Teacher

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I believe that teachers and mentors are the most influential figures in our lives.  Of course, parents give us clothes, shelter, love, and a foundation for our lives; however, teachers elevate our lives to their highest potential.  They provide for us a path and they help correct our flaws be it in a craft, in our personalities, or in our actions.  It is through teachers that the impossible become possible.

I have had countless teachers and mentors and pay homage to all of them.  Some of my many teachers included high school teachers (which stood out to me the most in academia), martial arts teachers, and a few mentors and guides; also healers, therapists, coaches, and simply wise souls.

Without their help and guidance I would be no one (and nowhere).

That’s it!  Have a good day!  😀

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The Late Bloomer

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In society, the majority of the members flow through rather steady growth periods.  To clarify, most members of our society (at least those in the middle class or above) flow through the motions of: primary school, secondary school, college, career, marriage and mortgage, and upper career promotion in their 30s while they are raising their small children (and then middle age and retirement etc.).  Most members have certain social circles in high school and college and find their place or scene in their 20s – they also learn, experiment, and make mistakes during this time period. 

However, there is another minority of society that doesn’t fall into this pattern: the late bloomer.  The late bloomer may seem average or even deficient at a young age: whether socially, academically, or professionally.  They may seem out of place, overlooked, and underestimated by their family and close ones.  Then somehow, somewhere, over time they develop and are made to see their own true inner beauty and potential and they blossom at a time when their peers have long peaked and began their gradual decline.

Somehow, I am a late bloomer: I did not find my ideal social circle until I was 25 years old (I REALLY felt connected that point), I am 33 years old an behind on my career path (and also just started graduate school), I was to believed to have average intelligence growing up (I got decent grades in primary and secondary school but was not a standout student), I tanked in college and was found to have ADHD, and basically the only area of life that I’ve ever been success in was the arena of martial arts.  In addition, I dated my first girlfriend when I was 27 year old.  Yep, that pretty much makes for a very roundabout trip to my peak, but I’m sure life has something interesting in store for everyone: especially if you have the courage to go into the “dark place in which it leads” (forgot who wrote that quote, it’s from “Life 101”).  Hard work, knowing oneself, and taking chances have never been a flaw for me, but timing perhaps might be everything.

Just enjoy the ride!  Believe in yourself!  Have a good day!  🙂

The 4’s

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I can’t help to relate how year’s with the number “4” have been particularly painful for me.  What is the explanation?  Perhaps it’s a bad luck year or big time growth year for me or perhaps every decade there are certain to be growing pains and mine just happens to fall on the “4”.  For example, I was born in 1980 so that in 1994 I was 14 and in 9th grade – definitely, the first year of high school is no joke.  Then we have the age of 24 in 2004, it also coincided with the Year of Monkey (my Chinese astrological birth year) – another horrible year full of growing pains, life drama, and emotional turmoil.  Now, somehow, 2014 rolls around and I’m cruising in my early 30s and sudden life events occur: car crash, landlord issues, change of career, and a million other traumas that I won’t inconvenience your life with.  How does that work out?  I know everything in life has a reason, but I’m waiting for mine.   Perhaps all of the suffering that can accumulate in a decade somehow peaks on the “4” for me, I can accept that.  Watch out 2024!  😀

My line of thinking steers towards the feeling that the events happened for a reason and that the positive changes coming out of it (catharsis, increased happiness, better attuned to self, more clear life direction etc.) are the rewards.  But man, growing pains suck (even at age 33 years old)!  I thought I was done with them when the 20s ended.  Apparently not!

Have a great day!

Spiritual Recreation

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In the book “Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel, the author, of German descent, travels to Japan to find the soul of “Zen” Buddhism.  He was a profession of Eastern Religion, yet found the true essence of Zen escaped his grasp.  He elected to start Japanese archery lessons with a famous Zen master in order to learn about Zen through this art.  In that book, he had also discussed how in Japanese society there two activities to pass the time: a career to make a living and a spiritual art to cultivate the soul (or self-improvement).  I feel this is concept is essential for any member of society.  We do need our physical needs: food, shelter, and companionship.  However, beyond those base needs, many people stop developing.  If you want to be happy then you need to be constantly changing and improving – also a spiritual art or discipline needs to be implemented in your life.  A spiritual discipline trains your soul, helps you overcome your flaws, helps put you at peace with yourself, and trains your willpower. 

It is one thing to profess your efforts to improve yourself or to state how moral you are.  However, a spiritual discipline puts words and thoughts into ACTION by actively transforming you the more effort and sincerity you put into the practice.  A bit more on self-change:

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

 

Constant renewal is important, and this is what a spiritual art can bring into your life. 

