I was offered a million dollars if I would return back my belt, along with all experience and knowledge gained in the achievement of said rank. The answer echoed around the room without thought – no way, never would do it. It was what the leader wanted to hear and instinctive to all of us who believe in our schools and what we teach.
But by the time I was on my way home I was reevaluating. Quite honestly my sale price is much lower, even a fiftieth of a million dollars would give me pause.
Because it’s not just about me.
It forced me to examine how much is selfishness and how much is real value. For my family, and I’m sure many others today, it’s not about fancy restaurants, designer labels, or bigger and better toys. It’s about bananas being a luxury. It’s about having to move and change schools. It’s about missing field trips, canceling music lessons, and skipping the next season of football and soccer. It’s about utilities and gas.
So suppose I take the hypothetical deal so I can provide things – would we really be better for it?
Before martial arts I was a spectator in my own life. I watched and waited for something to happen, something to change. Nothing ever did. I was afraid. (Okay – still afraid but it paralyzes me less and less.) I was sad. (Once more, still sad but I overcome the feeling again and again.) I had grown cynical about love. But now I witness it every day.
Drove home late and stopped to look at the lake. The few motoring cars still out softly matched the sound of the surf. In the darkness, the blue-black of the sky meeting the shadowed water seemed infinite. And I wondered again, how we all manage. But then there were flashlights on the beach, lights in the water, and lights from solar systems millions of miles away to remind me that no one is alone. Thought about all I’ve gained and where I want to be.
So Mephistopheles can keep his pocket change. We can manage without. What we can’t want for is strength, courage, confidence, hope and love. These are the things we would lose and in the end are not for sale.