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We Are Family

Lance Week Day One: Family

So I know I’m cutting it extremely close, but I was at work today. Anyways, here’s my first entry for Lance Week. Enjoy!!

Lance was a middle child, so he was used to being the one who kept the peace between everyone. He was also used to being left out of things a lot. Too young to hang with his older sibling, and too old to play with his younger ones. This is how he often found himself among the adults in his family. They found it cute how he’d like to sit with them and join their conversations about politics, sports, and religion. It was this reasons his parents placed a lot of responsibilities on him. Watch your younger siblings while we’re at work, keep your older ones from fighting, make sure everyone eats if we’re late, clean up the place before bed. It was a lot of work placed on his small little shoulders, but one of his greatest fears was disappointing his parents. So, he’d just grin and bear it.

When he joined the Galaxy Garrison, he didn’t really have to look out for anyone but himself, and his best friend Hunk of course. It was so liberating not having so many responsibilities and worries like he did back home. No one expected too much from him, and since the groups were separated by age he was just right to hang out with everyone. Not too young and not too old. It was perfect. Well not to perfect, the one thing that remained the same was him always being compared to someone. Back home it was his older brother. Then at the Garrison, it was Keith. Got shot up into space and he’s still being compared to Keith. Still, things weren’t so bad, or at least that’s what he had convinced himself the for the first few months.

After a while, the quietness of the castle started to get to him. If he wasn’t making the noise himself, it had a far too eerie feel to the place. Though as time passed he started to quiet down, not wanting to annoy everyone just so he can keep himself sane. When he talked to Blue about it, she decided to fill his head with the sound of the ocean to comfort him, especially on restless nights. It still wasn’t the same. Who would’ve known that Lance would miss the constant bickering that his home provided?  

One thing that apparently remained, however, was the separation between everyone that had Lance feeling alone. He wasn’t smart enough to talk tech stuff with Hunk and Pidge, he wasn’t strong enough to train with Shiro and Keith, and he was too human to relate to anything to Allura and Coran talked about. Heck, even the mice had each other to converse with. And while Lance of course still had Blue, it just wasn’t the same as having an abled bodied person to interact with. Once again, he was alone.

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Spiritual Warriors~~

A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a person perfected without trials. 

~ Chinese proverb ~

We all know how important mental and physical strength is for our well-being. But in order to overcome any hardship, and create a life that’s not just ordinary, but extraordinary – we also need spiritual strength. When all three kinds of strength – physical, mental, and spiritual are present, we can become spiritual warriors.

Being a spiritual warrior doesn’t mean we’re super-human. It means that we’re able to overcome hardship. This is what the secret code of the Ninja – the shadow-warriors of ancient Japan – can teach us.

The Ninja taught that one should embrace hardship. We all know that the hard times, when we have to grit our teeth and just simply continue walking uphill – step by step – are the ones where transformation begins. 

The secret teachings of the Ninjas are based upon the ancient Chinese lore of the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind. It may sound esoteric, but this wisdom is really practical and down to earth. It can help us find a new perspectives when we get stuck in life.

1. Be Like The Earth

This secret is about being grounded. When we are grounded, we are steady and collected in mind and body. In terms of martial arts, to be like the earth means to stand your ground. In life this translates as staying steady and remaining grounded in reality.

2. Be Like Fire

Fire has tremendous power that can be used for survival – but it can also be destructive if not contained. A spiritual warrior embraces fire in the form of passion. The seat of fire energy is in the hara, or lower belly. Anger is also an expression of fire energy. Most times anger is destructive, but there are also times when it is a skillful emotion. Anger can give us the strength to stand up against injustice, and the courage to defend ourselves against all odds.

Animals use fire energy for survival. I’m sure you’ve seen how a kitten threatened by a dog can turn into a furious ball of puffed-up fur that goes on the attack. Even big dogs choose to turn tail and run when faced with such a fiery little monster.

In terms of martial arts, fire signifies attack. In life, to be like fire means using passion in order to overcome barriers.

3. Be Like Water

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. 
~ Lao-Tzu ~

Water finds its way to the sea. No matter what mountains block the way. A mountain stream flows gracefully around rocks. In terms of martial arts, to be like water means to avoid, or deflect an attack. In life, to be like water means to find ways of reaching your goals by moving around an obstacle, instead of confronting it head-on.

4. Be Like The Wind

The wind can change direction at any moment. It has no fixed direction. As human beings, we suffer from the opposite: as life goes on, we become more and more fixed in the way we live and in the way we think. We become creatures of habit, and change seems more and more difficult.

In martial arts, to be like wind means to adapt to circumstances without pre-conceptions. In his book The Spiritual Practices of the Ninja, Ross Heaven says:

“The Ninja reckoned that 80 percent of our available energy is locked into habits that stem from generational and social conditioning. They became expert warriors by using their enemy’s reliance on habit against them and employing the element of surprise – the other 20 percent – themselves.”

Because we are fixed in our ideas of who we are and what we are capable of, we miss countless opportunities to grow and develop. Doors open in life – but sometimes we don’t see them. We walk past because we don’t expect to see a door there. When we become like the wind, we can be light and flexible in our thinking an actions.

How to use these secret teachings:

What I find really useful is to recall these four different modes of being when I’m faced with a situation in which I feel stuck. I take each energy in turn and apply them to the situation. Say, for example, that I was in conflict with a loved one. Each of the secret teachings can reveal a way forward. It may be that reflecting on earth energy would give me a sense that I need to stand my ground, and fire energy would give me the courage to speak the truth. On the other hand water energy would remind me to keep true to my path in life, and wind energy would suggest that I move gracefully around the problem without confronting it directly.

Every time we are stuck, it helps to find new ways to think about the situation. And this is the beauty of the Ninja teachings – they are simple, but deep.

~ Mary Jaksch