profound respect for those like Mom, Sensei, and John, who’ve contributed on my journey through life.
Humility is a great life lesson. Be humble. In the bigger picture, Sensei always said, “Just train.” No matter what I accomplished or attained, when that was complete, it was “Time to go back to school.” Yes, be proud of my accomplishments albeit, because of who Sensei was, and what he did for me. Yet, I could always be better. I continuously evolve the next greater-than version of me, whatever that might be. The important part: Make it work for me.
I’ve learned humility in my own life’s trials and tribulations. In 2001, right before 911 and the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers, I began working with my chiropractor and spiritual guide Victor. After about 10 years of Aikido, my knees began aching badly. I thought that I might have to give up Aikido, my first love.
Ironically, Victor enlightened me. Sure, my physical pain was real: I had structural imperfections like my flat feet and walking gate. Yet, my physical pain might be the outcome of holding emotions from the past, specifically my fear of my Dad, when I felt powerless as a child. Maybe, a lot of my physical pain was the aftermath of holding on to my anger and fear.
Although I’m an engineer and this sounded out of paradigm, I got it. The physical, the emotional, and spiritual were all connected. Yeah, Victor became my spiritual guide. My epiphany occurred when Victor told me, “You gotta let go. Chill out.”
Yes, I got it. Yet, at the time that was far easier said than done. So I had to go back to school. I had to just train. That “just train” meant starting to forgive my Dad, and really start forgiving myself for not being strong enough as a child to stand up to him. For sure, Victor corrected my physical structure with alignments; however, I believe practice ‘letting go’ continuously made a difference. When I feel that fear in my soul, I hear Victor’s voice, “Chill out.”
When Sensei promoted me to Yondan, 4th-degree black belt, I showed Victor my sho-sho (certificate) from Hombu Dojo (World Aikido Headquarters). I told Victor, “I got this because of you.” Victor gave me a Big Man Hug.
Like Werner Erhard, I only tell stories that work out. With Victor’s care and guidance, I continue my Aikido training today. Unfortunately, Victor passed away several years ago. Fortunately, my chiropractor Ali learned and worked for Victor years ago. She follows her own unique method. Regardless, I’m well taken care of.
Up until dealing with my own physical infirmity, I was so Spartan in my Aikido training. I had to be tough. Everyone I taught had to be tough. I would often say, “Suck it up.” And I was not joking.
Well, life has a way of humbling. I got that “Everyone’s zero is different.” Everyone is dealing with something, and for the most part, I don’t know what kind of pain they’re experiencing, what’s really going on inside. I should not be so fucking arrogant, because I know what it is to suffer in pain.
Finally, I got that the World is not black and white. I like others are not strong or weak. I got for the most part that we all want to do our best. Yet, sometimes our best might not even be good enough for us. Just saying.
I work with my Therapist Lance. Hell yes, it was frightening looking at what I feared. Yet, I went back to first principles, went back to what Sensei said, “Just train.” I had to grind it out, because it was something meaningful to me.
I had to stop hating on me, getting that voice in my head saying, “Jon, you’re no good” was my Dad’s voice. I had to practice loving and forgiving me. And just train. Like Victor had reminded me, “Chill out.” “You’re a good man.” I have nothing, but mad love and respect for my Brother.
Along the way, I befriended Cheryl. She said, “Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.” Amen. Have compassion for others, and especially have compassion for myself. Cheryl reminded, “Kindness begets kindness.”
No, the world ain’t black and white. Not strong and weak. Not good and bad. This is a yin and yang world. The bigger picture might exist in the gray, in discovering the balance. Really, the bigger picture is about loving and forgiving ourselves and having compassion for others.
No, we can’t really know what goes on inside another person. Yet, we can do our best to ‘get’ what it is to be them. We can have compassion. We can be kind. And like Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” says, “Just be good to people.” That’s having authentic human influence.
Nowadays, everyone talks about their brand, what they represent, and their reputation. Well, have your brand be compassion. I sincerely hope that becomes mine. What about you? Just asking.
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