I was sitting outside my sons school this afternoon waiting for my son when I got a phone call. My business is linked to my cell so I can get to things instantly. I had a few minutes, so I answered it.
This young man came on the phone and identified himself. I had met him once last year, and he had been trying to get ahold of me this year, but I had been ignoring him. Basically he has opened another martial arts school in my same town. We are only a few miles away from each other. I thought it extremely odd because usually martial arts school owners are extremely competitive and don't interact with each other if they are a competitor in the same area. I have reached out a few times to others, but I must admit I am bit this way also.
He was inviting me to his small tournament at his school. He did the same thing last year, and I thought it very odd. Usually this is not something done with someone who is in direct competition in a specific market. At least in my experience. I truth I had already researched him and his pictures and energy sort of for lack of a better word ooze innocence. In a lot of ways he reminds me of when I first opened my school, though I was much more... well... aggressive.
I let him offer the invitation, then I started asking questions.... really I was simply qualifying him. I could tell he was nervous. He obviously new I have had a school in this town for quite a while. At first I was direct and business like, then as he answered my questions I started to realize he was more similar to me than I ever thought and I started to lighten up.
Anyway, by the end of the conversation we were both laughing at idiosyncrasies in our particular field and the hard noses of most other school owners. I told him that I had never managed to make friends with the others in our town. He also lightened up and told me about some feelings at some local marketing events when he ran into our competitors. It was refreshing actually. The energy that I knew he had was actually who he really was. I told him not to worry about any of that. What most of the others don't understand is that our business is built on who we are. I told him that he will never see me at those events because I bring people to martial arts, I don't fight for market share. I told him he will be fine as long as he follows that bit of advice. I told him lets meet for coffee. I'm not going to mentor a competitor, but I can definantly make friends. Its better to have like minded ally's.
After the phone call, I felt a strange mix of joy at having met such a true person with this boy like innocence and this disappointment that I had become so hard and judging, but also happy and a little bewildered that he had disarmed me. I fear for him though. He has only been open a year and commercial real estate rent can eat away at someone not prepared to face the mountain of challenges. I have watched handfuls of martial arts schools rise and fall. I hope he does well, and I will help where I can.
Then my son was out. I got out to greet him. One of the moms cornered me into donating pumpkins for a harvest festival. An easy decision. A quick calculation in my head and knowing my business response statistics guarantees a $1,000 in pumpkins is a grossly easy profit of well over 500% by simply attaching gift certificates of free birthday parties to them an added value to the school and I will meet dozens of new kids some of which will sign up for lessons . Also, the rapor with the school is priceless. I almost felt guilty that such an easy opportunity fell into my lap, but its a super win for everyone.
At the end of the conversation, I get another phone call. The mother of one of my sons friends is running late. He is currently playing with my son. I tell her no problem. Ill take him to the park and wait for you while the kids play. I have my other son to pick up in about a half an hour so I have to stick around anyway and the park is 2 minutes away. We became friends last year doing projects for our sons classes last year, and ironically he has used a fee bb party that I regularly give out.
As we are walking to the park.... the strangest thing happens. My son takes off down the sidewalk almost like people do when they want to leave you alone with somone. Im walking along side of my friends son, and in his charming British accent he says "Mr. ******** , what do I do about the bad spirits in my room?" I was speechless for a moment.
Hmmm I say. What exactly is happening. A story that I know so well unfolds. Night terrors, altered states of consciousness, sleep paralysis. Hypnogogic problems. I listen for a few moments, then when he is finished I say. Do you remember those times that you looked at that pile of cloths or your dresser and you see it change form and turn into monsters and different scary shapes.
He says, how do you know that.
I just do. Well what you are doing is your are simply moving your fear to the cloths. You know its just cloths right?
yes. (British accents are so cute in kids)
Well all you are doing the something with the other things you see. You simply don't know what it is, so you take your fear and like an overhead projector you push it out so you can see your fear. All you have to do is learn how to push your happiness out so you can see it, and the scary things will all go away.
How do I do that.
The same way you push your fear out. You see it and simply be happy that you see it and it will be happy right back like looking in a mirror. Try it next time with the pile of cloths and practice until you are good at it. But don't worry its all going to stop in a few weeks..... I promise.
He looks up at me and says I knew that you were a karate master and could fix this.
I laugh...well its not exactly me, but im going to get it started for you. Just hang in there and remember what I told you.
by this time we had caught up with my son and we were at the park.
The ground is littered with maple leaves, and then all of a sudden he shouts out "Don't step on the leaves...they are poisonous." Both he and my son dart off toward the play structure. Again I am floored. I have been having a discussion right here on UM about my experiences with games like this and how dangerous they can be. Read about it here: http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=255624
After I shake of my amazement, I shoot after them saying WAIT.
