“It doesn’t work that way,” he said.
“But why not?” I protested.
“Do you like Almond Joy candy bars?” he asked, knowing that I hated them. “No, you don’t, right? But they’re one of MY favorites. It’s like that. It’s not a choice. It just is or it isn’t.”
I had a crush on a girl at my junior high school but she wasn’t interested in me. My brother was trying to explain the adage that “attraction is not a choice.”
I wanted “Kim” to like me, cuz I liked her. But since she didn’t, I thought that if I was a better student, a better athlete, had bigger muscles (or muscles of any kind!) a smarter boy, a more polite person, and a nicer guy that Kim would like me instead of that idiot “Mike.” But nothing worked. Kim was attracted to Mike … for reasons that eluded me!
When I was seven years old I fell in love. (Not with Kim!) And I’m still in love with her. In fact, my love for her has stood the test of time and trial; a love that has spanned the whole of my life. And even now, I’ve found myself longing for her in new and unexpected ways. I think about her everyday.
I didn’t choose her. I didn’t sit down when I was seven and write down the pros and cons of her attributes and shortcomings compared to others and choose her based on the results of that analysis. I just fell in love. How can you explain that?
And I remember the day that it happened like it was yesterday. Decades have passed, but the moment my heart embraced her is as clear to me as any memory I have.
At seven years old I knew that it would be a long time before we could be together. I would just have to be patient. I’d have to wait to be with her.
No one really understood my love for her. Friends thought I was weird. Even family members thought it was silly and just a phase. And when I think about it, I suppose it did seem pretty odd. I mean, how does a little kid “fall in love” anyway? And then stay in love?
Today she’s hurting and in trouble and there’s little I can do. I’m forced to sit back and watch. Helpless.
I was seven years old when I fell in love with Japan. She has been my “mistress” since I first heard her name.
It happened like this.
One of my classmates in second grade was half Japanese. We became friends and he invited me over to his house to play after school one day. On the outside his house looked like my house. But on the inside … it looked nothing like my house. Everything was decorated with items from “the Orient” and in a style that was in direct contrast to my own home. My mother was the queen of bric-a-brac and lace doilies and pictures, and clocks (lots of clocks!) and house plants galore. But my friend’s house was stark, by comparison — Japanese minimalism, I’d later learn. And when my friend’s mother, Michiko, came to the entryway of her home to greet us as we took off our shoes that first day, I was transfixed.
It was the first time I’d ever met a Japanese person. She was elegant and refined and calm and pleasant and beautiful and she moved with the grace of a woman who could have been royalty. Even the way she adjusted the folds of her kimono seemed to be a part of some larger context that I didn’t understand. Think of the Japanese woman who played opposite Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai” and you’d have her! That character in the movie was Michiko!
She was the perfect ambassador of her home country! I found myself filled with an eagerness to learn and know everything I could about this enchanting new land. Recognizing my interest and hunger to learn compelled her to teach me more, much to the frustration of my classmate who wanted to play and who had little interest in Japan himself. I became a regular visitor — a student actually — to their home. With no internet and no access to library books on Japanese history, language, and culture, I took advantage of the best teacher of all, a Japanese princess thrilled to share her country with me.
When I was seven I declared that one day I would go to Japan and live. How comical that must have sounded to my friends and family! But as the years passed those close to me knew that it was just a matter of time.
My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Gooch, at Albert Pike Elementary School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, gave me my first Japanese language book, a book that I still own.
When I was 15 I proposed to my girlfriend! I told her that we’d honeymoon in Tokyo. She seemed OK with that! That young romance ended before any “I do’s” were exchanged, but my love for Japan only intensified. When I was 19, I told the woman I’d later marry that I would live in Japan someday.
I didn’t choose Japan. Japan chose me.
In the late 80’s, as a civilian teacher and coach, I landed in Tokyo with my wife and three little children in tow to start my life in Japan. I was finally fulfilling the dream of my lifetime!
