A Mindful Man: Calmness & Restraint in the Face of Danger
Greetings Sacred Path Community,
As we enter 2017 and say goodbye to 2016, let me ask you a question. Are you looking forward to a New Year? Each year people tend to state that they’re glad to be done with the last year and express that they hope that the new year brings much better and easier times with it. Often we’ve suffered through losses on various fronts and challenges that have confronted us, and this year has been no different especially with the passing of George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in close succession over Christmas.
It may be that on the other side of grief and despair is hope and repair. So, the hope for a new year brings wishes for improvement on many fronts and the promise that at least we’re moving away from the more difficult times into a future that could and should be brighter. Does that resonate with you?
President Obama’s eight years were based on the Promise of Change and the Spirit of Hope. Irrespective of how you feel about his presidency and how you’re relating to the Trump presidency that is just a few weeks from commencing, I’m sure that you have had strong feelings about many elements that have been in the news lately.
I was struck by Michele Obama’s comment that, “Now we are experiencing what no hope feels like.” Perhaps you are looking forward to the change in administration and feel an innate sense of hopefulness about our new president’s next 4 years. However, if you related with Michele’s comment, did it also cause you to stop and at least ask yourself a question like, “What am I going to do now to regain hope and to make positive changes in my life; and what can I do to make a beneficial difference in the lives of those in my family, community and possibly the world at large?” We are encouraged to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and energy moves and manifests in the direction of our thoughts. We are the authors of our own existence. It’s up to each of us to take charge of our lives and shape our futures accordingly.
My wife and I have a tradition of spending the days of New Year's decompressing from the Christmas/Hanukah celebration that tends to be somewhat exhausting. We like to slow down, rest a lot, savor the final college football games and watch the movies that are out and will be the honored contenders.
One of the many remarkable movies that are out this year is one that I watched the other night. “Sully” is about Chesley Sullenberger who had been a commercial pilot for 29 years before a plane he was flying out of LaGuardia Airport struck a flock of geese, damaging the plane's engines. I’m sure you recall that he turned the aircraft around and ditched it in the Hudson River, saving all 155 people aboard and becoming a national hero and instant celebrity. He retired a year later, wrote his memoirs and concentrated on a new career as an international speaker on airline safety.
I had the honor of spending an evening a few years ago with Captain Sully, Co-Captain Skyles and their crew when they and my boyhood friend, Paul Bowen, were inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. My wife and I were Paul’s guests at the San Diego Air & Space Museum for a fantastic event that celebrated extraordinary individuals who have made incredible contributions to the world of aviation. Paul is considered to be the “Dean of Aviation Photographers” (over 1,000 magazine covers and countless other amazing photos. If you’re a plane enthusiast, Google him). I also met Apollo astronauts and NASA Mission Control engineers and other remarkable men and women who were inductees.
Perhaps like you, I followed the epic drama of the plane landing in the Hudson River as it unfolded in real time on January 15, 2009, but was not aware of what followed as Captain Sullenberger was taken to task by airlines investigators and those that believed that he could have, and should have, turned the plane around and landed it safely back at LaGuardia Airport. That part of the movie unveiled for me and further corroborated the caliber of the man that Captain Sullenberger exemplifies. He is truly the model of a Mindful Man demonstrating calmness and restraint in the face of danger.
It is said that mindfulness is when one practices relaxed focus in the present moment exercising judgement as in discernment devoid of condemnation. It’s the ability for a person to respond skillfully to situations rather than to react chaotically. There’s a level of elegance in the way one conducts one’s life, especially under pressure.
What I was impressed with was how Sully conducted himself with poise under fire, exercising the wisdom that comes from time tested maturity allowing him to make decisions in the moment based on deep intuition and well-honed years of experience. He was intrepid, not allowing fear to interfere with his ability to perform the tasks at hand. He maintained balance and equanimity in order to convey a sense of faith and confidence among the crew and passengers. He stood his ground while going through the hearings exuding the trust in his split second decisions even when it appeared that the post-landing evidence confirmed otherwise. He was always a gentleman displaying the best in demeanor as he was firm and commanding in dealing with his naysayers. Grace under fire in all aspects. I recommend that you include this movie among those that are on your list and let Sully’s model of mindful manhood inspire you to up your game as you move forward into 2017.
I want to express my gratitude to all of you who have served and participated in the programs that Men’s Center LA and Sacred Path Productions have presented this past year and over the past 30 years. We have grown and developed beyond an organization that puts on retreats and workshops to evolving into a community of mindful men who are committed to bringing out the best in ourselves through supporting each other in fellowship and camaraderie on The Sacred Path.
I’m personally wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year celebration and many blessings for your journey through the months ahead . . .
Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
o – O – o
o – o – O – o – o
o – o – o – O – o – o – o
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director
of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower
of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years.
He is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men . . . AND for the women who care about them.
The MCLA Wisdom Council honored Dr. Johnson's amazing 30 years of mindful men leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative film that debuted on the mountain at the recent 30th Annual Sacred Path Men's Retreat. Click here to view "The Sacred Path."