Oct 07

Retelling: The Story of Shaya

I’ve published this before, but I think it’s worth retelling . . .

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children of Orthodox Hasidic Jews. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools. At a Chush fundraising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish and stilled by the piercing query.

“I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child.” He then told the following story about his son Shaya.

One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they will let me play?” Shaya’s father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging. Shaya’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded, with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn’t even know-how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya should at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running.

But the right-fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.” Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to third. As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya run home.” Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a “grand slam” and won the game for his team.

“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.”

 

Story retold by Rabbi Paysach Krohn and Dr Wayne Dyer, amongst others. . . .

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Sep 05

Think on happiness . .

happiness

A man who has been hugely influential in my view of the Universe passed on to the next phase of his beingness this week. Wayne Dyer was an incredible author, teacher and leader. His book “The Power of Intention” has been on my bookshelves for many years, and recently I have been exploring many more of his writings. I don’t agree with everything he’s said, and I struggle hugely with his preferred meditation techniques. but I hugely respect him and his legacy, his contribution to my understanding of the power of personal creation, and he fuelled a new interest for me in Taoism and Zen.

You can find more at http://www.drwaynedyer.com/ and it’s worth while downloading the audio “101 ways to Transform Your Life” from there.

Perhaps the one thing that continues to challenge me is this one simple statement:

“Don’t die with the music inside of you.”

Thank you, Dr Dyer.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Aug 18

Strength training for the soul

broken

When we’re building muscle in the gym, we gain strength by breaking the muscle down with exercise and the body then rebuilds it. It’s the same with us.. we gain strength through the breaking, through the challenges, through what life throws at us.

One of my favourite authors (and genuine crazy lady) Martha Beck writes:

“I see life as a cosmic gymnasium where we have come to be broken and healed, broken and healed, for the joy of the process and because we have decided to become strong. But our bodies are just rented instruments; the part that’s here to get stronger is the Stargazer. This is how strength training goes in the soul’s gymnasium: Life breaks us. We hurt. We find the path to our North Stars and know instinctively that following them will lead to healing. We act on that instinct. We heal. we learn to trust that the path we’ve taken is the one we’re meant to take. And with every experience taken through to its conclusion, we become more able to experience joy.

There are so many ways to lose the perspective of the Stargazer. Maybe right now your inner sight is clouded by the opinions of others or the horror stories of your inner lizard. Maybe you’re sun dazzled by a perfect looking surface, projecting the trappings of success but hiding the sense that you’re lost, directionless, hollow. It could be life has given you the chance to walk into the darkness, and you’ve been starting terrified at the ground beneath your feet. And maybe – quite likely in these days of dizzying change and unprecedented possibilities – no beaten path exists.

Look up.

Look up.

No matter how clouded, sunblind, or terrified of the dark you may be, your Stargazer self is always gazing calmly at your destiny. Follow it forward, expecting to break things – rules, conventions, precedents, your own vulnerable heart – but knowing that you’ll heal strong.”

But always.

Look up.

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Martha’s books are simply amazing and I have found them really helpful in my life. She’s been a regular contributor to Oprah and O Magazine. The quote above is from “Steering by Starlight” – but I also love both “Finding your own North Star” and “Finding your way in a Wild New World”

           

Aug 14

Creating the hero . . .

storm

The storm happens to each one of us. No question. The big question is.. how will you respond to it?

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

PS – I’ve just started sharing my series “Walking With Heroes” over on the blog at http://timhodgson.org/walking-with-heroes/ – go take a look!

May 09

Here be dragons . .

dust magic

Do you ever have something that you read from time to time that sends shivers down your spine every time you read it? Something that stays with you and calls out to you, that seems somehow secretly significant? That sense that something infinitely precious is being communicated, that the world stops and waits to hear your response – poised, waiting with bated breath for you to hear what’s being said.

For me, one of those quotations that causes me to catch my breath every time I read it is this one.. five simple words:

“We’re not dust, we’re magic!”

And when I read that, something opens in my heart.

Those words come from “Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach. Richard, of course, is the author of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” and “Illusions”.. but this is from the account of his love affair with actress Leslie Parrish. He writes in the introduction “This is a story about a knight who was dying, and the princess who saved his life.” And so it is. It is a story of the magic of simply being alive.

