WISDOM? by Art Smukler, MD, author & psychiatrist

A wise man once said, consider the opinions of others, but in the end, make up your own mind.

That wise man, and I use the term somewhat cringingly, was me. 

There was no particular reason why I waxed so philosophical on this sunny, warm morning except that I grabbed one of my Penn State baseball caps, when I went for a morning walk to a favorite coffee shop (not as wonderful as SMUKLER’S BOOKSTORE) but a place with delicious coffee and almond croissants.

Anyway, I sat down at a small outdoor table, took a sip of coffee, and removed my cap. The PSU logo sat right there in front of me. My mind drifted back to college…a long time ago.

I remembered one of the most traumatic experiences of my young life. A few days before my freshman year started, I had an appointment with a university counselor to arrange my course schedule. He perused my high school grades, looked me in the eye, and said grimly, “I recommend that you don’t take the pre-med curriculum.”

My chemistry, physics and math grades in high school were marginal. The counselor had every right to say what he said. But…I wanted to be a doctor. That was it. No Plan B.

I just sat there, speechless. I thanked him, got up, and in a state of shock, walked back to my dorm room.

Was he right? Should I give up my dream?

I told my mother what the counselor said. She encouraged me to follow his advice. It was her way of not wanting me to be disappointed and fail.

In the end, I signed up for every course that the pre-meds took. Chemistry, Calculus, Physics etc. Everything that I struggled with in high school. Crazy right?

Not so crazy, because there was one factor that the counselor never took into consideration. I was a really hard worker. I still am. I also took loads of creative writing classes.

So, whatever your dream might be, don’t be afraid to go for it. But, be prepared to work harder and longer than everyone else who also wants your dream. It’s not like in grade school where everyone gets a winners’ statue.

Thanks for reading. Please check out THE REAL STORY, a mystery. Joe Belmont is also the kind of guy who doesn’t give up. His life depends on it.

WHAT HAPPENED TO JOE PATERNO AND WHAT CAN WE LEARN? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

November 2011 — Penn State University fired Joe Paterno for his part in the Sandusky child abuse scandal coverup.
January 2, 2012 — Joe Paterno died at the age of 85 of lung cancer, stripped of all wins from 1998 to 2011.

Back then, just wearing a PSU sweatshirt was a conflict. How can you support a school that let Sandusky continue to use the football facilities where he seduced and sexually abused young boys?

Now it’s two and a half years later. Bill O’Brien did a remarkable job as head football coach and his successor James Franklin looks like he’ll do even better. Penn State has done everything that the NCAA has demanded and more. They want to change forever the culture that would allow a monster to live amongst them.

What have we learned?

Life goes on. The earth continues to rotate and the sun rises every morning. No one is irreplaceable. We grieve. We rage. We fear. We cry. One day we again feel joy.

As a psychiatrist I’ve learned that we are remarkably resilient. Tragedy strikes, but it doesn’t need to continue to bring us to our knees. We can battle adversity, bullying, emotional illness, poor parenting, physical illness, loss, and catastrophe by learning from the experience.

Maybe the NCAA will rescind a portion of PSU’s punishment? Maybe they won’t. Their decision doesn’t need to affect how we act.

We can be stronger because the real hero is inside each of us. An idealized hero, whose flaws are overlooked or minimized, is not as necessary as you think. We don’t have to stand on the sidelines and watch evil happen. Individually, we have the power to personally do what’s right.

“WE ARE” is really just a combination of “I AM”.

Dr. Art Smukler is the award-winning writer of Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, Skin Dance, a mystery, and The Man with a Microphone in his Ear. All are available as paperbacks and eBooks.