When a lazy slob takes a good steady job
And he smells from Vitalis and Barbasol
Call it dumb, call it clever
Ah, but you can get odds forever
That the guy's only doing it for some doll
- Frank Loesser, "Guys and Dolls", from the musical of the same name
There are books and songs full of love at first sight, something I've always considered silly. I've always thought that real love, like the love I have for my wife, is something that is built over time.
To be sure, there were a few girls who made my knees weak in high school, but I wasn't ready to spend every waking moment with them, alter the course of my life for them, even die for them.
At first sight, I was entirely ready to do all those things for my daughter. It was enough to make all of those swelling music moments in romantic movies seem a little less ridiculous.
In that instant, I wanted to be for her what I had never been for myself: I wanted to be strong, brave, organized, decisive, and resolute. My daughter, as Jack Nicholson famously said of Helen Hunt, made me want to be a better man.
The process of becoming a better man (as vague and amorphous a goal as there ever was), for me, will prominently feature the dojo. I don't, as some romantics do, believe my martial arts regimen amounts to spiritual or moral training--I've touched on that before--but I do think, as I wrote last month, that what we learn from training can be a key ingredient of the model man.
My daughter deserves someone with the courage to bow and come back for more after being thrown across the room. She deserves someone with the strength to return that throw in kind. She deserves someone with the grace to accept the pain of a wrist lock with a smile. She deserves someone with the resolve to make a twentieth attempt at a technique after messing up the first nineteen.
Perhaps in the dojo I can find that man, or at least a little piece of him. It's something I've always wanted, but never so badly as I do now.