Miyoko Olszewski: World Champion
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Miyoko Olszewski: World Champion

Miyoko Olszewski

On Thursday evening, Miyoko “The Hawaiian Mongoose” Olszewski defeated Elena Reid to win the WIBA flyweight title.

Miyoko is a longtime friend and I was there, screaming and cheering in the audience. Those of us who had come to root for Miyoko wore leis, nodding to Miyoko’s Hawaiian origins. What a fight it was, all 10 rounds! Miyoko came out strong in the first few rounds, fighting in her trademark crisp, thoughtful style. For a few rounds in the middle, Miyoko seemed to conserve herself, and a few voices screamed, “Jab, Miyoko! Double jab!”

I laughed to myself when I heard the calls. I’ve sparred with Miyoko, and her jab is like a solid brick wall. There’s simply no getting through it. Miyoko’s jab is so tough and skilled that there’s not even the possibility of a few atoms making use of quantum tunneling to get through it.

Then in the 8th round, Miyoko brought it. She came forward with powerful, relentless punches and dominated the fight. By the 9th round, Reid’s face was swollen to twice its original size. It was a clear, decisive victory for Miyoko, and her fans yelled themselves voiceless.

Miyoko deserved this win: she has worked long, hard, and consistently to achieve World Champion status. She exemplifies values that I revere and that I try to teach my children: hard work, sacrifice, self-discipline. These are not glamorous values today. Our culture has been overly psycho-therapized into mediocrity; we think any old half-hearted effort is just swell. We teach our kids that losing soccer games is just as good as winning them. And while good sportsmanship is imperative, and everyone needs to learn to deal gracefully with defeat and failure–we’ve done our children a disserve. Losing is not the same as winning. Mediocrity is not okay.

Winning matters. Being the best matters. If being the best isn’t an option for genetic or other reasons, then hard work, self-discipline, and sacrifice still matter; those qualities differentiate between mediocrity and excellence. The 4000 failures that are required along the path to success matter. It’s a question of persistent integrity, another value that is not considered important in today’s moral relativism.

But people who persist in these terribly old fashioned values are world champions. Some of them win a belt and acclaim, as Miyoko did. Some just win a quiet internal sense of self-esteem.

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Reflections after the road

Reflections after the road

Last week I went to California to do readings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Strikingly different towns, both fun. I got to reconnect with old friends and acquaint myself with some interesting new people. Best of all, I stayed in a gracious old hotel in Santa Monica where SOMEONE ELSE made the bed & tidied up.

People in LA like to be looked at, and they go to extremes to get to be the object of other people’s attention. It seems to me an exercise in narcissism at worst, at best an attempt to bolster a career, however sophomoric it looks. I’m used to that abrasive NYC question: “What are you lookin’ at?” I did the requisite red carpet photo op in honor of Trump vodka and Hadaka sushi, and attended a party where a pretty young woman laid atop a table, naked except for sushi. “Do you think her mother wants her doing that?” I said to my gorgeous, kind, funny LA publicist Michelle Czernin. “Should I ask her?” But Michelle whisked me away before I could commit a faux pas of that order.

The crowd in SF I stayed with was young, hard-working and hard-partying, intent on moving up in their careers. Bright young people, a pleasure to hang with.

And back home, there was an orchid awaiting me, given by my friend Debra Jaliman in honor of a reading in NYC. And four kids, each with her own needs.

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Dying & Transference

Dying & Transference

A man I both like and respect told me recently that his relative passed away. Someone he cared about, someone beloved in his extended family. The kind of infectiously good-humored guy that everyone would miss at the next wedding. The kind of guy who was funny and perceptive, and made it a point to connect with people where they live.

My friend was sad, filled with dark energy that probably contained some elements of anger: loss makes us angry as well as bereft. I knew before I interacted with him that he had something going on. In the way that healers do consciously, and a lot of people do without full awareness, I had reached out with my consciousness and scanned him. I had sensed something dark and roiling in him; to my long-distance senses, it looked and felt like heavy dark clouds in the blob of his being, which is usually large, harmonious, and light-filled. But I read the dismal energy as relating to me, and wondered, What have I done to piss him off?

I perceived accurately, but then misinterpreted what was going on. It was another lesson to me, in the ongoing curriculum of this life, about the filter through which I view the world, and the pitfalls of psychic senses. Even if a psychic perceives a phenomenon correctly, the information can get distorted within a psychological context!

And then I wanted to comfort my friend, who is a good guy himself, immensely supportive. But what could I really say? When someone beloved dies, nothing except time can comfort a grieving person. I try never to minimize that, or to respond with nonsense and platitudes. It’s never ‘good enough’ that someone had seventy-six years of life, if we love that person. Plenty of people live to be a hundred, why shouldn’t sweet, generous Aunt Bess? So I told my friend that I was sorry.