Aggression and pain

I was on the receiving end of some aggressive behavior on a public playground yesterday. We encountered an aggressive teenager (I think) who was determined to use most of the field to hit the baseball really hard.

As we were encroaching on his personal play space (we were playing soccer further away), he started whacking the ball with the intention of hitting us. After two scary near misses in rapid succession, we walked up to him to see if he might be willing to direct hits away from us.

That, as you might imagine, was an exercise in futility.

We walked away after a slew of abuse, racist insults, and a threat to fight one of us and “make him bleed.”

So, we shook our heads, walked away, and moved our group as far as away as we could. We soon realized that he and his three friends only needed the field for about ten extra minutes. So, all that aggression, bullying, and violence for ten extra minutes…

It took me a few minutes to process what happened. I was mostly struck dumb as the exchange got heated. And, as I processed it, my first reaction was surprise at the level of stupidity with many sarcastic post facto mental retorts.

After a couple of minutes of that, I remembered what I learned from “Non Violent Communication” and realized I was missing the plot. It takes a lot of internal hurt to lash out the way he did with every intention to cause physical and mental harm.

I walked away with an appreciation for the amount of pain the boy must be going through… with gratitude for the cards I’ve been dealt with.

There’s so much we take for granted when things are, in the grand scheme of things at least, good.


I am not a fan of injections. I grew up visiting a family doctor who administered regular painful injections. They worked every time.. but I also brought the house down every time. I think those images of pain and tears still linger and, hence, my reaction to jabs is still far from positive.

However, as I was thinking about vaccinations yesterday, I realized vaccines are completely aligned with the “a learning a day” approach. I think the “a learning a day” approach is to continually embrace pain, postpone immediate gratification, and build for the long term with a focus on learning from our successes and failures. With vaccines, we need to embrace pain, postpone immediate gratification and do so for the long term – near perfect alignment there.

So, after having taken 3 jabs today to boost my immunity along with a full health check up performed few days back, I’d just like to spread the health check up and vaccine love and request you all to take a look at your vital signs and vaccination status. If there is a vaccine or two due, go do it! A few dollars and a bit of pain is a great way to avoid weeks of trouble later.


The law of painful progress

I had a realization when I was learning how to play the guitar – if my practice sessions didn’t have me wincing in pain, I wasn’t making enough progress.

This realization served me well in the 8 months I took lessons as I made faster progress than I had initially expected. The results were evident too – weeks when my practice sessions were more painful always yielded more progress.

The law applies to every skill, of course. The more we feel the pain, the more we’re likely making progress. There is no painless progress.

Where will I feel most pain?

Often, that’s a great question to identify the projects worth doing.

The pain of starting afresh, the pain of fighting the resistance, the pain of having to prove ourselves again are indicators of the sort of stretching required to learn and grow. It is easiest to stay stagnant. It might also be painless in the short term but pain in the short term has it’s way of paying off in the long term.

Our lizard brain prefers to trigger the flight response at the sight of pain. Perhaps it’s time to rewire it a bit..