Tuesday, August 30, 2005

élan learned

Sensei kicked you out of the dojo. Just like that - out on your ass. Months of erratic attendance, lewd locker room talk, and your worthless cronies hanging around was enough to send sensei off. Thinly veiled slights, disrespectful remarks, and flagrant impersonations were enough to earn you a ruthless, lightning quick punch combination, finished by a swift kick to the solar plexus. With nonchalance, you were sent to the mat, and three words were tossed on your already aching self: "You - go now." The next day, so sore, you came by the dojo only to find your Gi hanging by the front door - your locker had been cleaned out.

So, why is it that you keep coming back? You drop by the dojo several times a day, and hang around outside after classes, asking your fellow students if sensei has said anything about you. He hasn't, they say. Not a word. Your little visits haven't gone unnoticed, though. No, far from it. Sensei does not see you, himself, but catches your image on camera, watching on a tiny black and white monitor in his cramped back office. You walk with humbled steps, carry yourself with sorry poise - he can see it.

Sensei knows what it is to be a punk kid: untouchable, invincible, demanding respect from the get-go. But respect is not given freely. No, respect is fought for, taken by force. You acted out in frustration, wanting it all now, not able to wait for that ever-delayed train called enlightenment. There are steps, obstacles, a long rugged path between student and master. A fact hard to take - not nearly as hard as hitting the floor after a solid kick to the stomach, but hard nonetheless.

So will you ever possess skills equal to those of your teacher's? Sensei does not know. You are a student whose pride is too easily hurt, and now, a student without a dojo. You grew up in, and were shaped by, the instant gratification obsessed point-and-click generation. Nothing worth having should have to be worked for - it is all right here, spread out before you, free for the taking. At the click of a button.

But you will persevere, trying to make it in sensei's slower world, for you know that without the limited knowledge imparted on you by him, you'd be nothing, no better than the wretched rodents you run with. You used to punch with the ignorance of a child, but now you've at least the strength of a teenager. Strength bent by anger, twisted by delusion, warped by impatience. In due time, though, you'll be permitted to resume your studies. But it is the sensei's dojo, and he alone determines who may boast membership and when. Prove yourself.

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