Who is leading?

While pondering life’s pathways the other day, I thought about the law of unintended consequences. Most know of it but not necessarily what it is or how it works. I can’t tell you how it works, however I do know that one must think deeply and long when considering the consequences of an action. And that leads me to explain how this law affected me.

I never intended to teach Aikido. Come to that, I never intended to teach Ji Do kwan either but I’ve always felt what many books have said, namely that the universe works in strange ways. My father wanted me to become a teacher and I resisted that very strongly. I quit college after one semester and that act required me to move out of my father’s house in order to avoid his instructions. I wanted to sing, to be an entertainer. The vocal group I sang with as a teenager even performed on the Apollo Theater stage in the mid sixties. We cut two records, one in New York and one in Philly. But we never made the big time. Was that message coming from the universe telling me that I was moving in the wrong direction? It’s hard to say but the roadblocks kept cropping up, sooo. I moved! Several years after that the military called and soon after that ended I got bitten by the Karate bug.

I only intended to learn enough self defense to protect myself and for conditioning but that “bump in the night” happened in the early evening the first time around. You know what I’m talking about, that scary situation for which you are never fully prepared. One example is public speaking which I almost failed in high school. Another is leading a group in a direction that is unfamiliar, or rather into the unknown. I was asked to take over the dojo. Richard Bach said it well in his book entitled “Illusions, ‘The reluctant Messiah: “We teach best what we most need to learn.” And I was off running, making many, many mistakes but little by little gaining some small understandings through experience. I spent 18 years growing into the teaching mode. Then it happened all over again after I had just gotten comfortable teaching Ji Do Kwan. Maruyama Sensei told me to do the same thing; “go out and open a dojo.” At 5th kyu yet. At least I was shodan in Ji Do Kwan when the order, that bump in the night, came flying at me. Now, about this leadership thing; they say that leaders are made, not born. Maybe those who said it were wrong. What do you think?

People keep looking to me for advice on much more than martial arts. They seem to think I have infinite knowledge on psychic and psychological methods of dealing with life. What I do is observe how life unfolds around me and I add the results to my repertoire for usage. For instance, if all traffic would keep to the right lanes on a highway except to pass, smoothness and efficiency would result. Very few drivers operate this way and some states have rules regarding it. This will work inside shopping malls as well but it has not happened.  Common courtesy, civility and consideration for those around you will work as oil or lubrication for the smooth interactions of everyone producing far less stress. Less stress means lower blood pressure. Lower blood pressure means less visits to the doctor, which translates into cheaper insurance premiums which leads to more money in your pocket. And that’s just from paying attention to driving details.

If you ask what all this has to do with Aikido, there are several answers. The first being this: paying attention to the “details” means the “whole” takes care of itself, as in watching the pennies solves the dollar accumulation problem. Pay attention to the details until it becomes second nature, eventually letting go and nature takes its course. No longer seeking, just being and discovering, or rather, uncovering. What, you say? Answers! Answers start to come from inside, not outside in. Relaxation happens; calmness begins to permeate your being; balance becomes a part of your life; you find that you are no longer empty inside and you are happy. It’s all a conscious decision. Over time, looking back one discovers he has become the path, he is no longer treading it, he lives it. Which is why I stated in my shodan dissertation, “Aikido is me dancing life.”

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