“A Good Thing Off a Bad Thing”

One of my all-time favorite bands is Black Sabbath. There is a great video from That Metal Show called “History of Metal, Vol. 1: Fingers Bloody Fingers” – it’s a play on a classic Sabbath album/song called “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” that relates a formative influence in guitarist Tony Iommi’s life:

History of Metal: Fingers Bloody Fingers


The video consists of Tony Iommi speaking about the life-changing incident in what sounds like a telephone interview, with some nice animation. I think it’s worth watching, but in a nutshell, Tony Iommi, a guitarist, lost the tips of two of his fretting hand fingers in an industrial accident. However, he persevered, learned how to play with prosthetic fingers that he initially made himself, with some adjustments in equipment – lighter, looser strings and lowered tuning made it easier to play, but also resulted in a new sound and ultimately a new genre of music – Black Sabbath are one of the innovators of what came to be known as Heavy Metal.

His last words in the clip are what jumped out at me early this year: “Really, it turned out to be a good thing off a bad thing.” I made it through the end of 2015 without getting sick, but on January 3, 2016, I could tell that I had caught something. By Tuesday I was lying on the couch with a headache and congestion. This was not how I planned to spend the first week of the New Year! I had hoped to hit the ground running, undertaking new projects, trying to get some areas of my life together better, but instead here I lay, out of action, exhausted and miserable.

I had actually already used this story of Tony Iommi “making a good thing off a bad thing” at our Shotsuki Memorial Service the previous Sunday. But once I started recovering, I found a connection between his words and my cold. As yucky as getting sick is, I also got better. There are some serious illnesses that people don’t recover from, but a cold lasts for only a little while and usually – hopefully – we get better. And this time, once again, I did. In addition to relief, I began to get a feeling of optimism and energy – I have my health, maybe I can take this opportunity once again to try and live up to my potential, to go beyond the usual sloth that often overtakes me.

So although I haven’t made any New Year’s Resolutions, I feel like maybe I will be able to run with this feeling of optimism and energy, facing the challenges of life head-on and creatively. Namo Amida Butsu!