The first time I heard Mai's name was when I joined Chinatown Crime Watch. Some of the older guys were like, "You know Mai right? You don't? I thought you did Kung Fu? How can you do Kung Fu and not know Mai?"
Mai was someone who Chinatown watched grow up. They saw her performing Kung Fu from the age of 12 into adulthood. And last weekend, she celebrated the 10th anniversary of her school in Malden. She has become a cornerstone of the community. I had met her at various events of course, but it's always "Hi" and the Kung Fu salute, etc. and then back to your own team. Recently, the other contributor, Adriana Li, scolded me, "How have you never hung out with Mai? I mean, why wouldn't you sit down and talk with someone who has been practicing and teaching Kung Fu for so many years?"
As I tried to explain my reasons and excuses, I realized how wrong and lazy they all were. And more than that, after meeting up with Mai today, I realized even more the error of my ways. I got more than schooled, I got "Sifu-ed".
"Just sharing, not teaching", Mai would laugh after giving me some seriously sound advice and guidance. Mai has been doing what I have wanted to do for a long time, and in more ways than one. The conversation started with her listing an alphabet soup of Asian organizations she had been involved with since High school; some of which I recognized, but many of which I didn't.
How did Sifu Mai get into Kung Fu and all the community work? Well, that will be our starting point in the next installment. But let's just say after talking to her, I felt like I was in the presence of someone who had a much more highly developed moral compass, and I suddenly have the desire to be a better person.
I also saw that many of the things I went through, she also went through on her path to achieve what she has achieved. Some of her advice may save me quite a bit of time. Or maybe everyone has to go through these things themselves. All I can say is I felt lost... and suddenly I feel like I just got the encouragement to find my way.