Friday, April 22, 2011
I have realized the universe will usually prove me right. This is a great paradigm I awakened to but only after realizing that it works in two ways. For many years I would exclaim, “My life sucks!” It would prove me right. “I am going nowhere!” It would prove me right. “The world is full of evil people.” It would prove me right. “I am never going to get out of this (insert challenging circumstance)!” It would prove me right.
It is our focus that often binds us to our perceived insurmountable obstacles. Our self-victimization that we are being caught in the crosshairs of a malicious God or universe–that our purpose must be one of suffering.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Pain is the circumstances life bestows upon us to strengthen us, challenge us, bind us, and perhaps reconnect us to our faith. It nudges our rudder to keep our lives fresh and vibrant–although often not of our liking or choosing, inevitable none-the-less. The most righteous, rehearsed, learned, and cautious will succumb to the inevitable brush with pain. Yes it hurts, but for how long will we allow it to remain?
Suffering however is where we continue to remind ourselves that we still should be hurting. We writhe in the familiar only because we bring it along like a carry-on bag in our life’s voyage. This can occur with people who have encountered great obstacles: addiction, divorce, loss, disease. For some reason the obstacle becomes the "identity." We drop our anchor in yesterday retarding our ability to sail again. There is a difference between fear and respect. Fear paralyzes one into inactivity. Respect empowers one into seeking new paths. Respect your painful experiences, don’t fear them.
Nowadays I dedicate myself to trying to remain aware of my CHOICE of FOCUS. I have found the simple key has been in my pocket all along. I decided to stop screaming through the bars, screaming in my pillow, screaming in the mirror and simply decide to rearrange what I focused on in my recovery from any challenging situation.
Like many men, for many years I had to have my keys in my pocket, remote in hand, and know where I was going. Now I enjoy the journey knowing in advance I will eventually arrive where I should. I realize too that there are certain things I no longer need my remote for. And if you need a key, extend your hands through the bars and you can have one of mine.
Monday, April 11, 2011
The evening sun was lowering over the baseball diamond where my son and a collection of other young hopefuls were enjoying the first practice of the season. They scrambled about after the ball similar to the action you see when you throw a handful of corn to chickens. To many of them it was yet another step toward their image appearing on a box of Wheaties, to others–a great way to spend time with friends and family.
A handful of the parents sat on the aluminum bleachers. Introductions were extended as were idle pleasantries.
“That my son, the one with the blue shirt, grey shorts.”
“Great! Mine is the one with the yellow shirt and baseball pants.”
A smile of acknowledgment and then a reflective pause.
The conversations ensued around me.
“So, what do you do?”
“I am an XYZ from OSU with a PHD and an MBR and MNY from BYU...”
“That’s fantastic! I am an alum of OU with an MBA and a DNA from PU as well as a JKL from MNOP.”
Intelligent laughter bonded the two.
I put in my iPod headphones.
In my mind it went-
“So what do you do Tony?”
“I invented space travel, post-it notes, human reproduction, milk shakes, and a cure for cancer!”
The laughter further crushing, making me even doubt my sandwich making prowess.
I left as they discussed their achievements. They were not bragging, just bonding and sharing. I walked the circumference of the park. I enjoyed the reflection, the balmy wind, and the sunset. I felt a bit small at the moment. Here I was in mid-life with nothing going on, no business card, feeling as worthless as a breast augmentation coupon to a nun.
I wrestle with where I am at times. I believe I have noble intentions. I do want to make a difference, but am I? Should I just say “screw it” and take the first job that offers a check, forget my dreams of helping others and be able to at least feel like a contributor? It’s coming way to slow for me.
I am well aware that often rewards are found only a few paces beyond where the mediocre give up. I need to practice what I preach. I have always said that my greatest fear is not my inability to practice what I preach, but my inability to become aware when I am not doing so.
Each bench had its own placard at its base– a small metal plaque with the name or names of those who were to be honored or remembered upon initial glance and reflection. I wondered, “Will I ever be worthy of a park bench plaque? What does it take? Will I be easily forgotten? Do I matter?”
I continued and saw each bench and many trees had a placard with yet another name or two. They must have been special people. I guess I realized that I did not need to know them or their achievements to appreciate their time before me. “Good for you,” I thought.
I reflected upon the “alphabet soup” I listened to earlier. “Good for them,” I thought. They should be proud, and so should I. I refuse to compare who I am, where I am going, and the depth of the contribution I share on this planet by comparing myself to others of dissimilar paths.
I am a healer, coach, mentor, father, husband, and swell guy.
Earlier that day as I was having brunch with my folks, I received a random text. It was from a young lady I had spoken with about a year ago pertaining to certain challenges she faced that were harming her mentally, physically, and causing her family distress. She thanked me stating I “saved her life” in the first few months of her battle.
I took my son to fly his first kite later that day watching his eyes light up as he held the power of flight in his hands.
I saved lives, encouraged lives, and enriched lives in one afternoon.
I don’t know what “alphabet soup” would encompass that. I do not know how I could put that on a business card. I doubt I will be issued a W-2 this year for my accomplishments. I don’t care as I do not need letters, papers, or a business card to feel like I “matter.” I will figure out how to make this financially viable someday. I feel I am still on the right path.