Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Day I Fell Out of the Sky



The Near Death Experience of Worldwide Capitalism and what we all can learn from this financial crisis.

In 1993 I learnt how to fly off the cliff’s at Fort Funston, San Francisco with a paraglider. A parachute with a built in harness that one sits in while riding the wind along the Pacific Oceans cliffs. What a thrill. To fly like a bird. To become totally one with the experience. This was what the Buddhists call living in the present moment. The excitement was so intense; there is no time to think of anything but what I was doing right NOW.
I had skied for many years at Lake Tahoe. Beginning in 1969 at Mt. Rose, I learnt on the bunny slopes. Eventually I advanced to the black diamond areas. But as with most experiences, after many years of skiing, I grew bored and decided to find a replacement that would take me to new dimensions, new heights, with new thrills.
Paragliding is flying without wings. You ride the wind along the cliffs turning the paraglider with hand held straps. Soaring like a bird, I felt I was in heaven. And in a sense I was. Until, on Memorial Day 1993 I hit turbulence and my paraglider stalled, and I fell out of the sky.
I was seventy feet up in the air, and the wind blew my parachute back off the cliffs into the place where there is not wind. A place of no wind is hard to conceive. Wind, like water has a predictable path. You can see water as it moves downhill. You cannot see the wind as it follows its predictable flow like water finding the path of least resistance.
Back twenty feet from the cliffs I entered the dangerous calm. As soon as I entered this space my paraglider collapsed as the air that kept me aloft left the paraglider. I instantly fell 70 feet onto my back landing in a bed of ice plant. I recall the turbulence before the fall. I do not recall the fall. The next moment I was lying on the ground falling to earth doing spinal cord injury to my body as the disc between C-6 and C-7 exploded onto my spinal cord when I broke my neck.
I recall my first thought well. “I never anticipated this in my life time. This is something very new for me. What is this about?” I could not move. I was paralyzed. Immediate other paragliders were by my side keeping me still. Someone called 911 and in minutes the ambulance was there to take me to Seton Hospital in South San Francisco.
It was six months before I learnt how to walk again. Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo, California has a state of the art facility for spinal cord injury patients. In Vallejo, I began life all over again. Learning first how to sit upright without fainting, then how to use a wheel chair, and then slowly learning how to walk again. Finally after 6 months I learnt how to live in harmony with my life altering injury and the continual pain associated with incomplete quadriplegia.
I learnt many lessons from this experience but without a doubt the most important lesson was that when confronted with a life altering experience, self pity is self defeating. Somehow I instantly knew that if I climbed down into the self pity pit, no one could come and get me out. Self pity is a deep dark hole in life that only you can extricate yourself from. Not only that, but self pity gets old and boring to you and your friends and family. If you sing the song of poor me for too long, you will end up friendless. Besides, you cease learning what is always present within life’s major lessons when stuck in self pity.
Years later I came to learn that the word Nirvana means “place of no wind”. What I now know is that with this accident I visited Nirvana, the place of no wind. In that magical place of no wind (Nirvana), the paraglider collapsed, and I came crashing down to earth in my fall from the sky.
Like all survivors of near death experiences, the catastrophe was also my greatest blessing. I learnt lessons I could not have leant any other way. I know this because until I broke my neck and produced spinal cord injury, my thinking was very different. This was life altering. This was a life lesson given to me in seconds that enabled me to change my entire view of life. Even my mother acknowledges that this experience changed my personality. Instantly, life long issues vanished. I began anew.
Every crisis has within it an enormous opportunity. The economic disaster the entire capitalistic world is currently going through is a near death experience of capitalism. This is our once in a life time event. It is being compared to the great depression. Maybe it shall be worse, maybe it shall be as bad, but either way, experts tell us this is our 1930 experience happening to us in 2008.
Now we collectively will change. For many it feels like the end of economic prosperity. For many it is joblessness and then possible homelessness. Everyone is affected. No one is immune or safe. For the optimist, it is however an opportunity to change our lives and live in harmony with the new economic situation that has been delivered to the entire capitalistic planet. This is our once in a life time experience to change. Like all catastrophes, this is too rich an experience to allow ourselves the feelings of self pity. Now we will all learn what we are supposed to learn from this financial crisis. We shall all be different when this is complete, just as the generation that went through the great depression was permanently affected by that great event.
We do not yet know what is really happening. No one knows. No economist, no prophet, no magician, no politician, no President. We are all flying solo, and we are in the midst of a major event that will support us all to become different than we have been before.
This is our collective Nirvana. This is our visitation of the place with no wind. This is our once in a life time chance to change. This is our collective fall from the sky. And when it has passed, we shall all know why this has happened and we shall all be different than we were before this occurred. 2008 was the beginning of our collective near death experience.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Divorce ends a marriage; it never end a Family

Death ends a life; it does not end a relationship. Divorce ends a marriage; it does not end a family. Upon death the relationship continues to live inside the living. Upon divorce, the family lives on while the parents separate from their children.
No family escapes the pain and damage of a divorce. I teach a workshop that teaches how that damage can be limited.All divorce creates trauma for children, just as all war creates PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) for all who fight in battle. Your children are wounded by your divorce.
How deep the wound is depends upon how the divorce is handled.This workshop teaches the skills needed to limit the damage from a divorce. There will be damage, but the extent of the damage can be modified with thoughtful guidance and learnt skills. This workshop is about teaching those specific skills.The end result is to hold the family unit as a team as much as possible while the marriage ends.
Divorce ends a marriage, it never ends a family. Whether the family is severely damaged or the damage is limited is the responsibility of the two parents. This workshop teaches the key principles that limit the damage from a divorce.
E-mail me or call at 650-726-1212 for the next available workshop on this topic.