So, unfortunately the Pikilily project as it stands has to be shut down. I won’t go into details here, this video post – raw and totally unscripted – gives all the details. What it does not show you is the events of the last 48 hours which demonstrated the strength and resilience of the human spirit and the determination of a lady who will never give up.
Shit happens. It happens a lot here, every day. Big shit, not the kind you and I are used to, like leaving your phone charger in a hotel room you’ve just checked out of, but the kind that determines whether or not you and your kids will eat today. Seeing that first hand is a pretty humbling experience, listening to wages being defined not so much in money but in food purchasing terms. When the girls at Pikilily ask for wages, it’s food that is always the primary reason they’re asking for.
When facing a sea of relentless setbacks, a barrage of attacks, not just those that threaten one’s dreams but are also personal in nature, most would take stock, tell themselves they did their best and call it a day. But there are other options.
I used to study martial arts, I used to like to understand the philosophy as well as practice forms. Ok, I’ll admit it, it was probably David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine that was my role model in the 70s series Kung Fu. It’s quite likely that was the genesis of my love of philosophical enquiry. Things didn’t end up so well for David, but we’ll skip that and leave my childhood idol intact, ok? Later I read and studied the writings of Bruce Lee, the Tao of Jeet Kune Do is a good read, worth picking up from time to time, as is little known (but mind blowing) Path Notes of an American Ninja Master by Glenn Morris.
During a Kung Fu lesson one day I was asked by a rather big (wide) guy to spar with him. The rules were simple. He was to stand still and I was to hit him as hard as I could and as fast as I could. I felt this was a bit harsh on the chap who I’d never met before, so I put in half-hearted effort and tried to hit him at half speed and power. I missed. OK, good, no one got hurt. So I did the same again. His smirking told me he knew I wasn’t trying. Actually it pissed me off a bit so I tried just a bit more. Missed again. Ok, nine tenths speed and power. Missed again. Now his grinning was really annoying so that was it, you asked for it matey. Full power, full speed, full focus. Missed the b’stard by a mile.
How did this keep happening? I tried and tried again, faster this time and also trying to catch him off guard. My stance wasn’t so stable now as I was trying so hard I forgot all form and training. I just wanted to land a single punch! Turns out he wasn’t a supernatural human, or any kind of ghost. He wasn’t anything special in fact, or a particularly professional martial artist, but what he was good at was turning to one side just as my blow should have landed in his chest. He used minimal effort and didn’t even move his feet. He was practicing yielding.
Taoist martial arts recognises the yin and yang of all interactions. Yin being softness and receptivity and yang the hardness. They must exist in harmony, the relationship between them perfectly in balance. It is the combination of your force and motion with your sparring partner’s force and motion that, if done well, will neutralise the effects of their action and ultimately render them off balance, or at least ineffective. This is not only a fighting approach, it is a philosophical and mental one which can be applied to any situation where one comes up against someone or something that is an obstacle to one’s goals, or indeed is coming directly at you.
So what do we need to yield physically? Flexibility and calmness. How about mentally? I would say the same, flexibility and calmness. By not being rigid in thought or approach when the metaphorical punch (shit storm) is coming your way but by choosing to neutralise its effects and consider other approaches, ie a change of tactic, you can walk away with a smile on your face.
That change of direction could also ultimately end up being far better for you in the long run. If you then add in a cheeky little kick up the backside to your opponent like Bruce did in Enter the Dragon, then all the more satisfying. Look, I never said I was perfect.. David Carradine people!
Kwai Chang Caine: [quoting] "Change is not only desirable, it is necessary."