Have you enjoyed the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio? The lead up to this year's games was interesting to say the least. There were concerns that Brazil would not be ready to host, but today's blog post is a great reminder that you can't always wait for the perfect conditions to start something. Regardless of what the news reported before and during the Olympics, I've been glued to my TV every night, and thoroughly enjoyed the games in admiration of the greatest athletes on the planet. Our guest blogger this week is Antonio Guerreiro, a Wah Lum Sifu (certified Kung Fu Instructor) from...wait for it...Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!! Enjoy.
Imagine a person who wakes up every morning while it's still dark, quickly grabs his coffee, and barely has time to spend with his family because he needs to go to work. It takes hours to get there, on a crowded bus in chaotic traffic. When he arrives at work, he spends the day solving problems, has many responsibilities, and is constantly being pushed by his boss and colleagues. He eats poorly made food in a hurry because he needs to be in an important meeting soon. When the workday ends, he takes the crowded bus again, but this time the road is different. He's not going home, but to the mo gwoon (Cantonese term for "martial building"). Despite the fatigue and stress of the working day, this student gives up hours of extra rest or time with his family to devote himself to learning Kung Fu. After practice, he returns home refreshed and happy, even though he will sleep late. And the cycle begins again the next day.
Now imagine the mo gwoon full of students in a cramped room. One of the students wants to train weapon forms, but the restricted space of the room and the large number of students makes it difficult to move and execute the forms properly. Still, he makes all the necessary adjustments and overcomes the difficulties, practicing his forms with careful attention. Each day he becomes more aware of every movement and distance, and his technique gets better and better.
In another situation, the individual has an old injury, with chronic pain in a joint that he has been feeling for a few weeks. Although the doctor's usual recommendation is to stay home until full recovery, he prefers to keep practicing even with a temporary limitation. In fact, he uses this limitation as a tool to pay more attention to his body, correcting his technique and improving the accuracy of his movements. He especially focuses on aspects that he can develop without necessarily using the injured joint: the internal and emotional aspects of practice.
What do the three above situations have in common? In all of them, the person involved did not wait for the "perfect time" or "ideal condition' to do what he has set out to do. They all could have chosen to practice only when they were more rested, or when the class was not crowded, or when the injury was fully healed.
The practice of Kung Fu shows us that, at any moment, there is no "perfect condition" to accomplish what is to be don and achieve positive results. It is an internal process of self-knowledge, self-awareness, and constant self-improvement. The learning process doesn't depend on favorable external conditions. The greatest lessons, can be learned when we are facing bigger difficulties and inappropriate conditions. As the saying goes, "a smooth sea does not make a skilled sailor."
In life, we face situations when we think: "Is now the best time for me to accomplish this task?" "Does my current situation provide ideal conditions to accomplish my goals?" And in most cases these reflections lead us to procrastination: "I will do it when conditions are best" or "I'll just try when I'm ready." This pattern of thinking only leaves us with shelved projects, unrealized plans, apathetic hearts, and forgotten dreams. In a word, frustration.
You will never have the perfect conditions to do what you really what to do. Even if you have a plan with several different alternatives, even if it foresees and prepares against all sort of mishaps along the way, even if you are the most "ready" you can be; life will always try to change the scenery. Sometimes subtly, sometimes completely, but when it does, your whole plan will fail. I'm not saying it's wrong or a waste of time and energy to devote yourself to planning. Quite the contrary, this is part of the mobilization process; the "move to action." However, we must always be aware of the situation and the consequences, and use the adaptability and flexibility of the mind to effectively accomplish what was once just an idea.
And you there! Why are you still not doing what needs to be done?
Sifu Antonio Guerreiro