Thursday, October 21, 2010


Great minds are lightening rods. You might love what they say, you might hate what they say, but it is hard to ignore what they say. The great Chassidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a profound and enigmatic thinker, was one such individual. Recently I have been thinking about one his sayings; “if you believe that you can destroy, believe that you can repair”. Like much of what he wrote, there are many layers in this short phrase.

At first glance, Rabbi Nachman seems to equate destroying and repairing. If so, he is saying that if you can do the former, you can just as easily do the latter. Personally this does not ring true. I find that it is far easier to destroy something than to repair it. Recently, in a film about the Yugoslavian civil war and its effect on the national basketball team, Vlade Divac said “It takes a lifetime to build a friendship and a moment to destroy it”. Fixing something that has been broken is difficult. Even now, two weeks from the NYC Marathon, more than two months removed from knee surgery, I struggle t get back to where I was as a runner. Even more challenging is the fact that the struggle is more mental than physical. I have no problem putting in the miles I need to improve. What I am struggling with is the mental willingness to push hard enough to get back to where I was. It seems that during my injury imposed layoff, I lost something; something I struggle to regain.

So what was Rabbi Nachman saying? I believe he was encouraging us to recognize the strength that we possess within. We have, he says, the ability to change things completely; to go from one extreme to the other. Just as we can take something that is working and functioning well and destroy it, we can do the reverse. We can reignite the broken relationship, repair the broken heart and recover the passion and commitment we once possessed. It is not easy, no where as easy as destroying. Still, the choice lies within.

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