Panda wisdom

Published by rudy Date posted on September 12, 2008

Cito Beltran
Philippine Star

What you trained for all your life is not necessarily your destiny.

This “gem” of a thought came to mind as I watched the animated movie “Kung Fu Panda”. I must confess that I am my daughter’s equal when it comes to being cartoon movie addicts. Perhaps I am a child at heart or a hopeless optimist, but to be sure, today’s “cartoons” and “Disney movies” are loaded with lessons and wisdom for those who seek and not for those who will not see.

Not everyone wins a gold medal at the Olympics. Not everyone wins in an election, and not everybody gets to be the Hero. In fact many of those who aspired and gave everything are found strewn all over a landscape of defeat, struggling to understand why they were not “the Chosen”.

Few people ever get the chance to look back and discover what led them to defeat. But oftentimes it is the story of the “Noodle Dream” versus “The Fantasy of the Dragon Warrior”.

Many have traditions and have dreams, but all too often, tradition and dreams become one. The Noodle Dream is a long unbroken dream where generation upon generation pass on a business, a way of life or a mindset. It is someone else’s dream that you merely inherited. “It is what we have been. It is what we always will be”. Whether they are lawyers, doctors, politicians, Chinese, or simply “Noodle makers”, it is never about qualities or excellence of the individual, it is more often about “tradition”.

Competing against the “Noodle Dream” is “the Fantasy of the Dragon Warrior”. For most people it is a fantasy, something unrealistic, impossible, unbelievable, a matter only for the gifted or the “Destined”. The Fantasy is too demanding, too exhausting and often about self-sacrifice and the impractical ideals of good versus evil.

The irony is that when you compare where they take place, the Noodle Dreams take place in the boring reality of where you already are. In an office where you know the cockroaches by name, in a kitchen that has taken away your sense of smell and hearing as well as a finger or two. The Noodle Dream requires no imagination, just compliance. Sadly the biggest challenge of the Noodle Dream is to obey.

The Fantasy of the Dragon Warrior is often hidden in a place others don’t care to visit or to observe. It is in a place often uncomfortable or inconvenient for “Masters of both Reality and Self-denial”. Sadly they will never learn that your destiny is within the playground of your dreams. The Dragon Warriors Fantasy takes place in his most protected places, his true comfort zones as well as his places of peace. It is where he rests his head so his mind may fly. It his where he hides his heart so he can safely open its secrets, it is where he worships the Master of his destiny.

It may be a child’s bedroom decked with how he imagines his dreams to be. It may be the playground or the courtyard where he interacts with his heroes. It may be in Church where he is in the presence of the Master. Sadly they are the places that old people feel most awkward in. They could be making noodles instead.

Unlike the Noodle Dream, The Fantasy of the Dragon Warrior greatest challenge is not about obedience. It is about the courage to Dare.

In this world of competing dreams, success or destruction is often caused not by the pupil but by their teacher, a parent or even those who claim to have their dreams and aspirations in mind, like your boss or leader.

Dragons cannot live on Noodles.

Aside from the obvious effects of an all carbohydrate diet, a Dragon cannot last long on Noodle Dreams. Our mind and our bodies are better off being pushed, being worked and being used because ultimately it is good and makes them bigger and stronger. To limit our minds to hand me down visions and dreams is to put a death sentence to our soul.

A Master cannot teach unless he learns the pupil’s heart.

Have you ever watched movies about parents who only learn about their children when they sit in the child’s room to see or to remember long after the child has left or died? Most of the time, parents only come in to point out “the mess” or to give instructions. We don’t take in the story and emotions they have put into place. We learn when we watch and we listen, we understand when we agree to discuss, to talk, not just to “tell”.

But also be careful that you do not fill a Dragon’s mind with your failed fantasy and unfulfilled dreams because in doing so, you deny them their destiny. Whatever your failures, whatever your mistake do not use replacements to redeem yourself. Because when the replacements fail or are not given the prize, you simply continued making an even uglier “Noodle Dream” and a very pissed “Bad Dragon”.

Sometimes it is difficult to recognize a Dragon when you have convinced yourself that the child or the student before you is an idiot. You may not believe in a weaker or younger person or even someone of a lower stature as in the movie; a mere Panda. But I learned an interesting technique from the film that some elderly folks used to teach others. Do not look at what is before you, but instead remember those who believed in you and nurtured you. Those who are humble learn that this makes it easier to believe in others.

Of course if you’re the one being picked on, humility and tenacity have its place, but remember; respecting others at your expense is not necessarily respectable. If you have come to a place of discovering that what you have trained for all your life was not your destiny, keep in mind another lesson I learned from Lava Boy and Aqua Girl….“What happens when the dream is gone? What do you do?”

You make a better dream.

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