Sunday, May 15, 2016
A Season of Difficulty
As I watch my sons grow and develop, naturally my martial arts enters into a new season of understanding. It's become quite obvious that both marriage and raising children offer unique challenges that bring forth a form of maturity that cannot be gained from anywhere else. Every trial we overcome in both our art or our lifestyle will lead to a new depth of growth that brings us one step closer to who we desire to be. Unfortunately, it's easiest to attempt to neglect the message within each trial, convincing ourselves that the discomfort is not what we desire and we end up closing a door that will in turn delay needed development.
Whether our development offers itself in the form of marriage, martial arts, career or even prison, the underlying message will never change. In fact, as a child you will be dealing with the same issues that you will be dealing with as an adult; a repeating test that is attempting to mold the careful listener. Our society as a whole continues to promote comfort as an objective or lifestyle, which is indirectly related to the decay of the concept of responsibility.
During my work day, I generally have to translate 3-4 newspaper articles from Chinese to English, taking a tax on my mental dexterity. Still, I manage to organize my martial arts training program to ensure that both I and my students are continually making gains that will bring Bagua to life. Much like a scientist, I spend vasts amounts of time researching, testing and retesting ideas to make the most complex of ideas simple for the new learner. In order to promote this project, a new form of education has been revealed to me that will consist of my every skill from writing, music, film, dance etc. Any realistic person would say that the task is impossible, but I have never had much in common with people who refer to themselves as "realistic."
When I get home, my children greet me at the door and it's time to play, teach and train them for the next 4 hours or so. Then like any family, I put the kids to bed and we go over how much money we need and don't have, attempting to not let worry and doubt steal the joy from my precious 2 hours of alone time with the wife. I go to sleep, wake up and repeat; praying for the strength not to grumble or complain about the job that seems to be a divider between myself and my dream.
When I was single, working at a distasteful job was always a much shorter season. It was easy to pick up the needed skills and then use them to find something more suitable or at least related to my passions. Just as in the past, I was able to train the techniques that were more related to the way I wanted to fight, move and develop. Yet, about 5 years ago my master Wu Guo Zheng gave me a surplus of information in the form of a completely new system: Xing Yi. Now my favorite training regime has been completely interrupted with this new responsibility.
Of course I could choose to minimize my training time in Xing Yi, just the same way I could minimize my time with my family in order to focus on my desired development. But as a father, husband and successor, I have responsibilities that far out way my feelings for the current situation. I've always trusted the path God has placed before me, even and especially when it feels like it's moving in the opposite direction.
Even though I trained Xing Yi everyday of the first year, it felt completely unnatural. The positions made me feel awkward, unstable and clumsy. It was as if every single thing about it pointed to my weaknesses. Around the same time, I was beginning my translation job that was also quite challenging. Not only did I find it difficult to translate the terms of Chinese into English, but the isolation of being locked up in a tiny office was completely contradictory to the previous Warfox lifestyle.
Every so often I would ask God, "How did I go from the stage in front of thousands of fans to this little bitty office?" And predictably God responded by piling more and more translations onto my desk. My boss even began dumping law papers onto my desk, which was like a nightmare inside of a nightmare. Then after working for hours on end to give them the best quality of translation, my boss would respond, "This is terrible, do it again."
"Wow." I would say to myself right before hitting the roof of the building for a Xing Yi workout. It's ok when someone tells me I'm doing a bad job when I'm not really using any effort. Yet, when you are doing your best and someone tells you it's not even satisfactory, it can put you in tears...as it did a few times. After having a hard day, a nice workout on the roof was generally more than enough to raise my spirits, but guess what? My Xing Yi was terrible too. Not only were my workouts not helping me relax, they were now adding to my frustration and feeling of helplessness.
The following year of my job, it wasn't getting any easier. I had searched online everywhere for another job, but there was nothing available (which was the first time ever in Taiwan). I couldn't leave because I knew that there were three lives literally depending on me. Every action I took, would have a dramatic effect on others. The pressure of the job, plus the fact that my son was now entering into the "terrible twos," was tearing away at any chance of rest and peace.
At the same time, I was watching the world fall apart as strange happenings began to occur all over the planet. New terrorist groups, missing planes, be-headings and on and on. Being a martial artist, I was able to see a pattern in the dangers and I attempted to give a warning to my friends about what was the events were leading to. The end result was I lost all of my friends.
Completely isolated not only physically, but spiritually, my mind couldn't rest and I had no where to go. I asked God, "What am I supposed to do?" The next day I had the strangest sensation come over me. There was a story I could see in my head that was eight books long. I could see every detail in my mind, but was intimidated to try to write it. It was something I had never really considered: a fictional story. After a week, the story began to expand so much in my mind that it could no longer be contained. It exploded into my finger tips on the key board as I attempted to keep up with the images projecting in my brain.
Of course I could only write in between the translations on my desk, which means that I had to begin translating even faster. Miraculously, I managed to finish all the translations in the morning so that I would have the whole afternoon to work on my novel. Even though my boss still slightly grumbled at my work, I wasn't bothered by it as much. I realized that it was all a part of my training. I was supposed to be unappreciated in this season of my life. I was supposed to be abandoned. I was supposed to be frustrated with my training.
Actually, my third year of Xing Yi started feeling different. There were new sensations now in the places of my original discomfort. It felt..almost...good. Not only that, my Bagua had been enhanced dramatically. I could see that everything was leading some where, but of course, my Xing Yi still sucked. It just sucked a bit less.
In addition, doing the translations plus writing and editing of my novel made me twice as tired when I got home. Yet, playing with the kids and spending time with the family became the only fun I had in the day. Watching cartoons as my son asked me questions about Batman or Bruce Lee, let me feel like a child again. I also came to realize that the entire point of being a father is to sacrifice everything for your family. I'm no longer me, I'm them. I'm everything they need for whatever occasion and what I want comes last.
At first it sounds kind of negative, just like the positions in Xing Yi are awkward or painful at first. But by being a father and a husband, I lose myself to become something better than myself. I unify with God as a source of life. When my wife is upset and angry about something, it's not my job to give her a reasonable solution (as men often try to do). It's my job to overwhelm her frustration with assured and encouraging love. Every natural response to defend myself is incorrect. It's not about being right anymore. It's about being love.
This epiphany changed everything. Two years later, Xing Yi became my new best friend. I still have a long way to go, but I'm really happy about where it's going. My book is already published (Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws), I'm working on the screen play and sequels and my boss loves me. In addition, translation has opened all of these new doors that I never had access to before. It even helped me to translate all of the movements within our lineage, which I thought would be a life long project.
I'm about to enter into a new season. I can feel it in the air; a harvest for many years of planted seeds. The last few years have been a truly difficult season, but all seasons must come to an end. I'm glad it's over and I know that there are new challenges within the new season, but I wouldn't have gained so much strength without the benefit of this crucial trial. Jesus knows what we need even though we don't. That's why He's God and I'm just me. But I'm definitely a much better me now.
P.S. My Xing Yi doesn't suck anymore LOL.