Pep Talk: “Let's Be Punctual”

August 13, 2017

After slipping into a downtown Los Angeles conference room a tad tardy, the eyes scanned for an open seat in the packed auditorium. Wouldn’t you know it? The only unoccupied chairs were directly in front of the stage and podium. After weaving through the crowd, your knucklehead scribe settled in for the opening session of the 2017 Home Boy Industries’ Global Network Conference.

Jesuit priest Greg Boyle started the excellent non profit about 25 years ago. Its mission is to transform the lives of former gang members in our nation’s second-largest city and beyond. Love this place. A Home Boy employee, a former gang member herself, concluded inspiring opening keynote remarks with this zinger: “We must find a way to transform pain so we quit transmitting it.” I wanted to stand and shout, “Amen sister!”
Transforming pain so we quit transmitting it to ourselves, loved ones, friends, strangers and communities. Baggage. We all have it, quite often, from traumatic childhood experiences. Like it or not, we’re products of our environments.

Personally, I think about a childhood where enabling and co-dependency were present. It influenced me and led to ill-advised efforts to “rescue” others. Also, long ago, a freak and career-ending head and upper torso injury suddenly terminated a promising athletic career. The pain of losing long-held sports dreams was medicated with booze, drugs and womanizing. Transforming pain so we quit transmitting it? Easier said than done.
How to take past experiences, learn from them and halt their emotional, physical and spiritual fallout? That is the million-dollar question with no easy answer. For me, it starts with faith God does have a plan. It’s a plan to prosper and not harm, to give hope and a future. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to believe.

Athletic dreams dashed; marriages with children melting away; television sportscasting career curtailed through layoffs. Reflecting on various dreams and goals waylaid over the years, it’s sobering to realize how infrequently life truly goes as WE design it. Stuff happens leaving us wondering, “What the heck is going on around here?” How to take painful moments, learn from them and not transmit through addiction to self pity, booze, drugs, crime, infidelity, overworking, retreating or flat out surrendering? Whew.
My mind wanders to A Stronger Cord and its efforts to unite communities with wellness. In working with others on the comeback trail from being marginalized and disconnected, tragic stories are learned of childhoods lost. It’s inspiring to develop a kinship with those discovering, often for the first time, meaning and purpose to life despite horrific experiences. Cheerfully, I find myself often these days bellowing, “It’s so cool you’re still trying!”
Where is the personal pain? How to stop transmitting it? An easy and productive way is to serve others. Everybody’s dealing with something, right?
Unlike my tardiness to the Home Boy meeting, let’s be punctual in never growing weary of doing good for others. It takes focus off of us. We also reap a harvest considering it’s a path to transforming pain without transmitting it. Try it this week!

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