Day 22: Vicarious Joy / by Jeff Tacklind

Last night Lila and I completed our test for yellow belt.  I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. I even practiced my moving attacks on Patty ahead of time.  It is funny how we never outgrow those jitters.  At least I haven’t.

We got there and the room was set up a bit different.  A table was out.  A Korean flag was hung.  My instructors didn’t smile.  This was serious.

This is one of the things I’ve loved about Hapkido.  It is the sense of deep tradition and meaning. My friend, Scott shared with me about the years he had invested in this discipline, and his eyes revealed just how deep this ran in his heart.  This class wasn’t being taught by just anyone.  Mark was like Scott’s brother.  This was family. It was that moment that made me sign up.  I wanted in. 

After our test we celebrated at San Shi Go.  As we stuffed ourselves on their fabulous sushi, I sat back and watched Master Mark and Scott savoring in the joy of the moment.  They were relishing in my and Lila’s accomplishment.  And it was connecting them to this rich vein of joy that they could tap into vicariously.  We were all celebrating, but my instructors most of all.

This is one of the deep truths in life.  Joy is increased when it is shared.  It diminishes when we try to possess it.  It flows, like a river.  The blessing is allowing ourselves to pour out the blessing.  Investing our lives in others is the good life.  It was a wonderful evening.

And then, this afternoon, my role switched as I took Alex, a friend of my niece, Mary’s, out surfing for the first time. Alex is a snowboarder from Idaho and was itching to get out there.  We ran through the prep on the beach and then paddled out into the chilly water. 

I shoved him into a couple waves to begin with so he could get the timing for his pop up.  His first wave was great but he went to his knee on his back leg.  Almost!  From there he just got closer and closer.  He pearled a couple times.  Popped up too early on a few.  Went over the falls once or twice.  And then nailed it.  He paddled into it by himself, got right to his feet, and rode it all the way in.

As he hooted on the inside, all the guys in the lineup beamed.  We all remembered.  We were all there.  Alex was so stoked!  But we may have been even more than him.  There’s a saying that gets tossed around at moments like this.  Some version of “So much for him ever becoming president.”  Just writing that makes me smile.  It is so true!

He was so thankful.  But I was the one feeling grateful.  Because when we pour out our joy and passions on others, when we seek to be as generous as our hearts will allow, we tap into something so very rich.  It is the goodness of life.  And while it cannot be possessed, we can wade into it.  We receive it and give it.  We become conduits of the blessing.  And that is the blessing.  That is abundant life.