A Brief Time In The Sun

Sometimes, we feel a lack of purpose.  We can feel ill at ease, lonely, or even angry at the world, just for being there.

We realize that this way of life is not natural.  It feels heavy and painful to the touch.  We want to change it, but we are often too lazy or confused as to where to even begin the journey back?

When we feel this way, friends, vocation, love, music, warmer weather, pets, even patterns of light can lift our spirits up where we can once again feel whole and meaningful.

We will all experience these ups and downs.  Know that we may be by ourselves, but we are never really alone.  Know that we are always on the roller coaster of life.  No one is ever overlooked or spared both the high hills, the awesome thrills and the low dips that can spoil these daily trips.

Life is so short.  So very short.  Life is frighteningly fast.  Deceptively fast.  It is up to us to slow life down and wrestle down life's purpose.  Purpose will never come from outside ourselves for very long.  Outside purposes are fleeting and they will betray us.  When the light of self-love comes from the inside out, purpose is re-chargeable and will carry us through the thick and thin shadows of yesterday and tomorrow.

Until our next ride, we will remain steadfast in the moment - whether good or bad - satisfied and always grateful that at least we had a brief - albeit sometimes scorching - time in the sun.

Knowing Nothing in Everything by Todd Norcross June, 2104

Below is the one quote that I keep in mind as a weapon whenever I try and claim absolute knowledge about anything. After all, knowledge must be demonstrable. It must be objective to all witnessing it. Otherwise, it is just merely belief. And most beliefs can be very weak when shone in the light of education. What you believe to be true today will most certainly change with time, as it did before. Every decade, old beliefs will be shattered with more new evidence and experience. It is hard to color gray hair with a young man's creed. Embrace this change. Fight nothing in this process of growth, except the tendency to hold firm to that which has made you comfortable or makes you "feel good". Remember: The first sign of wisdom is knowing how really little we know. Or is this too...questionable? “In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” ― Sir Bertrand Russell

Say no, rather than disappoint.

Try with all your might not be one of those people who cannot be trusted, because you say you will do something, and then have no intention of following through with it. Even if you meant to do it, you did not, so excuses are of no relevance. Too many don't show up or help when they say they will be there or help. Talking to friends, they all agree we have people around us who constantly fail to follow their hollow words. Be smart enough to say nothing, and you will be free of the pressure to act with integrity. At least if you remain quiet when someone requests something of you, you can avoid disappointing those whom you promise. Learn to say "no". A "yes" man lacks critical thinking skills, and can therefore not be relied upon to disagree or deny. Those who say they will do something and then actually get up and do it are the ones who will lead, be successful, be trusted by the ones they love, and ultimately lead a more honest and fulfilling life. Be this person...or at least try.

An offer from MTV

It was a Tuesday around 10:00 AM, when my phone at my desk rang. I work at the dojo around 10 hours a day, so it is not unusual for me to receive phone-calls from several sales people trying to sell us everything from credit card processing to water dispensers. Over the years, I have grown very good at firing in and saying “No” to just about everyone who cold-calls me. I am too old for joking around and wasting time with phone solicitors. The caller was someone claiming to be a producer/casting director for MTV studios in New York. (Of course, my skepticism kicked in immediately; although I remained polite and listened. She told me her name and that she was calling to offer me a part on an upcoming MTV reality series. I thought she was joking. She was not. Apparently, I was given her name from someone in New York who had one of my CD’s and was a big fan of my music and martial arts videos. She informed me that this new MTV reality show would focus on a few dojos across the country. They would focus on the sensei, staff, and day to day issues of running a successful, full-time school. She said my “cool ninja martial arts background, combined with my musical background” was too good to pass by. She asked if I could call back in a few days to continue the process and talk with another producer. I reluctantly agreed, but told no one. Later on, I used my training and contacts to gather intelligence on the people involved. To my surprise, they seemed to all check out as legit. After the second phone meeting, I was given more details about the pitched idea and also about the series requirements. I continued to listen, and asked a few questions of my own. The money offered to me was quite generous, enough for me to weigh the pros and cons if I signed on. I had forgotten how wealthy - and still influential - MTV studios is around the world. I haven’t had cable television in over 8 years, and hadn’t seen MTV since the nineties. So, I had no real connection to the channel or its constituency. I had to have an answer by the next Monday. I had five days to think things over. I contacted one my respected martial art teachers to get his opinion on the subject. He was kind enough to offer his experiences and fatherly advice. He was the only person I told of the deal. Other people knowing would have complicated my thoughts. I pondered several other concerns of my own over the next weekend. (This is the difference between someone in his forties and someone in his twenties. A twenty year old would have jumped at the idea to be on MTV in a heartbeat.) Wouldn’t the cameras be a huge distraction for employees and students who do not necessarily want publicity? Aren’t the producers well-known for scripting and enticing inner drama for ratings? Haven’t we all seen many other ‘reality TV stars’ end up in dire-straights after the sudden fame poisoned their egos? Are “Honey Boo Boo” and “Snookie” really examples of how I want to portray the 21st century warrior/ninja lifestyle to be? Is the money worth losing friends and family over, just for a bit of media-hype? Would I embarrass my teachers as a sell-out? I woke up that next Monday with a definitive answer. I called MTV and respectfully declined, with very little nervousness, and zero regret. I was always a VH1 kind of guy, anyway. What blows me away is the fact that I am always excited to learn how unpredictable life is. You just never know who might be calling you? Every moment is full of opportunities to say “yes” or “no”, having sometimes unseen vast consequences, either way we choose. Todd Ryotoshi Norcross - April 2013

