"Will Carl Ficks please report to the Principal's office. Carl Ficks to the Principal's office." Sixth grade and a reckoning with Sister Mary Clare...clearly not a social visit. Uh oh.
Sister Clare...the Bronx-born-and-bred nun who ruled my junior high school with an iron fist. The nun who occasionally ditched the head piece of her habit to don a Yankees cap. If Sr. Clare summoned you to her office, you knew you were in T*R*O*U*B*L*E. She was also a big fan of the television show "Kojak," where the NYC detective played by Telly Savalas always had a lollipop in his mouth. If Sr. Clare offered you a lollipop upon arrival to her office, you knew the meeting was going to be...lengthy.
You see, Sr. Clare was, at least in my then 12-year-old imagination, larger than life. Like so many other things you imagine.
A business trip once brought me to Memphis, and a side visit to Graceland, the place Elvis called home for 20 years. Kings live in palaces, right? Or so I thought...until I saw Graceland and it was so much...smaller than I had imagined.
A client meeting in Dallas included a visit to Dealey Plaza. Having seen the Zapruder film so many times, combined with the enormity of what happened there, I just knew it would be the size of Moscow's Red Square. Wrong again - the plaza was tiny.
Many, many years after junior high school, I bumped into Sr. Clare at a charity event and found her to be so...diminutive. I could not believe she once had me living the lyrics to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Steps" when I was summoned to her office so long ago: "I was scared and fearing for my life. I was shaking like a leaf on a tree. 'Cause [s]he was lean, mean. Big and bad, Lord."
Sr. Clare and I chatted amiably and we laughed when I recounted a few of my "visits" to her office. I happily realized Sr. Clare was not lean, mean, big or bad but rather, a wonderfully pleasant, kind and gentle woman. My young self had conjured up a fictional and scarier image of her, perhaps because of her position of authority or my misdeeds. Much the way your mind can supersize things, like Graceland or Dealey Plaza.
In the cold light of day, indomitable problems may not be so indomitable. Deal-breaking issues may not be so deal-breaking. Overwhelming may just be underwhelming dressed up for Halloween. Insurmountable odds may not be so insurmountable. Hopelessness may just be playing hide and seek with hope.
When obstacles appear in this New Year, as they undoubtedly will, there's no need to shake like a leaf on a tree. It could just be your imagination busy at work supersizing again.
Carl Ficks helps busy professionals and their teams get back in the fitness game to reduce stress and increase productivity. He practiced law in New Britain for many years and is a proud member of the Generale Ameglio Society. He has run and cycled thousands of miles and competed in dozens of races, so when you're ready to get back in the game, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.