Wednesday, August 09, 2006
a father's legacy, mortality, working out
Late night musings.
I was attending the wrap-up session for Quest's "Faith & Race" class, and during one of the "call to action" sessions, a short chat with another guy from the class, Sam, made me pause.
S: So what church do you go to, (Gar)?
G: I got to Chinese Baptist Church on Beacon Hill.
S: No way! I used to go there...
G: Really? That's cool.
S: Yeah. I'm guessing it's before your time, but do you know who Pastor Garland was?
G: (stun) ...yeah, he was my dad.
S: (shock) ...wow!
G: What a small world...
S: Not to flatter you or anything, (Gar), but your Dad was a good man. I liked going to CBC while he was there. After he passed away, things just weren't the same and I ended up leaving.
G: I know what you mean...
In the almost over 18 years that I have passed since my father's death, I've often wondered what his legacy to me has been. It's never so easy to define something like a legacy, and the fact that my father was never a wealthy person means that I don't have the lazy luxury of categorizing what he's left me to a mere amount of dollars and cents in a bank account. To find my what my father has left behind for me requires me to think about things on a more abstract level.
My short conversation with Sam reminded me that the greatest gift of my father's legacy is the impact that he had on people. His care and compassion for them has so often reverberated back to me - people honor my father by showing kindness to me, and it's humbling. The people who knew my father, especially current and ex-members of my church, carry with them the investments of his life. He somehow lives on in their memories, and it his example that sometimes spurs me on to trying to follow God and help other people, especially those who remain in the church he left behind.
At the same time, I can't deny that it's been difficult for me to focus on the positives of those fleeting memories. Too often instead, in the lingering memories of my father's and other family member's deaths, I feel the sharpness of my own mortality bearing down on top of me. One might think that a sense of the shortness of life might compel me to more anal-retentive about life and always in a rush, but instead, a vague sense of Buddhistic determinism makes me resigned to things as they are because my actions, independent of anything, are ineffectual in changing things.
To put things another one way: sometimes I feel that like my father, his brothers, my uncles, and my grandfathers, I too am fated to live a shortened life, no matter what I do, as if God Himself has already set this destiny aside for me.
I was probably in the best shape in my life during my years in high school and my first couple of years in college. The fact that I was in such good shape I attribute completely to kendo, the discipline and motivation it gave me to stay in "fighting shape". I would attend 2-3 hour practices at least twice week, or sometimes even three or four times a week. As a high school student, I remember kangeiko in the winter time, with all the sensei and sempai opening up the doors of the gym to let in the freezing wind while barking/encouraging us students to grind out our drills in between running laps, push-ups, crunches, and squats. As a college student, I remember walking all the way down to the IMA from the McCarty dorm, carrying my shinai (bamboo swords) and bogu (armor) bags every day there was practice, and after the exhausting practice, hiking all the way back up hill to the dorm.
Life in Japan was pretty healthy for me too - healthy Japanese food (in good portions), plenty of walking, and of course... lots of whisky, bourbon, and beer. Upon returning to America, there was significant reduction in Japanese food and walking, but unfortunately for my body, whisky/bourbon consumption remained constant, and "the baby" (AKA my belly) began to grow. Having another series of rough patches in life didn't help to discourage consumption either, since the lazy morbidity of my depressed mindset concluded, "Why bother exercising a body that has nothing to live for anyway?"
Fastfoward to the present, and now that I have the whole marriage thing on the near horizon, I've decided to start exercising again so I won't need to swap tuxes with Akebono or Musashimaru. My friend Josh has taken up the responsibility to be my personal trainer, and so far, it's been going good... I think. I still get sore as hell afterwards.
The old cliche of "No pain, no gain", right?
If that's true, I must be due for some serious gain.
i wonder if that was Sam Cheng. He and his sisters used to babysit me back in Vancouver. hmmm. don't publish this.
steph>Post a Comment
Ciao, to baby Gar... =(
haha! I'd be happy just to get rid of my "one pack".