James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine
Many times in life we are faced with a decision.
Will we make this situation in our lives:
1. A Problem
2. A No Problem
When we are up against a huge barrier, or even a slight slice of life, we can make the biggest mountain out of a molehill, and we can make the most challenging of mountaintops a “no problem” in ascending.
It is all up to our attitude, something some people say is within our domain, under our control. We can choose our attitude – our context – as we make our way through life.
How does the hero in the hero’s story respond to life’s biggest challenges?
Routinely, in the movies, the hero at first falters, but then later finds the courage and fortitude to move ahead beyond the obstacle, enemy, foe, monster – to slay anything in his path, so he can succeed and receive the fruits of his journey.
For me? OK, I’ll admit it – I can go either way on the Problem-O-Meter.
Sometimes I’m strong-willed and focused and push forward through any fear or doubt.
And other times, I make a mess out of something that could be just so simple.
So, today I bring to you two TOP 5 lists.
Speaking personally – what else is there – I’ll offer up those times I was up against a huge barrier and made it a “no problem.”
But first I’ll give you a handful of times I made a “problem” out of a pretty damn simple situation.
- Magic Mountain Trippin’ – While mastering my codependency, I was making sure all of my 12 friends were having fun on a trip to Magic Mountain, and in the process forgot to take care of myself and stay hydrated. The result was me laying sick on the grass lawn near the Carousel close to two hours … instead of just letting everyone take care of themselves.
- Travel and Accommodations Mis-Manager – Deciding I had to do everything myself, instead of just trusting the team of drivers to handle all the tasks of an MDI event, I created a ton of stress on my brain. Result: the PTM of the event forced me to sit still and allow for the team to handle shit. Other Result: me realizing “Oh, this could have been a breeze.”
- Out in Left Field – I had a simple job as a young man. Watch the softball fields at a recreation center in case the tournament teams needed anything. Well, after I woke up from my nap, and returned to the fields I noticed a very intense man charging at me enraged. Inner dialogue: “Uh-oh, I think I know why the paramedics were here, and why he’s going to now chew me out.” That didn’t have to happen. Oh, and it never did happen again.
- The Almost Autograph – So excited to get an autograph from a very prominent person, I was nervous that the pen might not work, so I kept testing it over and over again until I approached my idol. As she tried to sign the paper, she noticed it was out of ink. Yeah, that didn’t have to happen either.
- Making Shit Up – Overly hyper about the idea of being neglected in life, I have jumped to conclusions believing I’m being ghosted, ignored, shut out. … only later to find out something like my voicemail didn’t come through. Oh, OK.
- The Long Drive – In my early 20s, there it was ahead of me. I had a choice. The choice to drive the 70-mile trek from Huntington Beach to Encinitas, through that long-ass dead area of the 5 Freeway near Camp Pendleton … or not. To drive that stretch with my old Dodge Colt, twice a week back and forth, once on Saturday and once on Tuesday evening with that traffic. The question was if that Colt could make such a long drive, and if I could handle it emotionally, since I was carrying some childhood trauma around that long stretch of highway. It was here as a youngster I would experience panic attacks believing even as a 7-year-old I would have to fix the car if it broke down on family vacation trips. Though unreasonable, my mind still trembled at the thought of the drive, especially with a lame set of wheels … But since the purpose of the trip was to attend a program designed to heal old unresolved wounds of the past …. well damn … No Problem!
- Whitney Whiteout – It happened at 12,000 feet. Prepared for some chilly weather at most, I had started the ascent of the highest mountain in the continental United States with a couple of buddies. We hiked from Whitney Portal to the first campsite one day, with the plan to summit the following day. Well, the following “day” didn’t really come. For the ominous cloud cover in the evening became what we heard in our tents as some heavy rain. However it wasn’t rain. It was snow. Heavy snow. So much snow that when we unzipped the tent flap, all we could see outside was white! This was a white-out in which you can’t see three inches in front of your nose. Hmmm, 12,000 feet, sleeping at the edge of a cliff, no visibility, and no slicker for me. At first my initial plan was a supreme amount of freak out. But then one of our buds who was from Oregon and accustomed to extreme weather announced, “I like snow.” Oh … OK. After a fast-motion packing session, we made our way down the mountain, with me borrowing an extra slicker … No Problem.
- The High Seas – It was Hawaii in 1997 when a group of us went to go meet with the wild dolphins. Even though I didn’t know how to swim there would be ample opportunities to meet up with these magical creatures. On one adventurous afternoon, three of us decided to take a rubber raft out into the lagoon. Someone asked if I wanted to wear a life jacket. My thought was “I can’t be falling out of the raft so the answer is ‘no thanks.'” Well, who knew that a little jaunt out into the lagoon would have these wayward rafters maneuver beyond the jetty out into some open sea water, where the currents were taking this flimsy and deflating raft further and further away. Ooops. Here would be a great time for me to lose it and fall prey to some good old fashioned fear. But no. There was literally no time or space for that. For I had to row … and row hard and fast and steady. I furiously paddled that paddle in the water for about 40 minutes straight without letting up. I imagine the adrenaline made it so my arms weren’t even tired after we made it back to shore. Well, adrenalin and an attitude of … No Problem.
- A Fire Ceremony – In December 1998, I was at an early morning men’s meeting as a Point Man, my first opportunity in this position. At dawn I was focused on the important job at hand, so much so I was ignoring the text coming to my phone. However after a half dozen texts, I had to find out what the 911 message was all about. When I broke away from the meeting and made the call, all my friend said was, “Oh Jimmy, it’s all gone.” She spoke of my home, the charred remains of nothing left behind. I chose to complete that team meeting rather than rush home to face that which I couldn’t save. With my fellow Point Man with me, I drove up to the remains of the house – a TV camera pointing directly into my completely blackened room. There was nothing left for me to face. When all I possessions were no more, and I actually was left with three sentiments: it’s good to be alive, I actually feel lighter in some surreal way … and No Problem.
- Your Basic Competition – Now this one is a subtle example. There will be times when my men’s team holds some fun and physical competition. You know simple stuff – soccer, darts, football. I have come to test my mental abilities during these competitions. And sometimes I show off. If it’s some game wherein accuracy and a clear mind is required, then I will make an announcement right before taking my shot. I will announce to someone nearby this statement: “This is easy!” It is a way to set my mind into a clear and positive state so that the natural result is a positive one. A bullseye, a bunch of knocked over bottles, or what have you. It’s the opposite of psyching myself out. It’s actually psyching myself up, and winning with what could only be called a state of mind that carries … No Problem.
So there you have it. Just 10 experiences of problem and no problem.
We all have our past experiences from which to learn.
And gratefully, we all have countless more opportunities to play another game, take on another challenge, and ascend our mountaintops towards our success.