Dents and Gashes Happen

Bob Hatcher

July 29, 2012

          Dents and gashes happen in our lives, with amazing regularity.  They happen to our cars and brand new bikes and motorcycles.

They happen when our feelings are hurt.

They happen when we don’t get into the school we wanted to go to.

They happen when our skin becomes wrinkled and when our hearing becomes horrible particularly in rooms where there are lots of competing sounds.

They happen when the person we love disappoints us in one of a hundred ways or when we disappoint the person we love in one of a hundred ways.

They happen when we have a great idea that is totally rejected by a spouse, friend or colleague at work.

They happen when our self-respect receives a blow to the midsection.

And perhaps worst of all, they happen when we fail to love ourselves or others.  As Father Steve said one Sunday:  “The problem with love thy neighbor as thyself is that most of us do just that.  We don’t love ourselves and that is exactly how we treat our neighbors. We don’t love our neighbors either”

And, of course, when we don’t love ourselves or others, we know in our heart of hearts that we are falling way short of the mark. 

Dents and gashes, bruises and setbacks are part of every single day, especially if we look about us and see and care about the suffering around us. 

Read the book, The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch or listen to it over the internet.  Simply a fantastic book!

One day his wife pulled out of the garage and caused dents and gashes in her car and Randy’s convertible.  She worried about it for hours and at dinner said “Randy, I have something to tell you. I hit one car with the other.  Want to go to the garage to look at them?”

“After dinner” he said.  She was surprised he wasn’t angry.  They went and looked after dinner, She said “Tomorrow morning I’ll get estimates on the repairs.”  He said that wasn’t necessary. The dents would be okay. 

He had been raised taught that cars were to get people from point A to point B.  “They are utilitarian devices not expressions of social status.”  He suggested that they could just live with the dents and gashes.

His wife was surprised and said “We’re really going to drive around in dented cars?”  He came back: “You appreciate the part of me that didn’t get angry because ‘two things’ we own got hurt. But the flip side of that’s my belief that you don’t repair things if they still do what they’re supposed to do.  The cars still work. Let’s just drive them.”

Some of life’s dents, gashes and bruises do need to be fixed.  Many don’t.   

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, Georgia