Be An Enthusiast

I recently had some guests over for a cookout. This really excited Ringo, my dog. He wasn't excited by the food, but the people. He's a very friendly pit bull mix, he loves it when I have people over, and he kept running back and forth from one person to another as if to say "Hi! How are you? What's going on over here?"

One of my friends remarked, "Well, he certainly is an enthusiast!"

And I thought, wow, that's a really great way to be, isn't it? We should all be enthusiastic about our lives.

And that's what we should be learning here. The biggest lesson of our karate training is, whatever you're doing, do it! All the way! So often when we're doing something we're not doing it 100%. When we're washing dishes or sweeping the floor, we're busy thinking "I don't want to do this." Maybe we start thinking about a TV show or what's for dinner or that cute girl or boy, instead of what we're doing.

And when I put it like that you might think, well, that's not so bad, is it? If I'm doing something that's not fun but thinking about something fun, isn't that better than having my mind in a place that's not fun?

But there are several problems with this. Most obviously, if you're not thinking about sweeping the floor, you're going to do a lousy job of it. That might not be so important if the job is floor sweeping, you'll just have to do it again, but if you're a auto mechanic working on my brakes it would be good for everyone if your mind were on the job, if you worked like you gave a damn. And more, with all that time practicing being somewhere else, when something we think of as "nice" happens we don't know how to be with that 100%! We get so used to not being where we are, that when we do want to be there, we can't.

I remember one time taking class with Kaicho Nakamura. We were doing bo pushups -- that is, pushups done on your fists with a long staff (think a six-foot piece of one-inch diameter oak dowel) under your hands, digging in between your index finger and middle finger knuckles. It's not comfortable. As we gritted our teeth and kiaied our way through it, Kaicho said, "Enjoy your pain."

That's not a statement of masochism; thanks, no, I get no thrill from pain. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But facing up to a challenge, enduring it -- that is something we can be enthusiastic about. And if we can learn to do that in the dojo, it's a skill we can carry into every aspect of our lives.

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