Tag Archives: the star

Selfless: Mettle Maker #239

Robert  “Bobby” Mitchell — November 21, 1934 ~ July 8, 2008

My Dad had this saying, and it went like this.

“Sometimes your head leads your feet.  Sometimes your feet lead your head.  Doesn’t matter much as long as you keep heading in the right direction.”

~Bobby Mitchell

What does that mean?  Sometimes you’re going the right way in life but you start to second guess what you’re up to.  Maybe it’s difficult and you want to give up.  So you start rationalizing why you should stop.  That’s your feet leading your head.  Stop thinking and keep walking.

Other times you know what you need to do — maybe even what you must do — but you just can’t seem to get your act together.  That’s your head leading your feet.  Don’t stop trying with all your might, just keep thinking right and and let your feet catch up.

If you asked him, Pop would have told you he was a Presbyterian.  But really he was a sort of redneck Christo-Zen master, a homespun samurai.  Compare his axiom to this quote from Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai:

“People think that they can clear up profound matters if they consider them deeply, but they exercise perverse thoughts and come to no good because they do their reflecting with only self-interest at the center…In confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix the four vows in your heart, exclude self-interest, and make an effort, you will not go far from your mark. Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things do not turn out well.”  ~Yamamoto Tsuenetomo

Pop also had another saying.

“Everything always turns out for the best.”

~Bobby Mitchell

As a teenager I remember responding once, “That’s ridiculous!  Things go horribly wrong all the time!”  He replied, “I didn’t say things turn out for the best for you or even on your time line.  They always turn out for the best for somebody somewhere.”

If that’s not a Zen master I don’t know what is.  Of course, he would have said that it was about accepting God’s plan.  But frankly, I’m not seeing much difference.

Selfless: Mettle Maker #239

  • Warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes.  Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, or light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.
  • 5 rounds on the heavy bag. Around here (per the S.A.F.E. M.P. protocol) we never just wail on a bag.  Set timer for 5 x 3:00/1:00.  First four rounds for speed, aiming for constant contact.  Rounds 1 and 2: Outside range hands — Jab, Cross, Bolo punch, etc.  Round 3: Inside range  — Elbows, Knees, Steam Donkeys, Crams, etc. Round 4:  Outside kicks — Roundhouse, Side, Piston, etc. Round 5: All-in for power — work all ranges and aim for maximum punishment.
  • 10 minutes of “life in the balance” fitness.  Set timer for 10:00 and cycle through the following: 1 Rope Ascent, 1 Crow Sit (until you tip over), 1 Wall Walk, 1 HSPU.  Modify/Adapt/Overcome.  If you can’t climb a rope, hang it next to a wall or tree and use your feet, or just hold on until you gas. No rope?  Use a pole or Pull-up bar.  If you can’t do a Crow Sit, put your forehead on a yoga block.  If you can’t do a Wall Walk, do an Incline Plank.  If you can’t do HSPUs, do a Pike Push-up.  No excuses.  Get there.
  • Do you know what this is?  If not, you’re missing a valuable survival skill.  Turn to page 31 in The Wildwood Workbook or ask me in the comments and I’ll tell you what it is.
  • Empty your cup to fill your cup. This month’s symbol is the Chalice, which is often associated with the Holy Grail. In Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is warned that he may lose himself by taking up the quest.  He replies, “If I lose myself I save myself!”  The chalice symbol embodies the universal medicine of self-sacrifice and the relinquishing of ego. The more we exalt ourselves the farther the grail cup recedes; the more we humble ourselves the faster it returns to us. If we lose ourselves like Galahad then perhaps there is hope that we can save ourselves.   This is why we must relinquish our own wants and needs before we can accept the communion wine (“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”).  This operation is depicted on the XVIIth key, The Star.  Meditate on this pouring out and pouring in.  Last week I suggested that you can’t say “Yes” with all your heart without first learning how to to say “No.”  This week I’m telling you that you have to be empty before you can be full.
  • If it ain’t in the training journal it didn’t happen.  Do the work, the external and internal, and write about what you did and thought in your journal.  Introspection, self-examination and measurement are the key to progress.


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