Jan 26, 2016 More on approaching life, competition and battle with zero limits
Not long after relocating to Fairfax from Maryland over two years ago, a fellow Fairfax-based criminal defense lawyer, unprompted, saw me talking to a colleague at the jail entrance, and proclaimed something along the lines of my being a big shot lawyer who had come to town. I might have shrugged it off as a mere low-rent attempt at humor, if it were not for another colleague with whom I get along well who said “F*** you” with a grin when I told him I was relocating here, and another — who previously offered great ideas to help my decision whether to relocate to Arlington or Fairfax — who later made clear in no uncertain terms that I am his competitor.
Criminal defense lawyers should hang together, not separately. I will go one step further to say that we should be ready to appreciate and often delight in the accomplishments of all others — even when they beat us in a particular round or rounds, so long as they have fought fairly, and so long as we use their accomplishments as an energizing incentive to excel ourselves — because they are reminding us of and further revealing the heights of human potential; being human, all of us have the potential to reach those heights.
The late Wayne Dyer makes sense in pointing out that we all come from the same source, and therefore each of us is capable of doing great things and achieving great success. I am talking about virtuous success, and not, for instance, making money for the mere reason of making money. Success, of course, comes with hard work, and of course the work should be smart (although Dyer has admitted to being disorganized, but he was successful despite his disorganization) rather than merely busy for the sake of being busy. Wayne also makes sense in pointing out that by changing our thoughts for the better, we change our life for the better.
A key to success in life and in one’s profession is unblocking all the real and imagined obstacles along the way. In that regard, martial artist Peter Ralston focuses on effortless power. My taijiquan teacher’s teacher Ben Lo underlines that: “Normally we think that if [our opponent] has 100 pounds of force or power, I better have 150. But then if I get 150 pounds of force, he may have accumulated more himself. Or there’ll be somebody else with more. So next time it will be my 150 against his 200. Then Ill need to go to 250. . . and still, there’s always going to be somebody with more than me. So I need to reverse my approach. I need to take my own power down to 0. Then there’s no chasing or spiraling. Nothing can change. If he has 100, I have 0. If he has 150, I have 0. If he has 200, I still have 0, on and on, whatever he has, Im always beneath it, it doesn’t change or affect me. Im not chasing his attributes, or competing, or catching up, or exceeding him. That’s Taijiquan.”
My teacher Ihaleakala Hew Len talks of zero limits, clearing out unnecessary internal data, knowing that there is no out there for the mind, and presence at zero as the ultimate exercises in daily life.
It is tempting during or at the end of a competition where the opponent seems to be winning or wins, to blame external forces for the loss, when by doing so we are losing a golden opportunity to be inspired by our opponent to reach and exceed greater and greater heights, ideally in the current battle or else in the next battle.
It is tempting to get angry at a judge or some other person who seems to be urinating on fairness, breaking the governing rules, or wrongfully choosing favorites, rather than letting that be a lesson on winning even when we know that life is riddled with unfairness.
I remember one day kvetching to a Trial Lawyers College colleague about all the unfairness in life, and he reminded me to “Look at [my friend] Dax” Cowart, who had transcended hardships much more profound than the two of us combined had faced. And look at Paul Smith, who delighted in creating beautiful and precise art with a typewriter, rather than stopping much to consider that he had cerebral palsy so severe that it prevented him from using a brush or pen to create art; the typewriter became his brush.
For that matter, regardless of what I think of his politics as being too socialist and of our opposing views on SCOTUS’s Citizens United opinion, Bernie Sanders pursued what at first seemed an uphill battle against Email-gate’s Hillary Clinton, and instead has become a viable candidate and knocked Hillary out of any chance of complacency pending the primary voting He apparently had a purer reason for seeking the presidency than any other Democratic and GOP candidate still on the debate stage, and has pursued his candidacy and inspired a huge number of disaffected voters, despite the odds, without looking back
The most successful path is opened when we fill it with non-judging energy and vibrations so positively powerful that the good energy and vibes overtake and reverse any negative energy and vibrations. Then watch the magic unfold.