Because there is magic alive in this world. Hidden away in plain sight. The crackling magic of selfless love. The fairy dust of our ability to change our lives in an instant. The breathtaking power of our ability to create, to transform, to change the world. Each and every one of us holds the magical power of the Universe in our hands, ready to be used for good or evil – to build up, to heal, to create – or to tear down, to curse, to destroy.

It seems that we know, intuitively, that there is something else, some deeper ability lost to humanity. It’s why stories like “Lord of the Rings”, “Eragon” and the Harry Potter series seem to resonate with us. We mourn the loss of Terry Pratchett whose Discoworld series seemed be the bridge between this world and a magical universe. Films like “The Matrix” appear have more than a grain of truth to them – and isn’t the story of The Doctor simply the story of a magician.. with a box? Stories of the faerie folk, of dragons, wizards, legends of Merlin, the mystical powers of the shaman, the mythology of the Aboriginal dreamtime seem somehow real. We know, somehow, instinctively, that there is more here than meets the eye. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of it in the new physics.. the concept of quantum entanglement, the existence of the zero point field and more mysteries that unfold every day – all seem to be clues to a world where the usual rules do not apply.

For sure, sometimes we fear that we’re wrong . . .

“We think, sometimes, there’s not a dragon left. Not one brave knight, not a single princess gliding through secret forests, enchanting deer and butterflies with her smile.  We think sometimes that ours is an age past frontiers, past adventures.  Destiny, it’s way over the horizon, glowing shadows galloped past long ago and gone.

What a pleasure to be wrong. Princesses, knights, enchantments and dragons, mystery and adventure … not only are they here-and-now, they’re all that ever lived on earth!

Masters of reality still meet us in dreams to tell us that we’ve never lost the shield we need against dragons, that blue-fire voltage arcs through us now to change our world as we wish. Intuition whispers true: We’re not dust, we’re magic!”

So just sometimes, just for fun, let go of the grown up act that put aside such foolish childishness. Reach back and remember a time long ago..or maybe not so far back..when for you, magic was real, and where anything was possible.

Then breathe it into your soul and remind yourself: you’re not dust. you’re magic.

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

May 08

You belong to Universe

belong to universe

Buckminster Fuller, the architect, inventor, designer and all round smart guy, was known for popularising the geodesic dome (as used in the Eden Project) and privileged to have the rather odd carbon molecule C60 or buckminsterfullerine (bucky-balls) named after him.

However, at one point in his life he was so full of despair and self doubt that he contemplated suicide, thinking that at least his family would benefit from the insurance payout.

Fortunately for him, for his family and for the world, he experienced a strange and profound epiphany. Writing later, he explained that he felt as though he was suspended above the ground and enclosed in a white sphere of light. A voice spoke directly to him, and declared:

“From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others”

From this point on he was a transformed man, who looked on his life with renewed hope and purpose. Ultimately Fuller chose to embark on what he described as “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”

When all hope seems lost – there is always hope. We may not find it the same way as Buckminster Fuller, but it is always there, when we look for it. As psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross put it in her thoughts on death and dying: 

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

I can guarantee that the people who have been through the fire, that have found themselves changed, transformed, reforged in the transcendent heat of pain and disappointment, who have chosen to hold on because they see (or even if they can only guess at) their value to the world – those people are some of the most beautiful souls on the planet.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

May 07

Get back up again

 

rocky balboa

In the film Rocky Balboa, Sly Stallone’s character has this to say to his son “.and the time came for you to be your own man and take on the world. And you did! But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame. Like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you get hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward! How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you are worth go out and get what you are worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers and saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him or her or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! YOU’RE BETTER THAN THAT!” Rocky in Rocky Balboa

And you are better than that. You’re the kind of person who, no matter what life throws at you, gets back up, dusts themselves off and get back in the ring again.

A couple of weeks ago my son ran the London Marathon for the first time. He was hitting his target time for the run when someone cut across him and he twisted his knee. He ran the last eleven miles (ELEVEN MILES) in what he describes as the worst pain he has ever experienced. And he still beat my marathon time.

In my own life I have fought my way through defeat and disappointment, through divorce, spiritual heartbreak, financial disaster and worse. I might write about it sometime. But that’s not the point. I don’t need your sympathy. The point is that I am still going. Still fighting. Undefeated. Stronger. Better.

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” – Haruki Murakami

We all go through the storm. We all find ourselves tested and tried. It doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down.. as long as every single time, we get back up again. Doesn’t matter how long it takes. No-one’s counting us out of the fight. Take your time. But get back up again.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org