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The “Secret” is a Trick

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Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)

That’s right. I said it. The Secret is a trick. And I will expose it at the end of this article. But first some background.

Times are tough…

U.S. unemployment hovers at 8.2%. About 16 million people are out of work, with real numbers closer to 25 million when counting those that have given up looking. Foreclosures are at an all-time high with no real end in the foreseeable future. Estimates are 1 in every 324 houses in the U.S. is in foreclosure. College grads, even newly minted lawyers getting out of law school will have a tough time finding jobs – and most are burdened with student loan debt that a generation ago would have bought a four-bedroom house and a decent car.

ON THAT HAPPY BUNNY HAPPY NOTE

Yes, times are tough. If you’ve lost your job, your house, or your hope for a better future it’s enough to make you feel like a loser.  Make you feel completely alone.

NO PRESSURE – NO DIAMONDS

Losing isn’t a state of mind. It’s a state of non-persistence under pressure.

Losing isn’t a case of bad circumstances you find yourself in – or bad cards you’ve been dealt from the deck of life.

PROOF

Several years ago I did an interview with Dr. Paul Pearsall, who was then an internationally known bestselling author of 18 books. Many of them were New York Times bestsellers. He was a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and one of the most requested speakers in the world, having delivered over 6,000 keynotes. And he was also a frequent consultant to national television appearing on “Dateline,” “20/20,” CNN, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Today Show,” and “Good Morning America.”

Dr. Pearsall acquainted me with a 22-year-old woman. She had just begun her life.

She had just started teaching English Literature in high school.

Then … she was struck down by a drunk driver and was left pentaplegic (unable to move her arms or legs and unable to breathe on her own.) She was on a ventilator.

Life for her was over, right?

Wrong.

At that time, she was writing a book about her experiences. Writing a book on the computer that had been specially adapted to allow her to operate the keys with a stick held in her mouth.

A stick held in her mouth. Let me say that one more time.

She was operating a computer with a stick held in her mouth.

And what did she say about it?

“You don’t have to feel screwed. You can construe. Trust me, that one word has very special power. The dictionary says it means to discover and apply meaning, and what a power that is.

It means your life is all in your mind. I am actually happier and more productive now than I have ever been. I sure have more friends and, as you can easily see, I am totally free from multitasking.”

She still had a sense of humor in the darkest of times.

MOSHA’S STORY

Dr. Pearsall also introduced me to Mosha. Her story is important. Why? Because in life, overcoming adversity doesn’t always mean winning, sometimes it means winning on one’s own terms. Terms that perhaps only you, yourself, can understand.

Mosha was once a dark-haired beauty. But now, a black hollowness surrounded her eyes. She was death-camp, stick-figure thin.

She was death-camp, stick-figure thin because that’s where she was. Her face was swollen and bruised. Beatings were her daily bread.

Mosha was a classical piano teacher. Loved Beethoven.

Mosha had been teaching a student Moonlight Sonata when they came for her. They shot and killed her student but kept her alive. One needs classical music such as Beethoven’s, to uplift the soul and keep spirits soaring when working in a death camp. So they kept her alive.

The Nazi officers asked her to play for them.

She refused.

They asked her.

She refused.

Music was not for a death camp.

And Beethoven was sacred to her.

So they placed both of her hands on a rock. Took turns, made a game out of gaily breaking her fingers, one by one, with their rifle butts.

She could have played.

She could have given in.

Instead she defied.

Music was so sacred to her.

She made her stand, sprawled on the ground in agony. But she didn’t give up her sacred gift. She held onto it. Tighter than to life itself.

And when, through the haze of a misery beyond comprehension, her fleeing life parting death’s lips, she would hear, or think she heard, Beethoven’s music being played in the officer’s club, she stirred … and would say in her teacher’s voice:

Shush! Be quiet now and listen to the deaf man’s symphony. If you listen as he did, you will hear the way to freedom.” – Mosha

THE SECRET

Everyday life knocks someone down. A job lost. House foreclosed on. Life savings destroyed.

Everyday someone is beat up by life.  Paralyzed in an accident. Born with a birth defect. Shot by accident in a random drive-by.

Everyday.

But there’s a secret to help you overcome adversity. There’s a secret to turning things around. To help you overcome that feeling of loss and losing.  I mentioned Dr. Pearsall earlier? I learned about the “Secret” from him.

Dr. Pearsall barely survived birth, conquered among a litany of other obstacles, total blindness, and then finally, cancer – three times. Dr. Pearsall’s triumph over terminal cancer is documented in the bestseller, “Miracle in Maui.”

SURVIVE TERMINAL CANCER

Yes.

He was told he would certainly die of an extremely rare type of cancer that strikes down young and healthy people in the prime of their lives. And, for a little extra good cheer, Dr. Pearsall was also told that even if his cancer went into remission, he’d die anyway. Die from suffocation caused by a deadly virus allowed to attack his lungs by his chemotherapy-and-radiation-weakened immune system.

DOES IT GET MUCH BETTER THAN THAT?

Yes. He was told the terminal good news on a Good Friday.

GEEZ, IS THAT IT?

Nope. That Good Friday, as he walked slowly down his driveway, the ache of cancer eating away at him, feeling lost and hopeless, he opened his mailbox and noticed an envelope marked “Urgent. Internal Revenue Service.”

DEATH AND TAXES

Yup, you guessed it. Selected for a random compliance audit of State and Federal tax records for three years. How’s that for some good cheer on Good Friday?

How did he react?

He laughed.

Laughed so hard he cried.

My kinda guy.

And when I read it I laughed.

Laughed so hard I cried.

THE SECRET 

So … that “Secret” he taught me?

IS A TRICK

The “Secret” was actually a trick . A card trick.

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards,

but of playing a poor hand well.”

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. P died 3 times and came back.

The 4th time he didn’t.

But man …. did he play his cards well.

6 Responses to "The “Secret” is a Trick"
  1. Hankj Stroll says:

    Steve … You touch my soul. Feeling sorry for myself is one of my most active hobbies. Finding ways to change hobbies is my passion. Your post helps me today to follow my passion.

    Thank you.

  2. Bryan Schaap says:

    Steve, Thanks for always sharing these thoughtful and uplifting words.

  3. Louis Columbus says:

    Steve,

    Outstanding column and quiz and great food for thought, especially in these challenging times. It also made me stop and think of the hundreds of things I am so thankful for. Best of all your column makes one point abundantly clear: you win or lose by what you believe inside. The world would be a much starker, less colorful and joyous place if those “loser” had given up. I cannot imagine the world of music without the Beatles or Elvis. Or if Anne Frank had never published, or Walk Disney had given up. With beautiful irony the world has been enriched the most by those others at one time considered “losers” when they have in fact taught it was to really win.

    Thank you,

    Louis

  4. J.D. Meier says:

    Powerful stuff. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings — it’s not what’s on your plate, but how you eat it.

    Tell me this doesn’t sound like a book that needs birthing:
    - I Can Construe — Can You?

  5. Tamra Wallace says:

    Steve – facing cancer right now myself. Needed this badly – my take on the old say ” That which does not kill us makes us stronger?” That which does not kill me had better start running – NOW!!” Thanks.

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