A story of loss and resilience
I was particularly moved by the story of Matt Imhof, a young professional baseball player – a left-handed pitcher, drafted by The Philadelphia Phillies. I saw the story last summer, 2016, when his accident first occurred – the loss of his right eye. This ended his career as a professional pitcher. I am now again moved by his story of resilience and healing he recently wrote for ESPN (January 25, 2017). See: Matt Imhof: I won’t be defined by my worst day
I’ve never felt as alone as I did in that moment; my world had been completely shattered. Not only had I lost half my vision, but now I was going to look different too
Matt lost the vision in his right eye. Not only that, but his eye was disfigured, such that he would never quite look the same again. “I’ve never felt as alone as I did in that moment; my world had been completely shattered. Not only had I lost half my vision, but now I was going to look different too” he wrote. This was a profound moment for Matt, when his identity – professionally and physically, was forever altered. Psychologically, it’s a lot to deal with all at once. It’s traumatic.
And then he had to be brave.
He faced his fears, authorizing what would eventually be a removal of his damaged eye. The medial professionals have a name for it: Enucleation. It doesn’t happen immediately, however. You have to deliberate, weigh the options, sign waivers allowing the surgeons to forever change your body. Then afterwards, you recover by protecting the eyes, wearing glasses, which you may have never done before. You may have to cover your eye with a patch or other disguise, which supposedly prevents others from looking at you and it. But in reality, such patches and covers are a magnet for stares. And then you have to negotiate the world with no depth perception. Try doing these things with one eye closed: taking a business card from someone; playing ping pong; walking and talking with someone who’s on the blind side (as I was writing this, I knocked over a glass of water that was on my blind side – I usually only place drinks on my left. And if you haven’t guessed by now, I am blind in my right eye, and I can empathize with Matt).
Matt Imhof is facing his challenges head-on. He has announced his retirement from baseball. Perhaps he means to say he is retiring the idea that he can play professional baseball at the highest level. I have a feeling he will remain in the world of baseball.
He has re-identified himself, and currently remains in baseball as a coach. I’m sure he’s wearing his polycarbonate safety glasses/sunglasses while on or near the field. But that’s an example of one of the many changes he has to make.
So how does this tie-in to the subject of my blog/blawg – discussing all thing psychological in the law? How does this apply to people, professionals, and lawyers? Yes, lawyers are people, too. Resiliency is the key. In this case, it’s reinventing your identity in the face of adversity. That means defining yourself using internal means. Do not allow external sources to define you. Spend time setting new goals. Make plans on how to reach those goals. Some are not naturally resilient. If so, seek assistance from those around you, including professionals.
Attorneys face adversity with changes in the legal environment, firm culture, loss or gain of business, wins and losses, health, and family, inter alia, or among other things, as it is written in plain english. Attorneys have to constantly change. There is no successful lawyer who is static. There is no successful person who doesn’t change. Embracing the change may not be pleasant – initially, but with the right attitude, perspective, and energy, one can be incredibly successful.
Perhaps all is not fair in love and baseball. What happened to Matt Imhof is certainly not fair. I am confident, however, that Matt Imhof will be successful. And I wish him the best.
P.S. The title of this post came to me quickly, but of course, I had to explore the etymology of the phrase. A fairly speedy internet search revealed, “The earliest known origin of the sentiment “all is fair in love in war” is found in poet John Lyly’s novel “Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit,” published in 1579. The novel recounts the romantic adventures of a wealthy and attractive young man, and includes the quote “the rules of fair play do not apply in love and war.” The first known appearance of the quote worded “all is fair in love and war” is in English author Francis Edward Smedley’s 1850 novel “Frank Fairleigh” about the life of a schoolboy.” (I’m citing Jill Kokemuller at Origin of “All Is Fair in Love and War” by Jill Kokemuller, who also writes that Miguel de Cervantes’ 1605 novel “Don Quixote” also contains a version of the quote) [and she’s a graduate of the University of Iowa-land of my new home!] Thank you, Jill.