Sunday, July 24, 2005

Extreme Heat

I know that I have been complaining about the heat and trying to make light of it through humor. But with the recent events in Phoenix I just didn’t have the heart to see the humor in it.

18 people have died so far as a result of the extreme temperatures. Most of them died outside, alone, homeless. They lived and died nameless, faceless victims in society. It’s a shame that when the weather turns inclement that the homeless suffer the most. The summer storms are now upon us and hopefully that will bring the temperature down low enough for those living under the freeway overpasses, under the bushes and near the canals to have some relief.

I am thankful that I have a good job, a home for my family (with air conditioning) and overall a good life.

About two years ago Jill and I decided that we would involve Aimee in some sort of martial art. I was going to take her on a grand tour of all of the various dojo’s in Phoenix to show her all of the various styles of martial arts that she could practice. Secretly in my heart I was hoping that she would choose Aikido. I had studied Aikido for a year or so in my youth and thought that it was really a great art in that it focused on both the physical and spiritual side of the art. We didn’t make it past the first school. She saw the kid’s Aikido program at the Chandler Dojo and immediately fell in love with it. I could not get her to budge. She didn’t even want to look at another school or style of martial art. Since then she has progressed through three belts (which is fast considering that it takes 10 to 15 years of mastery in the traditional Japanese system) and is planning to stay through her black belt.

Last summer when the temperatures soared, we were waiting at a stop light at a freeway off ramp. I did my normal anti social behavior of avoiding eye contact with the homeless man flashing his “Please help, God bless” sign as he aimed it at all of the drivers waiting to go about their lives. Aimee saw this and shouted “Dad, roll down the window and give him something!” “Aimee, I don’t have any cash on me” I replied. She then asked me to reach in the center console between the driver’s and passenger’s seat. I was surprised to see that there was a large ziplock bag with a bottle of water, a granola bar, some handi-wipes and various sundries. "We made a kit to give out to homeless people in Aikido class" Aimee proudly stated. In a daze I flagged the man over and handed him the bag. He appreciatively took it. A great feeling of satisfaction washed over me. For the first time in a long time I felt good about helping someone. I was not bitter or angry about saying no because I had the preconceived notion that the homeless person was going to buy alcohol or drugs with what handout that I gave him.

We gave him what he needed and for that he was thankful.

I felt a little verklempt at that moment knowing that my daughter turned out to be a caring person. That a I had involved her in something that was not only beneficial for herself but that taught her to think about and care for others.

We the fortunate should all be so selfless and caring of others.

How you can help:

The Phoenix Rescue Mission provides water, shelter and food to the homeless and is in need of donations of bottled water this summer.


OKDad said...

A very proud Daddy moment, indeed.

How old was Aimee when you started her into the arts?
C is 5 1/2 and wanted to do wu shu (we took her to a demonstration before leaving LA), but alas, not luck finding a training center in rural OK.

We may have to settle for Karate or Tae Kwon Do, both of which seem to be plentiful here in Okie land.

Ed said...

I think that this September it will be two years. She has done really well and is actually in a class that has a minimum age requirement of 9. She is the youngest in the class and is keeping up with the older students. She blazes across the floor when doing ukemi and can shukko forwards and backwards. I hope that she stays with it. My hope is that she is able to totally control a bad situation if it gets out of hand. But for now she is learning alot and just having fun.
I'm glad that she likes Aikido. I like the fact that the instructors allow me to join in every once and a while. I think that your kids will have fun in either of the arts.