It seems to me every time I pick up a sword and get ready to return to my days as a ronin, lone warrior and wanderer, living by my ideals and helping others around the world, my life changes. This evening I was at my friend’s spiritual bookstore taking a study break, when some friends of his came in with their two daughters, who are Moroccan-Chinese.
Before they entered, I was holding an old bastard sword and practicing some of my forms and techniques from the various styles I’ve picked up over the years. The art of war is very meditative for me, and helps center me–what we think of these days for war is murder and violence, which is not what I strive for. My focus is to improve myself so that I never have to use it, and if it comes down to it, to defend the helpless. As I held the sword, the chanting that played in the store’s speakers began elevating my consciousness and focus:
It was at that point when Jasmine, the most beautiful seven year-old I have ever seen, came in and asked me what I was doing.
“Practicing how to protect pretty little girls like you, of course!” I said.
Curious, she asked “Can that sword cut my foot off?”
“Only bad little girls, but I don’t think you’ll ever have that problem.”
“Oh, that’s scary”, she said with slight intimidation.
“Ha ha, don’t worry, you’re safe around me”, I assured her, as I sheathed the sword. “Hey: do you speak Chinese?” I asked.
“No” she replied, “My mommy never taught me Chinese or Japanese, and daddy doesn’t speak French to us” she explained.
Kneeling down with the sword still in my hand and sheathed, “Well then, say ‘wo ai ni’ to her and see what she says!” I said playfully.
“But that’s too long!” she exclaimed.
“Then try this: say ‘wo'”, then I pointed to my eyes, “Then say ‘eye'”, pointed to my knee and said “‘Knee!'” I smiled and continued “Why don’t you try?”
“Whoa…. Eye… Knee!”
“That’s right! Keep doing it!”
“Whoa… Eye. Knee. Whoa eye knee! Whoa eye knee! I speak Chinese! Whoa eye knee! Whoa eye knee!” Her face smiled from ear to ear and she ran to her mom and excitedly said “Mommy, mommy! I speak Chinese! Johnny taught me how to speak Chinese and told me to say this to you! Whoa eye knee!”
Her mother’s face lit up and said “Oh sweetheart, that means ‘I love you’, you’re such a sweet girl!”
Turning to face my friend Russell and her father and younger sister, she proudly shared her new favorite phrase: “Daddy! Lulu! Brussel Sprouts! I speak Chinese! Whoa eye knee! Whoa eye knee!”
While with her father and sister, I approached her mother and said “你的孩子都很美丽 (your children are both very beautiful)!” Her mother came to me and smiled, and said “Thank you so much for teaching her that, but I don’t speak Chinese, though I know what you’re saying from the little I know from my parents. That was very kind and wonderful of you, I’m so happy she learned Chinese and is saying such a beautiful thing!” and hugged me with genuine affection.
As they left, Jasmine continued sharing with other people she passed by “I speak Chinese! Whoa eye knee! Johnny taught me! Whoa eye knee! It means ‘I love you’, whoa eye knee!”
Maybe it was the innocent smile and loving, non-judging eyes she had. Maybe it was something that came as I entered that meditative state I get whenever I’m sharpening my weapon skills, which the chanting music added to. Maybe it was just the right time and moment to flow, and the universe made it all happen as it was meant to.
Whatever explanation I can think of, or the infinite other possibilities I can’t, I knew that I had brought a little more light into the world and shared some love. Small acts move the world, and at least, her own little world had light shining a little brighter, as it also did in mine.