Before Enlightenment, Chaos

by Stephen LaBounty (2007-10-02)

Sometimes you just have to take one in the belly. I'm not just talking about a physical blow alone, but an emotional one and spiritual one too.

A man I admire, David Rogers, says this: "At times it takes a severe emotional blow, a gut punch, to get us to live at the gut level of total commitment and decisive action."

I, like many persons around my age, have lost those whom I love, and that rings hollow with the deeper feelings I had for them. The "gut punch" at times was too much pain, not in the 'fair' arena, and shouldn't have happened at that time, to that person. I have always believed that death is the great equalizer, but it can be the great reliever. In the case of one of my parents, it was the great clarifier. It brought home the need to live life with a capital "L" instead of a small one. It made me realize that you cannot always suffer less, you have to live more to fully experience your existence.

I have in my 41 years of training in Kenpo suffered many breaks, tears, rips, and such, but I've seen people who in a much shorter time suffer unimaginable pain and carry it with grace and dignity. As a police officer having to investigate many "death" calls, I've seen what the survivors experience and how they cope with this sad and sometimes gruesome event. Detaching myself to get the job at hand done goes with the job, but learning not to fear it was the real lesson, that and the way you cope with it.

Any type of "gut punch" can supply the jolt that will rouse you from your sleep, put you into a day-dream state that brings up the fear that immobilizes you. Loss of a marriage, job, home, business will heighten that sense of security and control.

Sooner or later in the Martial Arts you will take your first real wound, serious wound that is painful and threatening. It is only after your first serious wound that you can tell what your permanent value will be. Likewise, the "gut punches" I've spoken of are the most serious of all, because you more than likely will survive them, being left to analyze, cope and try to recover from for many, many years. How well you take the "gut punch" will then determine what your permanent value to yourself will be.

These blows might be hell to endure, but look at it like this; they might be just the thing that you needed to wake you up to the fact that you have a choice to make. You can let the punch defeat you or you can let it help you discover new possibilities and new opportunities. You can turn any pain into a turning point in your life if you choose to.

"A fine power is always heralded by great pain"
don Juan in "A Separate Reality"