Black Belt Leader As Beginner: Part Twelve

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.

? John Steinbeck, East of Eden

How do we as “Black Belt Leaders in the Making” discriminate between what we “may” do and “may not” do? One way is through our intellect: we can use logic. Another is through our bodies — our kinesthetic sense or what is sometimes referred to as our “body wisdom.” Here’s an example of what I mean.

While taking a walk one day in my neighborhood, I passed under an avocado tree that had ripe fruit hanging from its branches. Reflexively, I reached up and picked one that was dangling just above my head. I slid it into my pocket and walked on. It didn’t take long, about a block or two, before I noticed something didn’t feel right in my body. Something was off, thrown out of balance. I kept walking, hoping that this sickening feeling would go away. It didn’t; it only increased in intensity. What’s happening? I wondered. And before the entire thought moved through my mind, I realized what it was — the avocado. Somehow, kinesthetically-speaking, I “understood” that that avocado wasn’t mine. It wasn’t a logical knowing; it wasn’t a moral issue either — that I had taken an avocado from a tree that wasn’t my own. It was simply that my inner sense of integrity had been compromised.  

When I returned home, I got in the car with my avocado ensconced in my jacket pocket and drove back to the house with the avocado tree. I got out of the car, placed the avocado on the doorstep of the house, and presto! My sense of balance returned. The sick feeling in my belly was gone. My body had been trying to tell me — in a way that wasn’t logical yet still true — that taking that avocado in that place and time wasn’t the best choice for me. As a “Black Belt Leader in the Making,” it was important that I listened to what my body was telling me: “Thou mayest not have that avocado.”

What signals has your body been sending you lately that — for whatever reason — you have been ignoring?