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Bruce Walker, elegy

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Bruce Dearborn Walker died 1/12/2019.  He taught me Kung Fu, and so very much more.


My teacher died.
   His lungs failed him.

He taught me that the lungs
harbor grief.

   His lungs are gone.
My grief has only just arrived.

   He used his lungs to power
his Power.
To power his speech.
His lungs let him connect
to the heavy bag with a Dragon Fist,
to his students with his voice.

   His lungs carried his mind 
(fueled by Rice and carried on Winds of breath),
in voice,
to any matter and to all those that mattered.

   Not all of his students knew they were his students.

   I never had a father.
There was a man, though.
A small man.
He left.

   I never had a father.
Fathers become teachers.
I never had a father.

   I met Bruce, a large man. 
In size, true.  But also true, a large man
in the important, immeasurable ways. 

   On that day I said,
plain as day, while in his Tiger's handshake grip -
     The power of Truth 
     ever-evident in his Great Crane's claws.)
I said while in his hand,
before I placed myself in his hands,
I said,
“I intend to be your best student.”

   This meant more to me than to him.
He meant more to me than I to him.
I never had a father. 
I had a teacher.

   Bruce Dearborn Walker.

The most honest person I have ever known. 
   Honest in the way of the veteran comedian. 
Who began by pointing at honesty...about airplanes, about traffic. 
A comedian who grew to be honest about himself.  Barenakedly.  Alone on stage. 
In harsh light.  Lights he directed at himself for himself and for all to see.
His honesty was abrasive, contagious, a necessary cureall.
   He was honest in the way of the lifelong, committed patient of therapy.  Someone who has come to unshirkingly, unshakingly, unshakably
see themselves and show himself to
And to everyone.


Few knew his gentle voice. 
   He'd guide me in meditation with it.
Few knew his tea of choice. 
   I still drink it with my own students.

   This man:
Not father.
But teacher. 
In Chinese the two terms meld into one:
Sifu might be translated as Model Father.
Bruce became my Sifu.
This man has ceased.

   There is less honesty in the world, today. 
There is less power in the world, today.

   One less father to us all. 
One less Light upon which to cauterize our wounds.
One less Light to carry into our shadowed corners.
One less Light to heat & treat & alchemize our curiosities, our notions, & our offerings upon. 
One less Light to come to know our darkness by.  
One less Light to find our way by.
   One less father.  One less Sifu.  One less light. 

   I never had a father.
So few have fathers.
   There are so few fathers.
We all need fathers.

   I studied under him, and studied him.
He studied the wonders and mysteries of the worlds.
The outer and the inner.

   I studied under him.
I studied him.
   I studied alongside him.
Two brothers, pursuit. 
Of understanding.  Perhaps meaning.
I studied him as we did.
   He came to study under me.
The father now the son.
We were easeful in the transition.
His kindness was in making this change in role insignificant in its challenge.
I studied him then, too.

I studied his Art.
I studied him.
I studied the world, through him.
If he was not indeed himself a university he was indeed himself a Universe.

He never once tried to change The Who I Am as he gave freely the gifts of How I Might Be.

He never used the word Love.
   Until his wife.
I was there as they met.
He gave his body as her canvas.
As he had given his lifebreath to countless students,
as their canvas of self-understanding, self-study, self-worth.

He was a man of passion who ever-skirted the squishy words, the softer notions.
He favored the brusque.  
He was no fan of tact.  He was crude.  Direct.  He was crude, never rude.  Never mean.  
He was brash and gruff and brusque.  
   These are ways, these were his ways of being Honest.

The blocky, sharp-edged stone walls with which he constructed his life, nevertheless
welcomed and gave harbor to the spirit of nurture, the delicate threads of healing.
His was the frontier cathedral: beckoning, defending, and offering solace and sanctuary to
Bruce was a Seeker and spark-setter.  
Bruce was a Seeker and bellows-blower.  
Bruce was a Seeker and Seeker’s companion.

Bruce was entitled to titles but:
Bruce was always only Bruce to me. 
   To us, his students.
He never cast off his hard-earned titles for he
never tried them on.
Bruce was always only Bruce to me.
   As I am only Stephen to my students.

He hugged me once, you know.
A Bear's hug.
He won’t again, you know. 
I hug my students every class now, you know. 
He wouldn’t like it but he’s there each time, you know.


My teacher died.
   His lungs always failed him.

My teacher died.
   His lungs finally failed him.

My teacher died.
   His lungs never failed me.

My debt is larger than the Light and Power he gave so freely.  
Rained down and Shone down so generously. 

   Thank you, Sifu.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2019

Post Comments
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Date: 10/18/2019 11:16:00 PM
Very moving Stephe. Thank you very much for sharing this.
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Stephe Watson
Date: 10/19/2019 5:50:00 AM
So very glad to be able to.