Monday Is Love Yourself Day
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I went into the martial arts to feel safe. No one had ever told me that fear was a natural emotion that everyone feels, so I interpreted my own discomfort and anxiety to a character flaw: I thought it meant I couldn’t, or mustn’t, or was weak, or a coward. And it was crippling to my self-image. I felt safe nowhere, and hallucinated that others could see my weakness and would hate me for it.
Pretty bad. Over the years, I found the resources to come to grips with this aspect of life, but it was brutal. My only tool was a refusal to quit, a sense that “you can kill me but you can’t stop me.” No matter how many times I got knocked down, I’d get back up again and try and try and try…
Until finally I found a teacher who opened the door for me, and welcomed me into the company of the men and women who know fear is just a feeling, and needn’t define your existence.
What kept me going? Both fear and love. Fear that if I couldn’t succeed in life, I’d be crushed. Existential terror, genuine concern for my life.
And love. The love of my dream: a dream of a loving relationship, of a happy career, of mastering the martial arts. I wanted those three things SO MUCH. And had always been in touch with the kid inside me, the writer kid, the nerd, the lonely kid, who wanted these things. I could hear him cry at night when things went wrong. Felt his heartache when girls rejected him. Remember his pain when other kids laughed as he was beaten up.
Yesterday, I was at Cliff Stewart’s CAMP OF THE MASTERS, a wonderful yearly gathering where Guru Cliff’s amazing friends come together to share knowledge. I was only able to attend for about five hours (busy weekend!) but it was wonderful as always, and I had the great fun of being thrown around like a rag doll by Guru Louie Campos, but also helping other students break down the insanely complex motions of Serak and Bukti Negara so that they could begin to understand.
Did the little boy inside me ever love this! To be both student and teacher in the same time frame. To be on equal footing, lower, and higher all at the same time. In other words, to feel like part of a chain of knowledge. Just simply to be. All there IS is that road of learning. The “Masters” you admire are just further down that road. Sometimes beyond the horizon (as was Paul De Thours when I first met him. The Pendekar! I literally could not understand how he did what he did. His technology was sufficiently advance to be indistinguishable from magic). Other times those superior to you are close to the horizon but not beyond it: you can understand how they do what they do…but simply cannot do it. Yet. But can feel that if you dedicated similar time and energy, eventually…
And get to ask yourself: “Am I willing to expend that time and energy?” Well, are you? Some of the things in my life are motivated by avoidance of pain (I have to pay the bills!) others by gaining pleasure (This is fun!) and the best things are those which are both: having fun means paying the bills. Not sure it gets much better than that in consensus reality.
I even got to hug the Pendekar’s widow, and tell his sons how much I respected their father. That is good. Felt right. Life flows onward, and it is good to share joy with those around you.
Makes my little boy feel good. Woke up this morning needing yoga, oh yes I do. And smiling. Sometimes, healthy pain is love.
(p.s.–aligning your emotions, goals, and values allows you to find joy in the necessary tasks in life, to “hunger” for the tasks that bring your dreams into existence. This is far better than “discipline” and available through the Morning Ritual. If you would like to build a 10-20 minute practice using Tai Chi or Joint Mobility that aligns body, mind, and emotions all at the same time…join us in Los Angeles on November 5th. www.firedancetaichi.com)