I’ve heard stories about the infamous Tony Robbins, but have never purchased one of his books nor had any desire to go to one of his seminars. It’s not because I felt I wouldn’t like him necessarily, but because I have my own ways of dealing with problems, coping with life’s issues, and for feeling empowered. I don’t have a desire to change those ways quite yet. I believe in the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But, I went to bed early last night to try to fight off a cold and found a documentary about him on Netflix. I thought I’d check out a few minutes of it, just to see what the guy was like, but I wound up watching the whole thing.
I think if Tony Robbins is nothing else, he is sincere. I felt his intentions were good, to help people deal with pain and put them on a better path in life. I also felt his methods to be strange and somewhat debasing. I could never buy into his product, but one thing at the end of the documentary struck me as an excellent idea: he told his audience to close their eyes and think back on their life to three things or events they would be forever grateful for. So I did:
The first was a fall day when my dad was still around, so I must’ve been six or seven years old. I came home from school to find my mother busy rehanging the freshly-washed curtains in the living room windows. With the curtains down, the room was twice as bright, autumnal sunlight streaming in. In my hands was my Affy Tapple package, our usual order of caramel apples, covered in chopped peanuts, which I looked forward to every year. My dad was listening to one of his favorite shows, “Old Time Radio,” and they were airing a Halloween special of spooky and scary stories. I was hooked on the macabre when I heard, “Zero Hour.” I remember another story by Ray Bradbury about rats from a ghost ship killing the occupants of an old lighthouse, at night of course, but I can’t remember the name. The third story featured Cary Grant (I’m pretty sure) and was about a couple stranded in their broken-down car at night fearing a crazy woman that had escaped from a nearby asylum. My father was so happy listening to those stories, helping my mom hang curtains. I adored my father and loved to see him happy. It was the kind of afternoon every kid loves—loving parents, new adventures from a safe vantage point, and the bounty of fall. It was one of the best days of my childhood.
The second has to be the day my high school best friend talked to me. I can’t remember exactly what we said, but we started talking in the hall since our lockers weren’t far apart. That moment started a friendship that carried me through some of the toughest times of my life. I was lost in high school—no siblings, no father, no relatives to see that were geographically close. I turned to parties, alcohol, and drugs for joy. Rachel and her family, her sister, mom, and stepfather, were like my second family. They showed me what a functional family could look like. They were my sanity in a world that had seemed to unravel on me. She stuck by me when any sane friend should’ve left. After high school, she got me a job at the restaurant where she worked. We worked together there for years, until I started college. I wasn’t going to go to college, I didn’t see how I could or how I would make it. I was convinced I wasn’t smart or able. She convinced me otherwise. We spend so many days talking and laughing, it would be impossible to count. She was the maid of honor at my wedding. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be who I am now. I’m not sure I would’ve made it at all.
The third is bittersweet now. It was a day in February, and it was snowing hard. My future husband and I had been dating for about four months and we had had lunch in Rogers Park where I lived with a roommate at the time. We’d gone to lunch and considered going to see a matinee at the local theater, but since it was snowing so hard, with a foot of accumulation already on the ground, we decided to go back to my place to warm up. My roommate wasn’t home, so we made love. My room was on the corner of a courtyard building, so had two long windows, which were covered with white, sheer curtains. Since we were on the third floor, the curtains were drawn, so the view from both windows was a tumbling, swirling, wall of moving white fluff, that didn’t stop or slow. It was beautiful and so warm and perfect. We were so close then, so very in love with each other. It was hard to get enough. I’m fairly certain that was the day we got pregnant with our first daughter. I told people later that I felt different after that day, I knew something in me had changed and that there was a possibility I was pregnant. They said that often happens…a woman just knows.
I will be forever grateful for all these moments and am glad to have had a reason to recognize and appreciate them. Thanks Tony.
I dare you to do the same.