Because it is Father's Day I've decided to speak about the role my father played in my life, as it relates to martial arts and the warrior archetype. As I was growing up I wasn't aware of what I was striving towards, but looking back on my young self, it's obvious to me that since I hit adolescence I have been seeking to personify the righteous warrior. That term sounds silly, but it's the best way I know to describe it. This seeking has had its boons and repercussions, but where did the seeking come from?
I can distinctly remember the first time my father introduced me to martial arts. It was after watching a television episode wherein a father teaches his children, who are in danger of being eaten by dinosaurs, some karate techniques. I guess it inspired my dad, because after that episode he had us doing katas from what I think was kung fu. From that point on, every few months, my father would slap box with me, wrestle, and stress the importance of being kind and never using force to harm another person unless you had no other choice. These small training sessions, and the lessons that went along with them, were fun, but they didn't change my world perspective. No doubt they planted seeds that would guide me as I grew older, but even now I only half remember them.
There is however, one moment that I remember perfectly clear. When I was a child, I had what might be called night terrors. To put it simply, I literally believed that a werewolf was going to claw through my wall, or run down the hallway, and eat me. A few times a month I would lose composure and scream for my mom and dad. This didn't go over well at three in the morning, when both of them had full time jobs to work. Their reactions ranged from sympathetic to angry. My father even tried to reason with me.
"Where do you think I'd be if those creatures were real?" my father asked.
"On the roof with a gun?"
"No, I'd be dead," he said.
At that point I fell into another fit of crying, and it certainly didn't put my fears to rest. After many of these episodes, for some reason, my father took a different approach. I screamed, he came to my room, but he didn't turn on the lights, he didn't speak angrily. he quieted me down, and walked me out into the living room. I tried to flip on the lights, but he stopped me.
We sat in the living room. Light from the moon snuck in from between the curtains. The house had an eerie feel to it in the dark. I hadn't ever sat in it like this. If I was ever the one to turn off the lights I ran to my room as quickly as possible. My father took me through a small meditation, then he walked me around the house. We pretended to stalk, to slip from shadow to shadow and hide there in wide martial arts stances. I've no idea how long we did this for, but I went back to bed with a quiet, fearless mind. This taught me many things, but the most important was this. If you fear something, envelope yourself in it. Face it, move toward it, understand it, then gain power from that understanding.
I've gotten into trouble by moving toward my fear and seeking to personify the righteous warrior. It's what caused me to become a foot soldier for the military-industrial complex. I came out lucky on that front, as I don't have any physical or psychological damage to speak of, but it has also guided me toward everything in my life that I consider good and worthwhile. It has allowed me to follow dreams and ideals, rather than easy paths set before me.
Small acts can change a child's life, and give them strength. I believe that contemplating, and acting on that idea can change lives.