REPOST: Steppin’ Off Into The Future And Doing The RITE Thing (For Me!)

Happy New Year!  As we embark on a brand new 2015, we wanted to share this post from Dr. Kane regarding choosing new paths when you find yourself at the crossroads.  Enjoy!

-The Staff At Loving Me More


Originally posted on 11/12/13.

Dear Readers,

     In the previous week’s posting of the series The Visible Man, I responded to the comments of a young African-American man who was conflicted about many things, including remaining in school, dealing with psychological abuse and what direction to take in his life.  Essentially, he was standing at the crossroads of the journey we call LIFE and questioning what to do. I can only hope that he made the decision that best suits him, as it is his future and his life.
     Recently, I have had the opportunity to review two news articles, both of which I found to be insightful as well as intriguing.  I would like to share these stories this week.
     In these articles are stories of two men who share the following characteristics:
  • African-American
  • Football athletes
  • Responding to psychological trauma
     Both men essentially stood at the “crossroads” of their respective journeys.  Both chose different directions that produced different and distinctive outcomes.  Here are their stories:
Story #1 comes from the Seattle PI (10/30/13).
     A former football player for the Oregon Ducks is very dissatisfied regarding the lack of appreciation from his fans.  He compares his life as a college athlete as to that of a slave. His story:
“I remember walking in from fall camp practice and talking to my teammates about how similar our lives were to the TV series Spartacus.  We were slaves.  We were paid enough to live, eat, and train… And nothing more.  We went out on the field, where we were broken down physically and mentally every day, only to wake up and do it again on the next. 
On the outside, spectators placed bets and objectified us.  They put us on pedestals and worshiped us for a short time, but only as long as we were winning. In the end, we were just a bunch of dumbass (racial slur) for the owners to whip, and the rich to bet on.
What I just described is a business, I know.  That’s how it works, and it is something we understand as athletes entering into the system, as (expletive) up as it is.  For many people entering that system, it’s better than what life has to offer elsewhere.  So they take it. 
But having been on the outside now, to witness this disgusting display of “support,” I know that I want no (expletive) part of it.  I will never attend a Ducks game as a spectator again.  I am disgusted by Ducks fans and I will sit back and observe from afar with high hopes for the players’ success and understanding of their sacrifice, without having to hear the spoiled woes of ignorant fans.
I will love the Ducks: my coaches, my teammates, my brothers and family.  The rest….Go (expletive) yourselves.”
     As one can see, this individual, as he is about to step off into his future, is bitter and angry about the psychological abuse he has tolerated.  Consequently, for all the ferocity of his parting shot at the Ducks’fans, they are a group that will never recognize him outside of a Ducks football jersey.   The days of adulation, jeers and glory are past for him now.   In parting, there is anger.  What will tomorrow bring for him?
Story #2 comes from the AARP Home Blog (10/30/13).
     This is a story we have heard too many times.  It tells of a professional athlete following both his moments of glory leaving the sport, falling into darkness and paying a heavy price for the fall.  Yet, the outcome or “decision” at the crossroad is different from similar stories.  It follows:
Sunoco “Stamp” Williams, who died July 8 at age 64 while taking a walk near his home, earned All-American honors at the University of Minnesota in 1967 and then went to play 12 seasons (and in three Super Bowls) as an offensive lineman in the NFL, first for the Baltimore Colts and then for the Los Angeles Rams.
All that time, Williams had another ambition: becoming a dentist.  He spent his off-seasons as a part-time dentistry student, and eventually earned a doctorate in 1978 from the University of Maryland.  When he retired from football after the 1980 season, he moved back to Minneapolis and launched a dental practice.
But Dr. Williams’ second act unexpectedly took a disastrous turn.  He began using cocaine, and was indicated for selling a small amount of the drug to a college friend who turned out to be a federal informant.  He ended up pleading guilty and served seven months in a federal prison.  ‘When something like that happens… it makes you re-examine yourself,’ he explained in a 2002 interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  ‘You have to go deep inside yourself and deal with things you don’t want to deal with.  You have to be honest with yourself.’  After his release, Dr. Williams totally rebuilt his life, not only resuming his dental practice, but becoming an exemplary citizen.  He joined a group that visited prison inmates to assist in their rehabilitation, and he became active in organizations working to revitalize Minneapolis.  In 1992, the city honored him as volunteer of the year.  In 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, Williams rushed to New York to serve on a seven-man forensic dentistry team that helped identify the bodies of the terror victims.
     Regretfully, this powerful and remarkable story concludes with a reviewer or reader sending in the following question:
“How did he keep his dental license as a convicted felon?”
Both stories are powerful and insightful.
     In story #1, the future has not been written for the former Duck football athlete.  He appears driven by anger.  It is likely that a few fans will take the opportunity to be insightful about what is being stated, while others may simply view him as being ungrateful, who got a four year athletic scholarship and now is whining about how he was “unfairly treated.”
In story #2, Dr. Williams’ life has come full circle.  His story has been written and hopefully many, excluding a few (i.e. “How did he keep his dental license as a convicted felon?”) will benefit from what he was able to achieve.
There is much we can learn in both stories if we allow ourselves the opportunity.   As one stands at the “Crossroads,” one can light the beacon that illuminates the path that has been chosen.
The beacon “Doing the RITE Thing” contains the following illuminations:
  • R    Recognize the behavior or action that creates or reinforces the pain/emotional wound.
  • I     Identify the behavioral change that will alleviate or respond to the pain/emotional wound.
  • T    Transform it; walk/work in the direction, allowing yourself to fully experience the emotional response.
  • E    Empower the self.  Do this for “me” and no one else.  Reinforce “me.”
     In closing, as the individual stands at the “Crossroads,” it is for that person to recognize that they have choices in which how they choose to walk the journey.  One can either hold on to the bitter fruits of the past and in doing so, allow this cancer to consume from within, or one can choose to “let go” and in doing so, seek to experience a challenging and constructive life.
“The end of one journey is the beginning of another.”
“The choice is ours.  We can continue doing the same old thing, traveling the same road.  Or we can do something new, something different… on the path less traveled.”
The journey continues……

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