Part 1 - Moo! .... or ... Which Way Am I Going, What Day of the Week Is It and Who's My Daddy?
The family and I took a vacation over the 4th of July Weekend and drove to San Antonio, also called "SA" (not to be confused with "esse") which, when I was a kid in high schoool and college in far S. Texas, was a common destination for us young pups, er, ah, studs looking for excitement.
Back then, in the Greater Cretaceous Era, it was the only place to go to see concerts by real rock & roll bands (like Bloodrock, Jefferson Airplane or Jethro Tull) and was my first exposure to the Hari Krishna group that to this day still exists in SA and that we actually saw in front of the Alamo .... wow ..... was I surprised after 40 years .... (boom, boom, boom, "Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hari, Hari" ..... dance like a maniac in heat ... jump up an down .... ponytail swinging ....). My 15 year old got shy when I volunteered to take her over to introduce her. I wanted to pay the boys a sawbuck for quick dance. She may never fully understand Dad's sense of humor. Oh well. Maybe next time.
In fact, when I was was in college and was in a fraternity (an official "Frat Rat" as-it-were, still got the pledge and actives' pins to prove it) SA was known as a "One Case Drive"; that is, in a car with 2 to 3 Frat Rats, we went thru' a case of beer each to make the trip, ergo, a "One Case Drive". Back then (well before the open container law stopped everyone from drinking and driving) we had the ice chest between the two rats in the back seat and the junior had to dig out the beer cans and open them for us. We measured not by miles but by case with Corpus Christi being a mere 6-pack (each) and SA being a full case each (oh man we ..... watered ..... a lot of trees ... on the trip).
To go Full-Tilt-Zen for the moment; SA just ..... "IS" ... assuming you're a Texican and if you're not then you wish you were. It "IS" the Capital City of the Galaxy. It has The Alamo, the one true place of true sacrifice and heroism, and The Menger Hotel which is right next door to The Alamo and which is where Teddy Roosevelt recruited The Rough Riders who went to Cuba and kicked some serious Spanish Booo-taay. Plus it's where Mi Tierra is which was founded the year I was born (they knew I was coming). When such notables as Mushashi and Zeus are in town they always stop in for plate of nachos and a can of Tecate with a slice of lime on top of it.
So if you're a Texican then SA (or San Antonio) "IS" the center of The Universe and the hub of what it means to be Texan. AND, all true Texicans have to raise a toast to Teddy while sitting at The Bar at The Menger before they die while drinking a Spanish beer (glass of wine .... phfffbt). The place has old Teddy clothes and pictures on display everywhere and is pretty amazing. Even Bill Clinton had to make the Mandatory Pilgrimage to The Menger when he was POTUS and he signed his picture on the wall and wrote that eating Mango ice cream at The Menger is to die for.
So we're driving from Houston/Katy to SA and just getting out of the city limits is an effort, what with all the people trying to escape Houston and get to The Capital of the Universe (SA). I can't blame them because while Houston has more jobs, SA has more class and pizzazz and elegance and soul so who wouldn't want to escape? Even Dallas pales in comparison.
So we finally hit the edge of the city and the speed kicks up to about 85-90 (I can't drive at anything less than about Warp Factor 4) and we're cruising, we're making time to get there and we're playing tunes and we're talking about lunch at Mi Tierra (their chicken mole is ..... ummmmm ..... drool ..... gawd the mole is just ORGASMIC .... whimper ..... ) and suddenly the traffic just .... stops!!
So I'm going with some major WTF"S and the wife is going "Huh" and the kid is going "Hey Dad are we there yet?" Are we there yet? So do I strangle you now or strangle you later?
And we crawl, and we crawl, and we crawl and the kid looks up and says, "Hey Dad! Look at that!" and someone WALKS BY ON FOOT AND THEY'RE GOING FAST THAN I AM! And I'm going WTF and we look over and people are actually driving their Mercedes and Beemers up the side of embankments and thru' ditches and down the shoulders and then coming back again because the creek is blocking them and people are honking and screaming and I'm telling the kid to keep the doors locked and windows up because I'm thinking any second now ......
And we finally get to a rest stop and there is like 30 or 35 semi-trailer rigs parked there waiting and we see one trucker sitting under his trailer in a lawn chair reading a book and drinking. And teenage girls in short-short cheek-peekers are running from car to car knocking on windows and talking to people and cars are in park and people are opening ice chests and firing up BBQ pits and drinking beer and having sex and ....... well .... to be honest they weren't really having sex but I can guarantee you that somewhere out there in the brush .............
So after about two full hours of this snail-like safari thru' the wilds of central Texas we finally pull up next to a guy in a grey pickup and the wife and he exchange "WTF's" a couple of times and he says that based upon his crystal ball (maybe he had a single sideband in his truck) that a truck had an accident and had caused a HazMat issue and the highway was going to be closed the rest of the day ..... oh ..... joy ..... were're still 150 miles outside SA and in the middle of NOWHERE! and Mi Tierra has my cerveza on ice with waitresses waiting to take my order.
So literally, no exageration, after a full TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF JOY we start to pick up speed and the walkers and joggers are being picked up by their rides and we start to roll and we get to the HazMat accident and ......................... grrrrrr ..... it's on the other side of the road.
