Everyone knows that the Canadians love their hockey, and if you don't know that let me assure you that the Canadians love their hockey. There are few places in the world where they engage in a sport with such a reverence, skill, and absolute obsession as they do with hockey in Canada. That being said, it should not be surprising that, in mid-February, there was a hockey tournament being played at the local rink of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation. At about 11:30 am local time a 21-year-old man cross checked a 45-year-old referee in the face with his hockey stick. This, as one could imagine, is most definitely not cool. And it is definitely one of those unfortunate moments in sports, hockey especially it seems (and I am not picking on hockey here, folks, I like hockey well enough but you can't really argue with the news), in which the incident goes beyond the realm of sports penalties and into the very real and consequential world of civil penalties.
That's right, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) went ahead and released an arrest warrant for the young man as the referee was transported to a hospital in Meadow Lake in Northern Saskatchewan. While police officers were attempting to arrest the player on charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and breach of recognizance, doctors in Saskatoon were attempting to treat the referees broken nose and broken teeth. And while the RCMP tracked ever closer to finding the young man in order to face the consequences of his actions, the doctors working on the referee were finding something that would turn the whole story on its head.
While attempting to reconstruct the referee's face doctors found a brain tumor growing inside of his head. The referee issued a statement that he would like to speak to the player who cross-checked him in the face with a hockey stick, and then later dropped the charges altogether. He (the referee) maintains that the incident was actually a blessing as it allowed the brain tumor to be found. Now he can be treated for something that was putting his life in danger every day without him knowing it.
Helenocious always told me a parable about a Chinese man who had a series of events occur in his life, and each one turned out to be the exact opposite of what he thought it would be. For instance, he thought the terrible drought that killed all his crops was terrible, but it cause the invading armies to leave his village alone. He thought that was a blessing but it meant that his son had to go away to war, etc, etc. I always sort of got the story messed up in my head when I wasn't thinking about it and I always called it the story about the Chinese man in the straw sandals, and she never thought that I was listening, but I was. The message got through. It showed up again in an episode of Northern Exposure Sue Too was talking about one day, with Marilyn relating it as an old Native American tale, which I am sure it is. See, it's a pretty universal idea that translates easily from culture to culture: That whatever happens to come along isn't always what it appears on the surface. And I am not talking about that book you are reading or that car you want to buy, or that margarita machine you just HAD to have. I am talking about events and occurrences in life. You big promotion might lead you to be wealthier, happier, and with more time for your pottery-making. Or it might turn your hair grey and cause you a coronary at age 43. That tornado destroying your house while you were visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame might have seemed terrible but it turns out that house had black mold in every nook and cranny that would have killed you anyway.
So the moral of the story, for those of you who need a moral at the end of your stories, is that life is a little like going up to bat in a baseball game. Sure, you can go up there expecting a fastball when the count is 3-1, but then he throws a wicked changeup and you are way out in front. You just sort of have to take the pitches one at a time. See that it's a slider once he throws it and you can deal accordingly. Don't fall for it just because it looks like a fastball coming out of his hand. Have I lost you yet? I figured as much. Here's the deal: Just deal with things as they come, don't freak out, don't get too overly excited. Just take it as it comes for what it is. Accept it and move on. Because that's all you can do, that's all that time and life and karma will let you do is to handle it and move on. You never know what you might get from life. Just like the Canadian referee. Or the Chinese man in the straw sandals.