Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sacrifices & Strength

As I'm hanging out on set today at Raleigh Studios Hollywood, I'm reminded of a priceless experience I had just hours earlier. Once in a while, a youngster gets lucky enough to unexpectedly receive the guidance and advice of an accomplished elder. Last night, that lucky youngster was me.

While hanging out near my office, waiting to meet up with dear friend and Master RKC Kenneth Jay, I happened to bump into a patient of mine, one of Hollywood's elder lions. He's been working in this town for 40 years and become one of the entertainment industry's most recognizable faces and successful actors. Obviously for patient confidentiality reasons, I can't disclose his name or provide his picture, but that's not nearly as important as the words of advice he gave me.

When I bumped into him, I hadn't seen him for a while, and after the intial pleasantries, he had me grab a seat and we started talking about family. I asked him how he'd been able to maintain a solid family life with all the distractions and temptations and inevitable challenges that both this town and relationships bring, and he offered me some outstanding words of advice.

One of the points he made early in the conversation was that the whole current thing about "following one's bliss" is a crock of $h!#. He explained that most people take those words and interpret them at their barest face value. Whether because of ignorance, outright willful stupidity, or abject denial, these people fail to look beyond the obvious and recognize the myriad of reactions for their actions and consequences for each of their choices. No matter how foul these people can make a situation, they have an excuse. Whether the excuse is...

"Don't judge me because I'm an individual."

"I have the right to follow my freedom."

"My values are different."

"I deserve to be happy."

"I deserve to be recognized for my contributions."

"I'm in touch with my spirituality."

"That's not my fault."

"My personal savior forgives and loves me."

or any of a zillion other stupid lines, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is that people who choose to be irresponsible will latch onto these lines and subvert them away from the direction in which they were most likely intended by the original speakers. The sick or weak minded use these lines as excuses to repeatedly give in to weak will and feeble character and dodge responsibility for their actions.

When he broke these points down for me in such straightforward talk, a lot of thoughts crystallized in my head. And he reminded me that for every choice an upright person makes, there's a consequence.

Those consequences, he said, can play themselves out in a bunch of different ways. There are people who pursue their immediate happiness, and while they give in to momentary pleasures or weaknesses or conveniences, they give rise to a web of pain and suffering that afflicts not just them, but also the ones they love. These are also the people who will usually deny tooth and nail that they are such. So it is in our best interests to not only avoid such people, but to also work assiduously against becoming such a person.

This wiser, older lion said a lot more to me, but perhaps the most applicable essence of his talk with me lies in the lines above. If you stop to consider how those lines can apply to the different areas of your life, it's amazing how it ties over to diet, exercise, time management, and relationships.

We have to investigate more incisively, reason more responsibly, declare more decidedly, and act with an awareness that extends far past the "A meets B", but to see the ripple effect of our actions throughout eternity.

So you can do those last few sets of swings with poor form, eat all of that carbonara, drink those next 2 beers, skip the following few days of training, shoot off your mouth without putting real thought into what you're trying to say, kick the dog, and leave your friends & family in the lurch when they need you. It's OK... because you've got the right to follow your own bliss.

Just make sure you have the strength to handle the consequences when they come knocking.


Amy Jurrens, RKC said...

Thanks for reality check. Isn't it funny how we learn things when we least expect to?

When are you going to head east to the heartland? I have a little something to give you. (Hint - it's better than Crown!)

Good news - I bent press the 24 kg on Saturday under the watchful eyes of Brad Nelson and Adam Glass. The video link is on my blog. I'm so pumped!!

Enjoy Hollywood, but don't go Hollywood! ;-)

Dr. Mark Cheng said...


It's always good to hear from you. :) Congratulations on your bent press! That's some serious weight!

As far as Hollywood, I respect this place, but I don't want to be a regular part of it. I've spent half my life here in LA, and I've had a peep working behind the scenes a couple of times. It's just not for me.

So rest assured that the Chinaman is living in LA, but not exactly living too much of la vida loca.

Looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Franz Snideman said...

Wow, powerful Mark!!!! Ultimately we all have the power to choose which makes it impossible to play the victim role....we all have the CHOICE to reap what we sow, whether good or bad!

Rock on!

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Very well said about our power of choice making it impossible to play the victim role, Brother Franz.

Hope all's well with you & the family, and look forward to seeing you guys again! Are you going up to San Jose?