I recently saw a few clips on the news and the Internet that really grind my gears.
This guy is oblivious . . .
and this guy is just plain silly!
I don’t mean to mock the victims of these robberies. I do want to make a simple observation/recommendation that we all try to BE AWARE OF OUR SURROUNDINGS!
From a martial arts and self defense standpoint, it’s pretty obvious that paying attention to what’s going on around you is a great way to stave off attacks. Common sense dictates that if someone is creeping up on you, you should step away or call for help! There are times when frantic, impulse texting and rocking out with your Beats on are perfectly acceptable. Apparently doing so on the NYC subway is not one of them.
Maybe this bothers me so much because I’m a public school teacher and texting and headphones are ubiquitous among young people. I could go into a curmudgeonly cultural critique of those “darn whippersnappers” and how their addiction to social media and the need to distract themselves from the world around them via music and games is eroding the very fabric of our humanity.
But I won’t.
I won’t do that because I don’t think it’s true. Every elder generation feels the urge to denigrate the preferences, predilections, and otaku of the younger set. I don’t think that’s fair or even applicable in this case, since I see more adults ignoring their families while thumbing their Crackberries than I do teenagers unwilling to talk to their friends.
I’m not saying that training in the martial arts will automatically make you strong in The Force. But cultivating an active awareness of your surroundings not only keeps you safer, but it connects you to the world. An important lesson that studying martial arts, learning photography, or training with Obi-Wan teaches you is to stay rooted in reality–to really feel all the life that’s happening around you. Being alert and present has the practical necessity of keeping you safe, but it also frees you up so you can live.
Even Luke Skywalker relies on technology to make him a powerful Jedi who is one with The Force. Even if you’re not a martial artist (or a Star Wars dork), it’s important to be mindful: it’s a wonderful way to be thankful and happy in life.
Here’s some closing advice from Zen monk and master of mindfulness, Tich Nhat Hahn. He doesn’t wield a lightsaber, but he gives good council. Have you opened your eyes to see the blue sky today?