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10 Feb 2006

Have we got a problem...?

Hi, Jonas.

I've been wondering lately if we have a problem. You seem to be having a little difficulty... *playing* comfortably with me in class. I hope you haven't decided that you don't like playing taiji with-- or teaching taiji to-- girls. Because I really, really, really want to learn taiji-- and chang dao and anything else you offer up. And I want to know all the apps and I want to be really, really, really good at grappling--

Grappling. Aha. Do I make you uncomfortable because it has consciously dawned on you that I love you? Well, yes, I do, but that's been true since day one, and what the heck does that have to do with anything, anyway? I love you. So what? What does that mean? It means I care about you. It means... you have a friend who loves you--

And that friend is a woman. Has this never happened to you before? Or maybe you do have women friends, but they're "safe." Yes, the problem with me is that I'm not safely attached to another male. It would please me no end to be able to allay your fears by becoming half of a loving couple, but I probably don't have to tell you that the pickings out there are slim to none-- mostly none. Heck, the last guy ran screaming when he found out that a chang dao was a sword, fer cryin' out loud! Dropped me like a hot brick. Never heard from him since. *sigh*

Anyway, think back on our relationship and you'll realize how safe you are with me. Have I ever importuned you? Have I ever tried to cop a feel while grappling? Have I ever done anything terrible to you? I didn't even ask you out for tea and sympathy when you suddenly found yourself "at liberty." Seems to me the worst I've ever done is pour out my mixed-up feelings about my little problems to you in an email...

Kwan Yin watches over my dojo. When I talk with her I say, "Kwan Yin, please send me my very own Jonas." I don't ask for you, just someone like you for my very own because I have too much respect for you to want to try to influence you or coerce you or manipulate you in any way into feeling something for me you wouldn't naturally feel.

You and I have so much in common. There is so much I like about you, so much that resonates with me, so much that is complementary-- you have an "in-y" and I have an "out-y" (left eye tooth, that is)...

With any luck, someday, Kwan Yin will send someone-- my very own "Jonas"-- who will love me of his own volition just because I'm me. And he and I will build a family and a life and-- and a dojo together... good dreams...

Hey, I know your life is all at sixes and sevens now. Even though you are a "private person by nature," you aren't a stone and I can read you like a book-- one written in English, that is. I know what you've been going through this past year, the romantic ups and downs. I know how you feel. I know the hurt and the heartache and the hope and the fear you've felt... love sucks sometimes. Sometimes it works. All you can do is try. I hope things are smoothing out for you now, the new job is going to be excellent, I think... and, for the rest, I hope it will work out happily...

You know I haven't said anything personal to you, haven't tried to push my friendship on you. I'm shy by nature and not good at drawing out those who are "very private people." But know this: whatever you want to make of me is your choice.

If you need a friend to talk to, I'm a good listener. And generally considered to be sane and smart about life. On the other hand, if words won't do it and you want to take our your frustrations by chang-daoing 'til you drop, I'm up for that, too. Whatever.

Well, I hope this clears the air and that we can relax and get back to serious grappling and apps and--

Boy... I hope the problem isn't that you've decided you don't want girls in your dojo. Now that would suck. Really, really suck. And then of course, much as I love you, I'd have to kill you.

Take care, friend.

Love, Leslie



10 Feb 2006

Re: Have we got a problem...?

Now that was an email I wasn't expecting.

A problem? I wasn't aware there was one between us - real, perceived or otherwise. Truth be told me mind has been occupied with the responsibility of teaching all of you well. As I've mentioned, my focus has shifted again regarding my attitude towards a 'school', and I feel an added pressure to make sure we all train hard and learn well.

That aside, I have no problems with you. You love me? That's news. Thank you. I have several women friends and not all of them are 'safely' unavailable, and I'm cool with that. Our capacity to love those around us is the divine gift given us, and how to accomplish it is the lesson we try to learn everyday.

You're a great student and an equally great person. I'm thankful your desire to learn led you to the door, and that once you peered inside you decided to step inside. You've been respectful and open and have shared in our common goal to perpetuate the knowledge of the arts we respect so much. You've trusted me enough to reveal your personal issues and struggles and have offered me your kindness and concern regarding my own well-being. Most importantly you have given me my space.

Imposing something on me, whether it be criticism or comfort is the worst thing someone can do. I have always been thankful and respectful of the gifts offered by well meaning people. But my privacy is important to me, and I do appreciate those who can honor and respect that. What I give of myself to others is never formulaic. It happens in a very organic and unpredictable way. So please don't take offense if you fail to see any reciprocity. Moreover, don't construe my protection of my privacy as non-caring. I care a lot for all my students, and it's not a compulsory thing - it's a genuine thing.

If we're a school, which we are (like it or not) then by our traditions we are a family (like it or not). And I love every one of you. What a journey we're on.

And as far as my life goes - it's a journey that I've embraced. It's the training of my soul. Training isn't always pleasant, but it's necessary to achieve excellence. I learn more from the rough times than I do the good, and I refuse to ever consider myself a victim of anything. Whatever life throws my way is training, and in the middle of the dojo there are no excuses. We either succeed or we fail. Either way we continue to train. Sure, it's been a tough year, and I'm thankful for it.

Not want women in my class? Now that's a stupid notion.

Not that there was any air to clear before, but I hope it's extra clear now.





11 Feb 2006

No problem...

Hi, Jonas.

I am glad to be reassured that women are welcome in your dojo.

Once again you have given me much to think over...

Family. Yes, we are family now, like it or not. I have felt that for a long time.

"... Whatever life throws my way is training, and in the middle of the dojo there are no excuses. We either succeed or we fail..."

When we stand "on Earth," center dojo, what is it that we're testing? And do we succeed/fail because of our weaknesses or because of our strengths? And what, I ask, is the measure of success or failure? Who decides which is which?

"... Our capacity to love those around us is the divine gift given us, and how to accomplish it is the lesson we try to learn everyday."

"... So please don't take offense if you fail to see any reciprocity. Moreover, don't construe my protection of my privacy as non-caring..."

Imagine you stand center in the Unrelenting Dojo (Life). The catechism: If your lesson for today is to accomplish loving "those around us," and if I, as one of "those," fail to see any reciprocity... is the failure mine or yours?

I ask this question very softly, very kindly. For when we stand "on Earth" and are tested in the Unrelenting Dojo, we do not stand armed: the test is not of the body, but of the spirit. And so we stand naked and alone, exposed and vulnerable, without protection for our "privacy" or anything else-- this is the way of the spiritual warrior: to fearlessly expose all that he is to the world-- and to be "armed" with only a honed and polished spirit--

You know, I think I'm going to see if Master P'o is available for breakfast.

Thank you, Jonas. Thank you for loving me. (It's obvious from the fact that you answered me. Reciprocity.) Thank you for trusting me.


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