In writer and director Ryan Coogler’s Creed (2015), Michael B. Jordan played light heavyweight boxing contender Adonis Creed, who challenged champion Ricky Conlan, played by Tony Bellew, for the title. In round 11, Conlan brutally punished Creed, knocking him down to the canvas. Miraculously, Adonis stands to his feet before the count of 10.
In his corner, Adonis sits with his left eye nearly shut from the beating he endured. His trainer Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, wants to stop the fight. Rocky didn’t stop the fight when Adonis’ father Apollo was beaten badly. Apollo died in the boxing ring.
Rocky said, “I’m gonna stop this fight. I should have done this with your father!”
Adonis pleaded, “Don’t! Okay. Don’t stop this fight. I gotta prove it!”
Rocky asked, “Prove what?”
Adonis said, “That I’m not a mistake!”
Watching in the dark movie theater, I cried. I got it. I was Adonis. I was a mistake, too.
In Creed, Adonis was the illegitimate son of heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers. Apollo died before Adonis was born. His mom died a few years after he was born. Apollo’s wife, played by Phylicia Rashad, adopted Adonis and raised him as her own son.
My parents married in June. I was born in February. I did the math. That was 8 months, not 9. Mom told me later that I was born a month early, because her water broke prematurely. Still, I was a honeymoon baby. This was back in 1962. My parents were traditional Japanese American. Just saying.
Enduring my abusive childhood, I got that Mom and Dad should have never married. Yes, Mom and Dad made a mistake getting married. Having me was also a mistake. Had my parents never had me, then they might have divorced in peace. Perhaps, Mom might have married her true first love. Dad might have found happiness, elsewhere. In the end, my parents suffered. I suffered, too. I was a mistake. Like Adonis Creed, I had to prove I’m not a mistake. I had to prove I’m good enough. That became my path of suffering.
The late Mizukami Sensei taught me Aikido for over 25 years. Sensei became a father to me. He said, “Just train. It’s not like you have to get somewhere.” Sensei taught me to learn from my failure, and learn from my mistakes. He created the space to invent the greater versions of myself from my failures and mistakes. The late NBA Legend Kobe Bryant said, “Failure excites me.” My mistakes and failures gave me what I had to work on next. I continually work on myself.
I work with my therapist Lance Miller to heal my childhood trauma and depression. I started hating on me a lot less. I could be kind to others and to myself. I love myself for who I am and forgive myself for who I’m not. I got that I could make a difference for others, again.
Maybe, I was a mistake. When I got that I was a mistake, that gave me what to work on next. I invented the greater-than versions of me. I work on myself, not on others. I make it work. Nothing’s personal. Just train. I don’t have to be someone else or prove anything. I’m free to be me. I free me.
My life is meaningful. I’m Godan (5th degree black belt) in Aikido. As Sensei, I guide others in inventing the greater-than versions of themselves. Over my 35-year Satellite Systems Engineering career, I’ve contributed in successful and meaningful ways. I was the lead payload systems engineer on the Government Satellite System that still provides vital communications services for the Armed Forces. On The Good Men Project with my editors Li M Blacker and Grace Regan, I help guide others to find their own path to end suffering. I’ve been able to make a difference in some way in the bigger picture.
I’m proud of the man I’ve become. I do my best to make the world a better place. I’m not a mistake. Just saying.
Support The Good Men Project on Patreon to help us build a better, more inclusive world for all.
Photo credit: iStockPhoto