Many people ask about my son, David, since I posted about him a few times. When we moved to Pittsburgh about 4 years ago, my dear friend, Phyllis, introduced me to Kumon. For those you who have not heard of Kumon, it’s an international franchise that teaches children math and reading outside of school environment.
While schools are all about academic achievements, Kumon is about developing inner strength for problem solving skills. Each day, the student is given a homework packet designed to teach them about a math concept. Unlike school or tutoring, it’s not about someone teaching you the concept, it’s about you learning from the problems. It’s hard for a kid as you can imagine facing problems they have not seen before and having to learn to solve it by trial.
Last night, he got upset and wanted to quit (like he has done numerous times before). This time though, having faced cancer and looked death in the eye myself, I have a new perspective on difficulties in life. Sure, it’s tempting to get rid of our problems by quitting, but it’s not the same as solving a problem. There are times in our lives, we find ourselves facing problems seemingly bigger than us and impossible to solve. What cancer taught me is if you slow down, take the impossible problem one step (one letter) at a time, give yourself a little twirl and a little space, the word impossible becomes “I’m Possible”. Kumon (or tai chi) training is like that problem-by-problem, step-by-step, day-by-day, we become a “I’m Possible” kind of person.
There are problems so big that we have trouble facing on our own, that’s when we ask for help. There is a solution to every problem we face even if we don’t know it yet. Together, we can help each other solve even the most difficult problems. That’s how we outgrow our problems in life and feel the support of the world. None of us is alone on this life journey.