While I’m a bachelor I’ve been catching up on a few of my favorite movies. One of my all time favorites is Don Juan de Marco. Like Don Quixote, Don Juan de Marco lives in a fantasy world, but in doing so the world conforms to them instead of them conforming to the world. This is admirable and something many would like to do if they had the courage.
Watching this movie I remember the passion of my youth and how it felt to be young living in Spain and Mexico. It is a passion that has slowly faded as I grow older, accustomed to responsibilities, a job and the necessities of family life. This was explained perfectly in the movie with this quote by Don Octavio de Flores
– I’ve been thinking|about our adolescence. There isn’t any transitional battleground left for us anymore. I just feel as though we surrendered our lives to… …the momentum of mediocrity. I mean, what happened to all the celestial fire… …that used to light our way? – Oh, Jack, no. Listen, honey. You know all those fires are a lot of trouble. They caused a lot of trouble. I mean, fires are really hard to control. They flare up. They burn a lot of energy and then they suddenly die. I want to tell you something. -That’s bullshit. Because all… – No, it’s not. – Yes, it is. – No, it’s not bullshit. A good, steady, warm glow… …you know, that does the trick over the long run. – No fire, no heat. No heat, no life. – That’s the equation.
Don Octavio de Flores
I always wanted to be like Don Juan de Marco, like Don Quixote, to be a Renaissance Man. The world may see them as crazy but then the world slowly conforms to them. I’ve learned my languages, I work out to get strong, I’ve traveled, but my youth was lost along the way. However, I’ve realized the importance of mindset and seeing the world as you want it to be. As Don Quixote says “Yo sé quién soy y sé que puedo ser.” I know who I am and who I can be if I so choose.
– Why don’t we talk about who I am? – Yes. I know who you are. – Who am I? – You’re Don Octavio del Flores the uncle of Don Francisco da Silva. – And where are we here? – Well, I haven’t seen a deed, but I assume this villa is yours. – What would you say to someone that… …said to you, “This is a psychiatric hospital.”? And that you’re a patient here… …and that I am your psychiatrist? – I would say that he has a rather limited… …and uncreative way of looking at the situation. Look, you want to know if I understand that this is a mental hospital. Yes, I understand that. But then how can I say that you are Don Octavio… – …and I am a guest at your villa, correct? – Yeah. – By seeing beyond what is visible to the eye. Now, there are those who do not share my perceptions, it’s true. When I say that all my women are… …dazzling beauties, they object. The nose of this one is too large. The hips of another, they are too wide perhaps. The breasts of a third, they are too small. But I see these women for how they truly are… …glorious, radiant, spectacular, and perfect… …because I am not limited by my eyesight. Women react to me the way that they do, Don Octavio… …because they sense I search out the beauty within them… …until it overwhelms everything else… …and then they cannot avoid their desire… …to release that beauty and envelop me in it. So to answer your question, I see as clear as day… …that this great edifice in which we find ourselves… …is your villa. It is your home. And as for you, Don Octavio del Flores… …you are a great lover like myself… …even though you may have lost your way… …and your accent.
Don Juan de Marco
It is good to watch movies like these and remember the passion and excitement that once used to come naturally. I may be getting older and passion may not be so abundant but all it takes is the right mindset and life can again be exciting.
This is a very powerful movie. It is the story of a simple countryside girl who goes through life in wartime Japan. Usually when we hear of war stories there is a good side and a bad side, reasons are justified and perhaps some heroes are thrown in. What is usually not included is the human aspect, in that we’re all humans doing our best until things like war occurs and our lives fall completely apart. She didn’t do anything wrong, she always did what she was told and then she loses her arm, her niece and her normal life to things well beyond her control.
The most powerful scene for me was the atomic bomb and the horrible injuries suffered by a mother holding hands with her child who is relatively unharmed. The mother is missing an arm with shards of glass embedded all through one side of her. She sits down and dies. Then you see the child still holding on to her deceased mother trying to swat the flies away.
This scene creates a strong sense of empathy and sadness that no matter which country you come from should affect you profoundly. This is the fate of so many people caught up in war and should be a reminder that war is not glorious but instead is hell on earth. That image will stick with me for a very long time.
