Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Birthday Gift

By B. Stuart Noll
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With each keystroke comes another stream of feelings that I find myself unable to express, except to say how much I appreciate the relationship among us. The flow of energy that courses through all of us at the same time is only interrupted when we focus on ourselves.

I wanted each of you to know how much it meant to me to hear from you on my birthday. I was once one who thought birthday’s were just another 24 hour period in which some series of events took place never to occur again and in a hundred years who would care that these events ever happened at all? Well, I can honestly say “I would!”

Every blessing that came to me seemed to come at just the right time. It was incredible. Each wish came with a unique and almost simultaneous memory of a connection I have had with you at some time or another. It didn’t matter if it was my cousins in the Philly area who I haven’t seen for over 30 years or the “children” and friends I recently left behind in Virginia.

I used to wonder what it was like to be overwhelmed with joy. With each email of a new face book comment, I received that joyfully overwhelming feeling when I had flashbacks of infinitesimally short moments with family and friends; moments that were between us and only for that time, never to be experienced again except in our minds at times just like this. They came to me as if they were real and happening just as they did in the past, but they shot through me in milliseconds.

For all of you who know me well, I haven’t taken any of those mind altering drugs of old and I really do want to be able to explain this eerie yet totally fabulous experience of emotion to you, but with each attempt to do so I fail to recreate them with the same intensity and depth as when we experienced them together the first time.

I don’t know if this even makes any sense to you, I’ve always been a bit obscure and more than a bit abstract. Sorry! Maybe it’s just me getting older and softer. But this I know; I would not trade one of those memories – the first time or the second time around for any other treasure on the face of this planet.

I’ll never see birthdays the same way again. I can only hope that you too, will be become aware of the power of a simple act of kindness, or a thought of love, however faint you may think it is. Please know that just as surely as the swoosh of a butterfly’s wings can be felt around the world, a simple act of love, a word of encouragement or the even the most casual of “Happy Birthday’s,” can bring to mind a warm connection that moves us with the power of the universe.

Thank you all for making this a very, very powerful day of celebration for me. I will never forget it!



Something I Need To Fix

By B. Stuart Noll All Rights ReservedAdd to Technorati Favorites

I wrote this letter to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports in response to a request for questions or comments about an article he wrote about the death of Denver Broncos Kenny McKinley published on yahoo.

Hi Jason,

Thank you so much for this timely and necessary article. My sadness is that the end of a young man’s life is tied to its publishing.
Having followed you on Yahoo for many years I know you know the game and the business of this and other sports at many different levels. Having seen and covered events like this throughout your career with an up close and personal perspective must, at times, be difficult, especially when you are as familiar with the people as you may often be.

I was touched by this story in many ways; by its humanity, by its tragedy, and perhaps by its stark reality. I was moved to respond to you because of a comment in your article. Of all people, the comment made by Ricky Williams hit home when he said, ‘It’s not external, it’s me. There’s something I need to fix.’

My purpose is simply to highlight the need for “coaching” at a much younger age! I’m not referring to the “X’s and O’s,” I’m referring to the kind of life experience coaching and mentoring that our culture has chosen to overlook and avoid in favor of a false sense of security in the material world. As your article points out, this is not an isolated incident and there is a plethora of help available. Thank goodness there are some ears who are hearing and there is some help available. But would more Mr. McKinley’s and others like him be alive today and would the Mr. Robbins’ of our world be more productive on the other side of the prison walls if we made a significant effort to sell the acceptance of each other as humans and less as exploited products to be used, sold and discarded when the value of our seemingly identifiable talent begins to diminish?

Is this a pie in the sky thinking, an unrealistic perspective? Perhaps, but I choose to believe it’s possible and probable, when we begin to tire of the senseless loss of life not only in how we view the games we play but how we choose the life we live. I believe we must decide to see each other exactly as we are – human, and nothing more. Harvard Professor Tal Ben Shahar, PHD a professor of positive psychology suggests that one of the elements to happiness is giving ourselves and each other the “permission to be human.” It’s a permission to live and be happy based on unconditional acceptance of exactly what we are and not some external image propagated by those who wish something else for us.

I express my condolences to Kenny McKinley’s family and the scores of families who lives have been marred similarly. Recovery and healing is possible, if that is what we choose. I hope that this tragic event, as well as all of the other told and untold events, will bring us to a new light, a new era, one in which we realize that we are simply human, and as such, as frail as we are strong.

I enjoy the game of football, as I do all sport. As an ex jock, an Al Bundy type of long ago, and a man interested in the development of the human spirit, I want to see the game - and life - go on. But, if I had the choice (and we all do) between this magnificent game and becoming the change I want to see – as Mahatma Ghandi put it, I, like Ricky Williams, know “there’s something I need to fix.”

I hope Jason that you will continue to use your forum to be a positive influence on the young men and women of sport and to help them see within themselves an identity more valuable than "athlete."

Bruce S. Noll