We are gifted a million simple moments of perfect beauty a day. We forget so often to stop, breathe deeply, and appreciate them. Life is short, but it feels so much longer when you celebrate your seconds.
Bruce Lee said the successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus. Focus determines one’s reality. It trumps natural talent, intelligence, and even the magnitude of the goal itself. Nothing is accomplished without focus. It is the vise that holds the board in place so the nail may reach its destination. It is the scope by which the sniper makes the perfect shot. It is the lens through which the stars are brought into view.
My youngest student, the Raven (previously Dog), tested for his Green II two days ago. I first introduced him to you sixteen months ago.
The boy is hard on himself. I have the distinct notion he’ll grow up to be his own worst critic. His mind is always racing, his focus like a rabbit dodging foxes in the trees. - original blog post, January 2016
It has been over a year since I began teaching the Raven. It was temporary at first, but shortly after the trial period his father elected to enroll him in private instruction permanently, and I have been his instructor ever since. In sixteen months he has advanced three ranks and put a lot of personal effort into improving his kung fu as well as his attitude. The Chinese zodiac was not incorrect when describing his animal’s nature -
Because dogs genuinely feel they know best, they can sometimes appear bossy. They accomplish goals quickly, their successes the result of hard work and intelligence. But the Dog never really relaxes. Despite appearing calm and at rest, his heart and mind are always jumping.
In the three months he trained for his Green II test, the Raven proved he could be diligent about his practice, intentional with his training, respectful to his instructors, and well-behaved in class. He gave me numerous examples of self-improvement that I drew upon continuously in my decision to allow him to test. And of course, he met the requirements for performing all of his chamber material well and correctly. I had no qualms about handing him a test application. But for whatever mysterious reason, Raven’s focus led him very far off the path of success come test night.
Before the finishing tea ceremony, I pulled the boy aside for an impromptu, stern heart-to-heart. While I have never been angry at him, nor have I ever been so quick to reprimand him on a night that I typically view as one he should enjoy (let me destroy him in his next lesson, I joke with myself). But at this point, Raven is aware of what is acceptable etiquette/behavior on a test and what is not, as he is also aware that his focus should not be on what other students are doing, saying, or how well (or not well, as he is fond of pointing out) they are performing.
Sometimes you wish they were older, so you could be more methodically formulaic with your words. Statistically, people who are distracted take much longer to complete tasks than their focused peers, and they also make many more mistakes. The Raven’s kung fu suffered on test night. His forms were about the shoddiest work I’d seen him put out. Where focus goes, energy flows.
So, sixteen months in, we’re narrowing our focus. Raven is on the 7th of the first fourteen ranks he hopes to achieve, halfway to 1st-degree black. It will take all the time it takes, and I have no issue with that. But I do take issue with the notion that if we do not tighten up, he will not only be a sloppy black belt, he will be an arrogant one, and that is a dangerous combination.
No better view from bed when eyes open than bookshelves full of stories, full of words, full of color and light. Finished Operation Bookshelf last night, and I like how it turned out; feels almost Seussical to me.
Written by BENJAMIN PERCY • Art by KHOI PHAM and WADE VON GRAWBADGER • Cover by KHOI PHAM • Variant cover by Paolo Pantalena
“Blood of the Manta” part one! Still dealing with the consequences of “The Lazarus Contract,” Kid Flash’s status with the team is challenged by Damian…and the Teen Titans will never be the same. Meanwhile, Aqualad learns more about his powers and the truth about his lineage is revealed!