A Man Of Faith


I am listening to Leonard Bernstein conduct Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes): Hoe-Down. Allegro with my eyes closed and my head tilted back. Won’t be long before Bernstein and company move into Fanfare For The Common Man and I let the music drive my thoughts.

Sometimes the best way for me to write is to shut off active thought and let the feelings that come with these moments wash over me and then take quill and pen to place them upon the page.

Today we are focused upon becoming a Man of Faith.

That is not a religious reference nor am I inclined to dedicate any space today to that line of thought. Maybe it is because I am mentally exhausted and emotionally drained or maybe it is just because I don’t see anything that interests me there…today.

Instead I am focused on reminding myself that sometimes I need to be a bigger believer in myself. It is sort of funny because those who know me are unlikely to describe me as anything less than confident and some might even say arrogant.

But we all have moments where we feel like we have fallen short of the mark we have set for ourselves.

A Man Of Faith

That picture above reminds me of days past when I was on the swim team and felt like I could swim forever. Hours of training combined with a desire to prove myself to me pushed me to test my limits.

There were days when I would hit the beach and swim through the waves straight out into the sea and not stop until the land looked far away.

Moments in the gym when I would look at stacks of weight and wonder if today was the day when I would curl and bench my weight. Wonder if today was the day when I could lift the side of the building up and create my own exit.

The silly thing is I always believed I could, all I needed was to find an appropriate grip for my hands.

But it wasn’t just the physical world that I looked at. I looked at school projects, class assignments and philosophy and believed there was nothing beyond my ability.

All I needed was time to focus upon whatever it was and I would figure it out.

Somewhere along the line life, circumstances and experiences took some of the fire out of my belly. Somewhere along the way I began to question whether I was overreaching and thought perhaps youthful naivete made me think more was possible than reality could provide.

Friends and family died from terminal illnesses. People divorced. Hearts were broken more than once and a harder edge than had ever existed became a part of me.

The Shiva Call

Last night I made a Shiva call. I went to visit a friend who buried his father last week and after the service was done we sat down and talked about life.

He and I had been very close in college but life intervened and he moved far away and so we lost touch. But last night as we sat there talking we shared memories and laughed.

I listened as he told me stories about his father and when he asked what was going on in my life I gave him an abridged but very honest answer. I told him about the challenges of middle school and said I wondered if I was giving my son good advice.

When I said it was easier when we were kids he laughed and said it was because we didn’t fear making mistakes the way parents do and something clicked inside my head.

Suddenly the forges inside my belly fired back up and I started thinking about who I was, who I am and who I intend on becoming.

I felt a mix of gratitude and embarrassment because in the midst of his grief he gave me a bigger gift than he knew. Maybe it was intentional, maybe it was coincidence but it gave me a momentary lift and that was enough.

Enough to remind me that sometimes we need to be people of faith in ourselves and our abilities.

I have a perfect record of overcoming every bad day I have had and while I can’t say I have never failed or fallen I have always gotten back up.

Look hard at the picture and you’ll see me swimming in the distance. Might even see me wrestling with a squid or fighting a great white shark. Feel sorry for those creatures, because Old Jack Steiner doesn’t ever quit.

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  1. Lewis LaLanne - NoteTakingNerd November 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    It’s always nice to when people remind us of what Einstein said; “Our thinking creates problems that that same way of thinking can’t solve.”

    Another way to put it is that you can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created the problem.

    Conversational Magic, is the name of seminar hosted by a man I am fond of, Robert Dilts. The philosophy that Robert favors when it comes to the topic of influencing belief change is that when it works best, it done conversationally and that it has to do with finding a way of thinking that is different than the thinking that created the problem.

    In “The Structure of Magic” Bandler and Grinder pointed out that, “One of the paradoxes of psychotherapy is that you have all of these very different psychotherapeutic approaches, some of them contradictory to each other, but the paradox is that they ALL work for some people.”

    How is that possible?

    They pointed out that if you look deeper, that when an approach works, regardless of which method it is and who it was for, when it does work what happens is that this person’s model of the world is enriched. They now see more possibilities.

    Think about Einstein’s statement above and now think about how one therapeutic approach could be very similar to how someone already thinks which is just more of what created the problem and how when a person goes to someone who introduces them to a whole different way of seeing their situation, this therapy works for that person.

    Milton Erickson, the man who legitimized medical hypnosis, understood this at some level which is why he didn’t try to ram one A-B-C approach down everyone’s throat.

    His primary question must have been something like, “What’s the way of thinking that is different than the thinking that is creating the problem and how can I bring that way of thinking to life inside of this client?”

    A study was done on 100 cancer patients who’d been given a terminal diagnosis and yet 10 years, 15 years later they were alive and healthy.

    The question the study sought to answer was, “What’s the difference that made the difference?”

    They wanted to look at what these people did and find out if there was a specific treatment plan that kicked ass over all the other plans being followed out there.

    What they found was that these people had, across the board, done different things, some of them being radical.

    Some of these people followed the traditional medical approach, others had said screw the medical approach and followed a specific diet that they credited with helping them heal, others had done neither of those but instead relied solely on praying, other people had done psychological transformation work, and they couldn’t find any commonality within these patients that gave them evidence that one approach was superior to others.

    The only thing they found in common with all of these patients was that ALL of these people believed wholeheartedly in their answer to cancer.

    People who responded to chemo believed that it would help them. People who responded to prayer believed that would help them. People who responded to a radical diet believed that would help them.

    Think about the Placebo Effect where you can actually give people fake medicine and people get physically well while taking it, in spite of the fact that they were taking nothing but sugar pills.

    The only explanation for this is that their belief in what they were doing is what came to their rescue.

    It’s very cool to hear that a conversation with your friend reminded you of who you believe yourself to be at your essence. I’m grateful to you for reminding me of such an important lesson.

    • The JackB November 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      @MyNoteTakingNerd:disqus I love your answer for more reasons than I can properly share, but suffice it to say that it resonates with me. I think because sometimes we just need to hear ‘You are right’ or ‘Go for it’ and that little moment gives us all the lift we need.

  2. Julie November 4, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Angels in the outfield.

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