Reasons to be fearful and angry will find us whether we look for them or not, but we must actively seek out reasons to have hope and be joyful.
Out of necessity, for survival’s sake, we are genetically hardwired to be hypersensitive to perceived existential threats. Our fight or flight response runs deep and is easily triggered by negative stimuli whether we want it to be or not. If we are paying attention, the world at large will always give us reasons to be scared or upset about something.
Nowadays, we do not even need to leave our homes in order to see something that frightens or angers us. In fact, the mere suggestion of a threat to our health, finances, way of life, beliefs, ideology, or personal security is enough to trigger an emotional-physical stress response over which we have very little control. Done enough times in a day, week, month, or year, and we are constantly on edge, ready to attack, defend, or hide, even if the threat we face is nothing more than an idea, a possibility, or even a carefully worded, intentionally misleading headline.
To be afraid or upset when threatened is totally natural and requires no real thought or effort on our part. What is unnatural, what requires thought, effort, and dedication, and what must be practiced diligently and unrelentingly if it is to have a long-lasting affect on our minds, bodies, and culture is a mindset of hope, joy, and the possibility of goodness. To live in a perpetual state of fear and anger is to be mentally and emotionally lazy, but to live in a state of positivity and optimism requires mental-emotional strength and fortitude.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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