The Dojo is like watching the flowing water in a creek. It generally looks the same but is constantly different. Each class gives the opportunity to interact with students that all have their own stories and different solutions. The class has an order, the lines are straight, and children move together with a strict count, there is a safety in knowing how to act. The banks of the creek control the water’s direction.
One day a young boy was acting very strange. He was disturbing the kids around him and was quickly affecting the whole class. When asked what was going on, he spoke in word salad, phrases that didn’t make much sense then he blurted, “I don’t have any friends”. That halted my train of thought on how to get this little guy to participate in the rows of other kickers and punchers.
His head stayed down and he was quite removed from everything else that was going on in the room. Giving this guy heck for his behavior now seemed a little down on the list of priorities. So I took him aside and started asking questions.
What kind of a friend would you like? He didn’t have anything to say and maybe no reference. What are some of your interests? What do you like to do? This was a starting point and he let me into a small part of his life. He mentioned things you would do mostly by yourself. Nothing that would take two people or would mean playing together. It appeared that his life was only programmed around himself. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just tell someone to try to be his friend? But by playground rules, we know that is a tough call. Even in the perfect rows the other students made a natural girth around him.
My next line of questioning made more sense. What qualities would you like in a friend? There were no answers so I started answering my own question with other questions. Would you like someone that could play video games with you? Would you like someone that watches the same TV programs as you? Would you like someone that would share his favorite toys with you? Would you like someone that was fun to be around? Would you like someone with a sense of humor and laughed with you? Would you like someone that listened to you? Would you like someone that brought you cookies when they came to your house? Would you like someone that would invite you to his home to play? Would you like someone nice that smiled a lot? I was leading him to yes answers and his scrunched face was now saying, yes where is this guy?
My next statement shocked his system a bit. “Well you have to be that guy, so other people will want you to be their friend.” This pattern interrupt would give him some control over his life, which included not behaving badly since people may find that unattractive. Sometimes we want things from other people, not realizing that our expectations are not what we are offering. The people that have a lot of friends are people with good qualities that everyone wants to be around.
My wife Cheryl has those characteristics. She sees the best qualities in everyone. She can be treated poorly and still have compassion for that individual. She has suffered hard times and always finds the lesson in an awful event. I feel very fortunate to have her in my life. She’s that person with a good sense of humor and laughs with me, likes the same TV programs, likes the same food and healthy life style, listens to me knowing that I cannot talk to anyone else about these problems. I’m lucky that she see the best in everyone as I do have my quirks.
I hope the little guy will grow up and have some friends. We all need friends. Will he remember what he would like in a friend, to guide him into becoming that person? He reminds me to be aware of my own character and be thankful when you have someone that sees the best in you and accepts that you have potential. We are all a work in progress, if we keep working on it. Mirrors only tell the truth when we look in them and even then our personal filters may distort what we see. The banks of the creek appear to direct the flow but the water has the power to shape the banks.