My sifu used to have a particular saying when something was bothering me. It was rarely anything related to the day's training which was the cause for its utterance. Instead, it was usually prompted by the other things going on in my life.
It was simply this: "consider it a challenge" and was said in his somewhat softened Chinese accent and with his usual simple, straightforward and paternal manner. This was the shortened version of the first time we had this sort of discussion.
The longer version ran roughly along the following lines:
Everything which stands in the way of where you should be is a challenge. Life is not meant to be easy, but neither is it meant to be impossible. To give up outright or to run from your problems will do you no good. You must find a solution to your challenge.
It may not be something that you can solve at that moment, but that is alright as well, because there is no shame in saying I can not deal with this *now* but I will be able to when it is time. The only bad thing is to say "I can not deal with this at all".
The reason for this is simple. You can try to run all that you like, but, in the end, the one thing you can never run from is yourself. Since running from a problem is, in effect, running from yourself, it does you no good.
The one thing that matters in this life above all others is that you can respect the person that you see in the mirror. Friends, loved ones, lovers, enemies, and all other things come and go in your life. The one thing that never does, the one thing you can never escape no matter how hard you might try, is yourself.
All things within reason are possible given time and the proper approach. To remember that, and to make the honest effort to live that way, will make looking at the person in the mirror a little easier.
He was right. There have been many times in my life when that outlook was basically the only thing that kept me going while every part of me screamed out to stop. I consider life a challenge instead of a battle which I can not win thanks to him, and I would like to think it is a challenge which is worth the effort.
It’s funny. I had other teachers both before and after him, but none of them compared to him. My other teachers taught me to fight. He taught me to live. There is, I have found, a large difference between the two.