How “Why Not” Helped Me Discover a Great Life Passion
Exactly 15 years ago I made a “Why not?” decision that helped me discover one of my greatest life passions (and exposed a talent I otherwise would have never known I had). It happened at work. I was sitting in my office, miserably bored, hating my job and unhappy with life in general. Nothing was working out the way I had expected and I was feeling anxious. I don’t know what came over me (I think God was leading me…) but I opened the phone book and sort of just flipped through the pages. I was aimless.
I saw ads for deep sea fishing and sailing lessons. I saw headlines for ballroom dancing and knitting. There was a widely expansive list of options that I could explore for something that would force me to try something new.
I landed on Martial Arts.
I was curious but honestly just knew that it wasn’t for me.
I called anyway because, “Why not?” The man on the other end of the phone was kind of a jerk. I asked, “Will I lose weight?” He responded, “Depends on how hard you train.” I asked, “Will I really learn anything to help me?” He said, “That depends on how much you focus and how much you remember.” I asked, “Will I at least have fun?” He said, “Do you consider fighting fun?” I sighed and asked, “So why should I come to your school?” He said, “I don’t care if you come to my school or not. You come if you want to come, not if I want you to come.”
I scheduled my first class for Wednesday, two days later.
When I walked in the following Wednesday there were people out on the mats all just doing their own thing. No one paid any attention to me. Carmen, the teacher, told me to go on out there but as soon as I took my first step he yelled at me, “No shoes on the mat!” I felt like I was being yelled at all night long. “No shoes on the mat!” “Call me “Sifu” not Carmen.” “Don’t tie your belt like that!” “Bow first!” “Close your hand.” It went on and on. I was frustrated but I didn’t fail. At the end of the lesson I asked him how much classes were and how often I was able to come back. It was $100 for one private lesson per week and as many group lessons as I wanted, there were 3 adult group lessons per day, 7 days per week.
I signed up because, “Why not?”
I earned my first belt in two weeks, my next belt in one month, my next belt two months after that, and so it went for 10 years. By the time I ‘retired’, almost 10 years to the day that I took my first class I had:
- Started teaching the women’s self-defense courses at the Dojo
- Started teaching the 5 – 8 and the 8 – 12 year old’s classes
- Started teaching adult private lessons to beginners
- Performed in multiple presentations
- Competed in two tournaments
- Learned bo staff and dagger fighting
I was able to compete against, and beat, men that were twice my size. I understood attacks and how we put ourselves in riskier situations by not knowing how to properly respond to the first grab, punch, or strike. I learned how to focus and be prepared. I learned how to break a hold, gouge eyes, collapse noses or windpipes, shatter knees or elbows, break bones, use pressure points and grapple. I wasn’t an expert but I had discovered a passion and I did it accidentally by simply saying, “Why not?” and taking a risk.
- When is the last time you broke outside of your comfort zone and tried something new?
- How did you discover your hobbies and passions?