Working for the weekend (a.k.a. paradise)

It’s funny when one considers the usefulness of martial arts, or anything else. You’ll probably never need to use it. Most people who do use this stuff, do so out of choice (realistically it should only be do-or-die). Of course, this has been covered elsewhere. But my point is relevant because the same goes for almost everything. Lots of people save money their whole lives and never spend it or save it for emergencies that never happen. Some people become well-read experts on philosophy and then never have to engage in a logical debate for any reason except sick personal pleasure.

So it makes you think… who does need to legitimately use stuff? Government scientists? The military? Politicians? Business moguls? The more power a person has, the more important we take their decisions to be, the more often we consider their actions as significant. That kind of power seems to be what everyone in society admires or envies the most; the ability to influence or sway large masses of people. But a lot of powerful people are careless and make typically unwise decisions, which impact everyone on a very direct economic or community level. This is not surprising though, as to get mad military or political power, you have to give up a part of yourself that is very precious.

At the other extreme of social irresponsibility, are people who refuse to take any consciously active steps in the direction of their lives or actions. I once had an idiotic friend who could never get his life together. Drug addiction, stealing, failing out of school, lying — all the bad stuff you could do without getting violent he pretty much did. I think they were mostly self-destructive things, but anyone around him got pulled along for the ride. Appropriately, in his brief swings of sobriety he would start talking about how spiritually advanced or enlightened he was in comparison to everyone else — he was a real piece of work. One of the million times he had cleaned up his act and gone clean temporarily, he started chatting me up about how important it is for us to get out there and help the poor unprivileged people. You know, he was basically saying we should throw cash in the streets of Africa and give everyone shelter and food.

Now, I don’t actually think that helps anyone. I think that temporarily assuages a crisis. But the thing is, this guy was championing these marvelous humanist ideas before he had ever made a single car payment, paid his own rent, cooked his own food or (most necessary of all) spent consistent time practicing a skill. How on earth could he possibly help other people if he was pissing off his friends and relying on his parents while repeatedly getting addicted to drugs? Unreal.

His spoiled-rotten charity sounds almost like the inverse version of a ’70s Japanese Yakuza movie or something. Taxi Driver-type stuff, amirite? Total psycho screw-up goes all out to save an abused prostitute from being a sacrifice for a rich-kid fraternity. A loathsome person with ugly methods does a virtuous thing that the “upstanding” community services are too lazy or afraid to do. Of course, these kinds of idiot-savante superheros are pretty rare. Their help is sort of arbitrary. It doesn’t seem… dependable?

To be human is to experience pleasure and suffering. The internal peace we all claim to desire probably culminates in a non-human existence. A lot of people lose track of peace, or when they talk about peace it’s like they’re blowing hot air. In other words, most people don’t want to fess up to their subtle belief that it’s fun to have problems. Even when people try to claim that’s not true, that they don’t like drama, don’t they still like it when there are unfortunate people for them to help? Those are still problems, albeit not one’s own. So that’s a problem there, isn’t it? The problem of subtly desiring problems to solve.

And then we all think, “but not me! I see how the world is for real. I’m a good person. I like everybody!” Which is just more typical sandwich counter baloney. People reveal who they are during disasters or horrible situations and threatened circumstances. It ain’t pretty. When the average person is confronted by terrible fear or lust or anger or any other strong emotion, they become possessed and blank out. When they come to, they’ve done something they regret.

That is the craziness of life, my friends. Deep realization is often comprised of personal factors of responsibility, consistency — an embodiment of faith. Not faith in the magical, make-believe way. Faith as in, action without question. Something needs to be done and you do it. But it’s not the same as just being a hard worker or a military man, ‘coz enlightened folks are morally perfect and nice and charming.

Ultimately, in life you don’t have to do anything. But you’ll be (more) miserable if you do nothing. So you do stuff. End of story. Existential problems solved.

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4 Responses to “Working for the weekend (a.k.a. paradise)”

  1. parallelsidewalk Says:

    “I once had an idiotic friend who could never get his life together. Drug addiction, stealing, failing out of school, lying — all the bad stuff you could do without getting violent he pretty much did. I think they were mostly self-destructive things, but anyone around him got pulled along for the ride. Appropriately, in his brief swings of sobriety he would start talking about how spiritually advanced or enlightened he was in comparison to everyone else — he was a real piece of work. One of the million times he had cleaned up his act and gone clean temporarily, he started chatting me up about how important it is for us to get out there and help the poor unprivileged people. You know, he was basically saying we should throw cash in the streets of Africa and give everyone shelter and food.”

    I’m wondering if we somehow share friends.

    I’ve kind of given up on martial arts at least for the time being. The whole warrior ethic I was trying to live up to seems at odds with so much else about me.

  2. *gasp* Maybe I’m you?!

    I got over a lot of anxieties and depression issues when I was younger by doing MA. The stoic, heroic aspects of the martial arts seemed pretty sweet (and spiritually intoxicating) when I was younger but then I realized they’re techniques for killing and maiming.

    Killing and maiming bad guys, of course! All those bad guys who jump at you one at a time and throw really committed single punches…

  3. parallelsidewalk Says:

    Yeah, Martial Arts has been a good and bad thing for me on several levels. My first real teacher and a lot of the senior students were fucked up and abusive and I didn’t realize it at the time. It took some distance to think “holy shit, I really should not have put up with x, y, and z”, but at the same time, it helped refine my personality in a better direction, at least somewhat. Also, while I’ve studied Capoeira, Judo, Aikido, Tai Chi, and Ba Gua, all pretty mellow disciplines in terms of actual potential for violence (I’ve never been a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu type of guy), it’s easy to get caught up in this whole mystical ideal of whatever and forget that yes, you are learning to cause harm to people. At least when I go to the range to fire guns, there’s no illusion about what I’m doing. Lately, I was planning to seriously pursue Aikido, and stopped and asked myself; you work almost 60 hours a week and take two classes right now. Would you keep up with it? And if you did, what would you do with it exactly? Do you just reflexively want to feed the part of your ego that enjoys the (presumptive) ability to throw people around more readily than the next guy? I decided to wait until I have my motives and abilities all more sorted out than they are now.

  4. I think, like almost anything in life, you meet a really good teacher or a group of cool people and that drives you to stay on. I’m sort of a freak and can’t stop doing Taijiquan, which I attribute largely to my teacher. Even when I’m out of the country for extended periods I practice every friggin’ day. But every other thing I’ve practiced I eventually quit because it had become draining to practice. ‘Course, as pros will tell you, it ain’t salt to practice for 3 years or 5 years. You gotta practice for like 10 years before you really are in the club.

    If a martial arts practice isn’t making a person happier, friendlier, healthier and more energetic, they shouldn’t do it. Same for everything I guess, right?

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