Japan chose me in ways that I can’t describe. I have the most cosmic of connections there, things that can’t be explained. I knew things without having been taught or shown. I often knew people’s names without ever having met them.
I once took off on a day excursion to Kyoto, a city I knew nothing about, and ended up at an old ancient house, way way off the beaten path, that had been turned into a mostly unknown museum. I was the only visitor that day. It would be like going to Mississippi and taking hiways, side roads, and gravel roads that you’d never been on before, only to arrive at a preserved antebellum mansion out in the middle of nowhere, but somehow you “knew” it was there. Somehow I’d been drawn to that house in the obscure foothills of Kyoto. I knew the floor plan of the house and even the art work that would be in the next room to the absolute amazement of my friends, and to my own shock as well. I have no idea how I knew those things. But I knew. And this kind of thing happened frequently. My Japanese friends were convinced that I had been Japanese in a previous life. “Tony-san, you’re more Japanese than I am!” said my friend Keiji.
Had it not been for my father’s terminal illness and family concerns that required my return, I’d still be living in Japan.
The recent earthquake and tsunami have brought untold pain and misery to my beloved adopted homeland. The videos and the images of the devastation are gut wrenching.
In one newscast the reporter followed an elderly Japanese man as he searched for his missing wife and daughter. (I knew the man’s first name before the reporter even said it. Don’t ask, I don’t know how I knew.) The English translation of what Masahiro said as he searched was accurate, but so lacking in the depth and emotion of what he actually said. The words he used choked me up. And when he at last found his wife and then finally his daughter, their words to one another and their words of gratitude and repetitive bowing to their rescuers had me in tears. I suppose anyone watching that would have been moved by the scene and by the emotions of that reunion, but their language touched me deep inside.
A friend’s grandmother was in a grocery store that was washed out to sea. No one from that store has been seen since the tsunami hit. Toshihiro’s parent’s home is gone, along with all of their possessions, including the family dog. All they have are the clothes on their back. Toshihiro is trying to evacuate them to his home in Nagoya.
Over 6,700 people are still missing, many of them children who were at school when the disaster began. Tens of thousands are displaced and homeless. Radiation concerns extend for hundreds of miles. Rolling blackouts, water rationing, and limited grocery store hours with limited food availability are affecting over 35 million people! Most Japanese people get their groceries from small local grocery stores, not big chain stores like a Kroger or Schnuck’s. Aftershocks, over 250 since the initial quake, continue to shake the ground across the country and create uncertainty and new concerns. Many huddle in fear, in the dark, cold, and hungry, wondering if the next aftershock will unleash a new terror that will trigger the start of another national nightmare.
I’ve been asked what we can do to help. All that I know at this point is to make a donation to the Red Cross designated for Japan relief. Boot Campers making a donation to the Red Cross can deduct that donation from their next Boot Camp enlistment. Just note that in the memo of your check. Thank you everyone.
THIS WEEK ONLY, THERE IS NO 0830 CLASS – Spring Break will be over next week and we’ll be back on duty!
IN HIS STEPS!
Our kind and gracious hosts, Christ Methodist Church, has it’s annual spring 5K on Saturday, March 26 at 8 AM! You can register at the church or online by going to www.cumcmemphis.org
April is our annual BRING A FRIEND TO BOOT CAMP MONTH!
This is in honor of the late Tom Farrar, my former CPA who died of a heart attack in March 2007.
Tom was only 54 years old. He was my friend but I couldn’t get him to come to Boot Camp. He was a type A personality with high blood pressure and a weight problem. His heart problems were preventable.
I hope you can get your friends to join you. They can visit for a whole week in April for FREE! So start sewing the seeds now!
The Boot Camper who brings the most friends for the month of April will get $100! Legal tender, not “Boot Camp Bucks!”
For every friend you bring you get one point (one point per different person, not the same person every time!) For every friend who joins in April, you get 3 points AND a free month of USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for every friend who joins! The person with the most points gets the cash!
