427 Pound Flying Man:
How did it feel to think about being an example of possibility?
One interesting thing that can start to happen is you may begin to see and process the world somewhat differently.
How we interpret life has so much to do with what we focus on.
When I’m not feeling my best, it is often simply a function of focusing on what I see as less than perfect in my life or any given situation.
Shifting that focus, in any way, towards things that we are thankful for can have an immediate impact on how we feel. We will discuss how crazy we make ourselves with our choices in focus in future blogs.
As promised for today, we will answer the questions:
What does A 427 POUND MAN flying over a car have to do with the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team?
Well, for me, a lot.
One day in the 1950′s, Adam Bastek was having a playful argument with his friend Tony.
Adam weighed 185 pounds. Tony weighed 427 pounds.
Tony was busting Adam’s chops, telling Adam how much stronger he was than Adam.
Adam didn’t like that. So, to teach Tony a lesson, Adam picked Tony up and threw him over a car.
The small crowd of onlookers were in disbelief as they watched a 427 pound man fly, with the help of Adam, over his own car.
For me, Adam Bastek, Pop as I called my grandfather, was my first example of possibility.
Examples of Possibility, Nonnie, Pop and Me – I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1970.
I love, as my favorite artist Bruce Springsteen likes to say, “The great state of New Jersey.”
My parents were divorced before my first birthday. While I’m not advocating divorce, I believe the divorce benefit me in many ways, including spending a ton of time with a loving extended family on both my mom’s and dad’s sides.
In the beginning, my mom and I lived with my grandparents, Pop, and his wife, Nonnie, as we call her.
My grandparents, my mom’s parents and my dad’s mom, were, and are, enormous influences and examples of possibility in my life.
They are model examples and embodiments of the “Greatest Generation.”
Nonnie and Pop, above all things, loved their family.
Everyone loves their family, but these people LOVED their family.
Today, Nonnie is 87 years old. She lives on her own in my favorite place on Earth, Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Whenever we are “down the shore,” as we say in New Jersey, Nonnie is up early making her amazing pancakes and bacon breakfast, for everyone.
Imagine being 87 years old and making breakfast for 5 to 15 people regularly throughout the summer?
Nonnie is an Example of Possibility straight out of Tom Brokaw’s book the Greatest Generation.
I am blessed to have Nonnie still teaching me and reminding me of things.
Nonnie and Pop’s home there is the longest connection to any house I have in my life. It is the home, the heart and the soul of our family.
Walking into that house creates the greatest feelings of warmth, love and belonging imaginable.
Nonnie and Pop never graduated from high school. They never made more than $25,000 in any year in their lives.
They are incredible examples of possibly as far as managing money.
They put 5 children through private grammar school and high school. They also saved and managed money as well as any people possibly could. They bought their home on Long Beach Island, which is three houses from the beach, in 1975.
What makes this even more incredible was that Pop was legally blind by his early 30′s, had a disabling stoke at 50 and Nonnie worked nights selling real estate and later got her licensed practicing nursing degree when she was 53 years old.
They believed in education, hard work, discipline, being financial conservative, integrity and most importantly, family.
Nonnie is also famous for her “Nonnieisms”.
She was banned from a leather clothing store on LBI because she thought the shop owners prices were too high and shared one of her favorite lines with him, “At least Jessie James had a gun!”
By the way, before being banned Nonnie still got her price on a coat in the store she was buying for my mom.
Another Nonnism, “It’s good to be good, but not to be stupid,” when she encourages giving and charity, but also warns against being taken advantage of.
Pop was a man of strength, integrity, respect, pride, love, passion and intensity.
He would love you to death or scare you to death people would say.
Pop was the son of a brutally tough boxer and never backed down from anyone or anything, including his blindness.
He worked hard for Public Service and took great pride in both his mind and his ability to perform manual labor.
He was also a champion of the underdog, physically defending anyone who was picked on or bullied from childhood through his days in the rough 1950′s blue collar world of his job at Public Service.
