Tom Gray (my Dad) on Left - 1960 Okinawa
Earlier this year I moved out of my condo and as part of my downsizing strategy; I decided to get rid of quite a few of my books. This sounded easy enough at first, unless you are an avid book reader and collector as I am. You other "book-ies" out there know what I'm talking about! Well, deciding to undertake a book purge has been a good lesson for me in terms of practicing non-attachment and letting go. I have accumulated somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000 books. No, that's not a misprint, I did have THAT many books! Too many, WAY too many! So I began going through them, picking out the ones that I wanted to keep (like ALL of them!) and the ones that I would give away or sell. I would first make three piles: The first made up of those books I couldn't do without; the second were those books that I knew I didn't really need and then the third... Oh, that damn third pile, it was the most difficult of all because it was the "undecided" pile. That's right, that pile was made up of all those books that I didn't really NEED (not that I really need ANY of the books!) but books that I did like. As a matter of fact I liked them enough to shell out top dollar for them at Schuller Books or Barnes and Noble's. However I was determined to cut down my collection to about 400 books or so. My goal was to have all of my books fit into two of my bookshelves. I am about there... almost! =)
Aside for my being able to practice non-attachment and letting go, I did have the opportunity to reminisce about various parts of my life. You see, I often stick notes, cards, and other memorabilia into my books and then like most pack rats, I forget about i,t so years, sometimes decades later I come across these items and and pleasantly surprised and delighted to see a part of my life that may have faded from my memory.
So, yesterday I was going through one of these books (which made the cut by the way!) and I came across this little note from my Dad. It was something that he wrote to me before I left for one of my trips abroad. Although, I don't remember exactly which trip I was going on.
Now, before I tell you what the note said, there are a few things that I want you to understand about my Dad. First, he is a former Marine who served in Okinawa and the Philippines back in the early 60's. He was also my first martial arts teacher when I was knee high to a grasshopper. And although he loved us kids very much he was a man of few words... VERY few! As he has gotten older he has opened up a lot more and has really tried to come out of his shell. Now we sometimes spend hours talking about politics or life, go out shooting or for an occasional bike ride; but it wasn't always like that. I have always knew that he loved me, even in those times that he's had trouble expressing it.
So, back to the note:
Here I am, my bags packed, ready to go to some foreign land on yet another adventure. I don't remember exactly when he wrote the note, it may have been shortly after 9/11, when there was a bit of tension regarding travel. Now, my Mom will talk my ear off telling me every detail of her apprehension with me traveling or whatever I may be doing at the time that makes her nervous. My Dad however is different. From what my Mom always tells us, he worries as much if not more, than she does, but he just doesn't say anything to us. Sometimes however he expresses himself in other ways. That said, shortly before I leave for my trip, he leaves a note for me. It says:
MY OUTLOOK FOR TRAVELING ABROAD (JUST A THOUGHT OR 2)
1) Low Profile (Hickish).
2) Be aware of what's going on around you (your surroundings).
3) No martial arts "give away's," such as clothing or books!!
4) Try to blend in well as best as you can.
5) Remember the terrorist and/or perp's know exactly what their about to do and have a different mindset.
6) Always remember surprise is one of your best first response defenses.
To those who train with me; doesn't this all sound a bit familiar!? So, just in case you were wondering where I get it from, there it is. As I say, "The Fruit doesn't Fall too Far from the Tree!"
Those are some simple and very practical tips that I thought I'd share with all of you. This is also a loving tribute to my Father. Thanks for all you've done for me Dad.
Happy Fathers Day!
I love you!
All the best gang.