One of the things I emphasize in my classes is that we are all teachers and we are all students, in one form or another. Every class, we have the great opportunity to learn from each other, regardless of who is the “teacher” that day. Truth is, we all are.
As I reflect on 2013, I recall so many moments of impact – moments when something “clicked” in a powerful way. Though it is almost impossible to list them all, or remember them all, here are the 3 that deeply affected me:
1. Jon Warcholak. Jon has been training for quite a while now. Dedicated, hard working, Jon is the model for “how to be a great student.” He is also an excellent musician, and as such, is used to being in the elite level.
Of course, Systema is a great equalizer and a never-ending path. It can also be frustrating at times. I walked by & saw Jon struggling a bit with a particular movement. “This is what my problem is. . . . “ was the phrase I could here as i strolled by.
Time passed and we moved on to different drill. Once again, the phrase “This is what my problem is. . . .” could be heard. I did not say anything, preferring to allow him to work through the issue.
When the third drill came about and the same phrase was used, I blurted, “Ever hear of the philosopher Osho. He used to say ‘You know what your problem is? You think you have a problem.'” As I walked by, it felt like I stepped out of time for a bit, reflecting on the phrase that spontaneously was spoken. It fit what I had been struggling with in my life perfectly. I wondered who in fact, I was saying it to, Jon or myself.
2. James Sweeting. James is a relative newcomer to Systema. A lawyer and also an accomplished musician (he and Jon both play the bass), James has had some major physical problems over the years. About 6 months ago, he had surgury again on his knees.
At the end of class, we gather in circle and go over any lingering questions or announcements. The last class in particular, I watched James as he went from a standing position to a sitting. It looked like his upper leg and lower leg were one. Kind of like a 2 x 4 without a (knee) joint. It was painful to watch.
James, as always, said nothing and just smiled.
In that 20 second span, I learned a great deal. If he can move about, dispite the physical challenges, what more can I — someone who has been blessed with a strong healthy body — do. What limitations, self-imposed of course, have I set and can now remove?
And remove with a smile. . . . .
3. Christy LeDuc. Christy is also a long time member of Central FL Systema and one of our most dedicated students. In the couple of years she has been training, I think she missed class twice. She sets the bar for dedication and commitment, as well as bringing a fresh, joyful lightness to our circle.
In the last class of the year, we had an open forum to discuss what we learn or what impacted us in 2013. Much to my surprise, Christy was very blunt, direct and deeply personal. Details are not important here (though of course, they are to her), but suffice it to say, everyone was moved by her comments.
The lesson I took from this was simple – courage. It took a ton of courage and guts to speak in such a personal and truthful fashion in front of a group. I very much admired this to say the least.
It was also a risk. She could have “couched” her story, or have been purposely vague. She took a great risk and I for one, am honored and grateful to have been there. It was a great reminder for me to take risks. Otherwise, what is the point of being here?
For these individuals and all of the students at our Winter Garden and Clermont schools, along with the people who cross my path in W. Palm and various seminars, I am most appreciative.
You never really know the impact you have having on another person.