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When I was in law school, playin ...

Posted Jan 07 2009 6:30pm

When I was in law school, playing handball was a way of breaking up the day. This continued for a number of years even after law school. If I had a busy day in court, I would go the gym afterwards and play a few games. It was fun, engaging and a release from whatever stresses I was feeling. While I was there, I thought of nothing else but the game. The court was an enclosed room approximately 15×40’ in size with no ventilation. Every wall was in play. There weren’t many of us that had the stamina to play the game. I was pretty good at it, but when I played Bud Dillon, I met my match.

He could move as quick as I could and had the endurance to stay strong throughout the entire match. When I think of Bud I am reminded of his attitude. He was always enthusiastic and optimistic and had a twinkle in his eye and zest for living. What really amazed me about Bud was that he was 62. I didn’t just play handball with Bud. In a way Bud was one of my first mentors.

I think back to the person I was when I played handball with Bud. I had a lot of concerns. Could I do it? Would I pass the bar? Would I be successful in my career as a trial lawyer? Would I meet that special person? Many years have passed since those days. I look back on what I’ve learned.

It wasn’t exactly what Bud said, but he modeled the importance of attitude. It didn’t depend on the circumstances of his life. It didn’t depend on whether we were at war, or who was President. Nor did it depend on the economy. In each moment we get to choose our attitude. No one personifies this message better than Victor Frankl. In Man’s Search for Meaning, he shares his story of how he found meaning under the most horrendous conditions in a concentration camp. He never knew if he would live another day. Everything was taken away from him but the last of the human freedoms, which is the ability to choose one’s attitude under any circumstances. Frankl, who became a well-known therapist, should be a model for all of us.

That’s our challenge; to get up when we’re knocked down. To remain hopeful in the middle of the storm. As Bud and Frankl modeled, regardless of how severe the storm, we choose our attitude. What goes a long way is a good smile and a hearty laugh.

Bud would say to me that you have the potential to learn from everything that you do and from everyone you meet. That’s certainly been my experience. On many occasions after a hard fought game we would sit in the coffee shop and talk. He would tell me about his newest idea or the latest book that he was reading. It was Bud who suggested Man’s Search for Meaning, and it was Bud who got me interested in metaphysics.

I have found that as the years have gone by, I have experienced more changes than I ever thought I would. It’s the changes and learning new things that keeps me excited. It’s also going deeper into the daily practices that I have been committed to. With that comes a curiosity about what each day will bring. There is a simple practice that just takes a minute, which I have previously written about, that has changed how I look at each day. In the morning, I ask myself, “I wonder what the highlight of my day will be?” By asking myself this question I approach the day with curiosity and wonderment. By doing this, I create a positive expectation of how I want my day to be.

Bud was an example of keeping fit. He also let me know that age is just a number. How you feel about that number is another story. We give that number too much meaning. Taking care of your body is essential to enjoying and living a fully conscious life.

Too many of us are so wrapped up in our careers and other responsibilities that we don’t pay attention to our bodies. It’s only when we have something go wrong that we start to give it attention. Think of your body as a source of pleasure that needs to be nurtured. Self-care has to be a continuous practice. Thinking about self-care as a spiritual practice, is a great way to reframe how you relate to your body. Eating consciously is a choice we make. Bud would always talk to me about diet and supplements. As we age our bodies become more sensitive. We need to pay more attention as to what we put into our bodies.

Creating sanctuary should be an important part of your life. Sanctuary can mean many things. I think of sanctuary as a consciousness, in which I am able to separate myself from my concerns in the rest of my life. I feel renewed. It is a sacred moment. Make the space for sanctuary in your life. Make it a way of life.

Meditation and yoga have been a life-long sanctuary for me. Even when I was a busy trial lawyer, I made time to meditate and practice yoga before going to court. Not only did I feel better, I was more present. I have been a serious practitioner of yoga for 12 years. With each year, instead of thinking about aches and pains, I think about how much more flexible I am. And that pertains to how I see my entire life. I’m excited about tomorrow. There are many other ways to create sanctuary in your life. The dance classes that Annie and I go to each week have become a sanctuary. Playing music and writing also provide sanctuary and many magical moments.

Getting away gives you a new perspective and opportunity to see your life from a different vantage point. Kauai has been that place for me. It not only benefits me, but also my family and all those who come into my sphere.

You can’t do it alone and why would you want to. When we think back we realize that we have been blessed by many mentors and teachers, although we didn’t recognize them as such at the time. It was like that with Bud. When I would worry about my law practice, Bud would always say, “Don’t worry, things will take care of themselves.” Another thing Bud would always say was, “Appreciate the little things, appreciate the moment.”

I think of the all of the struggles and moments of joy that have led to this moment. As we age consciously, we have the wisdom of experience. We have perspective. We have learned from our mistakes and finally get it right. We accept that “this” is our life and are grateful for it. We have an extraordinary capacity to experience greater joy and love in our life. We make our life way too complicated. It’s the smile or warm greeting from our pet. It’s the connection with a kindred soul. It’s the taking the time to watch a sunset or walk in the woods. This is what real freedom is.

JOURNEY ON

MARK
JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

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