In our day to day lives we come across many different people and have the opportunity to interact with all of them in some degree, even if it is simply to notice what lane they are driving in. Our interactions could be regarded as tiered or looked at in levels. For this thought process I looked at the people in my life in levels or orbits with myself at the center and those most familiar to me nearest to me. The girl who makes my bagel in the morning would be closer than the guy who checks his post office box at the same time I do but never acknowledges me for instance.
Our interactions define us in many ways. Much about how we see ourselves and how others see us is encapsulated in how we engage or choose not to engage those around us. Looking at my own day to day activities I cross paths and interact with many people old and new to me each week. With this in mind over the course of a few months I easily add hundreds of new people to my life. Many of these are very distant or minor and a few may become friends etc.
Each morning I commute to fulfill my responsibilities at basically the same times. I see many of the same people each day. As an example, each day I pass a woman and her two sons as she walks them to a bus stop. I am driving, they are walking, and I have never met or spoken with them. With a little awareness I can learn a number of things and details about this mother and her children. And in passing them daily over the course of a few months I can put together a surprising amount of information and insight into their lives.
How do I know she is the boy’s mother and not a nanny? I know this via small details I have picked up inadvertently. Let’s think about what else can be learned by simple seconds of interaction over time. I could tell how often you are ill. I could guess at your level of income and or professional responsibility. I could make calculated guesses at your home life, level of stress and how you handle it and many other things. Now consider if I was in ear shot of your cell phone conversations. Now consider if I commuted near you for 3 or 4 months. Could I tell when you were on your way to go Christmas shopping? Could I tell if you were dating someone new or planning to meet your parents for lunch? Would I know if you were headed out of town for vacation? What if you were one tier closer to me in that we had an occasional conversation about sports or the weather, what if I paid you a complement on a necklace or new tie? What if we spoke once in a while about new movies or the book you were reading? Our interactions though minimal and or insignificant can tell others a great deal about us, especially if the person we are talking to is highly aware or highly focused on us.
Let’s say after some months of observation I saw you were on your way to do some Christmas shopping. I knew it was two days after your pay day thanks to some overheard conversations you were having on your cell. I also could tell you were under the weather and distracted. If I had negative intentions and was a bad man I might see an opportunity. If I was a positive person and a good man I might also see an opportunity.
I believe that most of the people I interact with each day are inherently good. In fact I was a little surprised to learn some things about a few people from my past. All of the following stories can be Googled for further research and details.
David Ragsdale was my team lead a few years ago at a sales job I had. He was friendly, accomplished, a new father and a religious man.
A few years later he shot his wife multiple times in front of a small crowd in a church parking lot just before meetings began. He had stalked her and laid in wait for her. He killed her a few feet away from her mother who watched as he did this.
Mark Hacking was a class clown sort of guy who I went to high school with. He was popular and was in the spotlight having memorable appearances in assemblies and pep rallies and things like that. He was religious and a family man.
He shot his wife in her sleep killing her and their unborn child after she found out he had been lying about being accepted to medical school.
Shawn Leonard lived less than a block away from me and we went to high school together. We played a lot of basketball and church basketball together.
He was sentenced to life this year for kidnapping and attempted murder after brutally stalking and assaulting a random college student he found walking on a bike path near the Provo River.
It’s a little sobering to realize that 3 of my former friends are now being featured on those dateline type crime shows on T.V. These were all decent guys when I knew them… or were they? These are the ones I know of. How many others that I have known have become predators? It could be unsettling to consider the number of potential bad guys among those I interact with on a daily basis. I think this illustrates the need to be aware. It’s not necessary to become paranoid or afraid, simply become more aware.
In Hoshinjutsu a primary focus of the training is becoming competent in sensing intention. Have you ever taken the time to notice how your body feels and reacts in the presence of someone that you know loves you? Have you ever taken the time to notice how you feel and how your body reacts when in the presence of someone who is hostile towards you?
I first read about these ideas in Dr. Glenn J. Morris’s books “Path Notes of an American Ninja Master”, and “Shadow Strategies of an American Ninja Master”. I continued my study and expanded my practice with Soke Rob William’s book “Hoshinjutsu The Art of Esoteric Budo.
It was truly an interesting and educational thing to stand next to a manager who I knew strongly disliked me and notice what my body did and how I felt. Now in training I recognize that same intention when placed behind a punch. We have all experienced that feeling of being stared at or sensed someone looking at us and turned to meet their gaze, we all have the potential to know and feel more about the world around us and the people in it.
Now when I meet people I work to be more aware. I know there is no magic bullet but feeling intention and cataloging bodily responses is never a waste of time. I can’t help but think I am interacting with geniuses, future leaders, and highly talented people who will make a difference in the lives of many every day. It hit me though, as I stumbled across a headline for the sentencing of Shawn Leonard, if I am rubbing shoulders with good guys there may be the occasional bad guy around too.
Something to think about-