Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sam Kessler - Grandpa, Life Coach

Many years ago, my Mom graduated college. She had every expectation of finding a good job. However, this was in the midst of the Depression. Opportunities were scarce at best. She dreamed not only of beginning her working life, but of financially assisting her family.

When she shared her profound disappointment with her father, he chose to tell her this story, a variation of which shows up in many cultures across the globe.

Life in the Jewish shtetl challenged not only the physical body, but the soul. Everyone worked day in, day out, only to eke out the basic sustenance needed to go on. They lived in constant fear of the Kossacks and had simply their faith to turn to. At one point the situation became so bad that all the men of the shtetl convened. They formed a large circle. Into it each threw his bundle of worries and problems. Then he picked up any bundle but his own for all were certain that none could contain such troubles as his.

But an amazing thing happened. Upon opening another’s bundle, they each returned to the circle to trade back for their original. It seems that upon discovering the burdens that rested on his neighbor’s shoulders, every man realized he could better cope with his own. Each walked away with a new way to view the world and with that, his load felt a bit lighter than before.

And so my grandfather offered comfort. He asked that Mom consider the world’s “bigger picture”, have patience, faith, and hold fast to her dream. With persistence, he assured her, she would make her way in the world and her family would be strong.

Decades later, as I rode in a NYC bus at the age of 24, I felt someone staring at my wedding band. I looked up into the face of a young woman and sensed envy in her eyes. I clearly recall my thought: “If you only knew how unhappy a marriage this ring represents, you would not wish for it.” At the time I lacked experience in creating a loving relationship and my "husband” had obtained all he wanted – his green card.

It is so simple for us to project our fantasy onto a thin gold band, thinking another’s life to be much richer than our own.

Over time, I’ve learned that choice ranks among the greatest gifts we have. Catching the gold ring has no inherent meaning. Living our lives from the depths of who we really are, does.

And just as my Grandpa Sam said, when we can view the World, have gratitude, and build on our dreams, we create a life of value.


Please take a look at the preceding entry. You’ll find there a JOYFUL 3 minute, award-winning video.

If you care to, there is also an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of 3500 inner-city kids.

Kick up your heels and dance!


Lee Richan said...

How true this story-- that something (e.g., the wedding band) is not an 'event' or a trophy. Time does not allow us to grasp and hold something. No matter how good or bad, every opportunity gives us place to focus on betterment-- of self, of situation, of circumstance, of action, of result-- incrementally and progressively until we control ourselves. As Viktor Frankl wrote in "Man's Search for Meaning," the only thing we ultimately control is ourselves. May it be so. Cheers! Lee