– by Ian Sinclair
All hail, The Internet! It offers me the power to influence the world in small steps. It can even offer the possibility for the butterfly to see the effect his fluttering has on the other side of the world.
All hail, email! It gives the world the ability to thank the butterfly, and to encourage him to keep on fluttering.
I am often advised to quit my business and get a “real job.” As a result of sage advice, I’ve had dozens of jobs, and high ambitions for various careers. But the one constant since I was 7 years old has been my need to make a difference, to ease suffering and to combat evil. I’ve been involved in tai chi, neijia martial arts, and qigong for 35 years. It is now more about who I am than it is about what I do. I would have quit long ago, however, if it were not for the occasional (recently more frequent) emails like the one I received today.
A man from the beautiful country of Greece sent me an mail telling me how he had struggled with depression and chronic anxiety for years. He is now healthy both mentally and physically, and attributes the improvement in part to one of my videos on youtube. He said, “…That was it until a year ago i saw one of your videos in YouTube (it was the one about taichi strategy) where for the first time in years something ignited in me, something like a childish feeling of excitement along with the immense pleasure children get from discovering and learning, and trust me for a person with the psychic burdens I carried that was a big deal . And so I started watching your videos and started immersing my self again in the world of martial arts…”
He went on to talk about his plans for the future, and to say some very nice things about me and my work.
Now, I know that I must not take too much credit for this man’s transformation. Clearly he possesses some courage and strength that enabled him to initiate and continue the changes that improved his state of mind and body. My video was likely one of many catalysts from which he was able to benefit. But his email made a deep impression on me.
I would have no confirmation of the real value of my work, were it not for the feedback from some of the people who, through their own courage and insight, find a way to benefit from my work.
I’ve spent years struggling with various technologies, formats, pedagogy, and methodology. All the while failing to make what most people call a decent living. Less than 5% of what I try actually works. But the benefits of success have been accumulating a little more quickly than the costs of failure. I’ve always felt that it was worth it, that it would be worth it, that it should be worth it. Sometimes the tide starts to turn, and I am filled with hope. Then a storm hits and I am left having to build a raft with dental floss the remains of my ship.
It has not always been financially profitable, which is why I am constantly trying to find gainful employment that can supplement my business without paralyzing it. (My latest effort is to get my truck driver licence, which involves going even deeper into debt in the effort to make more money.) But in spite of the apparent futility of it all, I keep going.
I have a goal. I have a plan, though the plan is constantly changing. Plans must change because “No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.”
I have often felt like giving up. But thanks to emails like this one, from people on various continents, whom I have never met, I am reminded that the daily battle I fight is not just about me. It is not even about my clear obligation to provide for my family (an obligation of which I am constantly reminded).
In the face of repeated failure to defend what is mine, I find I can accomplish much more by remembering my dedication to empower others.
While military tacticians discuss the strength of fortifications and the importance of protecting the home territory, the far-sighted strategist realizes that it is all home territory.
I continue to fight. I continue to adapt. I continue to refine my strategy, tactics, and methods. I continue in spite of or because of repeated failure, because I have seen what can be accomplished by an honest heart and a persistent effort.
Once we realize the true nature of the conflict, we discover that it is possible to win the war even if we never win a single decisive battle.