Years ago I stood in my martial arts uniform in front of a table. Behind the table sat a young man. A young teen aged man. He was testing me. He was quizzing me on my terminology for a promotion test.
It didn’t matter to me that he was much younger than I. I respected his rank and what he had achieved to be sitting behind that table.
I respected him even more after the test.
He asked me questions pertaining to the rank I was testing for. He was asking me questions pertaining to the information I had been given to study.
I regurgitated everything back that I had learned from those papers.
I told him how the warriors defended their country. How they worked diligently and persevered to do what had to be done. How they trained. How they were disciplined, loyal and devoted to their country. Soldiers.
He listened to my rote answers patiently.
Then he said “how do you live these things? For your country?”
That wasn’t on the paper…
There was nothing on that paper about me. It was historical. It was about these fella’s that had lived and fought two thousand years ago.
I stumbled and had no idea how to step off of the papers I had studied, and apply concepts and tenets to my own life.
I wasn’t a soldier. And even though I was working hard on my martial arts I wasn’t a warrior either. I am not graceful when I stumble.
He waited patiently to give me a chance to pull back from my free falling.
It was one of the best lessons I received from martial arts. From this young man. He hadn’t lived but half as long as I, but he already knew how to think for himself. Learn about something, and take from it lessons he could apply to his own world.
I still stumble. But I’m a little more graceful.
Thinking for one’s self isn’t always graceful. But it is truly the best way.
I thank him, often.
You wouldn’t believe the world that opened up when I learned to think for myself.