What do you want?

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by James Eke

This life is full of choices.

Do we do this? Do we do that? We like this. We don’t like that.

What we choose and how we choose it in a lot of ways defines the way we operate.

We live in a time where we want what we want right now. Order a pizza and it is a few minutes late and we freak. Something not going the way we want right this second and we lose patience. Things taking too long and we give up. Something is tough so we cut corners thinking that it is ok and we’ll fix it up later.

In our training what we learn is that patience is important. Nothing good or great comes easily. The best things are those that we have to work at, that take time, that require sweat and the need to endure.

The same holds true for everything in life. You want to go to a doctor who went through some hard times studying to become a great doctor, not someone who just had things handed to them and slid through.

Jobs, friendships, relationships, homes, life — it all requires effort, steadfastness and the vision to see that this thing is actually good for me despite the fact it is causing some effort and maybe a bit of grief. Like they say, ‘hard work pays off.’

Of course you can quit. You can look at the thing you have and think, ‘well, this is too tough and I want what is at the end but I want it right now, and don’t feel like waiting,’ so you give in and give up.

The world is full of people like that. People who find out you train in the martial arts and will talk for hours about how they ‘used to’ train. Of course this means they quit. They gave up. It was too hard, took too much time, required too much effort and commitment and they turned their back on what could likely have been the best thing in their life.

Look at your own life. What things do you give up on? Who have you given up on?

We all look at life in a way that seems to say we will be around forever. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Life has bookends on either side. The stories between are all those things you have done for good or bad.

Training to have a realized life means looking at our lives and really examining what it is that we do and the things and people that make us better — and then sticking with those that amplify our life and make it better, healthier, stronger.

We want to get into better shape but don’t want to do push-ups or even get off the couch — well guess what? Life isn’t like that. You have to do what is hard and work at it and never stop. It doesn’t mean though that it will be quick and easy. Getting good at push-ups can be really hard. But you start small. One push-up, every day. Build on it. When you can do that you make it two. Before you know it you and stronger and better. Maybe you’ll be pounding off dozens of the things and won’t be able to remember not being able to do a single one before.

It might be easier for you to push people away because things aren’t always easy and people can, well, suck but those people who matter deserve to be treated that way. Regardless of the bits that you don’t like.

Martial Arts training is no different. You start unable to maybe do a roundhouse kick right. Your teacher tells you how to do it but you just keep doing it your way. One day you realize that the teacher was right. You’ve injured yourself or have such bad habits with your technique that fixing things is way harder.

So what does a person do?

First off, slow down. Breathe. Look at the people, things and everything in your life and ask yourself if in the long run this effort is worth it. You’ll know. You’ll say to yourself, ‘this guy despite the hard bits brings so much to me,’ or ‘this Jiu-Jitsu thing is hard but I could actually be a Jiu-Jitsu black belt in 10 years and that is crazy and amazing and will be harder than I know, but worth it’ or ‘I want that job so bad and I am going to have to do a lot of work to get it but in the end it will be incredible.’

The best things take time. They take effort. They take patience.

You might get disheartened. That is part of life. You might even make some rubbish choices and end things with this or with that but the cool thing about life is that you can always admit you were wrong to throw in the towel and say you are sorry for that mistake and get back at it. You’d be surprised at what is possible if you just don’t give up. In the end, having faith and believing in someone, something and yourself is what matters the most.

So, don’t give up. Keep at it. When you stumble and mess up, pick yourself back up, take three deep breaths and get back at it.

Have faith. It will work out, you’ll see.

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