Thursday, July 23, 2015
Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting
Zen Saying All kung fu movies follow a pretty similar pattern. It starts when something evil befalls a nice young man. Often at the start of the movie the arch-villain sends four or five of his henchmen to extort some money from the hero’s family business. His father resists and is subsequently murdered in the first fight scene. Our hero was brave, but his kung fu was ineffective against four professional hoodlums. Cast out of his home our hero wanders aimlessly until he has the good fortune to meet a dirty, long haired tramp who turns out to be the last living master of some obscure but deadly form of kung fu. Impressed by the young man’s good character and potential the old master becomes his personal trainer putting the young man through a fitness regime that mixes slapstick comedy with apparent sadism. When the student is ready both student and master return to the student’s hometown. First they return to the family business, now run by the four hoodlums. After the young hero litters the floor with the shards of large broken ceramic pots and the broken bodies of the four bad guys, the master smiles at a job well done. Then the hero progresses up the chain of command, killing and beating ever larger numbers of more skilled fighters. Finally, they penetrate the personal estate of the arch-villain. In the halls of his enemy’s mansion the young hero first kills the big boss’s hatchet man, usually a freakish large and muscular Asian and then in the climactic fight to the death the hero kills the big boss himself. The master walks off into the sunset, his job finished. The young hero marries the hot young neighbor girl who worked at his family business while faithfully waiting for his return. I guess kung fu masters must outlive their wives. After a few years there will be new job openings for homeless kung fu masters on the look out for promising students. What does any of this have to do with personal finance or any other serious issue of your life? First, if you are getting your ass kicked by payday loan companies, credit card companies, and the banks, you need to find a teacher. If the teacher knows his stuff, he won’t force his wisdom down your throat, but when you are ready, he will be there. The training regime necessary to get out of debt seems sadistically unpleasant, but if you persist you will learn the basic art of financial freedom. As you progress, you will learn the darkest secrets to avoid debt while saving and investing your money. Once you have defeated the loan companies and your credit cards, you will move on fighting bigger and badder enemies like the thirty year mortgage, the 529 College Savings Plan, and the dreaded preparation for retirement. The day will come when you are ready to face Gordon Gekko himself in the halls of his mansion in South Hampton out on Long Island. At some point in this process you will no longer need a teacher. It is time to take responsibility for feeding yourself. Whether you are undertaking a spiritual discipline or just growing up and starting a family of your own, the day will come when you will need to take responsibility for improving your own life. It is called becoming an adult. At this point a wise teacher is still nearby, far enough away to stay out of your hair, but close enough to keep an eye on you. Finally it will be your turn to become a teacher to someone who is ready to learn. Ultimately our purpose is to care for, counsel, support and encourage those whom God places in our life, to become wise (particularly for me) in the area of finance, and to share that wisdom with others. I believe that as we realize our purpose, our lives will become more meaningful and we will find healing in our minds, bodies, and spirits.