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December 2008

40. Thought for Kagami Biraki

Today's comment is pretty short and is just a thought to consider, around which you may want to organize your new year.  I found this quote in a newsletter sent to me but the source was not listed.

"Imagine yourself in 50 years.  At that point in your life, the job you have left is only going to be a sentence.  And it will start, "In the the early part of her career, " and than a few words and  a period.  And then there will be 14 paragraphs about what you really did with your life.  Live those paragraphs."

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
December 2008

39. Yowamushi Okaeri Nasai aka "Naked Chickens Swimming"

While driving in to the office this morning I was listening to NPR's morning business edition; in particular the latest scandal on Wall Street involving what has to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history at an est. $50 Billion. 

Wow!  As a politico said many years ago, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money".

How did this happen?  How did so many supposed "smart" people get duped by a man who, according to many skeptics even 10 years ago, couldn't possibly be that good at his investment strategies?

When looked at from the Hanshi viewpoint of Yowamushi Okaeri Nasai ("Welcome Home Chickens" or more colloquially, "All Chickens Come Home to Roost"), the Ponzi artist dealt with people who wanted to believe and he simply took advantage of their belief in him.

Remembering that all chickens come home to roost, anytime a Sensei begins to; "tell stories" about himself to make himself look good, take advantage of people on a physical, emotional or financial basis, engages in grooming behavior for sexual liaisons, or any of the other horror stories that surface on the Internet or the "Dojo Grape Vine" on a regular basis, he or she is setting themselves up for a serious fall from "Hanshi-Hood".

Every single person alive will, from time to time; throw someone too hard, tell a mis-truth (a little white lie) to spare someone's feelings, exaggerate (as a good friend said once, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good fish story"), or just make a "life-mistake" in some area.

We all do this because we are all human and not one of us alive (or dead for that matter) has NEVER made a mistake or done something that we weren't sorry for one second later or regretted the next day, and either immediately vowed to try to never do again, or began formulating our sincere apologies to the offended or injured parties.

It's the non-martial arts person, the businessman, the Sensei, the Sempai, the Hanshi/Exemplar who does it consciously, deliberately, repetitively and with full malice of forethought for purposes of profit, self-aggrandizement and self-validation that is the evil person that everyone should look out for whether stepping into a dojo or sitting down in front of that investment advisor.

With that said however; we can all be fooled initially, but the observant person cannot be fooled forever.  What's that old saying?  You can fool all of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time?  At some point the sun shines and we head for the door in order to find some clean air to breathe.

Being an honest and ethical person and living a moral life whether in or outside of the dojo is what marks a "good person" that others want to emulate or learn from or just be around.  That person who forgets this and becomes dishonest will eventually find that all their chickens come home to roost.

Or as reported on the news program I was listening to in the car on the way in, Buffet (considered by many to be one of the primo' investors alive today put it this way ............ "It's only when the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked".

I heard that and immediately thought of the honest Hanshi issue.  What a wonderful way in which to consider it.  I don't know about you but that metaphor brings all sorts of interesting visuals to my mind's eye; some good ;-) and some bad :-O.

So combine the two; "At some point all your naked chickens swim home".

Or as the poet said, "The King has no clothes and the Hanshi has no hakama".

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei

Aikibudo Kancho

Aikibudokan, Houston, TX

December 2008

38. Yowamushi (slang for Chicken) Okaeri nasai (Welcome Home)

My father and grandfather, some of the last of the Hard Men of South Texas, were very fond of telling me to live straight, shoot straight and to tell the truth; and no, that saying came from real life and was not just another cute movie slogan.  As part of that upbringing I was often reminded by them of the maxim of being careful as to how I lived my life as chickens have the habit at some point of coming home to roost.

Being a Sensei is a great privilege, one not to be taken lightly; but with great privilege, comes greater responsibility.  Being kind, not being abusive of power, living up to the requirements of being an exemplar of ethics and higher morality and virtues, and being a leader and an inspiration to others is all a part and parcel of that greater responsibility.

