There is an old saying that a person cannot be a prophet in his or her own land. Moreover, it is actually quite true, and speaks to a very pervasive attitude that most of us, I will assume, have succumbed to at one time or another.
A personal example that comes to mind concerns a guy on my local sports radio station named Softy. I often listen to sports radio – even though my teams are terrible I cannot help myself.
So, one day I was in the dojo cleaning up and listening to Softy on the radio. It occurred to me, “I remember Softy when he was an intern, doing all the odd jobs, bad slots and fill in work that this station needed, and today he has a prime morning spot." At one point in the broadcast, I found myself disagreeing with what he had to say regarding one of the local sports teams. I said to myself, "I knew you when you were an intern, you don’t know what you are talking about!" Frankly, that was just wrong on my part. I was trying to force Softy back into a slot in time that he had long outgrown. Why? Because, if he was once just the intern, his position was not credible, you follow? I put him down, if only in my own head, to make him fit my line of thinking.
Often times, I think that we see martial artists in the same light. We say things like, “I remember training with him way back when he was 10 years old." That is true, but he has gotten older, better and probably is still in his prime. While hopefully you have gotten older, and better, but you might just have edged past your own prime.
I guess what I am really getting at is that instead of living in the past, and judging people on what they were doing, or were capable of, when you first met them, it is really important to accept them for who they are today, whether it be in the role of a young college student, a first-time parent, or somebody who's left the nest and started their own martial arts school.
By taking people at current value as well as in the context of how far they’ve come we get a far better picture of their worth. We may also find that this time around they may have something to teach us.
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