Tag Archives: focus

Trauma or Possibility

LHVMarathonI had blood all over me.  I didn’t know where I was.  It was the coldest that I’d ever been in my life.  I couldn’t see a thing.  All that I could do was scream.  Luckily help was nearby and I was able to calm down.  It had been a difficult trial but I was alive and in the hospital.  Just when things seemed as if they would be OK, a complete stranger came along and chopped off a quarter of my penis.  All of that trauma happened in the first twenty four hours of my life.  Despite that very rough beginning, I’ve done quite well for myself.

This story is at least partially true for almost all of us.  We were all thrust into this world naked, afraid and unable to speak, read or write.  It is not something that we give much thought to because it happens to everyone.  However birth (or creation) is a messy and traumatic business by all accounts.  Not just the human producing ones but also the birth of companies, relationships, art or anything else.   There is always that starting point of conception that is magical and exhilarating.  Eventually that moment is replaced by some form of hard labor in order to get the creation out into the world.  Just because it’s painful, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.  The narrative of the present day is about safety and comfort.  Our world has had most of its sharp edges taken off.  While I’m all for vaccinating against the next Bubonic Plague, there are some struggles that are important for people to go through.  Not all pain is trauma.

As you conceive the next dream of where you’re going or what you’re doing, do a little pre-trauma planning.  Like a person that is preparing for a marathon, it is important to understand your “quit points”.  Quitting is not shameful if it is done for the right reasons.  A broken leg is a justifiable quit inducing occurrence.  Cramps are a nuisance to be fought through.  The difference between trauma and possibility is perspective and the next few steps that are taken.  Expectation that everything will be easy is a sure fire way to turn every problem into trauma.  Traumatizing yourself with things that should be expected is recipe for disaster.  Imagine freaking out because your newborn child couldn’t walk.  It’s a process not a fully completed miracle.  Take the possibility and run with it.

Kryptonite As Fuel

supermanThe story of Superman becomes very boring without Kryptonite.  A man who is super strong, fast, invulnerable, can fly and shoots lasers from his eyes is not a compelling story.  His abilities make him unbeatable.  So defeating evil-doers is not a matter of ability, it’s a matter of time.  Without Kryptonite, Superman’s story becomes one of an interplanetary janitor who is here to clean up our biggest societal messes.  A completely infallible hero is difficult to sell but exposing his Achilles heel makes him a star.

The recognition of Kryptonite as the fuel that drives the story of Superman is not just comic book pontificating.  It is the realization of exactly what makes our own lives worth living.  Our Kryptonite is death.  It may seem like the enemy but it is the thing that makes the moments of our lives matter.  Without death, time is an inexhaustible currency that has no value to us personally.  Frittering away minutes, hours or even years would be meaningless to the person who will live forever.  The intrigue is gone because there is nothing at stake.  This is great news!

The time that you do have is a gift.  It has value to both you and the people that you touch throughout your life.  Don’t become crippled by the fact that you will die some day.  Be empowered by the fuel that it can give you to live with purpose and passion.  Your existence is only a drop in the ocean of eternity.  Make that drop count!  The fact that your Kryptonite is out there somewhere in the future makes you both: powerful and meaningful.  You’ve got one shot at this .  Go for it!

Have a SUPER day!  (Yes!  That was cheesy!  But what the hell!)

Pete

Quixote’s Box

QuixoteDon Quixote is a fictional character famous for fighting windmills and doing other absurd things.  His basic story is one of taking a fantasy world and trying to imprint it onto the real world.  The results are comedic for the outsider but almost tragic for Quixote himself.  As I was reading his story in college, I always pictured him sitting Indian style in his armor with a child’s toy box trying to hammer the square peg into the round hole.  It is easy to label Don Quixote as a “fool” but personally I identified strongly with the character and his trials.  Around the time that I read the book, I was on my own Quixotic adventure that put my mental image of the world into question.

I am Peter Huryk III, named after both my father and grandfather.  Due to my name, I have always identified very closely with my father.  My parents met when my mother was going through a divorce and leading life as a single parent to my older brother.  My father became the answer to her prayers.  Within a short time, he was a husband to my mother and a father to my brother.  This narrative was inside of my subconscious in college when the world offered me the perfect Quixotic situation.

At the time, I was taking a full course load in college, had a full time job and renting a townhouse with two friends.  It was then that the universe served up a perfectly ridiculous challenge to my self-image.  A young girl with two sons (2 & 1 years old) started working at the sub delivery place where I was employed.  In short order, we ended up in a relationship.  Unfortunately, the script was far more complicated than my father’s.

