I slipped the last ten dollars in my wallet under Sifu’s office door before leaving the school on Saturday, then fought back resentment all the way home. I’m nevertheless glad I gave.
The money was a donation for movie night at the guan. Unlike movie nights of old, it wasn’t simply a social gathering opportunity. It was a fundraiser – one of three currently running – to help pay for Sifu’s travel and testing materials to become a certified judge for wushu competitions. He’s using paid private lessons, a new student’s services as a massage therapist and a movie night to pay for it.
I think the relatively new practice of project and charity fundraising through social media is phenomenal, and I’m all for it. I myself have benefitted from the kindness of friends and acquaintances who, some twenty years ago, pitched in to get me a plane ticket home from school in Texas when my mother had to have a sudden operation. I have nothing against making a pitch to the masses when money is needed for a worthy cause. But Sifu’s fundraising has rubbed me the wrong way because of…let’s just say…inconsistencies in philosophy and behavior.
When announcing his need in an email, he suggested that private lessons could be used to learn more of one’s form or a new one entirely. This from a man insistent that forms should be learned very slowly, in sections that are repeatedly practiced before new moves are introduced. Apparently, that deeply held principle can be irrelevant at times of his choosing. Additionally, the Jekyll and Hyde nature of our Sifu, which I’ve written about in this previous post, is even more apparent when he wants something more from his students than he already demands.
Two hours before bowing out of the building with a big smile on his face, warmly proclaiming his desire to see everyone at movie night, he barked angrily at a student, saying: “It doesn’t matter what you thought; all that matters is what I’m telling you now!” He was in the process of changing a move that it seemed everyone in upper sash class had learned a different way, and we were all a bit confused and slower than he wanted us to be. This tension was after a return-from-banishment Friday night class (the aftermath of which is pictured below) that was surprisingly easygoing – which made his Saturday morning mood all the more jarring! In short, Sifu’s demeanor can give one whiplash and dampen any inspiration to assist in his ambitions. And yet….
What could I accomplish by being an obvious abstainer to the fundraising effort? As the saying goes, resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
I want good things for this person whose instruction has visibly changed a lot about me and my life. I want to be at peace in this relationship that can be so trying, with this person who can be so disappointing. I want peace, so I must offer the very thing I want. I wasn’t going to give him my Saturday night, but I could at least slip my money under the door.