Sensei all too many times make the mistake of drinking their own bathwater and then telling themselves and those who would follow them (seekers of The Way of Budo, looking for he who would teach them how to follow the path) that they are instead drinking champagne.

Those seekers, believers in the exemplar, eager to grow into a greater and wiser Budo-ka, too easily believe and many times are duped by he upon whom they place their trust and their faith.

This is not their fault and indeed, it is not to be considered a weakness at first.  However, as the believers grow, mature and become seasoned players, they must at some point look beyond the weaknesses (self-imposed or not) of the exemplar.  At some point the decision must be made, difficult although it may be, to leave and to become independent in spirit; not needing nor desiring the abusive Sensei, or the abusive parent, or the abusive supervisor at work.

The decision must be made, as my grandfather once said, to stand on one's own hind legs like a man and not submit to those who would control us as a validation of their personal weaknesses.

Self-deception; a devious mistake with unlimited potential for personal destruction, and one that holds the potential to destroy all that a person once held dear.

Self-deception; a mistake that can claim one's mind, should one choose to not engage in continuous and life-long self-examination of motives, of ethics and of morality and of how our life choices and personal behaviors can postively or negatively impact others, including our students.

Self-deception; the great destroyer of leaders, counselors and of Sensei.

Self-deception; something that can be avoided, if only we choose to.

If you ever become a Sensei, take care not to fall into the trap.

Live your life as a straight arrow and do not make the mistake of living the deceit of "Don't do as I do, do as I say"; because in the end, all chickens come home to roost.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
December 2008

37. Sigh ..... it's Christmas. Oh Bother!

Here I sit me down to work,
my feet are cold and my head it hurt.

I'd rather be home in bed,
but my family, they must be fed.

Paperwork and all of that,
my brain fly around like a bat.

Streaming tunes off the web,
Phish, Tragically Hip and Republic Tigers said....

don't be sad, just rock and tap,
you may be down, but it's not all that bad.

Others have it so much worse,
so spend some bucks, reach in that purse.

"It's the little things", Bob Schneider sang,
so put on your gi, and ukemi that thang.

(by lf wilkinson at 6 am before the first of coffee)

It sometimes amazes me how you can sit there before breakfast and before coffee, listening to streaming web radio and hearing "indie" groups that you would never have known about if Clear Channel and FM were still the only choices.  Technology is wonderful for expanding the choices in life but sometimes we lose sight of the fact that the simple things that don't involve technology are truly the most important.

They enrich our lives, teach us new personal skills, increase our self-awareness and self-esteem and allow us to enjoy everything else around us since the personal improvements involved increase our perceptions and our appreciation of shibumi and elegance.

The holidays, especially when they arrive after a long, worthlessly stressful year seem overwhelming to the point that we can't focus on those simple things; like Aikido practice.

Right now I'm stressed due to FYE (fiscal year end) deadlines that clients have to meet which means that I have to work harder to assist them and my wife is stressed due to some of the same demands from her job in the medical industry, along with doing a gift list for generally unappreciative relatives who always want more, meeting the financial issues involved with that and trying to pass classes and certification testing for career advancement which she's been doing for most of the year; class after class after........

The one factor tho' that helps me make it through is Aikido.  The work, the ukemi, the sweating, the camaraderie of the players is always, always a welcome relief.  Even though it seems like we need to spend more and more time at the desk and at work and then more and more time at home worrying and fretting about it, the simple truth of the matter is that Aikido is so vastly removed from those other problems, that it serves as a mental vacation.  Plus the endorphins that we produce during training purges our systems of the toxins that weaken us and make the stress all that more destructive.

So, grab a cup'o'joe, turn up the music and after work go to class.  Work off that stress and improve who you are.  Who knows?  You might actually get some of that "Christmas Spirit" everybody talks about.

L.F. Wilkinson Sensei
Aikibudo Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, TX
December 2008