The custody of her children was being contested because she didn’t have a stable place for them to live.  They had been nomads between different family members’ homes.  So I took it upon myself to pay for an apartment for them.  Every problem that the world and the situation served up, I responded with my knight in shining armor script.  It made no sense but I pressed ahead anyway.  At 21 years old, I was a full time student, full time employee, renting two apartments, caring for two kids and handling it all.  Luckily the ridiculousness of the situation knew no bounds and she broke up with me.  I remember the older boy balling the day that I left.  He’d never done that before.  It was as if he knew I wasn’t coming back.  Getting into this situation was probably the worst decision of my life.  It was foolish on so many levels and could have been long term disastrous.  So it still feels odd to say that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

In those few months, I figured out exactly who I was and what I was capable of.  The script of my father was not my own.  I needed to follow my own path for my own sake.  It also let me know that I could handle almost anything.  At 21 I had handled more weight from the world than I thought was possible.  Although it was reckless and stupid to heap it upon myself, it didn’t crush me.

The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves are extremely important.  They, rather than conscious thought, will often make the decisions about what we will or will not do.  So my suggestion is that you get your story straight.  Who are you really?  Or better yet, who are you ideally?  If you are creating yourself (and you are), why not decide what it is that you want, need, value, love, without the interference of the world.  Then when you see your round peg, you’ll put it in the right spot and leave the square ones for someone else.

Go be you today.

Pete

Youth Soccer’s Jekyll & Hyde Dilemma

JekyllHydeIt’s one of my favorite lines from a song by one of my favorite bands “Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word your saying!”  The song is called “I want to conquer the world” and it juxtaposes the idealism and the reality of people.  It’s a punk rock song and due to soccer’s historical underground following in the US, I usually equate the two on a few levels.  At the moment, the youth soccer world is caught in an almost Jekyll and Hyde scenario.  Many of the positives of the sport that is loved by millions are regularly mangled and deranged in the pursuit of momentary glory.  In each paragraph, I will start with the ideal and follow it with the real.

Soccer is fun!  – That’s absolutely right.  The game is or can be fun.  It is played worldwide in streets and fields by kids who truly love to express themselves with a ball.  More than ever though in the United States, we are heaping pressure on younger and younger players to perform.  Not for the joy of the game but for the reward of the result.  The players being indoctrinated into a system where they’re sent a very direct message, “perform well or else!”  The consequences are being benched or being cut.  As young as 8 years old, players are treated like performing fleas.  The actions send a clear message that fun is at best secondary and probably tertiary behind results and development.

Sportsmanship is important! – Of course, treating other people with respect is an important lesson to learn in sports.  Unless it’s the referee that’s missed five hand balls already!  He or she deserves to be told exactly how horrible they are.  It is hilarious to think that kids practice for hours each week but a comment about their actual skills from the sidelines is rare.  A majority of comments are directed at the one person who no one is there to see perform.  Our children are learning a dangerous lesson about their place in society.  Do your best and if anything doesn’t go your way, blame the authority because they are supposed to be perfect.  Those people in charge are not human and deserve to be treated horribly.  Could this be why we have a referee shortage?

We support you! – Youth soccer is a multi million (probably billion) dollar business because parents care enough to give their kids the very best!  The best trainers, the best camps and the best tournaments are all purchased for a premium price.  That financial investment shows exactly how much parents care for their kids.  Or perhaps the lack of their personal time investment says something else as practice becomes a convenient babysitter.  I can hear the justification now, “But the trainer is better than me coaching.”  That might be true but can you line fields, be a club board member or practice with your child.  If a child truly loves to play, then they would probably enjoy playing with their parent from time to time.  Relegating your involvement in your child’s athletics to spectator is a low level of involvement.  Children need their parents.  Outsourcing may be a sign of the times but there are some jobs that are too important to be left to hired hands.

Perhaps it is time to reign in the beast and start walking the talk.  The ideas are all out there in the world.  Generally speaking people know the answers but lack the fortitude to follow through.  Whether it is a “keeping up with the Joneses mentality” or a lack emotional control in the moment.  People need to realize that the macro is made up of the micro.  The small decisions, that we make about how relating to our children through sport, will inform the larger decisions that they make about their lives.  Are we setting our kids up to be the best versions of themselves?  Or are the mixed messages going to create a noticeable disconnect between the sent and received?  “It is what it is” may be a popular statement but it’s not a plan.  Let’s make it what it should be.

Pete

 

 

What You Wanted Is Here

SearsBefore Amazon, there was (at least in my world) the Sears Catalog.  It was a huge “magazine” that had just about every product in the Sears store.  It was a place that my brothers and I would peruse some time before Christmas to find things we wanted.  I remember that I always focused in on the guitars.  They weren’t overly expensive at the time and I fancied myself as a future guitarist.  Despite my desire, I never told my parents nor did I save up money to purchase one.  In hindsight, I really didn’t want the guitar.  I liked the idea of the guitar but if I had truly wanted it, I’d have found a way.

