Not 20-20 at 20

14 Sep

I’m not sure of the exact date, but by now in this month of September, 2013, twenty years have just passed since my son Robert (now Robb)  and I started training together in Taekwondo.

He was 4 years and 9 months old; I was 33 years and 3 months old. He was a tyke who ran around the house (ALL THE TIME!) in green Ninja Turtle pajamas pretending to be Michelangelo and fighting imaginary bad guys. I was a chubby, family-content, charitable organization director, sliding into middle years in the way many guys do, with the future result surely not pretty, physically at least. Robert asked if he could learn a martial art. Given Robert’s high energy level, his mom and I thought maybe that would be a good idea, and I started looking.

We started training together because he was too young for any other martial arts program. My instructor, having recently moved to town, had started teaching Taekwondo classes to some teens and adults on a smaller scale, but did include his own two children in the mix.  Long story short, he gave Robert the chance to come participate in a trial class to check Robert out; he asked me to participate in that class as well, given Robert’s age. When the class was done, we got the offer: Robert could join, as long as I did as well with him. I’m not sure that I agreed to that deal on the spot, but I know we pretty much started training right shortly after that.

Suffice it to say that Robb and I have experienced life through the lenses of Taekwondo.  It’s been life altering, vision altering. For Robb, it’s been some primary lenses he’s worn for many years, but that he now swaps out for other life lenses: work experience, law school, future career considerations, living on his own, new relationships.  For me, it’s been lenses that gradually overlaid the ones I’d been wearing for 33 years, affecting my vision in different ways. It’s pretty much become swapping out one pair of glasses for another.

I have reached my 20 year milestone wearing my strongest-yet Taekwondo lenses, and having the clearest life vision I’ve yet had, but now realizing, and frustrated over the fact, that I’ve not attained 20-20 vision, and have not been seeing as clearly as I might have.

Invested as heavily in the martial arts as I have been, I’ve worn those particular glasses. But I now know that to see most clearly, my glasses have to be a full array of lenses, one set in front of the other, all altering focus, perspective, peripheral sight. As clear and broad as my vision has become, I am realizing more of what I’ve missed/am missing, where my focus has been altered, perhaps too heavily or skewed. Our vision and perspectives are never perfect, but I think most of us end up wearing one set of glasses and settling with that vision, not realizing what’s not in clear focus, or missed, off to the side.

What might that mean for me? Working to reconnect with church in deeper ways once again and re-viewing life through some particular faith lenses.  Taking and enjoying more time with my wife and gaining the benefit of her demeanor, wisdom, heart and perspectives; she is one of the best people I know and I need to know her even better. Exploring yet-unknown new activities or involvements that will give me different enjoyment, fulfillment and life/work views. It doesn’t necessarily mean dumping martial arts, but it means allowing myself to broaden my time and vision beyond them, operating two schools/programs as I have.  It means taking the martial arts as seriously as ever, but not taking them too seriously (that one probably depends on whom you ask . . .).  My work and involvements in BNI and Rotary these past five years have been great first steps and their lenses have helped me to refocus my vision and perspectives in many good ways.  But, that’s only a start.

I know I’m not seeing 20-20, even after 20 years, and even if I do see pretty well I know it’s not good enough.  I know that I’ve been wearing glasses that aren’t exactly right, which, when it surprises you, can seem as if you’ve been walking around blind!  Are you 20-20? How do you know? What are you focused on? What are you missing? Have you been wearing a pair of glasses that have you seeing things a certain way, the way you think is real or clear, but that actually needs some adjusting, some re-focusing? Do your lenses have you seeing too narrowly, when you need broader vision? Have you been wearing the same glasses for 20 years? At the least, we all need an annual vision check, and usually an adjustment to make things more clear.  How and where are you going to get your vision checked?

We don’t want to be like Mrs. Riley in My Cousin Vinny (my favorite movie, by the way) who was sure she had seen things clearly and was confident her glasses were fine, but who ended up affirming on the witness stand, “I’m thinking of getting thicker glasses.”

How are your glasses working for you?  It might be time for some adjustments to those lenses.

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