Principal’s Eye View

Ira Pernick
2 min readFeb 4, 2022


I’ve had a lyric from a song stuck in my head for the last week or two and I can’t shake it. Has this ever happened to you? It’s always the same routine for me…a song that is a deep cut — from the B side of a favorite album (yes, I know there are many out there who aren’t familiar with deep cuts, or B Sides or albums…just hang in for now). Anyway, there’s this one lyric that has this vivid imagery that I can’t shake.

The song by Elvis Costello “Shot With His Own Gun” contains a lyric about a woman who got it by “an emotional ricochet”. The idea of the emotional ricochet is so powerful and takes me immediately to so much of what I see everyday. In the rawness of our everyday so many of us walk around emotionally and the triggers are everywhere. It’s likely that we all get hit, periodically, with an emotional ricochet and, maybe more importantly, we hit others with our own ricochets.

The ricochet has no target, any who get hit are really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. When we arrive home after a difficult day at work, in the rain, in traffic we are primed, often, for an emotional outburst. Sometimes it’s at our significant other, sometimes our kids, sometimes our pets. They are all being hit by the ricochet unless we can find some other appropriate release.

Schools are full of these ricochets. There are a lot of people in a compressed space and most of them are teenagers full of emotion. Walking down the halls listening to the snippets of conversation I can almost see the ricochets bounce off the walls looking for unsuspecting targets. I have been on the receiving end before. Talking calmly to students after being struck you can see, and hear, the sadness knowing they accidentally hit someone else.

I am not sure there’s a solution built in here and I really just wanted to share the lyric and hope that others deal with the same curiousness of these songs appearing in our brains…this song is from 1981!

I do think, however, we can learn about mindfulness. Not the practice of mindfulness, although that can’t hurt, but the awareness that comes from being mindful of our feelings, of our actions, of who is around us and vulnerable. Standing at the airport angry about the delay of your flight, or about the weather, or about the lack of communication from the airline makes it easy to be angry. Yelling at the employees expressing your frustration around 100 or so other people, firing off your emotional weaponry leaves many people exposed to the ricochets. A deep breath and a look around the room may help change some choices if only to reduce the fear of those innocents around you.

For now I’m going to try to move to another song to repeat in my head over and over. Suggestions welcome…