“I’m an author, I wrote a book and got it published. I’m a painter. I am also a musician.”
“I’m a musician. I play the guitar. I play the piano. I play the drums. I am also a calligrapher. I’m also a language learner and teacher.”
“I used to work in a law firm. I was also in the army. I like working out. I should work out. I am going to work out.”
“I’m a martial artist. I also study lots of religions and philosophies. I’m also a philosopher.”
I’ve met people like these who basically spend most of their conversation on their identities. They also talk about the type of skills they possess and even what they do in their personal time to bolster such skills.
To each their own, I say, but I personally do not engage in such talk. To me, this type of talk comes off as bragging. It also comes off as a lot of hot smoke and a waste of time. If you are a painter, why aren’t you painting? If you are a martial artist, why aren’t you practicing martial arts?
In case you’re wondering, I apply that same standard to myself. I don’t call myself a martial artist but I do what I can to practice taekwondo, long fist kung fu, and taiji on my own. I don’t call myself a Buddhist scholar but I do try to make time to read up on Buddhist scriptures and practice Buddhism in any which way I can. Besides, how can I compare myself to the likes of Bruce Lee and D.T. Suzuki when those two accomplished a lot more than I did?
A lot of these braggarts do have some skills to back up their claims, but they only do the bare minimum. The so-called musician only knows how to play 10 songs. The so-called author only wrote one book. The so-called martial artist works out an hour a day , three times a week.
Again, to each their own but here is my issue with them: they are the same people who try to interfere with my free time. They are the ones who try to give me more things to do.
The martial artist used to call me up every weekend just to talk about his political views and video games, and he would keep the conversation going for hours. This one author would try to start a fight with me and her ex-boyfriend, since I was dating her. The workout guy would call me up for beer on a whim. One time I tried to help him with his paperwork for our school, and he would be the one dictating when and where I would help him without a thought of my personal life.
This is where I wonder, is it because I don’t talk about my goals and ambitions that those types of people assume I do absolutely nothing on my free time? For example, I would plan to spend Saturday doing some taekwondo only to have the martial artist call me up and talk to me for hours. One time, I made a plan to do intense sutra reading and chanting, only to have the artist tell me, “We’re meeting in 30 minutes to start the language exchange club. Get over here!”
Should I then just start bragging about myself being a Buddhist martial arts warrior? Should I then litter every conversation about how I am studying both Buddhism and martial arts? If someone calls me up for a beer, should my reply be like, “As a Buddhist martial artist, I shall decline. If I join you for a beer then I cannot practice martial arts nor study Buddhism. Therefore, I will not join.”?
Again, I feel this would be stupid of me for doing so. Do I need to make an announcement that I am going to eat or can I just open the refrigerator to get some food? Do I need to make an announcement that I will take a shower or can I simply take my towel to the bathroom and get myself washed? Do I need to make an announcement that I will practice taekwondo or can I simply wear a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and kick like Bruce Lee?
I also feel that by bragging about the type of person I want to become is a form seeking approval. It’s also a form of seeking permission. I need those people, especially the braggarts, to approve and permit my martial arts workout and Buddhist study. To me, that feels like these braggarts would win and that they are truly the masters of my life. Ultimately, if I want to practice martial arts or study Buddhism, then I shouldn’t have to make noise about it.
Anyways, just to let you all know, I am still going to read Emotional Blackmail. I might even get my hands on Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer.
The only reason why I am writing this post is mainly to think out loud on this problem and see what I can do to live a freer life.