Kick the Wheel

Hmm, a rather useful time to know martial arts is when your friends or family members are violent and intoxicated. Hopefully you’re good enough to restrain them rather harmlessly, without incurring serious damage. Strikes tend to do more long term damage to the organs, but manipulating a person’s structure and joints creates back and muscle tension. Of course, that’s presuming you don’t body slam anyone or snap their neck/arm/finger/leg like a twig. And there are certain exceptions to these rules, but whateva. Just don’t knock anybody out with blunt force or trauma if you can avoid it. Restraining people without serious harm is a very necessary quality and a sign of skill.

I bring this up because so many of my close associates in life have turned out to be drug addicts or alcoholics, to greater and lesser degrees. Some of them have disappeared completely or I had to exclude them from my life. It’s really amazing, although I shouldn’t be too surprised. I was no angel myself. Far from it, in fact.

Yet I’m surprised that, as someone who has been addicted to drugs and done many of them, and seen many people close to me become dysfunctional as a result of their addiction, and yet still see more people close to me heading in that direction, I am still powerless in diffusing their problems. Many of the worst tempers I’ve encountered belong to alcoholics. It’s pretty pathetic, but those people are also some of the most dangerous as a result.

They (who?) say an enlightened person is a lot like a newborn baby — that the expert is like the beginner. The difference is that the person coming from the newborn babe is going to cling desperately to everything it encounters in its new environment, and the person becoming the expert desperately wants to pass on everything it has understood about its environment. Too bad nobody knows how to listen or realize anything from information and advice. Learning from advice is like learning martial arts from a book: it’s useless if one doesn’t already some experience to understand it.

Maybe at the end of life, a person realizes that peer pressure is nonsense and that things can only be taught by example, not discussion. More wizened folks desperately want to bestow advice upon someone who needs it, but it never cuts through. “You can lead a horse to water/can’t make it slurp” etc. Because for many people, listening is a form of submission, of humiliation. Too bad, because listening skills are important. They’re a huge function of Taiji and the MA in general, and I’m pretty grateful to have a teacher intense enough to force me to develop them.

Why don’t young people listen? Why doesn’t anyone listen? What does it take to want to listen? Listening is so much more rewarding than doing anything. More evidence for my brilliant desire/willpower synthesis! Talking is like desire, a celebration of arrogance. One cannot listen while talking. But while listening, one can be aware of everything and save energy and avoid bickering. It’s the precept of right speech.

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One Response to “Kick the Wheel”

  1. parallelsidewalk Says:

    This hit a little too close to home in several ways. Very good piece though.

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