(S)wordmaster

Being a force for good in the world is the aim of those who train in Aikido: the art of peace. How can a martial art increase peace in the world? It is the interdependence between training partners. No nage (nah-geh )without uke (oo-keh). Bringing energy, receiving and blending with it, and putting it out into the world for good. In Aikido, it looks like ending fights. Actually, when practiced well, it looks like preventing fights…. Sometimes it looks like “rondori” – multiple partners training together.

Peace. The “low level” peace of stopping, or not starting, a fight, the practice of which forms persons to be peace-hearted people. Peace requires strength, heart, courage, and diverse skills in the world.

Aikido derives from sword forms of martial arts. There is a lesson here for those of us whose art is the word.

Writing and speaking are art forms, like Aikido, that require interdependence between partners. Communication is a loop between two, or among more than two, people. Uke and Nage and Rondori…. The same concepts exist in the world of Aikido and in the world of words…. bringing energy, receiving and blending with it, putting it out into the world, sometimes with multiple people at a time.

Aikido is being an embodied force for good in the world. Writing and speaking provide the opportunity to be a voice for good in the world. A different kind of force for good in the world.

Masters of the sword honor their gift in the world by being careful to not cut people. Masters of the sword are careful when to use the sword… And how…. And where…. And why… And with whom.
Masters of the word honor their gift in the world by being careful not to cut people.
Being my kind of force for good — for peace — in the world is the combination of what words to use, where to use them, when to use them, how to use them,  with whom to use them, and why.

I am the aspiring word master whose life has been formed and informed by many forces, including a swordmaster named Jeff Sensei, his teacher named George Ledyard Sensei, and their many students, one of whom is my beloved son and teacher Carson.

Wisdom of Innocence: Business Coaching from My Three Year Old

I finally realize why people have had children. They are gifts sent from heaven to teach you what you have not learned by now. And I have a lot to learn.  Luckily, late in life (just in time, I say), I was sent the best teacher I have ever had and I am so grateful he found me.

My son Cody is three, blessed with a generous heart, a curious mind and the wisdom of innocence.

Last week, we were driving around doing errands and adventures and were talking about ‘how to talk nice’ and ‘how to use your words nicely to ask for things you want’.   We had a few recent incidents at daycare that prompted the conversation.  We talked about and demonstrated back and forth to each other what a nice voice sounds like, what a whiny voice sounds like, what a mean voice sounds like and what a frustrated voice sounds like (Mommy’s specialty).   Then we tried all the good voices: happy voice, sweet voice, excited voice and nice voice.

Now I know, you must be thinking – you did that with a three year old? and I kid you not (no pun intended) we did. We also had a lot of errands and adventures to get to that day.  For every couple of errands, we try to find a park or a fun stop along the way.  We also saw fifteen ‘gi-nor-mous trucks’ we both want to drive someday, burst into fit of giggles- after Cody mimicked me perfectly, picked up dinner at the store and stayed on track with each other with our favorite song, “Skin-a-ma-rink”. (Ask me sometime, happy to sing it for you.) And after all of that, we safely made it home.

Once we got home, somehow both of us forgot the lesson of the day. We struggled into the house, struggled to pass the TV without turning it on, struggled to make dinner and through it all, both our voices got louder and louder.  We were not talking nicely at all.

Suddenly, my golden haired, 37″ tall teacher walks over to me and very seriously says, “Mommy, that is not a nice voice. You need to sit on the stairs.” He gently grabs my hand, and walks me to the stairs, sits me down and says, “Now, stay here until I come to get you.” He then giggles and skips away singing, Skin-a-ma-rink.

Needless to say. I sat on the stairs, head in hands partially giggling and a little misty. He was right. I needed a time out.

Soon, I heard a small voice saying, “Mommy, do you want to find me? I am hiding under the table. You can come in here now”.

I skipped into the room to a chorus of giggles, singing Skin-a-ma-rink and enjoyed a wonderful evening of grins, hugs and kisses.  Priceless lesson.

Wisdom of Innocence Business Lession #233: Time outs are good for you. So is a good, rousing chorus of Skin-a-ma-rink. Sing it often, sing it loud. Everything will be better soon.