Who we are affects how we see the world, yes?
Taking a detour from my usual Aikido topics here, I got this in my mind recently and it’s been stuck. Does who we are affect how we conduct ourselves?
- How we live our lives?
- Who our friends are?
- How we pursue goals?
- Who our lovers are?
- How we experience our lives?
I’m drawn back to the famous quote that Rachel Dawes said to Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins:
It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.
Is it a chicken and the egg question? It’s a hard one to answer. But I guess I can offer up myself as an example:
I come from a poor family. Growing up it was okay financially. Between my parents they were earning around $70,000/year while my sister and I were growing up. Modest compared to most people in my area which was an affluent portion of California. There was – and still is – a high concentration of highly trained, highly skilled populace consisting mainly of engineers and tech people. Growing up first generation American of Chinese descent also carries a certain societal and social expectation; one of high achievement in terms of academics and in financial status.
However things are not what they seem. Now between myself, my mom, and my father we earn around $45,000/year. Despite my family’s relative stability growing up, there were a lot of things that made life emotional and unstable. Despite my perceived success, there are many things in my life that are lacking.
When you grow up in a family where money is an issue, the day to day rituals usually take precedent over what could happen in the future. Or if you want to take the more blunt approach: “Dreams for the future are wishful thinking.” At least that was how I was raised by my parents.
Sad isn’t it? While I appreciate, practice, and value that practical needs in the present will always be an issue, I must disagree with my folks that, we must have goals for ourselves for the future that are not academic and professional in nature. I just had lunch with my father a few days ago and after I told him that I had majored in teaching, he had a sour look on his face and said something to the effect of:
“You won’t be able to raise a family with that income. You should have gone into finance”.
While I agree with him that teachers can barely earn enough for themselves, I realized that he failed to realize that how one conducts oneself in the professional market before and after getting the job is just as important at the job itself. Which by the way, has been a challenge for me ever since I graduated with my bachelor’s 5 years ago; realizing that what I bring to the table (my personal history, personality, and work ethic) is just as important as getting the job itself. That has been my Achilles heal. Not to mention that my experience is not in finance and starting over now would be a lot of work and would require a lot of money.
So how does this connect with being raised poor and preparing for the future? When money becomes precedent, everything else becomes secondary.
Well maybe not everything, but personal development? Psh, out the window it goes. Self-actualization? Maybe “another” day. It was this type of attitude where having Aikido in my life now – among other things – makes me more appreciative of having the art in my life.
What can I say, I’m a kid from a poor family.
Just needed to ramble this off, this has been on my chest for sometime and I didn’t want to make too much of a scene on Facebook. I will resume my regular Aikido/Martial art broadcast in the next posts. Till next time.