Monday, March 21, 2011

What I've Learned

By B. Stuart Noll All Rights Reserved
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How many times have you been told, "you have a choice?" I ask you now, how did you respond? There have been so many times that I felt like I had no choice, that I was trapped in the place where there was only one way out and as terrible as that way out was, it was the only one that remained; the only one!

As I look back on this type of thinking I realize the worst part wasn't the feeling I felt. The worst part was inadvertently choosing to spend the only energy I had believing something that was absolutely ridiculous. My "choice," or lack of awareness of "choices" caused depression, sadness, lethargy and a rage associated with being trapped like a wounded animal with no way out except fight or flight. Worse yet, not only would I never regain the time I spent in that depression, I was unknowingly choosing to develop a neural pathway for thinking the same thing or types of things over and over again!

If I had had the awareness to see the consequence of choosing possible alternatives, I would have saved so much energy, stress, struggle, pain, unhappiness and discord, not to mention the irreplaceable resource of time. I had, quite frankly, lied to myself - and believed it! Who would have thought that so much adversity could emanate from one thought or one seemingly innocent series of thoughts. It was never my intention to hurt myself or others yet that was, in some cases, the outcome of not guarding my thoughts or my way of thinking. Is that true for you as well?

This brief article is not intended to be all doom and gloom. My intention is simply to emphasize the critical nature of being aware not only of what we think, but our thinking processes as well. I encourage all of us to be cognizant of what we are thinking and choosing as well as how we are thinking and choosing as I believe it has been proven they both have a profound impact, not only on our own lives but, on the lives of all those with whom we come into contact. We are connected!

I ask you not to take my word for it. I ask you to seek and discover for yourselves the ramifications of your thoughts. Has your way of thinking served you well? Are you content with the outcomes of your thoughts? Is what you are telling yourself in your idle chatter true? Examine your thoughts to know if what you believe causes you to make choices that contribute to what you want or if what you think is actually an impediment to your own happiness. It was for me.

Life is a fabulous journey, a voyage through charted territory that we have somehow forgotten. There is a destination to which we are desperately trying to return. The sea upon which we travel is vast, adventurous and largely unknown. The fragile vessel which carries us through this limited time of exploration is steered by our thoughts; the rudder of our direction. With all of this there is something else that no other creature on earth possesses. Of course, this is the power of choice!

It is my conclusion that our level of consciousness - our ability to carefully weigh, consider and examine the thoughts and thinking that feed our choices, is a force sufficiently powerful to demand our attention. Why? Because left unattended, our conditioning or subconscious thought becomes the power behind the rudder. We can be the captain of our fates, here anyway. It is of our choosing. I hope that after reading this short piece you will, at least, consider that you do have choices, often many more than originally apparent, and with some conscious thought you can guide your ship to the port you call home! Bon Voyage!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You Lost Me

By B. Stuart Noll All Rights Reserved

I believe making statements publicly adds a little power to the statement; so here goes. Sit down my friends!

"Because the NFL owners and NFL players have decided to publicize their inability to agree on the abundance they already possess, I have decided to take a stand! After 50 plus years of devoting a portion of my avocational life to sport, especially identifying with the Philadelphia Eagles as a Pro Football Fan, I am cutting all ties with the NFL. For a Birds fan that's like cutting out his/her liver!

From this moment forward I won't go to their games, won't watch them on TV, won't buy or wear their jerseys, hats or memorabilia, or even support their causes because they just don't get it! They have what they have because they made what they do attractive to the masses. Well, it's time to send them to mass! They need to know one person thinks their selfishness has gone too far! I'm grateful, however, because now my time will go to those who are really in need!!! Signed - you lost me!!!"

I wrote the statement above several days ago, well after the earthquake in Japan spiraled into a very difficult situation. The havoc there hasn't caused the people of Japan to give up, they seem to be coming together. Simply remarkable! Out of catastrophe they look beyond their circumstances and stand together - whatever the foe! I cannot even begin to restate the incredible series of events that cause me to well up with emotion and positive feelings and a sense of belonging as a result of observing their mettle. Dire circumstances? Yes! Finger pointing, blame and a sense of entitlement? No! Just marching on to the next part of living, finding a way around the obstacle and doing it together for the betterment of all concerned. Giving of themselves - and this isn't the first time they have had to recover from devastation!

So, that brings me back to my statement above about the NFL - and now, the reasoning behind it! Sports were my life. In high school, in college, on the streets of Philadelphia and everywhere I've lived over the last fifty years. I identified with it. It was ingrained in me, as it is with most true Philadelphia sports fans! This isn't the first time the fans of professional sports in America have been subjected to a "work stoppage." (A rather ridiculous name for a "labor dispute" over "a game" people supposedly love to play, don't you think?)

I will admit up front that I may not be smart enough to understand all of the complexities and legalities of modern day professional football, or professional sport for that matter, but I know how I feel about the growing perception of greed attached to a game I considered a part of me and this recent disagreement between the owners of NFL "franchises" (another rather spurious name for NFL teams) and the NFLPA or players themselves. In my humble opinion, it is the straw that broke the camels back (and perhaps, though unintended the backs of many common working men and women whose hearts and minds are anatomically and spiritually attached to their favorite teams as well.)

The root of my statement is however, even deeper than that. In view of recent economic events I have come to the conclusion that the ever widening gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" has become a chasm more of consciousness than of conscience.

Yahoo sports writer Michael Silver recently characterized the owners as like an "Eastern Bloc Party," analogous to the communist practice of the caste type system that existed prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall where superior athletes were treated better than most but still quite separate from the Politburo it served. Thanks, Michael! That cracked me up! But it saddens me that the economic struggle and plight of much of the world's working class is overshadowed by pure, unadulterated greed and self absorbed egomania, not only by the NFL but by much of Corporate America as well.

Labor is not without culpability and that includes me! I can't blame them for allowing myself to be duped into believing that gaining stuff was more important than gaining wisdom and living within my means. That is not their fault, it's mine!

Granted, this is only my opinion and it, plus $.50 cents won't buy a decent cup of coffee, but I simply have had enough and therefore I have decided to take action. (And obviously to express the action I'm taking) And the reason? Hopefully to send the message that we do not have to live like this - divisively! Irrespective of the obstacles of life, we can, like the Japanese and many Americans in other notable situations , learn how to come together for the higher good of all concerned and share the resources we have left to enjoy a life of noble character.

You don't have to agree with me. It's just my opinion. So, to the owners and athletes who once garnered my childlike respect, admiration and ultimate fan allegiance; and to the game which has fascinated my imagination from the time I saw my first game at Franklin Field to the first Super Bowl and through all of the changes to date, I say sadly, goodbye - you lost me!
Not a threat - just a conscious choice to invest my time, effort and money more meaningfully!