Sunday, August 10, 2008

Maybe??

One of the big puzzles in self-defense training is the big gap between how we will imagine we will act when the shit hits the fan and our actual performance. A lot has been written on it, a lot of good research and even good speculation. In our fantasies we are cool-headed and courageous, efficient and dangerous. All too often, in the reality, our hands sweat and our knees start to shake and our brains just won't work, not the way we think they should.

Here's a thought from left field:
What if cowardice is a habit?

What if the big mystery is not the gap between fantasy and reality? What if the big mystery is why we expect bravery when we practice a thousand tiny acts of cowardice every week?

Do you know what I mean? All the people that you love but have never said the words to. All the things that you want to try "some day." The big chance that you didn't take because even though you hated it, you were secure where you were. All of the things that you have done in the name of safety, security and comfort no matter how bored or dead it made you feel. The times when you thought "someone should do something" but decided that the someone wasn't you. It wasn't your job, wasn't your problem...and you lay awake that night thinking of what you wished you had done.

Little white lies- my father used to tell me, "Every lie is an act of cowardice. You never lie unless you are afraid of the person you are lying to." You can rationalize your way around it, but it is dead true. All of your little white lies are a fear of how the person you are lying to might react.

Maybe the mystery is as simple as that. Do the right thing. Live hard. Take chances, and take the consequences that go with them. Dare. Don't sit in comfort wishing for adventure. Maybe just the habit of doing the right thing even when it is scary will translate to self defense. And even if it doesn't, you will have done some fine livin'.

Live hard. Live true.

I wanted to add a quick edit:
Have the courage to listen to intelligent people you disagree with. Don't take the easy path of listening to what people on your said claim that the other side says. Find an intelligent person who disagrees with you on an issue you feel strongly about and listen. Just listen. You are strong enough for that.

14 comments:

Kai Jones said...

I was reading a piece of fiction recently (I know, oh horrors) and there was a great scene. The protagonist, a former cop, was being escorted by her body guards (a temporary but serious threat led to her having body guards) to a party. The bodyguards are both former policemen too: one was let go, the other retired after good service.

At one point she's conversing with the guards and realizes she's avoiding going in the other room at the party because she's afraid. As soon as she says it, she then says therefore it's time to go do it.

The cop who was let go doesn't get it, and the other cop replies that's why he was let go. Not understanding that as soon as you are afraid of something, you must do it or live in fear forever. If you don't practice bravery you won't have it when you need it.

On a parallel subject, have you read Blink by Malcom Gladwell? I'm seeing a bunch of stuff that relates well to your book; it's about quick impressions versus diligent analysis and when each is appropriate. I'll be writing a blog post about it soon.

Kami said...

Great post. I think you're onto something there.

Things that puzzle this other goddess.... said...

I keep telling my kids that it is stretching outside your comfort zone: mentally, emotionally, physically. And it is part of the maturation process to learn how to do that. I'm not always successful, but I'm hoping they'll be better at it. :)

Jake said...

I think you are very much on to something here.

jks9199 said...

I think that courage is definitely a habit. (I don't like the negative connotation of cowardice.) If we choose the path that's harder, the path that takes us out of comfort throughout our life, it's much more likely that we'll do so when we need to. It's comfortable and easy to coast in a job or an assignment that we know and do well; it's a leap of courage to step into a new job or new assignment. It's easy to watch from the sidelines, but to step up and take action when needed is hard. But if we don't do it in the little things -- we won't in the larger things.

It's been said many times, in many ways. See Frost's "The Road Less Traveled", or Aaron Tippin's song "You've Got To Stand For Something".

Steve Perry said...

If you liked Blink, you might enjoy Gut Feelings, by Gerd Gigerenzer; or This is Your Brain on Music, by Danviel J. Levitin; Paul Eckman's Emotions Revealed; The Body has a Mind of Its Own, by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee. All of of these deal with the Augenblick aspects of seeing, hearing, knowing things before you consciously process them.

Lot of research being done in this area.

Hardy said...

Very insightful and convicting Rory. I have never heard the act of lying characterized quite like that before. Does honesty then serve as a judge of one's bravery? To paraphrase the proverb, the person who tames his tongue is stronger than the one who conquers the city. Not impossible, but certainly a battle...a worthy battle.