I finally was able to watch this documentary on a flight today and it made me realize how necessary Fred’s message of love, for being just the way you are, is in our current climate. For people of my generation we look back fondly on Mr. Rogers as it reminds us of the joy of childhood and when climbing trees, playing games, taking a trip to the pool and making new friends were the important things. It was when we found the news boring and for “old people.” It was also before the networks tapped into our worst emotions and persuaded us to start disliking each other based on whatever issue might push buttons.
Fred taught us that everyone is deserving of love and that you don’t need to do something sensational to earn it. You can be loved just for being they way you are. I feel that at worst one could be called a ‘snowflake’ for mentioning such expressions these days. I learned that Fred was a lifelong Republican but I wonder what he would think in Trump’s GOP? Now I rarely post political opinions here, I have another forum for that, and I am not here to bash any political parties. I don’t like Trump but I can understand some of his policies, although very few of them. Instead of getting into all of that let’s just take a few lessons from Mr. Rogers.
1. During the Vietnam War King Friday decides to “build a wall against change.” The world is changing at a very fast pace and it can be scary. Information and misinformation is coming at us all so fast and it can be very difficult to discern the truth. Fox, CNN have become awful mouthpieces of propoganda. They’re sole interest is profit, not the good of the country. That should not be understood. You cannot shut the world out nor turn back the clock. The world will continue to change and we should be wise in dealing with these changes.
2. Nixon threatened to shut down PBS or any other station that didn’t behave politically. Sound familiar? Who in their right mind would want to cancel Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street? Lord have mercy.
3. Everyone has inherent value. This is a central tenant of Christianity as everyone is a child of God. When we die and take stock of our lives – and life being a great gift – I think we’d be ashamed at our foolishness, that we spent so much time bickering with each other. What a waste. Your life experience is precious, don’t let the networks consume you with their nonsense for their own profits.
4. You don’t have to do anything sensational in order to be loved. We’re all children of God and if God isn’t your thing then the universe has created the right conditions over billions of years to make each of us. It is pretty amazing when you reflect on this.
5. Mr. Roger’s detractors said “You told everyone they’re special. They don’t have to do anything to earn that. Special. That is what is wrong with our country today.” My opinion is that the strongest people are the ones who exhibit kindness. They know who they are and have a self-esteem to such a high degree that they do not need to put others down and can go against the crowd to exhibit love. I feel it is the weak ones who put down others, tell them they’re not special unless they do or buy something, in order to make themselves feel strong. This became apparent to me when I learned about the sad home lives of various bullies and the current situation of various network talking heads! The greatest commandment is to “love thy neighbor” this is not up for negotiation no matter what the networks or social media say.
6. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – “It’s an invitation for somebody to be close to you. I think everybody longs to be loved and longs to know that he or she is lovable. And consequently the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”
Life is short, most of us are already middle age. I think if we could just remember Fred’s message of love than many problems might simply dissapear.
How about that!
Here are a few things I wrote down from the movie.
King Friday builds a wall against change. Sound familiar?
I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s accepted exactly as he is.
Mr. Rogers was a lifelong Republican. My how the party has changed. I wonder if he would still be one in Trumps GOP?
Nixon threatened to shut down stations (PBS) if they didn’t behave politically. Again, sound familiar?
The only thing that ever really changes the world is when someone gets the idea that love can abound and can be shared.
You told everyone they’re special. They don’t have to do anything to earn that. Special. That’s what’s wrong with our country today. (Mr. Roger’s detractors – hateful people!)
Everyone has inherent value. To say otherwise goes against Christianity.
You don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love you.
Years ago it wasn’t so weird that someone nice like Fred was around
No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we are all called to be Tikkun Olam, repairers of creation. Thank you for whatever you do, wherever you are, to bring joy and light and hope and faith and pardon and love to your neighbor and to yourself.
Won’t you be my neighbor? It’s an invitation for someone to be close to you. I think everybody longs to be loved and longs to know that he or she is lovable. And consequently the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.
It is the Friday before the Fighter’s Cup which is on Sunday. At rest I’ve mentally prepared myself but during last Saturday’s fights I lost confidence very quickly. The issue is stamina of which I have very little and it depletes quickly when fighting. It is at that point I feel like I’m going to die and just want it to end. I’ve never been mentally strong when it comes to stamina and having to keep going.
