I woke up today thinking about my history. My heritage. Where I come from. Who I am now and who I will be today, because of yesterday and where I want to be tomorrow.
I love spending time with my parents, I love it in a way I never imagined even liking growing up. I reflect on growing up and the different stages I went through, which just seem to ridiculously hit crazy ends of opposite, on a spectrum I barely can believe exists myself. I am an extremist and I’ve always lived that way. Either I feel you in a way I become intoxicated by, or, you just exist in a way I don’t have any interest in getting near. I don’t now why, but this is just how I am and I noticed dad is very much this way too and so is mom, but mom is not as extreme as either of us, she’s actually much warmer than the two of us.
Growing up mom did the disciplining of the kids and when she raised her voice, the fear of her raising her hand after, kinda worked, for a little while. I always thought of dad as the more loving of the two because he never raised his hand or raised his voice, honestly, I don’t think dad knows how to raise his voice, he’s so damn gentle, he always would talk about how gentle his mother always was and would comment on how she never raised her voice, ever. Both my parents love me just as much and sometimes I do know that one does love me more than the other, although that’s probably not true either, they love me so much, there is no measure. This is definitely a situation where more is more, You can never be loved by the one’s you love, enough.
There are no rule books on how to parent. All parents try their best and all kids do their best to unknowingly test the limits of their parents’ love and this is where the craziest kind of strengths can be built.
The same way parents don’t know how to parent, kids don’t now how to be good kids. I don’t think anyone intentionally wants to be bad at anything, some of us just don’t embrace the learning process the same way.
When does wanting to being good at things become a mechanism for people to acquire the diminutive skill of arrogance?
I grew up listening to dad and his classmates speak from such humble hearts, this is where I first learned about “True Beauty”. Mom always dressed me up and did my hair and would encourage me to sit still by saying “Don’t you want mommy to make you pretty?”. I would always sit still, but mostly because I wanted to make my mother happy and if she marveled at how pretty I was because of all the work she had put in on me, I felt genuinely happy seeing her happy, but it was the watching my father and his classmates that always felt so beautiful to me, I wanted so badly to be like them, but without the smell of moth balls which older Chinese people really seem to like and without the very audible throat clearings that Dr. Tao used to always do. The were men of integrity and dignity, humble and genuine. This is how I learned about my Tradition, the Traditional Arts and most of all, this is what was always really Beautiful to me.
Beauty is a feeling that everyone knows to want to experience, but in today’s society Beauty is much more about just vanity than actually learning, through life experiences, of what the essence of what being beautiful actually means.
To be looked at because you are getting attention is nothing like being looked at when you have earned respect. The problem is that people look at the respect earned by others and try to acquire this through getting attention. Anybody can get attention, but respect is earned through humble hard work that many who seek attention do not have the understanding of. So many people today want to constantly “show”, but lack the depth for being able to actually earn respect. What on earth do these people want to constantly “show” without having laid the foundation for earning a respectful audience?
Here’s where I’m getting at… Master & Sifu aren’t titles that are meant for flaunting. These titles are humbly earned and should be treated with respect, always.
Listening to my father’s stories and the stories of his classmates throughout the years, I always knew who was dad’s classmate because of how they would just sit, relaxed and laid back and talk with the boyish smiles about their life back then. The other older guys who would come around and hang out for the desire of attracting attention for paying a visit were always so nauseatingly obvious. There’s confidence and arrogance. From a very young age I learned the stench of arrogance and have developed quite the allergy to it to this day.
Listening to dad talk about his days living with CMC and his family are always so matter of fact and sweet. Dad treats us to the details which expose his uniquely humble persona. When he talks about his CMC days it is always done in this manner of a guy remembering his childhood, he talks about how he had to kill the chickens for their dinner, because CMC was a buddhist and couldn’t kill anything. He talks about changing diapers and the silly battles where my Aunt Marina would get the kids to all gang up on dad when she would get mad at him. All the stories all stem from this personal place where you learn that what makes Dad so great is his relationship with reality and that he is just this regular guy who loves his family, his family is what makes up his life. When he speaks and mentions Prof. CMC, it’s always in this manner where you know he his speaking of his teacher, then there is this way where he will speak of CMC and it comes from a place of family. Never have I ever heard of dad ever speak of anything in a way where he is ever bragging or trying to get attention. Anything that ever comes out of his mouth is from such an honest spot. He is truly a person of just who he is. This modern world has become such a strange world of wannabes.
In this modern age of self obsessive narcissism and gas lighting, is it possible to keep the essence Traditional Arts, Traditional?
How do we preserve the Tradition of Integrity and Dignity of Traditional Arts in a world so self obsessed with being self obsessed that we now have the creation of the word “Selfie”?
I find the creation of the word “Selfie” to be a severely dangerous and damaging reflection of the times we are in. More and more I encounter individuals so lost and afraid of everything they are not, they spend their time all wrong in trying to create a false idea of who they hoped to want to be, wasting their time that could be better spent discovering everything they are. People associating with people, only because they feel it makes them come off a certain way to other people. People acting certain ways, because their lack of self causes them to project their desired projection of themselves. People have become their own paparazzi and their own biggest fan, in such a way they actually become a little scary when you start to pick up on their own sense of self admiration.
Sifu and Master are titles you do not introduce yourself with. Your students, your disciples use this title when speaking to their respected teachers. On this same note, you do not come into my family’s school and ask for William and you do not comment on my posts by referencing my father as William. This isn’t even about student/teacher etiquette, this is about basic, fundamental respect. Respect for the life’s work built by my father, respect for the respect he has earned over his lifetime, respect for your elders, respect you show, because you respect where you come from, who you are and how you have been raised.
One of my least favorite things about Martial Arts Competitions, the bravado the Un-Sifus and Un-Masters walk around with, who all want to take a picture with the humble beauty that is my father. I will admit I have at times just said that I can’t get the camera to work, just to avoid tainting my father’s image with another person’s ego.
My favorite memories to swim through are just the ways my father and his classmates would talk about their lives. That’s it, just the things they did and the stuff they enjoyed and what they all enjoyed most was LEARNING. Learning happened all the time and they always found the lesson and teacher in everyone. Laughter always accompanied memories of their mistakes followed with this incredible sense of gratitude for having learned most their lessons through mistakes. I think this is why I have a particular affinity for discussing all of my mistakes. I’ve never heard of mistakes as being a bad thing. Mistakes always made us us laugh and learn all the incredible lessons from just one mistake. It’s the flaws that make us so undefiningly beautiful.
The more I experienced Beauty in life, the more I understand it be about purity from nothing you can ever create. It’s just about you being you, discovering you, because of how you choose to live.
The more I experience the Non-Beauty in life, the more I understand it to be about everything being manicured to “appear” a certain way. Non-Beauty is about you, not being you, because of how you choose to not, accept your beautiful flaws.
When you grow up experiencing real in such a real way, it’s a such a crazy thing to learn about how unreal people become, trying to be real, in so many phony ways.
Just learn to be you… You are just you. Not Master, Not Sifu, just YOU.
My whole entire life I have only ever heard my father reference himself as William Chen and this is just one of so many reasons why he is so respected and loved world wide. He knows who he is and he has never tried to be anything else.
He’s just that guy who just talks about sleeping in the back of his teacher’s home because the fence was broken, so that he could help keep his family safe.