Killing Giants Pulling Thorns

“The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though
we talk about them as if they do.”

– Wayne Dyer

Safety rides in the crowd. Strength flows in numbers. But when all is stripped away, we are who we are at our core when we are alone. It is in these times, these cycling vacuums of solitude that we are subjected to the raw side of life. It is in these moments that we fall prey to the thundering voices of GIANTS and the relentless persistence of THORNS.


Giants traffic in fear tactics. They intimidate and threaten. They bully. Stalking from a distance, they silently scream directly at us from across the valley and send us cowering behind the cover of rocks and into the seclusion of caves.

Unwelcome intruders, though they may be, they defiantly proclaim themselves as king of our mental battlefield and display the insurmountable strength to rip asunder our emotional tapestry. Just when we feel we have everything under control and have tied down the last loose end, they storm over the horizon and run roughshod over our confidence without warning.

Giants are cloaked in many garments. Their shadow can be cast by the mailbox that most certainly contains correspondence we dread, by the ringing phone that signals another harassing call, or the knock at the door we prayed would never come.

Giants live as skeletons that we desperately strive to keep locked tightly away in closets. They are stains in our character from earlier years, irrelevant now; but blemishes we prefer to keep hidden nonetheless. Giants wrap themselves around us with the skill of the most deadly constrictor choking life from us as we fall victim yet again to our one controlling habit that seemingly cannot be broken.

Giants feed on fear and anxiety. They serve up heavy doses of “What if?” with regularity. They march boldly, daring us to stand against their power and might. They are brazen, chest-thumping thugs!


Thorns live within us. They pierced tender skin at some point in the past and, rather than pulling the thorn and allowing it to heal, we coddled it until the festering wound eventually calloused over. Their poison is trapped beneath the surface and eats at us in the silence of the night. We run and hide from giants. But thorns… thorns we hold close, finding a strange comfort in clinging to the pain.

Thorns embody the overwhelming grief of a lost loved one or bitterness borne from the memory of a painful break up. Thorns take the form of a deep-seeded anger that was originally birthed by our resentment of having been taken advantage of and used by someone we trusted. Thorns personify the loneliness that comes with recurring feelings that, for some reason, we just don’t fit in. They cause us to weep bitterly over the anguish of having failed someone who we cared deeply about, when they needed us most.

The strange thing about thorns is the vivid perception of anxiety, which serves to paint a picture of distress that will flood to the open wound immediately upon removal. Lodged against a nerve initially, we’ve sheltered it long enough for the callous to form, for the sharp sting to deaden to a numbing throb. We’ve learned to live with the thorn and in some cases it has become a badge of honor or cross to bear.


They were fast. They were strong. They functioned as a finely tuned machine running wide-open at all times. In tournament play, they had not been beaten in sixteen years. SIXTEEN YEARS! They were the Soviet Ice Hockey team.

From 1964 to 1980, they emerged with top honors in every world tournament. In exhibitions against highly regarded teams from the National Hockey League, they had a winning record even though every game was played on NHL ice. When the puck dropped, they were nearly unbeatable.

Lake Placid, New York, played host to the 1980 Winter Olympics and the United States boasted their best Olympic Hockey team in years. Yet in a string of exhibitions against the Soviet Red Army, the USA was soundly defeated and at times, embarrassed.

On February 22, 1980, Herb Brooks walked into the locker room and addressed his young team just before they took the ice for a semi-final match against the team that was deemed invincible.

“Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight.

One game. If we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not THIS game. NOT TONIGHT. Tonight we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can.

Tonight we are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you.  And, you were meant to be here tonight.

This is your time. Their time is done. It’s over. I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw them. This is your time. Now, go out there and take it.”

The tiny hockey arena only held 8,500 people, but you wouldn’t have known that by the thunderous cheers as Al Michaels counted down the final seconds and crowned the astonishing victory over the Soviets with the phrase, Do you believe in miracles?

Bedlam reigned. Americans celebrated in living rooms from coast to coast. Cars pulled off the road nationwide, as drivers stood beside their vehicle honking horns in spontaneous celebration. It was an unforgettable moment of ecstatic delight.

Coach Brooks didn’t celebrate. He didn’t jump into anyone’s waiting arms. There were no joyous outbursts or high-fives. He simply left the ice, made his way back to the locker room, and scribbled one word on the chalkboard prior to leaving…

Chalkboard FINLAND

While the victory over the Soviets was momentous, it only provided the young USA team an opportunity to play for the Gold Medal. There was still a giant left to slay. Finland stood between the team and the prize they had collectively worked so hard to achieve. FINLAND.

* * * * * * * *

GIANTS source their strength in our willingness to submit to their bullying nature. THORNS fester because we hold them tightly, refusing to let them go. They convince us that they should take up permanent residence in our emotions. Both Giants and Thorns rely on us. They count on us to play our part, and to excel in our role.

They aren’t crushed with one resounding effort. They can only be defeated moment by moment. String some small victories together and the battles become less frequent, but Giants and Thorns will still come calling.

Giants, they’re not vanquished forever. Thorns, they don’t heal without leaving scars. With Giants and Thorns, victory comes in realizing that they are of our own making; which means they are also ultimately at our mercy.

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