Reflections on Living a Meaningful Life


Christopher N. Geary with mother Belinda at 10 months, March 1972.In August 2005, my mom gave me a picture that was taken when I was about ten months old. While I was sitting there looking at that picture of my mom and me, I started thinking about the hopes and dreams that my parents had for me. What kind of person did they want me to become? Parents everywhere have dreams for their children. When they think about the future, what kind of life do people want their kids to have? More importantly, what are they doing to help their kids develop the qualities they will need to lead a productive, happy life—things like commitment, discipline, and self-respect?

Recently I got a telephone call from a relative in Iowa who told me that my father had called her from Arizona a couple of days earlier. Five or six years had passed since the last time I had talked with him. The first time I met him, I was about fifteen years old and he was living in Utah. I have tried to keep in touch with his side of the family over the years just in case anyone ever hears anything from him, and this time my efforts had paid off. Even though my father left when I was a baby, I still appreciate having a chance to talk with him now and then. I look at it this way: you only have one father, and life is too short to hold grudges. There is no way to turn back the clock when someone is gone. The man has been in and out of prison most of his life because he keeps making the same mistakes over and over. Maybe it’s a good thing he wasn’t around when I was growing up, because my stepfather turned out to be a much better role model.

On Saturday, August 27, 2005, I received an e-mail from my father. He was replying to an e-mail that I had sent to him about a week earlier giving the addresses of my two websites. In his e-mail, he mentioned a photo that I had sent to him. It was a picture of me that was taken in Hawaii, the same picture that appears at the beginning of Chapter Six. I sent it to him in a frame that I thought had kind of a driftwood flavor with the wood looking very raw and worn. My father's e-mail is reprinted exactly as I received it, with no changes.

"Chris, Yes, I enjoyed that very much. Sorry I have'nt tried to get ahold of you sooner. When I got home from work yesterday, there was a package waiting for me. When I opened it I was sure surprised and glad to get that picture of you. The frame is different to. I don't think I have seen something like it before. I have it hanging in the living room. Thank you so much for sending me that Chris. As I mentioned on the phone, I was planning on going to a studio and have a picture taken. I'll try to get something to you real soon.

Sounds a though everything is going fine with you and I'm glad to hear that. Anyway I just to thank you for the picture and it made me feel good hearing from you. Just wanted to mention that I have a cell phone that I have with me most of the time. During the day anyway. and that number is ###-###-####. Guess that's about all for now but just wanted to leave this with telling you how proud I am of you Chris."

I believe the reason that I have accomplished so much in a short time is that I’m willing to do things that most people are unwilling or afraid to do, like keeping in touch with someone who made no effort to spend time with his only child. If you want something, sometimes you must put your pride aside and do what needs to be done. Spending your life being afraid or bitter about something or someone will only hurt you and eat you up inside without having any effect on the other person. So in the end if you let go of grudges, you win no matter what. How many times in life have we all said, “What if I had only done that?” Don’t waste time thinking about what you could have done differently in the past—just do what needs to be done right now so you won’t have those regrets later on.

Eventually I will die as we all do, and my wish is that my work and teachings will live on. I want this website to remain on the Internet after I’m gone so that people can read my writings and learn about my life and my ideas. For those who choose to listen, I hope you will take some of the things that I say to heart so that you can live a happy, successful and prosperous life and give happiness to others. People have told me that I’m a great martial artist, but I’d like to be remembered for something more. I want to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

If you want something, do what you have to do, and go get it. The only truly impossible thing to do in the world is to turn back the clock. I always tell my students to close their eyes and think about the future. I ask them, “When you’re on your deathbed many years from now, when all is said and done, what will you be thinking? And if you could go back in time, what would you do differently?” Then I have them open their eyes, and I tell them, “Okay, here’s your second chance. Everyone dies, but will you be ready to accept it? Hypothetically, if you were reincarnated because you did not learn your lessons in this life, who would you come back as? Maybe one of those people of different ethnic backgrounds that you make jokes about, or a woman who you believe should be subservient to you (if you happen to be a man). How would you feel if you found yourself in that position?”

We all make toasts to “world peace” and wish for an end to wars, but world peace depends on discipline and commitment. World peace begins with the inner peace that comes from living your life in the right way. People’s negative attitudes, greed, selfishness, and bad treatment of others take a big toll from a life that is so short. The next time you hear a bad comment about someone, put yourself in that someone’s shoes. It is pretty selfish to expect others to correct themselves but not to do it yourself, and if you are not willing to change, how do you expect to enjoy world peace?