Lets change the game. if you do step on a leaf you get smarter and stronger like a super hero... but you don't have to either, and boys in the future lets no make games about fear or death. Lets make them about life and love....Ok. Pointing at my little British friend, I say
remembered what I said about projecting bad things. Lets start practicing now.
Ok..... They dart off stepping on the leaves instead of avoiding them.
I'm left shaking my head in dismay hoping I did not doom one of them to a life time of OCD stepping on leaves. Uggggggg Every word, every step, every act affects the children in your presence profoundly. The responsibility is beyond immense.
I make my way to the bench. But there is this gaggle of ladies at the shade structure all pointing at me and laughing and giggling.
I'm thinking....oh dear god, what now. I did not see her at first but this elderly east Indian woman that I know very well. Its a very long story byond the scope of this blog, but we have had some intimate conversations on this very bench about spiritualty, people, and self reflection. She hobbles over and says Id stay but I have to go (another charming accent). She hugs me and says, "and I see your glow is particularly strong today..". Then all the moms all sort of file past us with these smiles on their faces like they know something. She doesn't hold anything back. I have to wonder what she has been telling them. She we say our buys and she walks away.
Finally a few moments of peace. Soon his mom is there and she watches my son while I walk back to the school to get my other one. As im walking I have to keep stopping at cars parked. One dad is a dad I met last year at a restaurant bar and I gave him all the little ponds and things to take his kids to guarantee they catch fish, one mom I ran a safety presentation for here woman's group a while ago, and few of my past clients who are getting my new local blog on kids and are congratulating me. Im feeling like a celebrity, It seems to not end, and it doesn't. I'm late because I have to keep stopping to talk to people. When I get there school is out for the late kids and there is a large squad of them that are my students. All of them playing around while their mostly moms do the usually afterschool few minutes of gossip. I have quite a few students at this school but it was strange that they were all together. And then they all charge me. They all surround me with high fives, and little voices begging for info about my up coming Halloween party, as usual they are all talking at once a pulling on me.
Im here every day and it never goes down this way. The other parents are all staring at us. parents of the ones that are my clients are smiling and the ones that don't know me are bewildered at the crowd of kids surrounding a dude in camo shorts and a ford cap. After a few moments my oldest son is there. I say good bye to the kids. Me and my son walk to my car to drive back to the park. He then says. What's going on daddy. I say "I don't know?
We drive to the park. The three boys are playing. My oldest joins them and I sit on the grass. Their mother comes over to join me. She is a chatty person. She starts talking about all kinds of things. British humor Is always entertaining, and she is a pretty woman so her accent is a bit charming in a different way than her son. I'm trying to follow along, but I'm not much of a talker and Im distracted by the mischief the boys keep finding themselves in. Still im trying to make eye contact and be involved in the conversation. Im waiting for a specific subject to come up. European woman are far more open than American women, so im sure she will get to it. She does. She starts to talk about her sons sleep problems. Now im listening . I go through the same questions I asked her son already knowing the answers. I tell her that it is very important that she take her son to have a sleep study done immediately. Then demand an audience with a neurologist, and her will put her son on a liquid iron supplement. Then everything will change. She asks me how I know this. I say I just have worked with a lot of kids, so I see lots of things. She says she will get right on it.
After a while I get the kids and head to my car. They are leaving at the same time. As she is about to put them in, Im sitting in my car with the window open and I say to the boy. Remember what I told you about projecting your happiness, and don't worry your mom is on it, and like I promised it should be better in about two weeks. His mom is looking at me like she is seeing a ghost, she cant understand that me and her son have already had this conversation her hand has come up to her mouth....she thought she was the one that brought it up.. He says "Ok....Thanks Mr.********"
I cant resist the moment. I don't say anything to her, I just smile and give her a wink as I back out and drive away. (I sort of regret doing that, I should have explained better). But we have know each other long enough, and she is not shy, so im sure she will ask about it tomorrow.
I drive home. The kids start to get out of my car, but my head is lowered. My younger one asks "Daddy what are you doing", but my oldest answers. "He is talking to god, this is private time, lets go"
He was right. though I wasn't talking. I was just feeling in silent amazement. What can happen in the span of an hour or so completely blows me away. Its like everything is tied into everything else and once the strings start unraveling they don't stop. All I can do is calmly follow them.
Ironically as I finish typing this I notice that the television was left on the BBC. Dr. Who is on. More British accents...sheeeshhhhh.
Forgive me for all the mistakes. I hammered this out fast and im to lazy to fix anything.