Scholars agree that the Crane Technique, if done right, cannot be defended. Mr. Miyagi pointed this out in the Eighties and it’s since been tested by roughly every single one of the humans who were boys in that era. I refer, of course, to that cinematic masterpiece, The Karate Kid. After I saw that movie, I ran around kicking air, punching boards, and, most importantly, trying out the Crane Technique. When I was a kid, whatever I saw in a movie, or heard about in a story, I wanted to do and be. I was Caspian, Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker, and yes, Daniel LaRusso (The Karate Kid himself). Whatever I saw, I wanted to be.
I haven’t really changed much. Oh, the things I want to be and do have changed, sure. I no longer want to be a space captain or win a Karate championship using the Crane Technique. But I do want to write like C. S. Lewis, and make people laugh like P. G. Wodehouse. I hear an excellent podcast and I suddenly want to cast my pods in an excellent way. I watch Liverpool playing soccer and want to coach soccer, or maybe, just maybe, work really hard and become a professional player at the age of 40.
That one brings me back to reality.
Answering the question, “What am I to be and do?” is not easy. But part of it is actually pretty simple. I’m a husband and a dad. I’m unquestionably called to provide for and serve my family in love. Like Jesus. That’s an easy one. No, no, no. Not easy to perform, just easy to discern a clear calling.
We live in an era of distraction. We will not survive the day without hearing a call to help these hurting ones, to do this noble thing, to support this worthwhile project, or to try this brand new technique for having a perfect family. Facebook was designed to multiply these insidious opportunities to do good. Guess what? We can’t do it all. We can’t do all we want to do, or be all we want to be. I have some simple advice for me and you.
Pick only a few things. Do those with all your heart.
Jesus didn’t seek out crowds. He poured into 12 men. Those men, by the Spirit, shook the world. It’s still shaking.
Our lives, poured into a few worthwhile people and projects, will ripple out in a million unseen consequences. We need imagination to see it.
But it won’t happen if we are constantly distracted by every new personality or project we feel an envious itch to chase down. You can’t be like that celebrity who is such a great mom with her new cookbook and her flat belly and her amazing career and her quietly smoldering hunk of a husband who is so cute holding that adopted baby from Tragicostan. The Crane Technique may work every time, but a life built on envy doesn’t.
Envy is in my DNA. I want what feels just out of reach, like a particular fruit I was told not to eat. Ecclesiastes is full of wisdom on the subject, but here’s a hammer-blow to envy from chapter 6.
“Better is the sight of the eyes, than the wandering of the appetite.”
The corners of our eyes are a paradise of lies. Don’t believe them. Go forward and do the few things you are called to do. If done right, no one can defend against them.