“Pain Equals Wisdom”

I’ve always been told that the only thing we can really control in life is our reaction to a given situation. When a tough time slaps you across the face…how will you react? No one has a problem figuring out their reaction to a positive or good circumstance. Instead, it’s the moments you’re never ready for that test your REAL strength, character, or conviction. And make no mistake about it; life will suck every once in a while.

I read a sad, shocking, and somewhat unbelievable (in this day and age) story about a young man named John C. Odom. Odom was a right-handed minor league prospect in the San Francisco Giants farm system. He wasn’t classified as a rising star, playing only single A ball as a 44th round draft pick. Other major league players on their way UP the ladder played with him for small doses of time, making warm comments about his attitude, personality, and easy-going nature.

I doubt anyone would have known the name John C. Odom if he hadn’t been traded to the Laredo Broncos of the United League (a.k.a. Busch League) for 10 baseball bats! At an estimated value of $665.00, the Calgary Vipers received ten C243 Prarie Sticks, double-dipped and 34 inches in length. They weren’t even Louisville or Mizuno. Mr Odom was sent 3,000 miles to Laredo, TX from Calgary, AB in a trade that sounds as if it came from the 1920’s depression era.

How in the world do you deal with that? Odom embraced the 15 minutes of fame just long enough to pitch a few games. As he marched to the field like Adam West while “Batman” played, the young righty smiled and laughed about the trade every other minor-leaguer thanked his lucky stars he wasn’t a part of. Not long after, he told his coach he was done. He quit.

I’ve been talking about John Odom in past tense because he’s dead now. With a previous alcohol addiction, heroin soon followed, claiming his life in a drug/alcohol overdose last November. Players and coaches agree, “the trade” played a large role in his downward spiral. A pathetic end to a pathetic trade. The bats were never even used. Ripley’s purchased them for $10,000 and the money went to children’s charity. During the autopsy, medical examiners noticed a lengthy scar on the inside elbow of John C. Odom. Above his Tommy John incision read the Latin phrase, “poena par sapientia” which translates, “pain equals wisdom“. Ironic.

In a time of uncertainty and chaos in many parts of the country (and in many industries), I hope people are reacting as best they can. I guess we all wish for wisdom from our past pain. While so many people live their lives as actors instead of directors, no one can be fully prepared for what might happen next. One thing we can all work towards though is ensuring a move in a positive direction when those terrible times come our way.