From the time I could speak as a young boy, I’d lie about my childhood, that mine was “okay”. No, my childhood was not okay, far from it. Although, Mom, my sister, and I suffered greatly, we had to perpetuate the lie: “Everything’s good.”
Perhaps, the worst toll of the aftermath was that I took out my anger upon my Mom and Sister, feeling powerless with Dad. Even as a child, that wasn’t fair, that wasn’t right. I am sorry for who I was back in the day, especially to Mom and to Carol. I get that my actions and anger might not be completely forgiven.
Yet, as Lady Macbeth said, “What’s done, cannot be undone.” Really, making lemonade out of lemons is fucking bullshit in this particular instance.
I learned to forgive and to love me to begin to heal. I gave up “Why me?” I constantly give up being right about it being unfair, too. Just saying.
That being said: I would not wish my childhood experience upon even my second greatest opponent. O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba might remind me: I must continually overcome me. So if I’m the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) of absolutely anything, that’s being my greatest opponent. Amen.
Paradoxically, I’ve trained in earnest to become the greater man, sourcing from where I started, from where Jon began.
Over the years, through my own trials and tribulations: trying to be perfect, hating on myself, depression, grinding it out and healing myself through therapy and Aikido, are experiences I would not wish upon even my fiercest enemy.
And yet, sourcing my relationships with Mom, Sensei, John, Lance, and others and grinding it out because it was something meaningful to me, has made me the greater man. Know that, I still have a shit load to work on and evolve.
Maybe, the greatest lesson I’ve acquired in my 57 years on Planet Earth, is kindness and having compassion. My dear friend Cheryl says, “Kindness begets kindness.” Be kind to others. And absolutely be kind to yourself. Cheryl is among the kindest and strongest persons I know, on Planet Earth.
My kindred spiritual Twin, Dolph Lundgren said, “You have to love yourself.” Amen. We both shared traumatic and abusive childhoods, where we “balled up” our anger within. Eventually, the anger has to release. And that’s not a good thing. Like Dolph, I dedicated to the martial arts, to therapy, to meditation, and forgiving thine own self. That ain’t easy. Yet, I have to, to evolve becoming my greater version.
It’s taken billions of years for life to evolve into the human form on Planet Earth. Yet, we only have a lifetime to evolve into our greater than version. That doesn’t seem at all fair. Well, it’s not. Then, again that might just be the human design.
And part of that human design is making a difference in some way, shape or form. I’ve discovered that one way to do this is by first forgiving and loving myself. By healing oneself, then you evolve as a human being, who has his or her own distinct sphere of influence. Of course everyone’s sphere of influence is unique, which is its beauty.
Our sphere of influence accepts our imperfections and our gifts. Cheryl taught me the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi – the beauty in our imperfection. It’s like the exquisite knot in the lacquered wooden table. It could be your silent shyness around others. Your imperfection distinguishes you. Accepting your imperfection defines you: You choose whether to evolve it or not. That’s still evolution. That’s serenity. That’s becoming your greater than self.
Sensei Dan often told me in Aikido, “It’s not like you’re getting anywhere.” “Just train.” Our evolution is the journey. It’s our profound lesson in humility. The journey is also my profound lesson in gratitude.
My community, those who inspire, those whom I love, allowed me to evolve and grow. I’m grateful for all those, whose spheres of influence contributed to my Art, my life. I love you. I honor you. Amen. Amen.
Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
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