 
Choosing and then practicing an art is not as difficult as it sounds.  First, choose a hobby that interests you: yoga, ballroom dance, piano, drums etc.  Next, find a teacher and begin learning immediately.  Practice a minimum of once a week (more if you have the time or energy) and NEVER miss a practice no matter what.  Most people never develop a talent or skill not because they don’t have the potential but because they don’t have the discipline or stick-to-it-iveness.  As someone who has practiced Kung Fu for 21 years (since 1993), I have to say that you just pick up something you like, you practice even when you don’t feel like it, and over time then time simply passes while you continue with your hobby.  Next thing you know, 21 years have passed! 
Best of luck!  You can do it!  😀

The Difficulty of Creating Bonds as an Adult (after 25 years old)

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Friendship is as great thing and something that can last a lifetime.  However, why do some friendships last longer and new friendships have trouble with their cohesiveness?  I remember this one quote on a friend’s wall in their home:
“Cherish your friends

Both new and old

New friends are like silver

Old friends are like gold.”

Something like that.  It was a beautiful plaque with a beautiful message.  Yes, why are friendships so difficult to maintain after a certain age?

Some answers that I’m trying reach lead me to think about certain factors.  Meeting people while you are in a major growth period (school, puberty), in a phase of suffering (boot camp, war, professional school),  and simply in the same phase of life (academically, professionally, emotionally etc.) actually makes it far easier to meet and bond with people.  You

As adults, most of us have gone through several major growth periods (childhood, puberty, young adulthood) and therefore are more set in our ways.  This makes adults (post 25 years old) less moldable, less likely to thrown into processes in which great changes occur while having the opportunity to bond socially with other peers, and for some reason, less likely to have their soul open in order to be honest, vulnerable, and accommodating to another fellow colleague.  Maybe the processes in the different phases of life also dictate this as well: usually after 25 years old most adults are settled in their career, have married or plan on getting married, and spend most of their time at work. 

Sigh, hit another brain fart and lost my train of thought.  Anyway, here is a list of some top opportunities where lasting friendships are created:

1.)  Primary school (K-5) – Childhood, innocence, open hearts, open minds, going through same stages of life

2.)  Secondary school (Gr 6-12)  –  Puberty, dating/opposite sex, hormones, suffering, growth spurts, peer pressure, identity crisis/confusion, rebellion vs. adult world – too many opportunities.  However, this is a time where many primary school friends split too due to different social and life decisions (ie – smoking, getting into troublne, partying, alcohol, drug use, gangs, social groups, change of behavior due to peer pressure, academics, dating etc.)

3.)  College – Another huge growth period (18-23).  This is the dawning of young adulthood, independence, identity formation, fear of the future, a taste of the responsibility of the adult while still being able to get away with kiddish acts and without the backlash or consequences of adulthood, exploration, new views of the world, optimism etc.

4.)  Military –  Boot camp, war, being stationed overseas… everyone is away from their home, family, and friends.  Definitely a hotbed for meeting new friends.

5.)  Professional School –  Yes, I see the pictures on my facebook all the time: pictures of people in medical school, physician’s assistant school, chiropractic school all communing and having the times of their lives!  Boy am I jealous!

All in all, I still find it difficult to make friends as an adult and while I attend happy hours and meetups, not all of the friends are lasting.  We just haven’t built a history together and we’ve already accomplished large portions of our growth earlier on which is when we form the strongest bonds. 

Have a good day!  This discussion may be incomplete, but I hope I opened up a forum of discussion with the treatment of the topic! 😀

The Process of Becoming a Writer

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I’ve spent the past 15 years wanting and yearning to be a writer.  I’ve thought about it, I’ve written several poems and essays, and it had laid like a gem in my heart for years.  Why did it never come to fruition after all these years?  My feelings are that something inside of me told me that I was not ready; it was not time.  Recently, I had come across a series of unfortunate and traumatic incidents that woke my soul up and had me reaching for my true calling: writing.  I quit two of my four part time jobs and was ready to make the big leap.  Some people like to “grab a branch before letting one go,” but on one hand I want to “jump” (off the cliff and wait for the parachute to open) as Steve Harvey said in his Youtube motivational video and also there’s another analogy.  I heard pirates used to sink their ship when they docked on a shore, therefore they had nowhere to go if the going got tough.  They were 100% devoted to their new path regardless of the outcome.  That’s what I want to do.

Now, some 3 weeks later I’m still amounting the courage to send out my first resume and cover letter (I still need to revise my writing samples/writing portfolio) and make the big splash.  However, there’s more to it then that: how does one become a writer?  I mean, I am not the type of child who grew up with a journal and wrote three stories a week and shared them with my friends.  I was just normal kid who played basketball and got into martial arts (and later philosophy).

Words did not fall off my pen nor did I have the yearning to spend hours and days in an empty room slaving away on a sheet of paper with endless phrases and plotlines spewing forth from my pen.  I’m just a normal guy with some nice thoughts.  So how do I mold myself into a writer? Well, here’s my process.

First, I have practiced martial arts for nearly two decades.  That serves as a baseline or guide for how to achieve something  grand: start from the basics, daily practice, and use of willpower to practice and improve.  Next, I had already been writing on a daily computer notepad for the past two years – poems, journal entries, and writing exercises (descriptions, fragments of essays, general thoughts, insights etc.).  However, all of that was not consistent nor substantial enough to designate that craft as a profession, living, or a true trade.  I was bursting full of ideas and plot lines and did not know the means (nor have the will?) to complete them.

