Saturday, September 10, 2011
The Joy in Improvement
Today I was sitting outside reading my Chinese novels that I enjoy at Starbucks. The stories of martial arts masters and lifestyles is like James Bond meets Batman. Some of it is just fiction and other parts are filled with true information about the history of many lineages. With the many responsibilities I have it is important to find those things that are pure joy and relaxation. To my surprise I continued to hear, "Don't work too hard, it's Saturday." from many passing customers.
I have always loved how friendly people are in America, it allows me to really see into the culture that I have so long been away from. A common denominator that I have found in both the Western and Eastern world is that relaxing entails turning your brain off and not thinking about anything.
It would seem like wisdom at first to want to calm your mind from all of the chaos of work and studying through out the week. So much time thinking about how to do your job better or raise your grades can be very exhausting. Yet most of our thoughts are consumed with trying to make more money or gain a position in life. Meaning we don't spend many thoughts on how to improve our own worth and being.
When I was in the university their was a point that I thought that Chinese might be useful for a job some day. When I began studying Chinese I lost all ideas for trying to use it for some superficial gain, it was something I did because I felt the characters were beautiful. I wanted to be able to understand it and maybe one day communicate with people in the martial arts world. My goal was something real to me and therefore attainable. My classmates who studied to find a job found themselves burning out early on and never actually became fluent.
Perception in the end is what decides if something is stressful or enjoyable. If you watch how much energy people use to play basketball it is obvious they are working very hard. Yet we find most people play basketball because they enjoy it, not for some kind of personal gain. We have many tasks that we are required to do that may not be easy to enjoy. This is mostly because your work is usually for someone else's well being, not your own. All of your effort calculates into the betterment of a company that you may or may not believe in. As my dad often says, "You can't throw out the baby with the bath water." Meaning not all work should be a bad feeling.
I can say one of the best parts of my life is being able to read the Chinese stories that I would have never known about if I didn't work at it. Now I completely forgot about all of the time I had to spend to get fluent. It's because once you have accomplished a task for yourself, you don't spend time thinking about how hard it was. You think about how fun and wonderful it is now.
Initially all work is going to seem agonizing. Especially if you are doing something that you have heard is difficult. When I came into learning Chinese I was scared because I wasn't very successful in Spanish. "You are crazy to learn Chinese! You couldn't even learn Spanish!" some one said to me once. Life is not a matter of difficult and easy, it's all matter of perception. I looked at Chinese just the same as those playing basketball. I found that it was much easier to me than Spanish ever was. I had fun in the moment of learning something new. I didn't distract myself with discouraging thoughts, or listen to those around me who were full of negative energy.
There are things that you have been called to do that reside in the middle of your soul. You may have been discouraged or intimidated for what ever reason, but you must keep true to it. Not for money, fame or anyone in your family. Like a fingerprint it is personally calling you so that you my find out who you really are. Only then will you find balance. I was scared my first day of Chinese just like anyone else, but now I laugh at the idea of being scared of a new challenge. A new challenge is only a chance to show the world and yourself you are special.
It's turned out that after I embraced Chinese I found most of the things in my life needed Chinese to even be possible. My master, my wife and my entire life took place after I took control of my fear of change. For you it may be something you wish to know about cars, cooking or science. It's different for all of us so only you have the answer. It probably looks like a mountain in comparison to all of the regular things in your life. But through your faith, all mountains can be moved. Learn to enjoy moving them.