by Gail Oblinger
The Seven Virtues of Bushido flashed into my mind as I was reading the letters to Ann Landers column in my local newspaper.  I especially thought of Courage (Yuuki).

A letter from a woman who wrote about a drinking problem had appeared in a past column. Another woman, named Elaine had read the first letter and sent in her comment. Now a third woman was writing in to comment further.  It goes like this…

"I read the letter from the Elaine from California who said she was inspired by another letter in your column about a woman who couldn't stay sober.  She asked if she was too old to change, and her counselor replied, "Is your heart still beating?"

The third woman went on to say, “Her story hit me right in my middle."  She said that she was  67,  has had 3 back surgeries and will always have physical limitations. She also lives with chronic depression and is overweight. "It seems I have struggled with one or all of these conditions my whole life. “

She continued, “As I get older, I am more and more weary. I have a psychiatrist, a therapist, a good back doctor and the best primary care physician. And I have asked each of them whether there is any use in thinking I can improve my condition. They all give me positive answers, but Elaine's letter rang a new bell.  Even when some parts are broken, there are parts that still work. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes for lifting the spirits, from Leonard Cohen:

"Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That is how the light gets in."
Doesn't that strike you as being a very true thought?  I feel like it speaks to those of us who are attending karate classes, trying the best we can while experiencing physical limitations, and frustrated because we don't perform as well as we wish. In the dojo where I train, the ages of adult students ranges from 18 to 74, with an average in the mid-forties. On any class night there might be several persons with bad knees, a bad wrist, or other injuries and disabilities. They don’t quit. They haven’t given up. They are in class, participating.
"Some parts are broken, but there are parts that still work."

“ Ring the bells that still can ring...”

That surely is courage in the budo way.

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