Dr. Henok Wendirad (DVM)
The previous month was a remarkable month in my life. Sebastian, a friend of a friend, came to Ethiopia from Germany and we planned to show him around. Sebastian is a renowned veterinary surgeon in Germany. Planning to grasp some hard skills from him, I took the chance to be his personal guide in Ethiopia.
In our first few days I tried hard to get a bit of his knowledge about animal diseases and their treatments. But I quickly learnt none of his ways of expression and treatment schemes were important for me. In Germany, I now know, most of animal diseases are ‘lifestyle illnesses’ while in Ethiopia animals are usually sick of infectious diseases. But Sebastian is the kind of person with plenty of other soft skills.
Instead we went to one of the resorts in Lake Langano. I had planned to do an early morning workout with Sebastian. When I was a teen I used to do a lot of taekwondo. So my physical exercise was highly influenced by the art of taekwondo with body flex, stretching, aggressive running, and kicks. He detected the influence and asked me if I were in some kind of martial arts. I told him my story from high school. But he told me my exercise was an unbalanced one. Sebastian is an old guy, probably in his 60s, so when he said that my workout was unbalanced my rage got the better of me. I asked him to show me the ‘balanced’ exercise. We agreed we would meet the next morning and parted company.
When we met the next morning Sebastian said, “when you do something, you have to maintain the balance. Yesterday I could clearly notice that most of your activities were based on your foot.” That was true, because usually taekwondo focuses on feet. “Balance” said Sebastian “doesn’t mean that you have to leave your foot alone, but you have to be inclusive. All parts of your body should operate in harmony.”
He showed me some Tai Chi moves, which are extremely slow movements and are made by the combination of the whole body.
Later during lunch I was to learn a lot about harmony, balance and symmetry. “These three words define who you are,” he said. “Harmony defines you on the level of your interaction with your surroundings. It is your approach to your environment, including the people, the plant, animals, and even the nonliving things around you. To live in harmony means to live in a bliss. It gives you a portion of peace of mind. But harmony alone won’t secure your complete peace of mind. You also need the other two: balance and symmetry.”
And how do I define balance? “Balance will give you the ability to entertain every event in your life without getting too much into it. Balance is a mental decision; it’s up to you to decide where your balance is. When you have a balanced life, you won’t be subjected for extremes. You will live in moderation.’
At times every move he made seems extremely sluggish. But later on I realized that he was extremely conscious of his activities.
He pulled out his journal from his backpack and showed me an all known Yin-Yang picture. ‘The ancient Chinese understood the secret to life perfectly. They knew everything shall function in moderation. This picture signifies that balance,” he said.
While he was eating, I sat looking at him in wait and finally asked him where the value of symmetry was. “Ohh… the value of symmetry… it’s everywhere son; everything you see in nature has a value of symmetry in it. Actually I raise the importance of symmetry after observing your way of exercise. You tend to lean on your right foot every time you do jumping and kick. Symmetry is another form of balance, but it is more in the physical form than the emotional or spiritual. It’s simple; just make sure that you do each activity in both the right and left portions of your body. In the physical form symmetry signifies aesthetics as balance gives soul beauty. Aesthetics without symmetry is unthinkable.”
Those were two weeks of wisdom and of balance with Sebastian.