That's my personal motto. If you read Firehouse Zen with any regularity, you have heard me say it before. If you work with me, you have definitely heard me say it. If I have taught you, I have mentioned it. I live it daily. When I first heard that statement, I was in 8th grade. I was not entirely happy with some of the situations I found in my life. While I didn't have a total appreciation for the meaning of this statement then, I did realize that my destiny would be what I made of it and waiting around for someone else to change it for me wasn't going to happen.
Too much fun and not enough self-discipline on several occasions proved to be near-disastrous. Even into my 20's, I figured I probably wouldn't see 40. To me, "raising my fists" meant that I had to take action on everything. To me, every bully needed to be shoved back, every convention required redefining, every challenge needed taking. While this provides many opportunities for learning about one's limitations, it also has its painful moments. And pain, unfortunately, is sometimes the way we seek to know we are still alive.
But as I began to delve more into the art of strategy, I became more and more amazed at where the lines kept pointing back in a certain direction. Strategy, one finds out after many years of falling on one's face, provides some stability, but more importantly, it channels the energies toward a focused point, conserving your energy for more important battles and concentrating it when necessary for an all-out assault.
As an aside, if you'll indulge me: One of the many amazing things about Zen philosophy is the power in its simplicity. Complexity breeds chaos and chaos facilitates a lack of control. Simplicity creates strength and focus. As I became a young adult and out on my own, I'm afraid my focus didn't get better, it actually got worse. Even today as an older father of three, I find that when I let the issues drive the agenda rather than the other way around, things get hairy. I'm even dealing with it today, with a number of conflicts and not enough time to get them all completed. One might even say that my blogging here today is a waste of my time, but I have found that it is actually a means for me to focus on certain issues. But the point is well-taken.
But there is a time to listen and to re-engage. There is a time to realize your losses, group your survivors, and learn from the lessons provided. There are more often than we like to believe, moments to employ diplomacy, because war for the sake of war solves nothing. Fighting constantly weakens the nation and alienates the people. So there comes a time to employ introspection, understand the situation, and move forward again.
I read once that even if you coat a hand grenade with sugar, it's still gonna hurt when you pull the pin and hand it to someone else. There's nothing like a little does of reality from time to time to remind yourself that while we should make the best attempts to control our future, there is just enough randomness in there to shake things up and if you can't deal with that, then you are going to find yourself on the bad end of more than a few lousy situations. You have to take what you have and try to work with it, because ultimately sitting around crying about it isn't going to change things either. We have to make changes to improve our condition constantly, or live with the circumstances. But those circumstances aren't always bad, they may just be DIFFERENT.
Words without action are useless. Every day I hear words that have no substance. When I speak, I want there to be a lingering desire to create motion, for people to be motivated to do, or to think, or to create. When I step up to the bat, I'm not looking to get on base, I'm pointing at a fence. When I write, I want to feel that bat meeting the ball at the sweet spot, and watching the ball sail over that back wall. But sometimes, we probably need to just reflect.
Consider your situation and take action, but not necessarily take "active action". Sometimes "passive action" can be just as moving.