Chopping Sticks


I haven’t been conducting myself in a proper manner lately. I’m trying to teach my kids to be upright, straight-talking, compassionate, and able men—and I try to teach them by modeling this behavior for them to the best of my ability. Part of this life curriculum is to never, ever give up. Change tactics perhaps, but never give up.


Not giving up begins with attitude. If I don’t instill in them the confidence to accomplish whatever task they set out to do, then they already lack the tools to succeed. Lately, however, my encouraging statements to them ring hollow in my ears because my own confidence is faltering. I’ve allowed the demons of doubt and acrimony to possess my mind and infect my speech. Suddenly, instead of facing the world in the manner I was taught—like a warrior—I’m niggling and gnawing away at my own spirit, convincing myself I can’t win and the fight’s probably not worth winning anyway.


Well, time to snap out of it. When I was sixteen, we practiced breaking chopsticks with a twice-folded square of paper. After countless tries, the chopstick remained intact. Then I was told to imagine it broken before I took another swipe. This time the paper cut clean through the chopstick. I learned then that thought—intention—carries weight in reality. A negative perception creates a negative reality, and a positive one creates what I want. If I remember to be positive now, despite what my emotions might call out for me to do, maybe I can teach my boys to avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve been stumbling into all my life. It will probably do me some good too.


(I stole the picture off the Internet, but I grew up looking at it in my jujitsu school, and it has been enormously helpful to me. My deep thanks to the original artist, whose name I do not know.)




About Jeff Opfer

Jeff is a carpenter and freelance writer born and raised in the Reno area. View all posts by Jeff Opfer

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