It was NEVER on our side. We're on a divided highway with the divided lanes a good 100 yards apart with a steel cable fence between with a posted 75 mile speed (which in Texas actually translates to 85 mph minimum speed with a max of no more than 100) and the damn rubber neckers have LITERALLY backed up traffic from the location of the wreck to a town called Flatonia which is a good 30 miles behind us.
Hmmm ..... pull out the slide rule .... 30 miles x 5,280 feet per mile = 174,600 feet / 18 average feet in length per car = 9,700 car x 2 lanes = 19,400 cars backed up behind us. Oh - My - Freaking - Gawd.
O - M - G .... a frakkin' 30 mile traffic backup because the damn rubber neckers have to stop to look at what? A tanker truck that didn't even turn over but only sprung a leak? A bunch of firefighters spreading sand and chemical disperant foam on the highway?
Woo Hoo .... a chemical spill.
Now a gun fight between cartels on the side of the road using rpg's and SAW's, a herd of brahma cattle being riden by Lady Madonna in drag as the cattle have sex, a conjunto band in tight pants led by a Guatemalan Tom Jones look-alike playing ranchero music and giving out free cerveza ... now THAT'S worth stopping for ........... but a bunch of guys in baggy pants spreading sand?
And ergo part 1 of this blog. People today have uninteresting lives with little to no meaning such that a simple chemical spill is enough to catch their interest and have them stop their vehicles in the middle of the road so that they can gawk and look and pull out their cell phones and Pin Interest and Instagram and gawd knows what else.
...................... "Moo. Moo-Moo. Moo I said. Hey Mabel, why are we stopping?"
"Because the Official Wearer of the Cow Bell has stopped to look at a coyote."
"Ok. But I'm hungry and thirsty and need to get the calves home so they can eat."
"That doesn't matter. The Cow Bell stopped to look at coyotes."
"What are the coyotes doing?"
"Taking a nap."
"But coyotes are too small to bother us and they are taking a nap and are not important and getting the calves home is."
"Doesn't matter. Hand me my cell phone so I upload a picture of a sleeping coyote to Cow-A-Gram."
"How do I do that? I don't have any hands."
"So use a couple of teats." ...................
See. Like cattle. Herd moves. Herd stops. Herd moves. Herd stops. No reason. Just "is".
Once upon a time people had real interests, real hobbies, real interests and understood the difference between things that matter and things to be ignored, and that higher-class of people would have just driven past after a brief look to be sure that help wasn't needed and that people weren't in trouble.
"Ok folks. Now moving on to something more important! Keep the hands inside the ride at all times please. Little Johnny, roll up the window and stop slapping your sister. And pass me a cerveza with some lime. We have more important things to do and people to see."
Once ascertaining that the crisis/incident was contained they move on because it is not important to their life, safety or existence and not worth the effort or time. Instead we had a herd of cattle 30 miles long.
I have become convinced that most, the majority of people today are completely unable to understand the difference between the important and the unimportant. Their lives have become shallow and have no meaning and the least little difference (like the movie where the dog says, "Squirrel") attracts their attention and causes them to focus on that event, no matter how insignificant even if it means not being aware of something much more important; like the car overheating or the gunfire from 4 cars back or that 747 taking out the cornfield.
Their lives are mundane and blah. They have not developed outside interests and they are living colorless lives in b&w. Their lives consist of wake, job, get drunk, have sex, sleep, repeat.
They have no imagination and no view of the scope of their own potential and they have a limited vide of just how far out the horizon is in terms of what they could accomplish.
And this in my view has become a problem that as Budoka, people like us don't have. Budoka, because we deal with a more serious view on life can tell the difference between what needs to be Instagramed and posted to FB and what does not. We deal with joint locks and sticks brushing our eyelashes so we compute pretty quickly what matters and what does not as we progress and make the connections between life in the dojo and life outside the dojo. It just changes all your reference points and they become universal and distinguishing the critical from the mundane becomes just a little easier.
You can discuss all kinds of reasons for its' importance but since this is supposed to be a blog about martial arts I guess I should stay on that topic ..... at least a little.
I, like every other Sensei in the galaxy get regular calls on a weekly/daily basis from people who want to learn martial arts but really have absolutely no idea why. Some of course immediately blurt out, "Self-defense" or "Self-improvement" so I immediately say, "Welcome home" and we get them on the mat because they have actually made the effort to do some research and have decided that martial arts should become an important part of their lives for set reasons of physical fitness, self-defense, intellectual study, historical significance, whatever. They have actually looked at it and decided it is important to devote time for the long term can tell that Budo is important and beer down at the sports bar or passing a dead dog on the side of the road is not.
Quite a bit different from the dog in the movie ..... "SQUIRREL!" or the people driving, who should be focused on the joy of the trip and thinking about time with the family and watching the road as they make 85 mph instead of having their attention diverted by .... "OILSPILL SQUIRREL" and almost plowing up someone's rump. Those that don't know why they want to do MA, I think, just looked at a picture or web site and went "SQUIRREL!" and their focus and attention lasted until the next Pin Interest or Tweet came across their cell and they went to get a new tatoo.
Think about it. You're walking down the street and the magician (aka the gang member says) "Now watch my right hand" as his left hand guts you because you were unable to distinguish the important from the trivial and were unable to focus longer than ...... "SQUIRREL!"
"Martha! Get out your cell phone and take a pic and upload it quick!"
Part 2 next ... "A Lack of Class"
Aikibudokan, Houston, Texas