Do you ever get sick of it?

People have asked me if I ever get sick of music? The answer is "Yes". After working on an album for thousands of hours and many months, it is natural to want a break. You grow tired of the songs and the whole recording process. Especially when you do it all yourself. It is like eating turkey leftovers for a whole week after Thanksgiving. You get nauseous of it all. The light in the studio stays off for days on end. The guitars and keyboards rest, patiently. But sure enough - after a month or two off - your ears become almost too rested...too quiet. Melodies start to play around in your head again. Even short jingles on TV commercials can inspire. That urge to dust off the recorder and instruments does (thankfully) begin to creep back in. Their beckoning call reaches me, and I hear it. I do not know where this desire to create music comes from. All I know is that it is there, and I allow it to naturally come to fruition. I am very happy and fulfilled when it does come back. In a universe with clearly no apparent purpose, music gives me purpose. It will surely outlive me, and bring joy to those I will never meet. It heals me of any wounds or self-doubts. It makes me feel young when my bones tell me otherwise. I am not at all religious, but music connects me to the numinous and the transcendent. It gives me life and joy.

The Seeker's Prize

"Training in the martial arts is not always about what we gain, but what we actively practice to get rid of. We clean out the negative ways of thinking we have accumulated over time. The young-man's mask comes off at some point. Re-experiencing that rare "eureka" moment of epiphany - knowing we never even needed all that stuff to be happy. This, to me, is the seeker's prize." - Todd Norcross, 2012

TN. Quotes

Martial Arts Quotes: "Be very circumspect of teachers who don't occasionally say "I don't know." "Rank matters not. Can he or she laugh off a broken bone or put others in the spotlight instead of himself or herself? Now, that is true rank!" "Most of the martial arts I see is simply smoke and mirrors. Even in my own arts, there are people who wouldn't last a minute in a real confrontation. Yet, they get "advanced" ranking. Their delusion is unknowingly fueled by ego, power and teachers who are afraid to say "You are not ready yet." Philosophical Quotes: "There are very few that actually move their feet after they move their mouth." "Bad days are nevertheless days. If there is one thing I know, it is how astounding the odds are that we are even alive for a single breath in cosmic time. Don't ever wish for time to speed up or days to be over soon, it insults the dead." "I actually had a man tell me with a straight face that the earth was less than six thousand years old. He stated that "there are gaps in the fossil record", and that was his proof for his beliefs. I said back to him, in the most benign voice that I could, "Clearly sir, there are many gaps in your science education." "You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it. Excuses don't bode well for earned happiness." "I believe that skepticism held in the left hand and reason in the right is the only way to hold on to truth."

Thank you!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments and questions you have left on the web site. I really appreciate all the thoughts and efforts each and every person has made. I will try and answer questions when I can. I am looking forward to an exciting new year and some new projects I am working on this winter. Be well and be mindful of this day, Todd Norcross

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