When I was young, I armored myself in arrogance. It was my protection against caring what others thought of me. It was my protection against hurt. It was false armor and false protection.
When I was an adult, I began to have an idea of what it meant to be a full human being in a world of other human beings. Thanks to the love and patience of my wife Debbie, the patience and efforts of my teacher Mather Karateka, and the community of my martial arts friends, teachers, and students – my family – including Chuck Phillips, I began to realize the importance of the people around me.
The day of my revelation came in my 37th year, when I realized that I wanted to be someone other people liked, respected, and chose to be around. It was a difficult transition, to take off the armor of my youth and embrace the naked vulnerability of wanting to be real and liked.
It’s been 26 years since I joined California Karate Academy and began this journey. The journey is not over. I learn more every day about what it means to be a full human being. Being Jewish by birth and heritage, I think of this as being a mensch.
Today is my birthday. Those who know me know that I enjoy and celebrate my birthday, and am happy to have others do so as well.
The revelation I had today is that the birthday wishes of others represent some success along the path on which I set my feet 26 years ago. Having children and a wife who profess their love and respect and appreciation, having a community of friends and colleagues who wish me well and celebrate with me, and realizing that I set myself a difficult path of great value and have worked my way along that path… this is, for me, noteworthy, remarkable, and a source of amazing joy.