How much are you willing to sacrifice for your beliefs? We love our country but we are willing to let the poor fight and die for it. To show our patriotism we go out and buy a three-dollar sticker for our car and tell our children to go to college instead of joining the armed services. I’ve heard people say, “Well, I’ve never served my country in the military, but I pay taxes and I vote.” It’s great that you do those things, but how much are you really willing to sacrifice for your country that you love so much? People sit back and watch the news and say, “Those poor people overseas, it’s so sad that they have to live like that” without doing anything to make things better. We complain about our economy and then try to save a buck by buying from companies that move their factories to other countries where the labor is cheap.

Some people are afraid of making a commitment to another person, or they get married for the wrong reasons. There are some who get married and then stop making any effort to stay in shape (both men and women) because they think, “Well, you’re mine now, and if you divorce me you will pay.” It’s all about the payback. How can we respect others if we don’t respect ourselves? I believe things would be much better if people would just sit down and talk with each other, but it takes confidence to communicate about things that we don’t know everything about. I don’t know everything there is to know, and that is why I spend a lot of my time listening. Self-improvement in the martial arts (and in life) depends on communication: telling people what you are feeling. If everybody is trying too hard to be politically correct, when will we ever receive some constructive criticism that could help us to better ourselves? We may or may not agree with others, but if people start talking to each other we will know what they are thinking, and that is a start toward world peace.

We pay lawyers huge sums of money to push paper for us because we do not take responsibility for our actions or because we find that we need to defend ourselves from people who try to take advantage of us. Law firms make millions of dollars every year because people (including me) do not live the way we should be living, and the healthcare system makes millions of dollars trying to repair the damage we do to our bodies with self-destructive habits. If we would all take responsibility for how we live, everyone would be better off.

Becoming a martial arts master at a young age has brought me into contact with many different kinds of people. There are some who want to be black belts but not for the right reasons. I believe there should be more to becoming a black belt than just coming to class and learning the movements. Also, I have noticed that some of the people who charge the most when doing business with others are the cheapest when it comes to spending their own money. And people wonder why martial arts schools and other businesses open and close continually all over the country.

It’s funny how people put martial arts masters on a pedestal and say “This guy has to be honorable.” Some people say that so they can take advantage of you and then point their finger and blame you when they are not promoted to a certain level or they are not happy with their lives. I’ve met people who always want something, and if they don’t get it they blame someone else. They spend their time and energy finding weaknesses and faults of others because they feel intimidated by them, but they turn around and pay them to teach their child. And then there are those who demand respect but are not willing to give it in return. Everyone wants honesty in the world, but it seems that no one ever wants to hear the truth.

I’ve met people who go to church and say that they have faith in Jesus but ask their spouses to bring computer paper home from work because they are too lazy and too cheap to go out and buy it themselves. Whether you steal a single piece of paper or a million dollars, it’s still stealing. These are the same kind of people who find a tree branch in their yard that is too big to be taken away by the garbage service, so instead of cutting it up into smaller pieces they just throw the branch in a neighbor’s yard so that it will be someone else’s problem. Some people believe they are better than those who do not go to church because they think they are practicing Christian values, but in reality they are not.

I believe we all need to find a balance in life. We don’t have to walk through life being anal-retentive and trying to do the right thing with every breath we take, but we need to stop pretending to be someone we are not. We can get more enjoyment out of life by seeing ourselves honestly (both good and bad points) and taking responsibility for what we do. Instead of thinking that we are better than others, we need to smile a bit more and try to help others as we would want them to help us if the time came. People spend so much time chasing their tails in a circle trying to get away with things to justify their lives, and then they wake up one day and find that their lives are a blur. I don’t think we need to give up everything we have to make up for the bad things that we have done in the past, but we should all stop and most importantly regroup and reorganize. Time management can be the most powerful tool that one can have for achieving inner peace.

Your life has value. Think of all of the times that you almost died. For thousands of years many babies died at birth and no one knew why, but today most babies who are born in this country live to adulthood. We have so many opportunities available to us right now, in our lifetime. How many times have you been flying in a plane thirty thousand feet up in the air and the plane could have crashed as planes sometimes do? Or how about the times when you were driving your car and came close to getting hit or to hitting another car, but nothing happened? When you think of these things, remember the joy of life and how precious it is for all of us, and see what you can do to help others. Forget about all of the hype of being rich and having a lot of material things. More importantly, what can you do to help others feel good about themselves, and what do you need to do to feel good about yourself? You have the power to treat others well and make the world a better place, no matter what your job happens to be.

What are you doing to make the world a better place and to feel good about yourself? If you need ideas, here’s a place to start:

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