I’m hunched over the rock steps at the front entrance of our 7,000 square foot, traditional style, open sided, hand constructed dojo pulling dandelions out of the tiny cracks between the small boulders. The fall black belt test is coming up, so preparations are being made to the dojo and the weeds simply have to go.
Dandelions are my favorite flower. I know they aren’t really flowers, but I feel them superior for they are heartier and far less fussy than real flowers. As I wipe my dirty hands on the sides of my work pants, I glance into the main training area and think about those who will be testing. They are much like the dandelions.
The orchid, for example, seems to be on the other side of the spectrum from the dandelion. Orchids need a certain amount of light, an optimal humidity, soil PH, and no one within a 30 yard radius can have a bad hair day lest it keel over and die in dramatic fashion. It’s fussy. Any little excuse to quit — and it’s lights out.
Dandelions, on the other hand, will somehow find the tiniest crack with only a scant trace of soil, light, or nutrients and it will still flourish even if you park a Buick right on top of it. It’s aggressive. They thrive in the least hospitable environments.
The candidates entering this hall have been training for 5-10 years in preparation for this day. They have overcome physical challenges, severe time restraints, numerous set backs, injuries, and many other road blocks that would make the “orchid” type student deem black belt an impossible goal. These hard core athletes alter their diets, schedule training around family time, stay up late after the kids are in bed, practice during lunch breaks, and awaken in the wee hours to get in that day’s cardio. These guys mean business.
Another similarity is that these candidates don’t stagnate once they reach “the rank”. They are already teaching others, passing along their knowledge and skill, and starting their own clubs. I think the horticulture term for this phase of the lifecycle of the dandelion is “the white poofy part”. They multiply and spread!
Don’t be the orchid. Be the dandelion.
(I don’t foresee that catching on as a battle cry or chant at pep rallies).
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