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Old 03-03-2011, 07:12 AM   #19
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,182
Re: How to Leave a Dojo?

There's a story that I read once, of a young woman who was in a market and found a beautiful hand-crafted table. She was just setting up her household and had very little money, and could tell that this table was worth far, far more than she had, but she couldn't stop looking at it. The craftsman who had made the table asked her if she would like to buy it.

"I'd love to, but I can't afford it," she said.

"How much money do you have?" the craftsman said.

The woman told him how much she had -- all the money she owned, every cent.

"That's all your money?" said the craftsman.

"All I have until my next paycheck in three weeks," the woman said.

"Suppose I sold you this table for that money," said the craftsman. "How would you live for the next three weeks? What would you eat?"

"I just paid my rent, so I'm good for the month," the woman said. "As for eating, I have some food at home, and I could sell a few things. I'd get by."

"But you'll go hungry."

"Well, yeah. But I'd be okay."

"I'll sell you the table for that price," said the craftsman.

"But I can't! It's worth far more than that!" the woman said.

"I know," the craftsman said. "I can sell it to a rich person for fifty times that much -- and it will become just another expensive possession in a house full of them, and he won't even notice the cost. But you are willing to give all that you have for this table, to go hungry for it. I know what this table is worth to you. So I will sell it to you, and we will both be richer."


The message of the story is not that you should go hungry to pay your aikido fees. I wouldn't sympathize with someone who (for example) kept their expensive smartphone or cable TV but "couldn't afford" to pay aikido fees, but you say you have cut everything you can already, and I have no reason not to believe you. My point is that the value of things like aikido, or a finely crafted table, is perhaps best expressed not in absolute terms -- so and so many dollars -- but in relative terms instead. "All I have" is an immense amount, no matter how small the dollar amount may be. If you have nothing to give but your good will, your desire to train, your commitment to being a good member of the dojo and to paying back in any way you can (and that is a debt we all carry, that we don't discharge with a monthly check), then that's a lot.
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