Shakespeare: The Heart Surgeon
Beads of perspiration cascaded off the peaks of my face like waterfalls, my hands tightly clenched as my fingers slid around the inside of my fists like first-time ice-skaters on an ice rink. I waited for the command, and endured the antagonizing wait that made the theory of relativity seem like a definite law of physics. Seconds seemed like hours, and all eyes were focused on me, the only student in the lineup testing for my Traditional Black Belt Diploma. I looked my Master in the eyes, in anticipation of the command, and watched as his lips spoke with a proud eagerness. I strained myself and listened as the Korean language vibrated through the air to my waiting ears. My heart jumped with deliverance and my body sprang with ambition. This was the moment, the moment the rest of my life started.
Some five thousand hours of training earlier, I was a very different person from whom I had become, and from whom I have grown to be today. Growing up, I have known adversity, but I have seen far less of it than some angelic souls have seen. I have felt abuse of many different kinds; I have seen mistakes made in many different ways, and I have borne the cold emotional seclusion of being at the bottom of my very short life. The beautiful thing about being at the bottom is that the only place to look is up. My emotional journey, however poignant to me it was at certain moments, has instilled in me lessons of faith, love, and ultimately forgiveness. I have found forgiveness for abusers seeking their sadistic physical and emotional gratification, for people and each of their individual cruelties, and above all, for myself.
My biggest accomplishment by far, is not simply the achievement of my Traditional Black Belt Diploma, but rather what I have done with it in the short span of time that I have had it. My time as a Traditional Martial Arts Instructor is one of the greatest gifts I have been given. In truth, I have learned far more from my students than I have ever taught them. Lessons in humility, gratitude, courageousness, and love find their niches in the most unexpected circumstances. Yet, as if with an essence of faith, these lessons tend to have unexplainably perfect timing. With each adverse situation I have found myself in, I have since found all my answers through my training and teaching, and subsequently found myself at heights transcendental to that which I was previously at. In my lessons, I try my hardest to instill in my students lessons that I have learned, and try to do so without completely shadowing their spirit of individuality or self-realizing and adventurous inquiry. In doing so, along with the amazing guidance and vast amount of knowledge I have been given from my Master, I have come to know some of the most glorious words I feel anyone can ever hear: “You have changed my life.”
Hearing these words from some of the students I have taught, and the friends I have made, I find myself in the position much like a heart surgeon after a heart transplant. That is, having made a difference in a person’s life, brought order to chaos and confusion, and knowing the heavenly beauty of having completed something so wonderful, such that another being has new meaning and life because of your action. That is a remarkably divine feeling.
I feel that my greatest accomplishment is what I have done, who I have become, and the people I have helped in my growth as a person. The achievement of my Traditional Black Belt Diploma brought me liberation; the gift has been and will always be finding liberation for others. So, in the words of William Shakespeare: “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”