I'm really enjoying these lesson's of mindfulness stories being so carefully packaged within our lesson videos.
The recent Mindflip lesson reminded me of a story I once read about a guy named Terry Dobson when he was living in Japan and training Aikido with O’ Sensei in the '60s. As the story goes, he was riding a train where he encountered a disruptive drunk creating a scene and threatening other passengers. As Terry tells the story, he always wanted to test his martial art skills and as a big guy of 6ft. 225lbs, young and strong, he thought this was as good a time as any to turn into a superhero to rescue the passengers.
Anyway, as Terry stood up to confront the drunk, a voice from an old man who was sitting nearby yelled out to the drunk, “Hey!” and as the drunk turned the old man asked, “What have you been drinking?” The drunk answered, “Sake!” At that, the old man said, “My wife and I love sake, and often drink a warm cup at sundown in our garden and look at how our persimmon tree is doing.” The drunk quietly responded, "I love persimmons, too," as his voice trailed off. “Yes,” said the old man, smiling, “and I’m sure you have a wonderful wife.” “No, I don’t” replied the drunk. “My wife is dead.” Very gently, swaying with the motion of the train, the drunken man began to cry. “I have no wife, I don’t have a home or a job. I am so ashamed of myself.” Tears rolled down his cheeks; a spasm of despair rippled through his body.
Terry got off at the next stop and as the train pulled away, he sat down on a bench. What he had wanted to do with muscle had been accomplished with kind words, empathy and understanding. He had just seen Aikido tested in combat, and the essence, the soul of it, was love. He said that he would have to practice the art with an entirely different spirit (I like the term, intent), from then on.
(He had just experienced a Mindflip moment instigated by what is known in psychology circles as a pattern interrupt. This is a technique to alter a person's mental, emotional, or behavioral state to break their typical habits. Think of it as an unexpected input that shocks them into another state of mind).
When I started Taekwon-Do at the age of fourteen, I loved stories like this as much as I loved the techniques. I'm sure some of you can relate, it was part of the times and I’m sure too, that at some point in our journey we have all romanticized about donning a mask and cape, and saving the innocents by destroying the guilty.
What I liked about this story was that it was concerned with not just how to "do" something but also how to "be" something. Today, I refer to this “being something” as “being uncommon”. Did someone say Paxtial Arts?
Stories and storytellers like Terry Dobson were gems and sadly less valued today as we live in a world of reality TV shows, a win at all cost mentality and utilitarianism ethics, (as Mr. Spock would say, the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few).
Long live the inspirational storytellers like Mr. and Mrs. Parker. We need them now more than ever. They are reaching into our humanity and influencing the story we quietly tell ourselves, and what we, will tell others as we go forward.
(And speaking of storytelling, here’s the best story I’ve ever heard - Kramer Is Drivin’ The Bus. Take a few minutes and laugh at this as you channel your inner Batman (or Bat Girl) to save the day, lol).