Dr. Debra Arko
Dr. Deb is a Virtual Healthy Living Coach. She loves all thing web seeing the great potential it holds for people. She started online when she wanted a website with an easy to update newsletter, no one could deliver it – so she learned web design herself. That was eons ago in ‘internet’ years. She secretly tells close ‘readers’ she enjoys writing and 'creative web stuff' as much as hanging out with her dog, Trinity.
An avid author, speaker, and mentor she writes for numerous magazines, blogs, works with startups or businesses to help their teams enhance health, career, relationships, activity, and spiritual mindfulness.
When not at her computer she works with patients in her medical center, Accent On Health Wellness Center providing acupuncture and natural medicine. She and her husband are empty nesters who love traveling, running, and hiking with friends.
The Killing of Frogs
I love science, but not that day. I looked at the instructor determined and he looked at me indignantly. My solution, someone else murders my frog. It didn’t make sense, the frog hadn’t done anything to me. I was stubborn. He hadn’t made a good case as to why we all had to kill the frogs. Why should I impale his tiny brain and then slice him open to see his beating heart? Why did all the frogs have to die? Could one live?
I like power, let’s admit it, we all do. However, this was about control. Taking the frogs’ life was a power everyone in class had. Forcing someone to do it is control. To pass the dissection exam, my Froggy must die. It was a struggle for human differences and acceptance. I was different from most students and not well accepted for that difference.
Mr. Instructor was the football coach. Students looked up to him. They mimicked what he did in the classroom in the hallways or in their personal lives. Besides science, he subtly taught bullying 101. He favored jocks and that wasn’t me. I wasn’t even a pom-pom girl. He liked geeks for their smart minds, but I didn’t fit that bill either. No, I was an ‘in-between kid’, an ‘unrecognized nerd’ of sorts.
I was the kind of kid everyone knows, even the popular ones. Smart too, I just didn’t apply my potential like many young adults. I didn’t want to stand out. It was easier to be an ‘in-between’ than to choose who I was. It’s a state of fear of being wrong, or worse, right. Then you must defend your position, like now. For Froggy, I was standing up right or wrong. I had opened my big mouth about killing helpless frogs.
Mr. Instructor marched angrily to the back of the room where students like me are sent on the first day of fall class.
Glaring a bully glare while the pretty girls with too much makeup giggled and the leather-jacketed boys all turned in their chairs for the amusement, Mr. Instructor, said, “The frog won’t feel a thing. You just poke him in the brain. Then take and pin him to your work board belly up so you can slice him open.”
I glared back. “Danny said he would do that part for me. I’ll then tell you the steps, and explain what each organ is. Why does it matter who kills the frog?,” I said, hoping he’d buy my solution.
Rolling his eyes, he knew I had already visited the school dean, he was to ‘let me’ try my solution. I knew it would change my grade from failing to passing.
Danny smiled at me weakly, his eyes saying silently, “Do you really want to push this?” He was the official class nerd and my best friend. Taking the needle, he deftly pushed through Froggy’s delicate brain, then carefully pinned him to the bench for me. As Danny sliced the frog open, I expertly narrated the dissection as I took my tiny pointer and showed the frog’s beating heart and lungs pumping away as his helpless body lay open. On to other organs and sinews I went, in the end, rung in sweat from all the glaring eyes.
Now Mr. Instructor made a humphing sound as he took my corkboard away, with Froggy still attached. He tossed it nonchalantly into the trash. Danny looked at me almost apologetically and I looked down at my hands as I sat heavily into my chair.
Danny and I both knew I had passed, even if in the end I barely made it. After all, I was perfect in my presentation of the anatomy and physiology of frogs that day. The lesson for me wasn’t about science; it was about power, control, and bullies.
How often had I been Froggy, feeling helpless or powerless? That day I learned, we all have choices, especially the decision to allow others to control us. We don’t have to permit others to rule our lives, yet we often do. Some will gently place our power back into our hands; others will weld it high above our heads.
My discovery is one we all secretly know: we own our lives. We make the decisions, and too often most of us choose to hand over control to another person.
Both in our careers and personal lives we become the ‘in-between person’, afraid to stand up and live our potential. We don’t want to make waves, or offer an alternative solution. We must if we are to grow personally and collectively as human beings.
In Asian medicine, we cultivate both yin and yang within ourselves. It’s not a health thing, it’s a healthy thing. We can stand in the middle of life, but we can’t ignore living. Being ‘in-between’ is not the same as the middle.
In the middle, I own myself, able to be a balance of Yang action tempered with the reflective nature of Yin. These elements are the foundation of the profession that allows me to be creative. It is the place that our minds are able to find solutions or alternatives. This is the place we can see a higher vision and have the ability to act upon it.
I didn’t discern until later this lesson of power versus control. The action of Yang [power] and Yin [control] in the things we do and don’t do. It’s something we grow into at our own pace. Many of us begin as ‘in-between kids’ thinking it’s the middle. I did.
I get it. Froggy had to die that day in the name of science. His life discarded callously. I made a stand, owned my own choice in the killing of frogs. I moved a little closer to the middle.