That’s the way that life really works.  Look down and look around.  For the most part, the things that you have are the things that you really want.  They are your musts, non-negotiables, have to haves.  People often think that they have wants but most of the time they have dreams or fantasies.  I have a fantasy of weighing 170 lbs again.  Unfortunately I don’t really want it.  If I did, I’d be there.  My weight is a direct reflection of my true wants: taste, dietary freedom, comfort food and convenience.  When I truly start wanting that ideal weight, I’ll take the actions that will get me there.  Until then, it’s not true.  I don’t want it unless it’s easy.

The things worth having are never easy.  Value is usually associated to scarcity or uniqueness.  This is a tough thing to remember in a life of convenience.  There are so many good things that are easily accessible that we bury ourselves in the good, foregoing the truly valuable because it’s inconvenient.  What you wanted is all around you.  If you truly want for more, you’ll find a way.  In five years will you be surrounded by more mediocre trinkets?  Or will you have something better?  In the end you’re going to find the ultimate thing that you’re looking for is that best version of you.  It won’t come easy and it’s not in a catalog or on Amazon.  So get what you want by being who you want to be.

Have a great day!

Pete

The Myth of Keyser Söze

usualsuspectsOne of the best movies from a pure story standpoint that I’ve seen is “The Usual Suspects”.  The film takes you on a ride where you’re continuously led down paths for particular reasons.  A main reason for the perplexing nature of the film is the doubt surrounding the myth of Keyser Söze.  For those unfamiliar with the film, Keyser Söze is a purported crime boss who controls the sale of drugs, weapons, etc. from the shadows of anonymity.  At one point he is portrayed as a “spook story” that thieves tell their children, “Rat on your Pop and Keyser Söze will come get you.”  

RedRidingHoodPersonally I never heard that version of spook story when I was a kid but I can see its usefulness to some people.  The fairy tales and legends that we are told as children vary greatly depending on the desired outcome from our upbringing.  Aspirational and cautionary tales alike are used to push the child in particular directions.  Keep on trying courtesy of “The Little Engine that Could”.  Be prepared by “The Three Little Pigs”.  Don’t be sexually promiscuous by “Little Red Riding Hood” (Didn’t know until I talked to a German teacher).  These stories were all fashioned to get a result.

The thing about all of these stories is that they are made up.  Complete fabrications from the imagination of someone long ago.  They’ve been changed, updated, amended, forgotten and remembered.  The reason that they still exist is that they were effective through the years.  “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” got me to stop going to the nurse’s office every day in 3rd grade.  So since stories are effective if they’re told enough and have the desired message, what is the story that you tell yourself about yourself?  The Myth of Keyser Söze was that he was an almost superhuman figure who was powerful and ruthless.  Before that story could be spread, he had to at least partially tell it to himself.

Now it is your turn.  Tell the story of you to yourself.  Adapt it, amend it, change it to fit your needs.  The endpoint that you desire to have should be attained through some form of work mixed with an optimistic attitude to never give up.  The story is out there in the realm of possibility.  Now you just need to write it, tell it and live it.

Tell your story!

Pete

Care Enough to Lose

IMG_2192It was January 2nd 2003.  A clever little trick of mine to always remember the day that I proposed to my wife 1/2/03.  As I waited in her apartment with dinner ready and candles lit, I was extremely nervous.  That feeling was only compounded when she arrived.  Then I started to ask and I could feel my legs shaking.  This was gut-wrenching but necessary.  The fear and the nerves came from risk.  The risk of putting myself out there and the possibility that the answer could be “no”.  It ended up going in my favor but I think that risk is an important factor to the things that really matter.  You need to care enough to be willing to lose.

Perhaps it is part of being American or the popular culture of my youth but the idea of the underdog or long shot is ingrained within me.  The Rocky movies were an unofficial soundtrack to my young life.  The story of a nobody fighter who takes on the undefeated champion.  He knows that he is going to lose before the fight even happens.  That is the risk that the people who truly care must take.  The men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew the risk of the pen strokes but chanced the loss of life for something greater.  Elon Musk risked the wealth he had accrued in order to start a solar energy company, an electric car company and a space company.  Each venture had very long odds.  Those odds are not the ones taken on by a man looking to turn a quick profit.  They are the risk of a man who cares about the change he wanted to make in the world.  These are just three examples of caring enough to risk losing.

I’ve heard it too many times to count “What grade do I need to get on this quiz to bring my grade up to a __________?”  The lack of the math skills from my young students is not the most troubling part.  The most disheartening part of this question is the refusal to put forth any effort until a concrete exchange has been mentally negotiated.  Effort will only be employed if the target seems reasonably attainable.  This is not a statement about educational malaise or the disconnect between schools and our modern society.  It is a reflection on a pervasive attitude toward loss.  No one should fail.  The ref or the coach cost us the game.  The aversion to loss seems to be correlated to risk of losing one’s self.  If I give my all and fail, then I am not worthy and that is too much to bear.