I fought a new Japanese student who seems like he has a lot of training somewhere else. He has a nice upper round house; I had no trouble blocking them but they did leave bruises on my forearms. I also hurt the knuckle on my left big toe and it was sore all week.
Coincidentally, Cobra Kai just came out on YouTube Red and I’ve been binge watching all evening. It really brings back some of the excitement about karate that I felt as a kid and got me briefly started in Taekwondo (post about that here). That is something I haven’t felt in such a long time. For me, karate is something I’ve always wanted to do and have enjoyed doing it but that youthful excitement has long been dormant.
Karate as it actually is, is very hard work, physically draining and there is a lot of pain. There are many times I do not want to go to class but I make myself go. Watching Cobra Kai on YouTube really enlivens the passion, the excitement and makes me feel pretty awesome since I actually do what I’m watching. I got so excited about this I even changed my Facebook profile cover to Cobra Kai! At 40 years old when life can seem monotonous, where that excitement from my youth is no longer felt, a series like Cobra Kai brings it right back. The passion to learn karate is the same I felt when I was just 10 years old and it is wonderful.
They’ve really done a masterful job with the series due to all the references from the ’80s movie, how they make my generation out to be pretty awesome in contrast to the gender neutral “sorry generation” of the Millennials and Generation Z and it makes me realize how quickly time passes. In one scene Sensei Lawrence makes fun of the music used for his student’s ringtone and says “put on some Guns and Roses.” Later the student comments about how great the rock music from the ’80s is! It is shocking to me to realize that I’m the same age as Sensei Lawrence and can relate to his character in terms of reminiscing about the ’80s.
In addition I love all the Japanese references. I have changed quite a bit since I was 10 years old and now not only speak Japanese but understand the culture. Like the passion for karate, seeing these Japanese references brings back my passion and excitement for Japan in general. Japan and its culture had become something I was used to and no longer caused excitement. Watching this series also brings that back. It is great to feel passionate about something again.
I’d like to write more about this but I’m feeling the urge to watch just one more episode before I go to bed.
May 5th 2018
I’m home with my youngest today and have a little more time to write more about this. I may repeat a lot because I didn’t think my writing was any good above.
I never watch TV and barely even pay attention to movies anymore. This is the first show that I’ve really watched in such a long time. Here are the reasons why:
At 40 years old I find that I’m not passionate about anything: this is to say that I don’t get excited about things the same way I did when I was a kid and teenager. In those days excitement just happened whether it was a new toy, game or in my teen years going to the high school football game with friends, looking forward to a date and so on. These days life it pretty monotonous and any excitement is greatly tempered by age and many experiences (nothing is new anymore).
Doing karate gave me something new to do and I was really motivated to learn it in the beginning. Then overtime it ceased being new and because the style I do is pretty hard it is more something I make myself do so I can get into better shape. I never felt that it was “awesome” or exciting, just something great to do and to learn with my son. Watching Cobra Kai makes karate seem awesome and changes my mindset about it. The fact that Kyokushin is hard makes me feel proud that we do the most difficult style. The drop out rate is pretty high but in persevering I feel good about myself.
When you’re a teenager we look for things to help shape our identities. It can be the type of music we listen to, the sports we play and the people we hang out with. At 40 years old the music we listen to doesn’t matter, most do not do sports and we hang out with our families. At this age it is usually the work one does that shapes an identity but for me work does not shape my identity. In fact I don’t think about identity much at all.
Watching Cobra Kai makes karate seem very cool. I also like being reminded of the “coolness” factor of the ’80s through what Sensei Lawrence says and does. It is nostalgia but brings “awesomeness” back to this generation with an ’80s flair. I love this and it makes me want to buy a jean jacket.
So as for identity, Cobra Kai makes me think karate is awesome and since I do karate I also feel awesome, although not even close to the same degree as I would if I were a teen. It makes me look forward to class and want to go fight. It awakens the feeling of passion which has been dead for so long. It brings back a sense of identity! Since karate is from Japan and Cobra Kai/Karate Kid have a lot of Japanese references it makes me feel proud that I speak Japanese and know the culture. I was very proud of this many years ago but then it just became something normal, something not to be very excited about. Since I both speak Japanese and do karate, Cobra Kai makes me feel rather awesome and I like that.
