One of my jobs at Dong Hwa is to be an advisor to half of the second year students. One student had never shown up at any of the activities I organized for my students, but he suddenly called me today because it is the last day to withdraw from school. I wasn’t in school today so he had to come out to my house to get his form signed.
He wants to take some time off, do his military duty, and then think about what to do next. Having taken time off in college to backpack around Asia, I felt some sympathy for the student, who seems to like reading in his dorm room instead of going to class.
After I signed his release form he seemed reluctant to leave. Maybe it was because Juno was sitting on his feet getting petted, but it also seemed he wanted to talk. So I asked him a bit more about his life and his plans, and when that topic was exhausted, I decided to do my job and give him some advice. I won’t repeat what I said, but suffice it to say that it was something my Irish fencing coach had once told me in college. A great coach, he was also a big fan of zen buddhism.
That’s when it struck me. The absurdity of it. You know, in the movies it is always the kid from New Jersey who goes to the wise old Asian man in the mountains for some life-changing advice, and here I am, a kid from New Jersey in the mountains of Hualian, imparting zen wisdom I learned from my Irish coach to a kid from Taipei …
Still thinking about this, I looked up the Wikipedia bio for Pat Morita. Turns out he headed a computer operations department for an aerospace company and worked as a standup comic before becoming the embodiment of the wise karate instructor my Irish fencing coach had emulated so well.
There’s a point here somewhere, but you’ll have to come out and visit me in the mountains for me to explain it to you!