May 10, 2017, Israel, the early hours of the morning
It is the early hours of the morning and I cannot sleep. So instead of fighting myself I will put some thoughts into words. I hope it will make sense. When I first began martial arts training more than 30 years ago I read every relevant book and magazine that I could find. In particular I read everything and anything that Bruce Lee wrote.
Now I know that many of his ideas were borrowed from others, so what? He introduced many of us to concepts we had not experienced before. One sentence that has been rolling around in my mind for over thirty years is, "The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment." (Tao of Jeet Kune Do)
Now this short statement was written in regard to fighting and has significance in that regard. This has in fact greatly influenced my approach to fighting over the years and many concepts in IKI Krav Maga. But we shall leave that for another time.
I want to relate to this in terms of life, how to live, how to be happy.
My friend Phil just passed away but not before fulfilling his lifelong dream of living in Israel. In fact he merited to be buried in Jerusalem, most likely the first member of his family to achieve this honor in 2,000 years. Let's apply Bruce Lee's concept.
If Phil had tried to anticipate the outcome of this engagement it would look something like this: I want to move to Israel but I do not speak the language, will I be able to find a job? I have no real skills other than selling books but how can I sell books if I do not speak the language? I have no savings how will I manage? How will I retire?
This would be his thought process if he were anticipating the outcome. But he just came and it all worked out. Now I am not saying live your life in a reckless manner without concern for the future, not at all! What I am suggesting is if we anticipate the outcome we paralyze our life process.
We begin a relationship; a personal relationship, a business relationship, a friendship or a romance. And we anticipate the outcome, we begin to over think it. More than 30 years ago my friend Robert was worried. We were classmates in LA and he knew I was returning to Israel, what would become of our friendship?
Well, more than 30 years have passed and many things that we could not anticipate at the time happened. My career in Krav Maga has allowed me to travel to the USA on a regular basis. Modern technology has allowed us to communicate freely for free! we can see each other while talking. Who could have anticipated that back then?
Perhaps if we had over-thought it we might have said - Why even bother becoming friends, it will only lead to disappointment, we will never see each other again.
This idea of anticipating the outcome controls and stifles our present actions. We condition our current actions based on what we anticipate will happen in the future. We will tend to fear the future more than embrace it. We will be afraid to take chances. We will not flow and we will not welcome unexpected serendipity in our lives.
How many wonderful opportunities do we pass up?
You are on vacation, it is your last day in Madrid. A beautiful Spanish woman approaches you and sits at your table. But wait! What is the point? She is far too beautiful to be interested in you. And it is the last day of your vacation, there is no time to develop a relationship. And you do not speak Spanish and...and...and...
You are anticipating the outcome of the engagement and this is the big mistake. You have no idea where this might take you. Embrace this opportunity. See where it leads you. Years later you might be telling your grandchildren how you met their grandmother.
Again I am not saying one should ever run full force without evaluating a situation, not at all. I am saying the concept here is not to kill the opportunity for fear of what might happen.Thinking too long term prevents the short term from happening, and it is here that we live.
Anticipating either success or failure is a focus on something far away, so you are never in the present. You are never fully shining. You are not in the here and now. You need to be here, and now.
You want to be a professional guitar player but...how will you pay the bills, what if people do not like you, you anticipate difficulties, you are never here, in the moment, playing your music. You need to be here. You need to be in the moment, you need to let it be and your tools will strike at the correct moment.
Did the Beatles anticipate the outcome? Did Sylvester Stallone anticipate the outcome when he said that he must star in his own movie when he was completely unknown and unproven as an actor?
Some opportunities come only once but if we are busy anticipating the outcome we will never take a chance. Great things start with small windows of opportunity opening. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, a laugh.
Everything in life is fleeting and we rarely get a second chance. Life is full of regret and should of, could of, would of.
This sentence has been rolling around in my mind for over thirty years. I am not sure if I managed to express this fully here. I hope this makes sense to someone. It is time to play your song.
Update January, 2019: My dear friend Robert worried; how will we keep in touch, will our friendship survive, perhaps ten years will pass until we meet again etc. I never worried, whatever will be will be. As it turns out my travels allowed me to see my friend on a regular basis. Sadly he passed away recently. This blog was written on May 10, 2017, and I spoke of him. Little did I know that 1 year and 4 days later, May 14, 2018, Robert would pass from this world. A beautiful friendship that lasted more than 37 years because we refused to anticipate the future.
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