It is said that as we grow older, the years seem shorter. This has to do with comparing the current year with the collective years that have passed. As a ten-year-old, we only have the previous decade to compare to, but we compare the current year to the last forty years as a forty-year-old. I don't know if it is just me, but 2021 has felt very short and very long at the same time.
As a martial arts school, the bulk of our training is close contact. We are often the first to be told to close or restrict our activities. 2021 has been a year of hope and disappointment, hope that the pandemic is ending, followed by disappointment that a new variant may force new restrictions to be put in place. It continues to be a challenging time, and we as a club will continue to be equal to the challenges.
With all the challenges that have faced us and continue to face us, our club continues to grow. We currently have the largest membership base that we have ever had. I am thankful to our assistant instructors for their help and support, especially James, who has been teaching a class for me for about a year and a half. I would also like to welcome Kate to our assistant instructor team. She has been consistently training and helping Kristina and me through the pandemic and is an asset to our club. This year, Kristina has worked extremely hard to build her children's classes, running all the admin for the club whilst juggling her mothering duties. As a result, her children's classes have grown massively, and we would like to also thank Almaz, who helps in these classes.
On a personal note, I continue to train to better myself and my understanding of traditional martial arts and modern combat. My skill level has continued to mature over this year. I am thankful to the teachers I have learned from and who have imparted their wisdom, allowing me to tweak my training and refine my understanding.
At the beginning of this year, I wrote and published a book, Understanding Kung Fu - Demystifying Traditional Concepts, which readers have received positively. I have also recorded and put my complete Shuang Yang Tai Chi method online as a step-by-step video course at shaolintaichi.online. It has been a very full-on year, and I am now looking forward to my first week off this Christmas and new year holiday since January 2020.
As society becomes more and more divided and our politics more and more tribal, let us remember one thing going into 2022. On the other side of your belief, the person you disagree with is human like you, has fears and hopes like you, and is just trying to make sense of life like you. Don't let any person or institution convince you that those you disagree with are the enemy.
The cure for this ailment of mind is compassion - an open, caring heart that is empathetic with the suffering of others and seeing the position they are in and caring about them and for them. At the same time, we must guard against the arising of pity, as pity is the enemy of compassion and rooted in ego.
The way I guard against negative mind states is to ask the question, "Is this thought or feeling creating a separation between me and the other or is it dissolving the separation?" Separation is your ego lying to you!
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year break and hope to see you ready to get back to the great work of bettering yourself in 2022.