Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     As a young man, like everyone else, I read quotes from time to time.  You know, those small one or two liners that are supposed to be words of wisdom that help us through tough times.  In my earlier days, I didn’t care for such unimportant things.  I thought “inspirational quotes” were shallow clichés that really didn’t get at truth.  As I began to grow older, my thinking changed.  After life double-barreled kicked me in the teeth a couple of times – as it’s prone to do to us all on occasion – those little corny quotes didn’t seem so corny after all.  Sometimes they are the only things that help us hold on.  On dark days, those small messages are the sole providers offering a thread of hope.  That thread may seem pitifully thin and weak to offer much in the way of help or strength, but as we grow older, we learn there is much power and strength in small things.  Like this one…
     “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
                                                 -- Norman Vincent Peale
     “Oh, yeah, right,” said a fellow recently as we were talking about this.  “So you can just “think” your way to success?”
     I didn’t respond, but inwardly, I was thinking, “Absolutely!  That’s how it all begins.”
As a young man, I failed miserably in school.  I attributed my lack of success to a lack of I. Q.  Actually, the reason for my failure was failure to show up every day. When I changed my thinking – and my behavior – my I. Q. didn’t go up, but my grades did.  “I. Q.” has little to do with it.  “I can” has everything to do with it.
     Sometimes after working so hard in life and achieving some degree of success, we find the most depressing thing…it all falls apart.  Just doesn’t seem fair, does it? 
     “Things fall apart.  The center will not hold.”
                                                 -- W. B. Yeats 
     Our once thriving business goes bust, long-term relationships fail, and death or divorce breaks our heart.  What do we do then?  Read this…
     “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
-- George Eliot           
     Eventually, we learn everyone has to start over in life.  In bad times, we say, “Why is God doing this to me?”  I’ve said that many times.  Finally, I realized, “Maybe He’s not doing this ‘to’ me, but rather ‘for’ me.”
     “We’re being shaped by the Potter’s hands.”
                                                    -- Jeremiah 18:6
“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention.  To not be like your parents.  To not be like your friends.  To be yourself.  To cut yourself out of stone.”
-- Henry Rollins
     My favorite line about losing it all…
     In Jim Stovall’s book and movie, “The Ultimate Gift,” Jason thinks after his grandfather dies, all the money will be his.  He is surprised to learn granddad, Red Stevens – played beautifully by Jim Garner – leaves a videotape of himself (filmed prior to his death, obviously) requiring Jason to perform twelve tasks before receiving any money.  Somewhere along the way, Jason loses it all.  In the next tape Jason is required to watch, granddad Red says, “So, you’re busted?  You’re broke, right?”  Then, with this big smile on his face, Red says, “I’ve been there three or four times myself.  It’s the best place in the world to start!”  And Jason begins again.
     So the next time you find yourself falling through the floor, you might be falling into a brand new universe.  Let the thought cross your mind, “Maybe this is happening for a reason.”  And that reason might be… that you are being moved to do what you were made for.
     “Follow your bliss…and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
-- Joseph Campbell
     It’s easy to say all this, but when we actually have to live through change and difficulty, we are afraid.  I always was.  How do we cope with that fear?  Here’s one way from the brilliant painter, Georgia O’Keefe…
     “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
     And finally, one that should make us all act more civil, and with more kindness – and Lord knows, don’t we all need that these days…
     “How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
-- Anne Frank

-- Michael Johnson                      


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