I absolutely loved the ’80s. Of course I didn’t realize it at the time but comparing our current time to that of the ’80s and having Sensei Lawrence portray those times in such an awesome light makes me feel very glad I actually experienced it. It was awesome in comparison to today’s generation. Driving around in a Firebird busting out ’80s rock such as Def Leppard and of course doing karate just seem so awesome. Feeling awesome just isn’t something one feels naturally these days. Perhaps it is because I’m 40 or perhaps the “awesomeness factor” just doesn’t exist in this generation.
I love the soundtrack to Cobra Kai and all the ’80s sounds, in fact I’m listening to it right now. Watching the show and listening to the music just makes me smile and feel good.
Japan and how I’ve changed:
The original Karate Kid made Japan seem so mysterious and cool. Of course I knew nothing about Japan when the original came out but now I do. Like karate the show enlivens my passion for Japan and it is amazing to think how much I’ve changed. I’m a completely different person now. As I mentioned above it has been a long time since knowing about Japan and speaking Japanese seemed like something special to me. Over time it just became a part of me without any “coolness” or “specialness” to it at all. Watching Cobra Kai reminds me of just how cool it is.
So I guess in summary, watching this show makes me think, “Hey, I do karate, I speak Japanese and this is totally awesome.” It awakens a passion and makes life fun and interesting again. The thing is the thought doesn’t linger and I need to listen to the soundtrack to keep the feelings alive.
Fighter’s Cup is tomorrow and my feelings about it were first anxiety, a little fear and something I just wanted to do and get over with. Watching Cobra Kai makes me actually look forward to it. However, I must remind myself that Cobra Kai is a show and the fights tomorrow are real. The karate looks so cool on the show but in real life it is just a bunch of beating on each other and *maybe* there will be a few cool kicks thrown in. Since our fights tomorrow will be recorded I want mine to look awesome but I don’t want to lose either. I’ll need to find my calm space, control my breathing but also be extremely aggressive. The temp of the fight will be set by my opponent and I wonder if he will just come at me very hard. If that is the case it will be difficult to get a lot of awesome kicks in. If he plays it safe then I’ll have the energy to throw a lot of kicks. As I mentioned above stamina is the key.
I’ll have to concentrate very hard to find that calm space. Right before the fight your adrenaline gets going and you get excited. This can cause the energy to drain very quickly.
Anyway, cool kicks or not I don’t plan on losing tomorrow. I just hope I can keep this confidence, keep my cool and have good fights.
Update – May 7th, Fighter’s Cup Result:
Well, talk about your anticlimax, I didn’t even fight because the other two in my group didn’t show up. I was ready, lined up with all the other groups but nobody in mine had showed yet even though they had paid. As the organizer came to me she gave me the option of going into the senior division which had six fighters or so or holding until the other person showed up.
Now when one thinks senior division one thinks it is usually easier but this was not the case. Everyone was tough in that division and there was even a fourth degree black belt from Japan! At that moment I decided to hold because I was sure the other people in my group would soon appear, I could give one match my all and was determined to win. If I chose senior there was the possibility I wouldn’t even win my first since I could probably be paired with that 4th degree black belt. Even if I did win the I might have to fight two more times to get first and given the rest is only 10 minutes or so and my stamina is bad I wasn’t confident I could win.
Things started very quickly and I didn’t realize how fast things would go and I would be immediately locked into my group. Well, the others didn’t show up and so I didn’t fight. Looking back I should have chosen to go into the senior division so I could at least fight but hindsight is always 20/20 I suppose. So today I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to fight and have nothing to show for the day but on the positive side I guess I did learn a lesson and that is to ensure I’m in a group that does actually have fighters present when the tournament starts. But I’ll be 41 next year so there will be no ambiguity on which division I should pick.
Perhaps I should try to get down to 165 so I could have a better chance at winning. In the heavy division most of the guys are much bigger and heavier than me and it would be hard to be able to kick them in the head. It is doubtful I could get down to 165 but I guess there is always a chance.
As for my son, he fought one match very hard and did a great job. He fought a kid two belts higher and it was one kick to his head that the judges were iffy about awarding a half point. It was awarded however and so he ended up losing a very tough fought match. He did cry afterwards and felt bad but did recover after a while and became happy that he got a medal. He was the youngest in that division so with more practice and growing up he’ll have a better shot next year.