That’s just ridiculous…

Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

We went to the beach today. It’s 90 in Chicago right now. I have one word for you: Sweat…

We found a great spot, and then realized, shit… we forgot the sunblock (because when you have a kid, you lose half of your brain — did you know that?).

So I was walking back to my car to get it and noticed three guys huddled around on the lawn area of the park by the beach practicing some form of martial art.

They weren’t wearing any official attire. Just three dudes in sweats and tank tops contorting each other’s wrists, delivering forecasted strikes down on each other’s foreheads, and analyzing how better to immobilize each other.

My cynical inner voice (who typically speaks first) was like, seriously, guys? You think that would actually work if I came running at you with a chainsaw right now? How ridiculous.

(Note: Apparently, that’s how I roll — with a chainsaw… Which leads to a deeper discussion… With my therapist… Anyhow, I digress…)

But seriously though, right? In this day and age, learning how to fight can easily do us more harm than good. It doesn’t take much to provoke a desperate attacker by acting on our bloated sense of martial prowess and finding out the hard way that our super-duper crouching puma arm bar might not work. Or, on the flip-side of that coin, even if we are as badass as we imagine, and our arm bar actually does the trick (or worse), we can easily get slapped with an assault and battery charge.

Survival? Yes, my cynical side gets it. Do what you can to defend yourself and then get out. But perfecting that tiger claw looking thing they were practicing seems to be impractical.

However, I understand how this mind of ours works. So, I played with the notion. I stayed with the thought. I kept on watching. And I realized…

No, no — you know what. What I think of this doesn’t really matter. They’re not hurting anyone. They’ve obviously found solitude and connection in this exercise. Why the hell am I getting my Fruit of the Looms up in a bunch about it — judgingly scouring at them while walking by with my dad shorts?

This is something we humans have been doing for millennia — particularly us dudes. Figuring out how to disarm, disable, apprehend, defeat, and basically pummel each other.

Rewinding my life just a few years, I see that several chapters of my life have been steeped in the martial arts. I think that’s where the skepticism stemmed from. Because I looked at these guys and took the elitist stance of, pssshhht… This is some stupid martial arts — so unrealistic.

Some things might not make sense. They may go against our values or tastes of the moment. And if we don’t stand back and see those judgments, they become our reality. Soon, we want to start imposing laws on people dawning Hanes sweatpants and tank tops in parks because they just might start doing stupid-looking martial arts with each other and disturbing the peace.

But, no… 
Zoom out.

There’s space for so much here in this human experience.

95% of the time, we should just let each other be. Exercise empathy.

I could just as easily have looked at those guys with a sense of curiosity. It’s only one thought away from judgment.

That would have made my trip back to the car to get the sunblock much more enjoyable.