January 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
“My stomach hurts,” Jack Henry says. “Like you’re gonna throw up?” I ask.
“No, the muscles from all the sit ups.”
“That makes sense. Maybe you should take tonight off from karate,” I say.
“No!” he says. “It’s Warrior Month!”
Warrior Month, you see, is what you call the first month of the year at Shaw’s Karate. It is no longer January, the month of failed hopes and intentions. It is a month full of sit ups, pull ups, push ups, and something daunting, called see-shaws. Kids come out the door of the dojo dripping sweat. Some are crying. There is no mercy in warrior month, even for six-year-olds. You’re either a warrior, or you’re not. Jack Henry always comes out of the dojo sore, but invigorated. He’s a warrior for sure. Here is what Dictionary.com calls a warrior:
1. a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. 2. a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.
But I like Urban Dictionary.com’s definition better: A person who beyond all obstacles still manages to be successful. A warrior will often be troubled in life, but will persevere in the end. Often intelligent, strong, determined, and skillful, a Warrior, despite whatever problems he or she may have, is perfect. In his or her own way, each Warrior is perfect.
Warriors have come up other places this month too. I taught Sherman Alexie’s story, “This is what it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” this week, which you should read if you haven’t. http://courses.csusm.edu/ltwr325bc/phoenix.html. In it, the characters are warriors of the urban dictionary variety. My favorite, Thomas Builds the Fire, is a storyteller too. He says, “We are all given one thing by which our lives are measured, one determination. Mine are the stories, which can change or not change the world. It doesn’t matter which as long as I continue to tell the stories.” He also describes a minor character as a “mental gymnast.” That’s what I want to be.
Jack Henry can’t wait for each karate class, but he dreads it a little too. It will be painful, but he is one ripped little kid. He has muscle definition I could only dream of. This is one of his New Year’s Resolutions: “Get ripped in January.” But I think he meant, “in Warrior Month.” Either way, it doesn’t matter. He will get ripped and be a warrior. I had a bunch of New Year’s Resolutions too, some about writing. Sometimes they feel like see-shaws. Now, I think I will ditch the idea of resolutions and be a warrior instead. You’re either a warrior, or you’re not.