Sal said...

now you're talking crazy talk.

"shame on you!" (heh)

Sal said...

well observed, concisely put; by the way.

Steve Perry said...

I've been considering this one for a time. A few thoughts:

Agreed, a full and rich life isn't always about safe harbors; then again, a long and happy one isn't all about shipping out to brave hurricanes.

As a young man, I did many foolish things. Risked my ass more than a few times for goals that, in retrospect, were passing stupid. Chancing a fall six stories up just because I wanted to play a practical joke on a buddy? An action that would have left my wife a widow and my two children fatherless?

Who is happier? The old man sitting on his front stoop having a beer and watching his garden grow, or the adrenaline-junkie hoping his last piton will hold as he tumbles down the cliff's face?

If you assume the guy with the beer is dead inside or bored, you could be making a bad assumption. Might be he has been there, done that, and is happy to have the T-shirt. Might be that, having learned the lessons he needed, he is satisfied. Maybe even wise.

You get bored easily. I can't remember the last time I was bored. Different strokes.

Safe harbors or hurricane? In my mind, neither is a better intrinsic choice. There are a lot of brave souls who have picked up guns and gone off to war. There are just as many who fought the good fight in other ways. For me, Mens sana in corpore sano, a sound mind in a sound body, is a good package.

True, nothing ventured, nothing gained. But just as true, there doesn't have to be anything lost, either. Deciding to stay home from an anniversary trip France might be attributed to many things, but I'm not sure cowardice is at the top of the list.

The zen-broom offers as much as the race car. It all depends on your attitude. A contemplative life or one of action? Wondering why somebody might choose the opposite of one you like is valid. Attributing the choice to motive less clean than your own -- could be a mistake ...

mekugi said...

Ride hard, Shoot Straight, Speak the Truth. I dunno what it is about fathers in the NW but there is an unwritten code of being a good human being that seems to permeate growing up into an adult. Maybe it's me...maybe it's the cultural glasses that I have put on since I have been a native Nor'Wester for 20 odd years.Yet, now I walk around in a country full of what I call "Adult-Children" all the time. I am always wondering why their parents are still coddling them and they do not have the internal strength to take care of their own lives, tell the truth, speak their true heart when asked, see into the human condition for everyone other than themselves. I do believe that these are lessons that remained untaught in their households, and since their friends were the same way, they never learned from one another. The white lies, the acts of personal cowardice, the inability to take responsibility for themselves, et alii compound and then supra-numerate in their personal lives. I think the same is true for the United States for many people, but here is it more apparent without the veil of culture blinding me.

FIAWOL said...

Excellent post. Certainly most/many people can learn to overcome fear and hesitation to act with courage when needed. As to lies-the worst lies we tell are those to ourselves, I think. Are people more afraid of themselves, of facing who they are? Possibly many are, and I think any real growth comes from facing THAT fear if you have it.

I think most people never bother to, or cannot do it, or choose not to.

Sometimes a friend can help push us into that. A real friend is one who calls us on our bullshit and lies to ourselves. Of course, some people cannot take that friendship either...

Randy said...

This is a great post...... but how does it square with misrepresenting your credentials to sell books and when confronted, using "Mekugi" to falsely accuse your sensei of lying to you? Just wondering.... As "Hardy" said, " Very insightful and CONVICTING" ....."fiawol" hits the nail on the head.
Randy



Little white lies- my father used to tell me, "Every lie is an act of cowardice. You never lie unless you are afraid of the person you are lying to." You can rationalize your way around it, but it is dead true. All of your little white lies are a fear of how the person you are lying to might react.

Randy Cantonwine said...

Rory,
This is a great post...... but how does it square with misrepresenting your credentials to sell books and when confronted, using "Mekugi" to falsely accuse your sensei of lying to you? Just wondering.... As "Hardy" said, " Very insightful and CONVICTING".
Randy



Little white lies- my father used to tell me, "Every lie is an act of cowardice. You never lie unless you are afraid of the person you are lying to." You can rationalize your way around it, but it is dead true. All of your little white lies are a fear of how the person you are lying to might react.