Sunday, January 30, 2011

The recent tragic death in Port Stephens of an old school buddy who took his own life and left behind a beautiful, loving family has moved me to 
reflect on some important questions about life, happiness, priorities and communication. But first the questions?

What could possibly move someone who appeared to have it all, to have a loving supportive wife, beautiful children and great friendships to take  their own life? And what can we do to use this absolutely tragic situation for the good of others. Let me first tell a story told to me recently:

“Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may
fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has
happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.

Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat
missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and
parachuted into enemy lands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese
prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came
up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk.
You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your
parachute,” the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it
worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what
he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: A white hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom
trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning,
how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of
the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his
hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?”

Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb
also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down
over enemy territory – he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional
parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety. His
experience reminds us all to prepare ourselves to weather whatever storms lie ahead. As you
go through this week, this month, this year… recognize people who pack your parachute!”

Who’s packing your parachute? What does your parachute look like?

Every successful person feels pain and has a painful story. Some people are suffering pain right know.

Deep inside every painful experience is the energy to channel your hidden gift that inspires the very people around you that are packing your parachute. Always remember and be thankful for the people who pack your parachute.

So why is it that we have a current rate of 3/4 of all suicide deaths being men. George E. Murphy, M.D., an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, who has specialised in research in this area concludes that women are far more likely to discuss how they feel with fellow friends, seek feedback, and process strategies for happiness. Do you realise that true happiness, the type of joy that flows freely when you are serving your purpose in life that you know you were wired for. Enjoying your specially wired gift with passion and enthusiasm actually releases a natural chemical called serotonin to the brain. And it is this “natural drug” Serotonin that is responsible for the natural highs that we experience as well as the bursts of energy needed to get us through tough times.

So what’s my point?

Firstly, we MUST learn how to be happy. Remember we become the people we spend the most time with. Evaluate who you are spending time, with. Could you express how you really felt with those people. Are your fiends and family your biggest supporters. Are you really doing in life what you know you are called to do. Do you really feel like you are making a difference. Do you feel alive when you wake up, that the day will be full of new and exciting challenges that will only strengthen you to take on the next challenge. Do you realise that life is not really about you, that you are the most important person in the world, but only when you realise it is when you use your gifts to serve others that this is the case. If you are in a work, social, family situation that is not right, YOU MUST take action now. Talk to someone, make a change. You see, energy is movement. You must do something different if you are wanting a different result. In the wise words of Einstein, “the definition of stupidity is to keep doing the same thing while expecting a different result”. What change are you needing to make right now. ” And Happiness IS The Key”, its infectious. Stand for something good. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.

In the famous words of Forest Gump “Life is Like a Box Of Chocolates, You never know what you’re going to get”

I’ll finish with this story about life in it’s truest sense:”There was a rich merchant who had 4 wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to delicacies. He took great care of her and gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much. He’s very proud of her and always wanted to show off her to his friends. However, the merchant is always in great fear that she might run away with some other men.

He too, loved his 2nd wife. She is a very considerate person, always patient and in fact is the merchant’s confidante. Whenever the merchant faced some problems, he always turned to his 2nd wife and she would always help him out and tide him through difficult times.

Now, the merchant’s 1st wife is a very loyal partner and has made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and pursuits of business as well as taking care of the household. However, the merchant did not love the first wife and although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.

One day, the merchant fell ill. Before long, he knew that he was going to die soon. He thought of his luxurious life and told himself, “Now I have 4 wives with me. But when I die, I’ll be alone. How lonely I’ll be!”

Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I loved you most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!” replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word.

The answer cut like a sharp knife right into the merchant’s heart. The sad merchant then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you so much for all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!” replied the 3rd wife. “Life is so good over here! I’m going to remarry when you die!” The merchant’s heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, “I always turned to you for help and you’ve always helped me out. Now I need your help again. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!” replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your grave.” The answer came like a bolt of thunder and the merchant was devastated.

Then a voice called out : “I’ll leave with you. I’ll follow you no matter where you go.” The merchant looked up and there was his first wife. She was so skinny, almost like she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved, the merchant said, “I should have taken much better care of you while I could have !”

Actually, we all have 4 wives in our lives

a. The 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it’ll leave us when we die.

b. Our 3rd wife ? Our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, they all go to others.

c. The 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how close they had been there for us when we’re alive, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

d. The 1st wife is in fact our soul, often neglected in our pursuit of material, wealth and sensual pleasure.

This is Chris Hasson, have a great week.

Special Note: The blog post I did above 6 months before Archie was born has been the philosophy we chose to live by that has seen us not only survive but thrive through our difficult journey.

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