After I made the big jump by quitting my jobs, I knew I had cleared my table for the big jump.  I’ve decided to write at least 30 minutes a day (which is a standard chunk of time for practice as my Tai Chi teacher had designated a minimum of 30 minutes a day of standing meditation to us in order to continue improving and seek the most benefits).  I’ve also decided to use the website http://www.vocabulary.com

to improve my vocabulary in a fun and dynamic way so I can continue “word smithing.”  All seemed to run smoothly the first 2-3 days until I hit the eventual rut:  a total lack of motivation to write on certain days or certain parts of days.  In fact, after 1-2 weeks there was in general a total lack of motivation to write about 2/3 of the times I had actually wrote!  However, I knew willpower was essential in being a writer and also knowing there was no safety net: I don’t have some career to fall back on – I took the leap and this is where I want to be.

Next, two things happened: I started creating more writing exercises that I’ve kept in a list on a Microsoft Notepad file in the past 2 years in order to keep the writing process varied but always fun and challenging that dark cloud that prevents me from writing or wanting to write.  I decided to start writing every day when I wake up and before I go to bed and also any time I had a thought or a good idea.  I can now see why many famous writers have said that they hated every  minute of writing but totally enjoyed completing a work of art; writing is a difficult arduous process and what’s even more difficult is that it’s a self-employed task.  You are the employer and employee:  you run the hours, you choose how hard and honest you are to work, and you choose how much you want to write and improve each day.  There are no external motivators and really there are not a lot of regulations, rules, or set ways of becoming a writer.

This goes back to that line: “If you want to become a writer then write.”  Easier said than done.  However, before I hit the dark cloud of resistance I also had this rush of joy and excitement in tackling this new craft and the sense of exhilaration in having the chance to jot down all of my ideas and to “create” something.  In a way, writing is very much like how I approached Kung Fu when I was a teenager: I never wanted to practice when I made myself practice but I had NEVER regretted practicing after I was finished.  Writing is very much in the same vein because honestly I’m pulling ideas and words from nowhere and nothing.  I have to generate each sentence and phrase from somewhere and of course there is such a thing as a muse but at the moment: I am NOT inspired, in the mood to write, nor sure of the direction of my path of writing.

Darn, I had completely lost my train of thought.  However, becoming a writer has done a few things: helped me to open up my inner world and inspect it more closely, motivated me to read more and watch more documentary programs (continued self-education), and my patience, tolerance, and ability to write for long periods of time is increasing daily.  3 weeks ago, after about 15 minutes of writing my mind was already spent.  Right now, I’ve been hamming at this post and another post for almost an hour without slowing down.  I’m on a roll (as a fellow boxing forum poster responded when I said he was on a roll: “As a mid afternoon snack, I am best served with horseradish sauce” – sigh, I love puns!).  In addition, writing has helped me open up my inner world as I’m trying to write about anything or everything I can think of when I sit down to write.  I don’t perform the same writing exercises every day as I just get bored: some days they are poems, other days journal entries, and other times free writing or free association writing (“shoes” and I write anything I can about shoes).  These exercises usually take me back to my past and I have a great memory – I am basically reliving my childhood and adolescence constant.  Lucky for me, most of my  memories are positive ones and I am constantly reveling in the magic in which my parents have provided for me.  That I am thankful for – as my young adulthood has been difficult and trying.  The memories serve as a springboard for this period of life, yet my young adulthood was not without it’s positive and great moments as well.

Well, this was not a perfect nor organized recap of my trials and attempts at being a writer, but it was something.

Have a great day!!! 😀

The Virtue of Obedience

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Much is to be said of Western culture: it’s focus on individualism, the ego (power, money, reputation, standing out as an individual), and self-advocating/non-conformity/being unique/standing out/working harder to achieve than others.  There is so much to be said of competition and encouraging individuals within society to dominate, to win, and to always speak up for oneself if they’re unhappy or being mistreated.  However, much of Eastern culture, especially Chinese culture (but Japanese, Korean culture to name a few are similar), is built upon Confucianism.  Confucian values relate for an individual to prize the collective community over the individual.  This causes a struggle between the self and diminishing the self’s desire for the greater good of the community.  Within a purely Asian community, the community ultimately wins in that context.

When Asians move into a Western culture, it becomes a bit of a cluster fuck.  Culture clashes occur and generational values and aspirations cause for conflict.  However, the one virtue that stands out for Asian culture is that of obedience; children learn that from a young age.  Through strictness and discipline children are taught to do as they are told, to respect elders (and never talk back), and basically to handle matters within themselves or by themselves rather than raise a raucous and cause disharmony within the community.

Even other cultures including Catholicism encourage some form of “reeling in” of the self and individual desires.   I feel this virture is being lost in Western society (at least American) and it would be a shame.  Obedience teaches discipline, self-control, and a willingness to follow directions versus an obsequious, passivity to authority.  As the quote from the film “Drumline” says:

“You must learn to follow before you can lead.”

To tame the self is important  (even leaders need to follow sometimes to further educate themselves, tap into the talent of their organization, and to share the power).

The next time you speak up, try to see if it’s truly needed or  if it’s simply to appeal your ego or some selfish need.

Have a nice day!  😀