:: I enjoy serenity ::
Monday, September 15, 2003
Tyson was one of the meekest people Iíd ever met, and, somewhat fittingly, his Tai Chi technique was exceptional. Iíd watch him snake limberly through fluid forms well beyond my recognition with the skill of a practiced expert, though he was only 18 at the time. The right-hand man of the schoolís founder/instructor/jester/serial-womanizer, he served as the reserved counterbalance to his teacherís flamboyant persona, assuaging our anxiety by tempering the latterís outlandish claims of expected progress and imposed monastic discipline. When sifuís demands, as intense as they were jocose, would rattle us (or, more often, leave us chuckling and distracted) Tyson would guide us back to focused study with a soft paternal hand.
Though we attended the same high school and, only being separated by a year, would occasionally socialize together, it is the Tyson I knew through Tai Chi that I remember most today. There, his passivity paradoxically conferred an unaccustomed puissance upon him: the confidence of a man whose manner is entirely consonant with his environs. Perchance this ease persisted for the remainder of his night... perhaps this is why, in the midst of giving him the occasional ride home, he would take the rare opportunity to divulge his idiosyncratic theories on life, the state of things, and just about everything.
One of Tysonís primary beliefs - unsurprising given his demeanor - was that, the first several decades of life (I never could get him to specify the exact length with any satisfactory level of precision) should be spent in a state of voracious preparation and learning. Oneís information flow should be asymmetrical in favor of intake almost to the point of being unidirectional. Past some critical threshold (the unspecified point at which the decades in question have passed), the flow should reverse itself, and oneís time should be devoted to action. In short, the first phase of life was best spent preparing, and the second, doing. This was not a groundbreaking assertion by any means, but the calm assuredness and consistency with which it was expressed ensured it an indelible place in my memory.
I think often now about the transition in question and have preoccupied myself of late with its vacillating estimated applicability to my own life and with the complication of a minor wrinkle: some learners in question grow very accustomed to learning. A robust routine - a homeostasis or sorts - creates a bulwark to change. Preparation becomes doing. The battering ram-as-catalyst to smash this must come from the outside, a push from the nest to incite flight.
Iím talking, of course about reinstating the draft. Beyond reinforcing our current men and women in uniform with the added power of hundreds of thousands of conscripts so needed in these troubled times, it would light a vital fire under the individual asses of so many young people wallowing in the mire of self-perpetuating study. The push into action will unearth the latent reservoirs of study and, like a sponge squeezed, douse the fires of the undone, from whose smoking ashes will rise the pungent smell of progress. The dogs will like us - and why shouldnít they? Who brings treats for them? THEIR MASTERS.
Posted by morland @ 03:21 PM
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