When his boxer father was acting abusively towards his mother, Pop, at 16, physically fought his father out of the home to protect his mother.
When Pop joined the army to take on Japan and Germany in World War II, he could not have been more proud.
What better place for a man’s man full of courage, pride and strength to put his stamp on the world and begin to build his legacy.
In basic training, however, he noticed he had some serious problems on night maneuvers in the woods.
He went to see the medic. After some testing, they diagnosed him with a condition that would change his life, and shape our family’s lives forever: Retinitis Pigmatosa.
“RP” as it is known, is a degenerative eye condition with no cure that leads to blindness.
This proud, physical, fighting man was discharged from the Army.
Growing up around Nonnie and Pop, they consistently lived and taught the lessons of the greatest generation: be good to others, dream big, love your family and work your butt off.
While Pop was tough as they come, he also had a heart of mush.
When my sister and cousins were little, they would put ribbons and barrettes in Pop’s hair and he would pretend not to know, and then complain that he thought he had bugs in his hair.
He was the greatest hugger imaginable and love for his children and grand children gushed out of him.
I had Nonnie and Pop all to myself for about the first 9 years of my life. I was the only grandchild they had from their 5 children for that time.
While they would probably be arrested for it today, Nonnie and Pop used to drive me down to LBI, telling me to dream big and doing mental math problems.
Why would they be arrested for that?
Well, we would do that with me sitting on the arm rest as my “horse” as we cruised down the Garden State Parkway for two hours.
It was okay though because Pop had his arm around me and would protect me if we crashed!
See, like I said, no one is perfect!
But, it was the 1970′s and people had not heard of twitter, gluton free or even seat belts yet.
In my time with Nonnie and Pop, and really much of my family in different ways, I came to love examples of possibility and heroic outcomes.
I was around these two people that overcame a lack of education, blindness, a major stroke, financial hardship and still raised five children that went to private grammar school and High School, AND were able to buy a second home at the Beach where they made magical memories and built an incredible legacy for their family.
They never won a gold medal like the 1980 Olympic Hockey team, but to everyone they touched, children, grandchildren, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and certainly to me, Nonnie and Pop were powerful examples of possibility.
I loved Rocky, stories of the Miracle Mets and Joe’s Namath’s prediction, James Bond, the Super Friends, and the Miracle on Ice.
I came to love Bruce Springsteen and his music, which for me was a lot about the American experience and everyday heroes in the realistic and complex circumstances of life.
Those are all powerful examples of possibility, but so were Nonnie, Pop and some other amazing people I was blessed to encounter on my journey through life.
THE POINT –
So, what’s the point of all this?
The point is that we live in a world where negativity sells. The challenge is that negativity did not build this country, does not typically help people get a great job or build a business. Negativity doesn’t build great relationships or families.
Finding people’s beliefs and actions to be inspired by and to model is what creates those great results everyone truly wants: more time, more money and or more fulfillment.
For every professional athlete who is busted for steroids or drugs, there are a thousand amazing everyday examples of possibility like Nonnie and Pop.
That does not make the news. Sadly, that doesn’t sell.
My challenge for myself, and to you, is to make your own news and your own reality. There are a billion stories going on every day in our world.
Which stories will you choose to focus on? What the media is selling to you because it’s a train wreck and people like to rubber neck?
OR, instead will you put your life on a new and better trajectory by focusing on the powerful examples of possibility that are all around you?
Your challenge for today: tell some people about positive news of some example of possibility.
Please share this blog if you liked it.
I still want to make Nonnie and Pop, who is smiling down from Heaven as he watches me type this, proud, and serve as examples of possibility to others.
Tomorrow, we will talk about how to cut day, weeks, months or even years off of achieving your dreams through, in my opinion, the simplest, most powerful and UNDERUTILIZED tool in history.
By the way, please give feedback and ask questions about anything you read here.
You can post your comments OR if you want to speak privately, my e-mail is email@example.com.