I watched an interview with former world figure skating Dorothy Hamill, who I remember so well for her electric style and breezy great looks on the ice, now revealing the unknown story of a life pocked with depression. Yesterday, I watched old men sob, remembering vicious battlefields and the horrendous loss of buddies, all 19 years old, in The War in the Pacific, more than a half century ago. A week ago I read of Owen Wilson’s near suicide.
Dorothy said she would cry for hours at a time. Wail out loud. And then it turned worse when Dino Martin, the love of her life, walked out the door, no rhyme or reason. There never is in love.
The gray soldiers admitted they’ve never been really happy since their pre-War youth, poisoned as they’ve been by nightmare visions.
And Wilson had everyone fooled but himself. The joy free persona; the aching heart.
At times Hamill, the boys in uniform and the Wedding Crasher experienced heaven. The gold medals, the swimming holes, the first box office hits. And when the hellish times set in, the view of heaven played games with their brains. How had they have fallen? How could they climb back?
You don’t have to be famous to experience these poles of life. We all do, every single one of us. I was mentoring a young man today, one struggling with some of the barbed wire of adolescence. And I was telling him of my time in hell and how I called on the memories of heaven as a ladder to pull myself out. And he understood. He understood.
Today, thousands of people lost their jobs. An equal number or more lost their businesses. And still more lost sales they were working on for months or years, or were demoted in a Management shuffle or walked away from a house, from an American dream, they could no longer afford.
For all it felt like hell. And it was truly miserable. But if you remember that time you had in heaven, or the mere glimpse of it, it is the fuel you can use to soar back to the place you want to be.
In business, in life, there is always, thank God, the opportunity for redemption. Every great career, every great life, has moved through the heaven to hell to heaven journey. Through courage and determination and a stubborn refusal to remain on the dark side of the moon.
Just how you respond when you look into the abyss is the true measure of who you are as a person. That snapshot of heaven you carry around in your pocket is the best assurance that you will walk through the gates again.
Hamill found her center and has a beautiful daughter. The boys of war came home and found jobs and love. And Wilson will walk on stage to win an Academy Award one day. He will.
Because the view of heaven is always best from hell.
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