We’ve reached what is possibly the most introspective time of year. Families gather, yearly reviews take place, the media wallows in events of the past year, and the coming year looms before us with promise, worry, hope, fear, and the annual resolutions to improve oneself.
So I’ve pondered how our Baguazhang school fits into all this and the phrase that has impressed itself on me is…constant friendship. I’ve scanned my memories of classes, the Gathering, talks with students, talks with Shifus. I’ve thought about the way we interact with current students, past students, potential students. Mostly I’ve thought about all these aspects of a Jiulong school and the idea of constant friendship is the best description of it all.
The constancy came from the ongoing classes and dedication of everyone to learn the art. The weekly gathering of regular students along with the special 3 hour sessions have been a standard feature of our lives regardless of what else is happening. The weather may be awful, the city traffic may challenge the patience of a saint, but there they were constantly making that “little progress each day” that is the cornerstone of the training.
But more important for me has been the overall feeling among us in classes….simple friendship. One of our special sessions was dedicated to the idea of friends helping each other learn and this theme has spilled over into the general ambiance of the school. Caring about the skill improvement of one’s classmates creates an amazing learning environment and I’ve witnessed this attitude growing over the years. It comes from a simple phrase that is part of our push palm art – “friendship first, competition second”. This idea has permeated the school and it is to the credit of everyone who embraces it that it forms a base for our learning. It cannot be forced from the top down, only expressed from the bottom up.
So let us reflect on our family and friends for the upcoming year. Let us think about the well being of everyone with whom with come in contact. Let us rededicate ourselves to continuing our Baguazhang study, making a little progress each day, and helping classmates do the same.
My personal wish for each of you in the coming year is find the a real reward of being part of our school….constant friendship.