In a world where we are better insulated from death than ever before in history, it is the death of our image of ourselves that we seem to fear most.  Much like the avatars that represent us online, we have created mental pictures of who we are.  Most of us will defend that image regardless of its accuracy or usefulness.  Playing within the boundaries of that existence may comfortable but is the lack of risk truly safe?  More than likely the risks that truly matter are worth taking because they force us to stretch.  Reaching out into the void is not a failure if it is done with true intention.  Failing to reach out is the bigger loss because the possibility of knowing yourself better and having what you actually wanted is left on the table.  Don’t aim to lose but don’t only play if you know you’re going to win.  All of the true joy on the back end lies in the fact that you risked yourself on the front end.

Have a great day!

Pete

I Had To F%#$ This Up!

HHS Soccer
Not exactly the right year but the shorts tell the story!

I was in 8th grade and my school soccer team was playing against North Warren.  They were the only team that had beaten us all season.  It was late in the game and the score was still tied.  Someone passed me the ball as I was wide open in front of the unprotected goal.  I shot the ball and it sailed over the goal.  It almost defied physics!  I was so close to the goal that missing seems as though it was harder to do than scoring.  The memory of that shot is almost 30 years old and it still bugs me a little bit.  All of these years later though, I’ve come to realize that I had to miss that shot.  In all of our lives, there are things that we really have to f%#@ up.

No one wants to fail.  The disappointment, the shaken confidence and the negative memory are all reason enough to avoid failure.  People are always trying to give themselves the best chance for success in any endeavor.  Aiming for success is always crucial but always achieving it is both impractical and probably detrimental to future successes.

The path to where you are is probably filled with potholes, detours and the occasional breakdown.  Even though we think that we want a smooth and clear path to our destination, most of the fire that we have in our belly comes from past failures.  Learning how to live through and overcome failure are key ingredients to a growth mindset.  Although we live in a physical world, the beginning of almost everything in our lives starts in our mental world.  That is the space where failure can be taken, molded and turned into a stepping stone for future success.  I’m sure that you want whatever you’re working on right now to be a great success and I hope that it is.  However what if you need to F%#@ this up to succeed later.  Part of the equation is that you really want to succeed but recognize in the long term f%#@ ups are part of the equation too.

Give it your all today!

Pete

Incomplete!

IncompleteEach week in fourth grade, we had a folder that contained all of our work.  On Friday, if you had everything done, the word ‘Complete’ was written on your folder and you got to do some craft or game.  If you didn’t have everything done, you received a note of ‘Incomplete’ and you needed to finish your work before getting any free time.  In the entire school year, I think that I was ‘Complete’ only twice.  It took me most of the year to finish my macrame owl due to my limited free time.  I’m quite certain that I only passed fourth grade by the skin of my teeth.  Perhaps I should have (or continue) to feel badly about my incomplete track record or tendency.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t.

Having been raised catholic, part of the prayer for the confession of sins always hit me hardest was be sorry for the things that “I have left undone”.  That’s a long list, even for the most accomplished person in the world.   There are many things that each of us leaves undone everyday.  Should this be a point guilt or shame?  Probably not.  People are not meant to be machines focused on efficiency.  We have choice and can decide what is worth doing.  That discernment of the value in activity should be exercised regularly.

The things that we choose or choose not to do are the elemental level of who we are as people.  None of us is incomplete.  Our choices may not meet with the standards of others but incomplete; NEVER!  You are what you do and the person who must set the standard is YOU.  The world is out there, waiting to see what you’ll do.  Go show it.

Make it a complete day on your terms!

Pete

 

Accidentally Mummifying Yourself

KilimanjaroThe world is filled with things that cut.  Like walking through a patch of thorn bushes with exposed skin, injury is an almost certainty.  In the short term, bandaging the cuts is the right strategy.  In time, the wounds will heal.  If too many cuts pile up, the bandages become wrappings.  You become a mummy.  Movements constrained by the bandages on wounds that never healed.  Avoiding cuts completely is an impossibility but choosing a new path and learning how to wield a machete are both options.  Band aids are not a long term solution, they are a short term fix.  This concept is obvious when thinking about real wounds but with metaphorical wounds, this is a common strategy.

The key has always been preventative medicine/measures.  Solving old problems with solutions that minimize or eradicate the issue is the best way to get better problems.  That is an understanding that everyone needs to have: PROBLEMS AREN’T GOING AWAY!  The most that you can hope for is to have the best problems possible because you’ve solved the old and boring ones.  Why would you choose to flail around in that same old thorn bush when you can figure out how to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

I know that many of you out there are bleeding and it hurts.  My heart goes out to you and I hope that this message will help you move on.  Break free of the thorns and find the path to the mountain where you can see for miles.  It won’t be easy but it may be worth it!

Have a great day!

Pete