My first birthday.
Actually the truth is I am 51 but it is a year ago that my heart stopped for four hours. As a heart valve recipient I have a new lease on life physically but a massive change came over me emotionally after the operation. I suppose many people who have had a life or death experience feel the same.
The change is much greater than the three decades of martial arts training is that I have done.
The real question is, "Have I reverted back to my old self now that life has gone back to normal?"
You see if the trauma is large enough, the impact it makes on you is permanent. Small scars fade, big scars don't.
The next question is, "Could I have achieved this new level of happiness without the experience?"
Like most people, I read positive thinking books. I quote memorable quotes. I've even taught positive thinking to my students.
"The grass is always greener on the other side"
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger"
"Possessions can be replaced, a life cannot.
All resonate with us as we know they are true. Unfortunately it is not until life gives us the proverbial slap in the face that we FEEL they are true. And feeling the truth creates real change. Knowing it isn't enough.
As martial arts instructors our job is to prepare our students for the trauma that will come one day. The problem is that it probably won’t be in form of a physical attack.
It will be in another form. Depression. Heart disease. Anxiety. Injury. Disappointment.
All these are unavoidable. So isn't our job to prepare our students for the emotional aspects of an attack? Obviously it is. Your value as an instructor soars with an attitude like this.
So where to from now?
My advice is to keep reading, training and learning. Keep looking for the meaning in life. Research the causes of happiness and suffering. Share what you learn.
With this knowledge, you will create change when the time comes. Without the knowledge, any crisis will have to be repeated several times over until you get the message.
Personally, I'd like to learn each lesson once.
Much easier that way.
(Last year, I wrote a guide for Creating Awesome Martial Arts Instructors. Get it free below...)