August 16, 2011 – Yesterday, August 15th, was the 42nd anniversary of Woodstock. Although I was a few years too young to attend, the Woodstock aura impacted me such that I felt as though I was there. Yesterday was also the 42nd anniversary of the most powerful moment of my life – the day I was attacked by Blaze, our family’s rambunctious pet golden retriever. Both events were defining moments: One for a generation, the children of the Sixties; one for an individual, me. The battle cry of Woodstock, “Peace, Love and Understanding” and its more general concept of universal brotherhood resonated deeply with me to the point that I felt the Woodstock generation to be my generation. And yet antithetically, my experiences dealing with the physical and emotional trauma and scars resulting from the dog attack left me feeling misunderstood, unloved, and isolated from my peers. It took years of introspection and reflection coupled with martial arts training for me to get past the pain, learn to rely on my own strengths and then fully embrace the motto of my generation.
Perhaps all this explains my internal response to yesterday’s conversation with my 16 year old step-daughter. We were talking about her upcoming junior year of high school. She wondered about the anticipated differences from her freshman and sophomore years. She wondered whether there would be hazings of the younger students by the seniors this year. Hazings in high school? Now it was my turn to wonder. Why would a school, any school, have anything but zero tolerance for hazings? Why would parents permit their children to participate in hazings? Why would young adults resort to hazings? The physical harm, although perhaps negligible, is present. Yet more troubling is the emotional harm and scarring. Actions of hazings which result in others feeling humiliated and ostracized most definitely are not consonant with universal brotherhood or Peace Love and Understanding. And yes, I was reminded of my own feelings during my teen years in junior and high schools.
The major lesson in all this is understanding that dog attacks and hazings are merely two examples of situations in which people are hurt. Living in society, in contact with others, we are constantly at risk of being hurt. Strangers on the street, friends, family members, bosses, work colleagues, all may take actions which might hurt us. We have no control over this. Whether or not we allow the pain to escalate and fester into suffering, however, is a choice we are presented with. Why choose suffering? Choose instead Life. Choose to engage fully with your circumstances in a positive manner which will guide you towards success.
Although there have been moments in my younger years when I wished with all my being that Blaze had not attacked me or that I’d had the tools then to defend myself, the reality is that by attacking me and leaving me a scarred arm as a daily reminder, Blaze helped mold me into the man I am today by presenting me with the opportunity for growth and change. And for that I am grateful.
Consider the Possibilities.
Adam J. Krim www.driveconsulting.net