The Proper Tool

“Concentrate.  Focus your mind.”  Master Rhe’s voice came in irregular intervals, making it nearly impossible to follow her directions.  Of course, that was probably the point.

Marai continued to stare at the ball in front of him.  No matter how hard he tried, it would not move.  Frustration began to well up inside, distracting him further.  He tried to push it down, to no avail.  Master Rhe was sure to notice.

“What is wrong?” she asked.

“Nothing, Master.”

She hit his upper arm with her staff.  “Do not lie to me.”

“I am sorry, Master.  I am getting frustrated with my inability to do it.  I know that I should not give in to that feeling.”

Her staff connected again, in the exact same spot.

“What was that one for?”

“Why do you think you ought to avoid frustration?”

“Such emotions lead to the negative side of the world.”

Another rap on the arm.  This time he held his tongue and tried to discover his mistake.

After a long silence, Master Rhe sighed.  Her sigh always indicated disappointment, and she always made sure that her students would not miss it.  Marai had heard it more than he liked.

“Negative.  Positive.  These are constructions.  The world just is.  There are no good or bad emotions anymore than there are good and bad forces.  What we do is important.  The tools we use serve purposes, they do not define the actions they are made to perform.

“The so-called negative emotions provide a great deal of power, but they are blunt.  They can accomplish much, but when precision is called for, they are a hindrance.  When dealing with narrow margins, calmness of mind is more appropriate.  But it is a mistake to identify parts of yourself as negative and shut them out.

“Be mindful of that which brings you frustration.  Learn from it, do not shun the feeling.  Now try again.”

The lecture over, Marai turned back to the ball.  The frustration he had felt returned, but rather than try to force it away, he accepted it.  This exercise was frustrating.  Now that he admitted that, he could sense the power behind it.  Could he use that?  He let the power flow freely and began to focus it on the ball.  It immediately rose into the air before it exploded into tiny fragments.  A piece stung his eye, blinding him temporarily.  At least he hoped it was temporary.

Another loud sigh.  “Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.  It is important to know the proper tool.  You would not send a bull to do a job meant for a cat.  Emotions are not bad, but that does not mean they do not deserve caution and respect.

“Go.  Attend to your eye.  When you are ready, we will try again.”  Master Rhe turned and left the room.

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