It was a beautiful Spring day in New York City. Central Park at noon time had become a haven of rest for Mack Johnson. He looked forward to escaping his high-rise office cubicle to clear his head from the frustrations of work. The economy was sinking fast and with it his hopes and dreams.
He felt like a complete failure. His world was slowly crumbling around him. While only 37 years of age, Mack wondered if true success in life and work would ever come. While sitting on the park bench eating his ham and cheese sandwich on rye, he wondered:
- Have I gone in the wrong direction with my career?
- Why does success come so easily to everyone else?
- What is the real purpose of my life?
- How will I ever escape the financial ruin that I’m in?
- Will my wife and family ever respect me as a provider?
The Downward Spiral
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Because of the failing economy, Mack was working twice as many hours for even less compensation. His work was based on a commission structure. Due to the lack of commissions in recent months, their financial life was slowly deteriorating. This was causing a strain on his relationship with Amy his wife.
He still remembers the moment he laid eyes on her as a Freshman in college. Amy was sitting with a group of friends in the college cafeteria. Her smile was infectious and mesmerizing. She was a natural encourager who always had a positive word to say. While Amy was beautiful to look upon, her positive attitude was the one quality that always meant the most to him.
Mack was a pessimist by nature. The glass was always half empty in his eyes and Amy would always pull him out of his current “mental pit.” Her words were a source of energy, like finding an oasis in the desert. She was his rock.
Amy was the one person that Mack could always depend upon. Back in the day, there were several times he wanted to quit college altogether and she always provided the boost that he needed to get through his current challenge.
Now, times are much different. Between the lack of his involvement at home, the strain of taking care of two kids under the age of six, and the daily financial struggles, Amy had become a different person than the one he had married. Mack almost resented her. “Where is the beautiful encourager when I need her most?” he thought.
For the past several days on his daily commute home on the subway, he often wondered if she would even be there. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise him to find a note saying that she and the kids were gone. In some ways, he couldn’t blame her. After all, he was a big reason as to why they were in the mess they were in to begin with.
For the past several days, he had come to the same park bench at noon hoping to discover an answer that would solve all of his problems. Everyday he left disappointed. Today, he even turned his direction and focus on God. “God, why are you choosing to punish me?” he wondered. “What have I done to deserve such a miserable life?”
“Do you even care about the pain that I am feeling?” he screamed inside. He would have screamed the question out loud if it wasn’t for the rollerbladers passing by. Mack was convinced that even God was against him too.
Mack even had thoughts of running himself. Running from all of your problems seemed like a good solution. After all, facing them seemed too hard. Maybe he should write a goodbye note to Amy. It would almost be as if he was doing her a favor. She was probably better off without him. As he sat on the park bench, Mack began to dream up a plan for running.
“I could run to Florida, find a job at a retail store near the beach, and live in a small apartment. All of my cares, worries, and frustrations would immediately be relieved,” he thought. Shaking his head and coming back to reality, Mack knew that couldn’t be the answer.
Get It Out of Your Head
Mack was so frustrated that he even spent several minutes just sitting. His mind was so much on overload that he got to the point of not really thinking about anything at all.
He just sat and stared.
Coming back to reality, he looked at his watch to see that he only had about 20 minutes left before needing to be back at work. It was then that a thought occurred to him. “Maybe it would be helpful to just get all of these thoughts out on paper.”
He remembered once in a time management seminar that the speaker told him a little bit about how the mind works. It only takes three or four items to make our brain feel overwhelmed and that just writing them down can help bring you some mental clarity. At this point, any mental clarity would be welcomed so Mack pulled out a piece of paper.
At the top of the page, he wrote: WHY AM I SO FRUSTRATED? Over the next several minutes, he began to pour out all of the thoughts and frustrations that had him on the downward spiral. He wrote everything that came to mind without even judging as to whether it was true or not. For almost 15 minutes, it seemed as if the pen never stopped.
Suddenly looking at his watch, he realized what time it was. He only had five minutes to get back to work. He quickly folded the paper, placed it in his suit pocket and decided that he would have to look at it later.
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