My guest blogger is Mike Cain, my long time student and disciple. Mike had a deep and intimate phone connection with the late Paul Gallagher, and visited him in Asheville. Here is Mike's email intro and his blog, enjoy!
"For your consideration, here is my Paul B. Gallagher reflection.
If it is acceptable to you, I hope that you can publish it, with a brief introduction as a guest blog post.
You of all people know that my words are highly insufficient to accurately capture Paul's spirit, wisdom, and humanity.
Never-the-less, I feel your audience needs a small taste of our dear Master G!
Thank you in advance sir. I appreciate the opportunity to share. - M"
What Can You Learn From 9 Years of Conversation With a
and nothing; allow me to explain…
Roughly 9 years ago Ray Hayward mentioned to me that a one Paul Gallagher of Asheville, NC
wanted to formally meet me; and as I would find out later, begin a
Obviously I knew of a
Mr. Paul Gallagher from past discussions with Sifu Hayward, and from Master
T.T. Liang’s book, but I still had to ask, “THE Paul Gallagher, really?”.
Needless to say, I was
both honored and intrigued to receive an invitation from such an accomplished
and wise individual.
Ray fulfilled the request and made the appropriate introductions. He also provided
me valuable insight and instruction on how to approach this rare and unique
opportunity (thank you again sir).
The monthly and
sometimes weekly phone calls between Mr. Paul Gallagher and I started with the
usual “get to know you” dialog. The calls rather quickly progressed to deeper
and more profound topics; with subjects that quite literally were all over the
board, map and time.
Even though Mr.
Gallagher approached our conversations as if we were equals, I immediately
became aware that saying “Paul” or “Mr. Gallagher” was not going to work for
me. Calling him “Master Paul” or “Master Gallagher” while immensely
appropriate, was also too cumbersome, not to mention unacceptable to my new
conversational partner. To solve the dilemma sooner than later, I presented my
own unique and respectful salutation for approval… “Master G”!
Refining 9 years of
profound conversation will be a long, and iterative process to be sure. But in
the spirit of sharing - something very important to Master G by the way - here
are a few nuggets:
It is important to
state up front that very rarely were the conversations directly about martial
arts. Instead, at the start of a meeting one of us would pose a leading
question, or make a comment on some thing that happened to be at the forefront
of our recent personal ruminations. In almost all cases, the subject(s) dealt
with our respective, personal experiences, observations, and thoughts on life,
and living. Sure, there were many references to tai chi concepts and related
martial and spiritual arts; but these mostly served as a common foundation for
understanding and confirmation.
Master G’s number one
piece of advice was: “treat everyone you meet like a million bucks”.
As a recipient of this
approach, I can attest to its power and effectiveness. In one of our more
recent conversations, I told him this tenet should be updated to “a billion”
due to inflation. Being an expert in marketing and finance, he laughed and
question Master G would pose is: “who do you have to be?”
question provoked a long and deep discussion that I am still digesting. He
explained that when looking at, or interacting with someone who seems to always
get the good stuff, or receive a larger share of information or insight, you
should ask, “who do you have to be?” (to get and/or receive).
Given that our
conversations were rarely one way or unbalanced, at some point much later, I
added my own questions to Master G’s:
“Where do you have to
“When do you have to
After several years of
fabulous and fascinating discussion, I spontaneously posed a question to Master
G. that seemed to genuinely stump him.
“What is it that you
know, that no one, past or present knows?”
Obviously I knew the
answer, having pondered the question for many decades. I believed Master G.
would immediately provide me his version of the answer.
After a pause, he said
he didn’t have an answer. To this day, I am not entirely sure if I did stump
him or not; alas that is the nature of conversation with Paul Gallagher!
Looking back through
the slightly out of focus lens of recollection, I know that Master G taught
everything he knew about life to anyone who spent more than a few hours with
him. At the same time, he (purposefully) taught us nothing, knowing full well
that it is up to each of us to ultimately put in the “work” to figure it out
For the folks that
know and love Paul Gallagher, the following is not new, or surprising.
Never-the-less, it must be stated:
Gallagher is a treasure.
a profoundly personal point of view, let me add:
G… master of the Gs
the answer is: “your own self”