August 3 2015, Durban, South Africa
Of course this sign was meant to say this is not the exit, the exit is the next gate labeled Enter, but the sign inspired this blog. Inspiration is everywhere.
No one ever promised you an easy life. No one ever said it would be easy. You can be born in times of peace but end up living your life in times of war. You can be born a prince but live your life as a slave. You can be born into great wealth and privilege but see all that go up in smoke and need to fend for yourself.
Life has its ups and downs, as the Dude says....Strikes and gutters. Sometimes the downs seem so down, so painful that we do not want to go on. We feel like shouting "Stop the world I want to get off."
But we cannot. We do not choose the date of our birth or the date of our death. We are born and die against our will, so teach the rabbis.
And now we must make the best of it because....there is no exit!
As the old saying goes...this is the hand you are dealt and this is the hand you must play. Some of us are dealt a great hand and others are dealt a more "challenging hand".
I know of a man in Brooklyn, his name was Yehuda, bless his memory. I met him only briefly. He was labeled as "slow" or mentally handicapped. Sadly his family felt he would not bring honor to the family, would hurt the chances of success for his many siblings. He was disowned and left to fend for himself.
And then a couple of years ago I heard that he died. Collapsed on the streets of Brooklyn, alone. But a great man is never truly alone.
His family abandoned him, was ashamed of him, until they learned more about him, after his death. Although his funeral was not publicized by the family it was attended by hundreds.
The young handicapped man had become known as a tzadik, a righteous one. Living alone he attended prayer services every morning in the synagogue. He was uneducated but became self-taught. He fixed things, he drove a cab and he helped people.
If one did not have money, that's OK, he would say, pay me when you can. He was a man of the street and he helped everyone. He knew loneliness and he understood pain. He helped everyone. He was eulogized as one would eulogize a great rabbi. He was the rebbe of the street.
Yehuda of blessed memory was not dealt a great hand in life but he made it a great hand. He added to this world. And so can we.
I am in South Africa teaching a series of IKI Krav Maga seminars and I am hearing many stories. People have a great deal that they must cope with here but they are finding solutions. There is no other way.
There is no exit until...that day comes. So we must make the best of it, we must train hard, we must take the hands we were given and make them our winning cards.
So you have no choice but to contend with this life. I saw this sign during one of our Krav Maga seminars in Durban, South Africa and I made this connection: As there is no exit, improve your chances by training in Krav Maga. Choose not to be a victim. Make a decision to improve your life, learn to protect yourself. There is no exit.
I recall the old story of Solla Sollew, (Dr. Seuss) where there never are troubles, or at least very few.
Solla Sollew is a tale told in the first person by a young narrator who experiences troubles in his life (mostly aggressive small animals that bite and sting) and wishes to escape them. He sets out for the city of Solla Sollew ("where they never have troubles / at least very few") and learns that he must face his problems instead of running away from them. He then goes back home to deal with his "troubles," arming himself with a big bat and resolving that "Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
So we train in Krav Maga so that our troubles will have trouble with us.
Our young hero learns that "I learned there are troubles of more than one kind; Some come from ahead and some come from behind".
There is no exit. But we can make life better, one Krav Maga class at a time.