WOMEN’S DISCOUNT FOR FEBRUARY – HELD OVER!!!
The response has been awesome!! But some of you have friends who haven’t been able to join us until March … so … THE FOLLOWING DEAL IS EXTENDED FOR MARCH!
For the month of March, all new female recruits can join for only $75!
In fact, TWO can join for that price! Tell your cheap, and or frugal, girlfriends that it’s the best time to join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP!
SPRING HALF MARATHON TRAINING!
Training continues this Saturday at Shelby Farms. Meet in front of the Visitor’s Center at 7 AM.
MT. FUJI WORKOUT NEXT TUESDAY, MARCH 22.
CALORIE CONSUMPTION AND WEIGHT LOSS – CORRECTION
Boot Camper Ashley Hofeditz, a well known, published, and highly respected Registered Dietitian, has given me a more accurate formula for calculating daily calorie consumption for moderately active men and women.
“For moderately active men and women (3-5 times a week of exercise), their weight multiplied by 15 for men, and by 12 for women. This is for weight maintenance. To lose one pound a week decrease calories by 500 a day.”
Thank you, Ashley.
WIND CHILL AND INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY
When the wind chill is 29 or lower, we’ll go inside.
Check with weather.com or The Weather Channel. I’ll post it on my Facebook page and the Boot Camp website Blog page (http://usmcfitnessbootcamp.com/blog/) if there’s a question. And if you’re not sure, you can text me at 901-644-0145.
What about inclement weather days?
We’ll follow the Memphis City Schools decision. If they close, we’ll stand-down. If they close in the morning but the streets are clear and good to go by the afternoon, the evening class will meet. I’ll post that status on Facebook and the Boot Camp Blog page.
BOOT CAMP DISCOUNTS AND FACEBOOK EXPERIMENT!
First of all, find me on Facebook and make me your friend. (Also, be sure to “like” USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP on Facebook.)
Here’s how the discount works!
It’s simple: make a Facebook status update and get a discount!
For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, you can take $2.50 off your next reenlistment fee for each update!
You can take up to $20 off for any given month!
Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.
BE SURE TO TAG ME!
You can do the same thing by “checking in” at USMC Fitness Boot Camp either by using Facebook “places,” Foursquare, or any of the other “check in” apps that show up on your Facebook News Feed.
So log on and start getting your discounts now!
I’ve got a few prime hours open during the week if you know someone looking for a trainer. I use the facilities at Christ Methodist and the hourly rates are standard for Memphis. Over-all fitness training, boot camp style workouts, strength training, sports specific conditioning and agility (tennis, soccer, basketball, etc.)
TonyLudlow@aol.com or 901-644-0145
FREE MONTH OF BOOT CAMP FOR YOU!
Remember that when one of your family or friends joins the program because of your recruiting them, YOU get a free month of Boot Camp!
THE 0830 AND THE 0645 CLASSES!!
The 0830 Class meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Don’t forget that there is child-care available at the church for this class!
ATTENTION 0830 CLASS MEMBERS: please remember that no cell phone usage is allowed while you drive your car on the campus. So when you pull onto the campus, no cell phones please!
NEW PRICING FOR FAMILIES AND COUPLES
If you’re a part of a family (usually husband and wife) that does USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP together, ask me about it! I think you’ll like it!
WANT TO LOSE 20 POUNDS BY THE END OF NEXT MONTH?
Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery. Let me help you!
You can also go to www.combatchallenge.tsfl.com/
TUESDAY & THURSDAY EVENING CLASSES ARE ON HIATUS UNTIL APRIL
The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes are standing down until April.
However, I’ll be running at 4:30 PM at St. Mary’s track on Tues and Thursday and you’re welcome to join me for an informal jog fest!
A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.
For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.
What would you do if money were not an issue, fear were not a factor, and failure were not an option?
To your optimum health and fitness!
SEE YOU ON THE QUARTERDECK!
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145