In the middle of all that, May is also a sad month for me and what this blog is really about. May is graduation time. While most people celebrate graduation, for me it’s a looming reminder that I’m about to be separated from some young people that I have come to care about a great deal. Kids that have been apart of my life for the last 5-10 years are on the verge of disappearing into the chaotic thicket of life. While, I’m certainly happy and excited for them, from my perspective, it feels like I’m loosing someone close to me.
Inevitably a karate instructor simply ends up being apart of someone’s child hood. There are memories, but young people become so entangled in establishing themselves that people like me inevitably simply become a face on face book, or worse a part of the past. I wish it were that easy for me, but the fact of the matter is that I don’t just care about the kids that come through my program, I come to love them. Martial arts may be a twice a week activity in their lives while they are growing up, but I spend more time at the school than I do at home. These kids are apart of my daily life and as I watch them grow up, they don’t feel like just students, they feel like family.
I watch them grow, smile, and change. I have silently cried with them through divorces, deaths, and sicknesses. I have wiped away tears, hauled them to their feet when they can do better, cleaned and bandaged their wounds, chewed them out when they make bad choices, and plucked splinters out of their feet with tweezers. I dream about their amazing futures and fear for their troubles ahead. How could I not feel sad knowing that little face is not little anymore, and my service in their life is coming to an end.
Oh, I know their will be more, but that’s the funny thing about working with children. There are new kids born every day but not that kid. That kid is unique. That kid adds something to your existence. That kid is special. That kid will break your heart when she leaves. That kid you will warm your week when he drops by to say hi every time he is home from college the first year gone. If your lucky you will get a lunch out of it. It’s also bitter sweat reminder that next year it will only be twice, the year after then maybe once, and the year after that you will be lucky to hear from him at all. Five or six years in she will simply wave at you from across a parking lot if you happen to bump in to her, or you might see that she liked something you posted. Little do they know how much they really mean to you and a simple smile, wave, or a “like” is pleasant but painful at the same time.
Now I don’t like to dwell in melancholy for to long. There are perks. I have friends all over the country. From Alaska to Hawaii, to New York to Texas, I have houses I can crash at in transition to one of my solo adventures. I have tough dedicated and honorable black belts that I can call on if another one of my students needs something in that city. Things as simple as a job referral or not so simple things like an ex boyfriend that needs a reminder how to behave properly . —–Yup folks, when I tell the kids I’m creating my own ninja army, I’m not lying.—– These people will drop everything and materialize like magic if they are needed. I can call on the doctors, lawyers, soldiers, police officers, pharmacist, child psychologists, nutritionists, home makers, engineers, CEOs, information technology experts, and even a politician.
It all comes full circle. It hasn’t happened yet, but soon a few of them will move back to town with their own kids and start their own kids on the black belt journey and the process will start all over again.
Non of this makes it any easier though. This May I am loosing some very valuable people close to my heart. Am I wrong in not wanting it to happen. Is it wrong to wish time could stand still, and you could keep them forever? Should I start training them from day one that they must go to college locally and get a job at Intel? Would that be to selfish? I suppose we could always give them some sort of hormone blocker so that they never grow up in the first place. It might be slightly unethical, but it would save us a lot of heart ache. No. I suppose the march of time is inevitable, but I don’t have to like it. The loss is real. It’s not a platitude.
The Tibetan death meditation taught me that we will loose everything eventually, but that doesn’t mean we have to embrace it. I was trained to be a fighter, and that’s the way I will deal with it. I’m going to kick and scream and fight all the way down, and I don’t give up so easily. All those little faces are worth it. Not only the ones from many years ago, but the ones I will be meeting every week for the rest of my career.
Thank you for reading my blog. As usual I thank you for your your presence in my life, the support you give for my business, my family, and our martial arts community.