Friday, July 29, 2011

The one sure event - Death

For the samurai to learn
There's only one thing,
One last thing -
To face death unflinchingly.
- Tsukahara Bokuden (1489-1571)

In this lifetime, I have been the bringer of death; I have been the enemy of death.  On the battlefields of the Middle East, I was the instrument of death, the bringer of artillery and ruthless fire upon those who opposed our advance.  It was this road that eventually led me to the path I follow today, the enemy of death.  

I now walk a path to make sure that death is held at bay until it is truly welcome.  We all take a journey through this life.  The only thing that is certain is the passing of this lifetime.  At an early age, the age of 14, I learned that death can come at any moment.  It was an early morning on Thursday, May 20, 1982, that my father passed on to the other side.  It would be many, many years later before I accepted this moment in my life.  It only became acceptance when I realized that my dad was gone, the ones alive where those he left behind. We should live, everyday in the Here and Now.

Today, the word goes out that the man who went on to marry my mother, my stepfather, has begun his journey on the other side.  The family grieves and strives to find acceptance on the passing.  He had 70 years on the earth and fathered two wonderful men.  He provided balance to my mother.  Now he has passed on, to find what lies on the other side.

I will not tell you how he died; I will tell you how he lived.  My stepbrother summarized it nicely, “Father, Brother, Uncle, Friend, Obnoxious Jerk at times, but much more often a loving, caring man...”  This is the remembrance we must embrace.  Remember the lessons of life and not the lessons of death.  Hold those precious moments in your spirit so that they may light the path ahead.

The Samurai did not fear death.  It was a natural part of life.  We exit the womb with only one thing that is a surety.

I have no parents; I make the Heavens and the Earth my parents.
I have no home; I make the Tan T'ien my home.
I have no divine power; I make honesty my Divine Power.
I have no means; I make Docility my means.
I have no magic power; I make personality my Magic Power.
I have neither life nor death; I make A Um my Life and Death.
     - 1st Refrain, Samurai Creed, 14th Century

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Situational Awareness

Not a day goes by that our fair city has another crime making the headlines.  Some blame the heat, the education system, the lack of activities for young adults, the drug problem, and on and on.  No matter what is motivating those who turn to crime, the rest of us can benefit from a good sense of situational awareness. 
Many cases I read about involved women who were attacked while they were on their cell phone.  I have a real pet peeve about people who stay glued to their cell phones a majority of the time.  I will be the ‘grumpy old guy’ and tell you that ‘in my day, while we were walking two miles uphill both ways to school in the snow’ that a cell phone was used for emergency purposes.  Nowadays, it is a fashion accessory, glued to an ear while driving, walking, and, yes, even standing at a urinal doing our business (seriously).  One detriment is the loss of situational awareness.  In the cases I cited, the women (and men are just as guilty) become so wrapped up in their conversations, they lose touch with what is going on around them.  I do a lot of walking, a lot of people watching.  You can always tell the vets, the martial artists, the ones who have some training in situational awareness.  Their gaze goes to hands, to center of body movements, to a quick glance at another person’s eyes.  Their gaze is in constant movement, not noticeable to the extreme, just quick glances to all cardinal points, expanding peripheral vision to take in every minute detail, every perspective, every moment in the Here and Now.    
Situational awareness is not just about threat assessment.  It is about soaking in the environment.  Here is an example:  Walked two miles to the river for my morning run.  A period of that walk was before the sun came up through a rough part of the city.  While my ‘senses’ were expanded, I noted several individual youths just hanging out.  I also noticed the large Savannah fountain and how nice it looked lit up.  I hit the river path for my three mile run.  About 70% of that path is cobblestone.  A different type of situational awareness is needed to make sure I navigate the stones successfully.  As I make the turn onto the river, the sun is coming up over my right shoulder.  In the river a tugboat is guiding a large cargo ship out to the sea.  Porpoising in front of the ship are Georgia bottleneck dolphins.  Shop owners are sweeping the sidewalks in front of their businesses.  Other runners pass by and we share greetings.  The city slowly rises from its slumber and a new day starts.  Can you feel the happiness?  Can you feel the joy of a new day?
Use your situational awareness to remain in the Here and Now.  Be ever cautious of those who would do you harm, but don’t let the happiness and joys of a beautiful surrounding pass you by in your journeys.  Live your life!  Have situational awareness!