by Dave Kovar
There is a samurai maxim that states, “Do what a weed does and bloom where planted.” Have you ever seen a dandelion sprouting from a crack in the sidewalk? It’s not complaining about not having enough sun or whining about the lack of soil or not getting enough rain. It just does the best it can to bloom and grow tall. We often dismiss the dandelion as a weed, but in this case, we can learn from its example. One thing I know for certain is that our lives will improve the moment we decide to change our perspective and look at things differently.
I witnessed an excellent example of “blooming where planted” a few years back. My wife and I were crossing the Bay Bridge on our way into San Francisco for the day. The Bay Bridge probably has 18 toll booths, and it’s not uncommon to wait in line for half an hour before reaching one of them. It was a beautiful morning, and we were eager to get into the city. We weren’t quite irritated with the line, but we were more than ready to be done with it.
As we approached the toll booth, I rolled down my window and was greeted by an attendant who was swaying to the sound of smooth jazz. She smiled at me as she took my money and said, “Today is a great day to be going into the city. Please enjoy yourselves!” We could hear in her tone that she truly meant it. My wife and I were impressed with her sincerity, and her attitude and comment helped shape the mood of what went on to become a great day.
On the way home that evening, we crossed the Crockett Bridge and pulled up to another toll booth. I normally don’t think too much about these brief interactions, but after that morning, I found myself wondering what this operator would be like.
As we pulled up, she didn’t even make eye contact. She grunted something and took my money. If I could have read her mind, I’m sure I would have encountered something like, “My sister is an architect, my brother is an attorney and here I am wasting my time at this toll booth.”
It’s interesting to think about how both ladies were doing the same job but with completely different perspectives. Our toll-booth friend at the Bay Bridge decided to bring joy and meaning to a position that we normally would not consider meaningful. She’d bloomed where she was planted. Think of the positive impact she had on hundreds of people that morning! Think of the thousands of days she has brightened since. She’s almost certainly living a more rewarding life because she made the decision to be happy and to contribute where she could.
So what’s the lesson here? For me, it’s about remembering to bring meaning to whatever we’re doing, regardless of how trivial it may seem. The good news for us is that it’s easy to find meaning in the teaching of martial arts. I might be biased, but I believe nothing is more important than what we do.
After all, what else addresses so many of today’s problems so well? Someone needs confidence? We can help. Someone needs to get in shape? See us. Someone wants a child to be able to focus better? We’re the place. Someone wants a fun activity while learning the value of hard work? That’s us.
When we remember this and make a conscious decision to act accordingly, everything about our schools and our businesses will improve — and bloom.
To contact Dave Kovar, send an email to [email protected]
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