It's a cruel, cruel summer/ Leaving me here on my own/ It's a cruel, cruel summer/Now you're gone… Bananarama

 
Jeanie Noble at the newspaper uttered words which ultimately and profoundly affected me, though I had no idea the impact it would wield until much after her having said them. She told me one day around the Times-Voice, “You really need to watch the show on Netflix called Cobra Kai.” 
 
I took her counsel. I binge-watched the first three years worth of episodes. 
 
It was not my intent to watch all three-years of episodes in roughly three sittings. I thought I would give it a friendly, nostalgic, side-hug and bow-out as it became too corny, too formulaic, and too much of a rehashing of already plowed ground. 
 
The gang was all there in the Netflix releases. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and Ali Mills, or Ali with an I (Elizabeth Shue), all reprised their rolls. 
 
They were all over thirty-years older. They were still, basically, the same people; just much less tread left on the tire.
 
The Netflix series is faithful to its theatrical franchise, “The Karate Kid (1984),” “The Karate Kid II (1986),” and “The Karate Kid III (1989).” It’s a time portal which transported me back again to when I was 16, 18, and 20-years old. 
 
Those were my ages when the three feature-length motion pictures were shown in what we called, in the 80’s, movie- theaters. I realize many of you have no idea what a movie-theater is, but I won’t go into that now. I may save that for another day. 
 
The series transported me back to an age I remember as being simpler and better. I am aware the simplicity and superiority may come from the rosy and nostalgic hue through which we often view memories. 
 
This new story in the Netflix series tells a tale of vantage-point. It is a both a chronicle of and opportunity for redemption. It is a tribute to life-long journeys and the destinations reached.
 
In the movie franchise, Daniel LaRusso, the late (fictionally and literally) Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) and the “good guys” seem both “mostly right” and “nearly always heroic.” The franchise bad guys, like Johnny Lawrence, Chozen, and John Kreese are deliciously bad and easily despised.
 
The character development in the Netflix series is complicated. We learn guys like Johnny Lawrence and Chozen have come from situations which, while loosely alluded to “back in the day,” were largely concealed. 
 
We learn, in the series, the “bad guys” or “villains” really aren’t all-bad. In fact, they have view-points worth studying, they have stories worth hearing. Even Kreese, who is still pretty bad in the new series, has circumstances explaining his evolution into the man we want desperately to hate, but battle, from time to time, with understanding; even if we can’t bring ourselves to like him.
 
So there I am, watching season three of Netflix’sCobra Kai, with tears streaming down my face. Why on earth? 
 
The scene which elicited this particular editorial occurred at the Encino Oaks Country Club. This was the location of very traumatic events for the good guy in The Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso. 
 
This time, many years later, it is a society which has now embraced Daniel LaRusso. Johnny Lawrence is the outsider. Ali Mills is the guest. It is now LaRusso’s home turf; he’s the member.
 
Daniel is leaving the country club where Ali has just suggested to two long-time nemeses that the two men, Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, are too much alike. It is their similarities which form the foundation of the dislike and distrust they have for the other. Their problems may be with themselves. 
 
Famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung claimed, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” German novelist, Hermann Hesse, wrote, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”
 
That is why I was crying. I am Johnny Lawrence. I am Daniel LaRusso. I am Ali with an I. I may be a little like John Kreese, though I hope not.
 
Like them, I have done horrible things. I have done some good.  
 
I have very few friends remaining from my formative years. I have very few friends, period.
 
Unlike these three flawed but mostly good characters, I have, thus far, been denied the opportunity to face people I wronged to either apologize or maybe let them know from where I was coming. I haven’t been afforded many opportunities (or perhaps I just haven’t taken them) to apologize. 
 
If you are from my past, and I have wronged you, accept this as my apology. Know that I am truly sorry. I wish I had a do-over. I don’t.
 
I would appreciate the privilege of offering some explanation behind some of these wrongs, none of which excuses any of it, but some of which may explain the place from whence these wrongs sprung. It’s neither an excuse nor rationalization; but events don’t happen in a bubble. There are influences which formulate both what we do or forebear doing. 
 
I would love an opportunity to right some wrongs. I would love to be liked; but failing the possibility of that, I would at least love being understood.
 
Ali Mills tells LaRusso at the country club in the Netflix series words to the effect of we were very young and that she will remember the good from those earlier times. I would appreciate the same pass. I am willing to extend it to others.
 
As Mills tells Lawrence a few beats after the scene with LaRusso, “sometimes its good to visit the past, to know where you are now. But you can’t live in the past.” “We have to live for today,” Lawerence responds, finishing her thought. Mills, returning the favor, says, “and the future, whatever that might bring.”
 
Perhaps, I was crying because my past dogs my every step. My past remains thinly concealed within the folds of my shadows, growing ever longer as my sun sets. My past has been tightly woven through the fabric of my reflections. 
 
It has haunted me for years. It haunts me still. Though omnipresently there, I shouldn’t allow it to determine my future; neither should any of you.
 
You can take this for whatever you find it worth, but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!
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