This has been an compelling year, with many challenges and surprises. As I have solidly entered into my early forties, I can say without a doubt that all my years of training have paid off in huge dividends. While training properly brings the virtue of vibrant health, the real gem is being of sound mind.
Knowing when to be quick and decisive when needed, or patient enough to wait out a situation are just some of the rewards gained and used. This is all too clear to me now, as my Sensei is getting older, as are my parents, and my daughter is in grade school. I have become the center conduit that holds all of these things together. While the pressure can be high at times, and many would stray away from training, I do the exact opposite. When the heat is on, that is when I step it up. Instead of resisting life and attempting to push it away, I find relief in the center of the storm.
"A Martial Artist bears the Unbearable!" Sensei likes to tell me. Having endured his intense discipline has given me perspective, and an ability to observe Life as it is, not what I want it to be. Having a disciplined undisturbed mind brings peace and eases the emotions. Steady practice and becoming a devout Buddhist has allowed me to have a clear mind, and to make correct choices. I have learned what it means to be a trustworthy person, a dutiful teacher, and a true friend. It is from this that I have found true joy that I have never experienced before.
This Christmas Eve, it is my hope that your training has brought you the same benefits as it has to me. I would encourage everyone to embrace Life and its challenges with an open heart and without fear. Express yourself fully, experience the marvel of the life within you in every breath. Do not waste it.
Merry Christmas, and God Bless!