37. Caution Enthusiasm: Contagious on Direct Contact

Matt Nilsen of the UCSD dojo remarked a bit about Baudelaire in an e-mail to you a few days ago. In it is stated the following:

I was quite intrigued with this book [Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises]. On the surface, not at all what I thought it would be. But the lesson is in there! The lesson of art – of the purity of practice…written from what seemed like a trapped artist (and a Chitosi of his time).

Anyone else? Sensei, am I pointed in the right direction here?

Right Direction, Same Path, Different View…Look again

They were the inspirations of two decades ago when their enthusiasm for learning just one more technique, just one more kata, just one more concept was so intense that they fired me to near boiling.

Bubbling effervescent enthusiasm…

I literally flew thru the excitement of the days of their trainings on the wings of desperate raptors.

Why? Because YOU asked me.

It is the young bucks and does in the dojo that bring it life. The old ones are its stability but not its fire. The one exception is when an old one or two taps the youths fire of the heart and screams….Yea!!! BAUDELAIRE!!!

Reread Resolution #10 in Nuggets:

Matt, ENTHUSIASM is the word for a feeling very precious in human experience. The feeling is quite uncategorizable, quite inexplicable. It is feeling..enthusiastic. It is enthusiasm.

So what does that mean?

There is no answer with any meaning. Enthusiasm is something we have all had. Enthusiasm is a word representing a concept we talk about but underlying the word and the concept is the FEELING which we want.

When a young woman faces her wedding day with the man she loves with all her heart, she feels IT. When a young man goes on his first climb of a mountain he has dreamed of all his life, he feels IT. When a youngster first hears that he will be going to Disneyland for his birthday, he feels IT. When a happily married woman is told she is pregnant with her first child, she feels IT.

Then when we enter the dojo for the first time, look around and see these awesome people doing karate and want to learn what they know, we feel IT. And when we feel IT IT bubbles out of us. It bubbles out in our voices and eyes, in the width of the eyelids, the flash of the quickness in gaze so that we don’t miss anything, in the attention and concentration on all the new around us. We are excited. IT abides in us, (usually temporarily, had you noticed?)

And the teacher wants to borrow that enthusiasm in her own soul. Then reuse IT. Then recycle IT. Then re-borrow IT.

We are a society of engineers currently. Engineers are problem oriented. Hence, we often think of problems as problems as problems. Well, the opposite of enthusiasm is apathy (not caring about anything). Apathy is a problem. Being problem oriented we concentrate our energy on the problem, apathy. But what happened to apathy’s opposite, enthusiasm? We have many names for apathy; morose, depression, lethargy, neurasthenia. It has diagnostic criteria in medicine, drugs for treatment, multiple medical and para-medical special licensees to deal with it. But, we don’t spend much time looking at ENTHUSIASM. Somehow we believe IT will take care of ITself. I can hear the problem seekers—let’s address apathy, depression. I say let’s build and share ENTHUSIASM.

How, borrow it.

You can’t capture it and hold it. You must borrow it and give it away as soon as you get a piece of it. Give it away!!! Give it in trickles and give it in lumps and give it in barrelfuls and when you find a person who will accept give IT in truckloads, trainfuls. Give it until you don’t have any left, but don’t forget to refill; never forget to REFILL. Where? borrow it from those who have it.

Who has it? No one can say. Enthusiasm is not a steady state. Enthusiasm appears where it is encouraged. A sensei may have genuine enthusiasm, or he may be apathetic. A new student may have enthusiasm or just be scared stiff. A child usually has enthusiasm for multitudes of things—that’s a really good place to start. Get around a child or two and watch their enthusiasm for just about anything…then don’t just watch…get in and share…give up the intellectual superiority of maturity and frolic on the floor, play in the mud, make mud cakes, chase a dog, roll and laugh in the grass getting your clothes all green. It won’t hurt you; fingers have been muddy before, clothes have been green before, dogs have been chased before…have you forgotten?

In the dojo we often are so mature that we miss out. We want to be in the most advanced classes to learn the most advanced techniques. We want to teach the most advanced classes because they don’t need so much correction on the basics. But, it is the beginning classes that are the ones which exude enthusiasm. I put Paul Billimoria in charge of the beginning class in the Big Dojo years ago. He taught it incessantly. He didn’t know then what I was doing. But it was deliberate. He saw the same techniques over and over again and again. Every three months there were new people in the class learning the same techniques over and over. But, he was exposed to the enthusiastic new beginners the Dan Lewises, the Terry Colemans, the Ceci Cheungs, the Julie Krohne Evans. He caught their raptor enthusiasm. He learned the value of enthusiasm and how to recycle it. Anyone knowing Paul knows there is a wealth of exciting enthusiasm bubbling all about the man. He is a Sensei.

I love to get around Paul. I inhale some of his enthusiasm and exhale with “Baudelaire.” Paul and I can build each other’s enthusiasm. He passes IT to me about a kata, I pass IT to him about a trail. He passes IT to me about a summit, I pass IT to him about a symbol. Enthusiasm is contagious as long as you are willing to open the door and let it in. If you keep it outside it never gets a chance to be contagious. IT must have direct contact, and then it is contagious.

And the beginners in karate are a great source of enthusiasm. Those who teach the beginners are the ones in closest contact with the enthusiasm for karate which can rekindle their own enthusiasm. I love to teach beginners. I just love it. They abound in enthusiasm so often that they fill my sails with fresh wind.

But do not think that other students don’t have enthusiasm. They do. Sometimes a black belt comes to me all excited about a new discovery in a kata. The student abounds in sparkling eyes and erect posture and smiling face. I feel the exuding exuberance (Jack Lopez is a prime source but Julie Evans, Karen Levine, Lee Carmean and many others are right up there with Jack quite frequently). When I feel the exuding exuberance my cup runneth over and up the ladder of enthusiasm I catapult. Then I try to pass it around…I feel so good I want others to feel it too.

Well, I have tried to express via e-mail my enthusiasm for enthusiasm. I have tried to pass it on to you. But electronic words and letters may not be able to capture the feeling of enthusiasm I have for this subject. I hope that these few sentences stimulate all, some of you or even one of you to seek IT. IT will do you good!

Thanks, Matt Nilsen, for the question!

And remember *Right Direction, Same Path, Different View…Look again*