Four Minutes of Darkness

A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty performed or duty violated is still with us, for our happiness or our misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us.

  Daniel Webster, Argument on the Murder of Captain White, April 6, 1830. Vol. vi. p. 105.

What is the basis of your self-confidence?

Do you find that your level of self confidence tends to go up and down like the stock market? Or perhaps it even goes up and down along with the stock market! Here is a story about a Japanese businessman that might give you a new perspective.

The man in my story initially had numerous bankruptcies. After his first bankruptcy he said, "Even though my business had failed, I did not feel like I had failed. I still had confidence in myself. I still knew that I could do something good. I didn't try to figure out all the details of what I had done right or wrong, I didn't try to understand whether I was a good business man or a bad business man. I just continued to believe in myself, and the vision that I had."

After this first bankruptcy he borrowed some more capital, and started a new business which he also ran into bankruptcy in a fairly short amount of time. Afterwards he said, "Even more so now, I still had confidence in myself. I had seen some flashes of brilliance, and I knew that I could do something good. Once again, I didn't focus on right or wrong, good or bad. I focused on what had worked and I concentrated on how I could borrow more money with the hope of finally fulfilling my dream."

He manages to borrow some more money and he also manages to go bankrupt again. After his third bankruptcy he said "At this point I had gotten the beginning taste of victory. I knew I was getting closer to getting it right." What a fantastic spirit this guy has! He has huge confidence in the face of big time short term failure.

Back out on the streets, he only managed to borrow a small sum of money. Not being able to start a "real" business with such a limited amount of cash, he rented a small Japanese pick-up truck. He shopped around in various wholesale markets and wound up deciding to only buy reasonable quality items that he could sell cheaply. He loaded his goods into the back of his tiny pick-up truck and parked illegally on a busy street where he hawked his wares to the passersby, and the launch of a new retail phenomena had begun. Over time he parleyed the success he had with his one tiny truck, into a chain of highly successful stores.

When asked to what he attributed his success, he replied "Believing in myself, and not picking apart all of my pluses and minuses." He said, "Right from the beginning I knew that I could be successful. I knew that dissecting what I had done right and what I had done wrong would eat up a lot of time and energy, and most likely not give me the formula for success. I knew that the formula for success was already inside of me, and that my job was to find a way to allow this formula to be expressed. I didn't try to understand what to do, I tried to get myself to the point where I was already doing what I needed to do."

To me this story offers a great deal of inspiration. The faith this man has in himself can be a gift to all of us. This story also reminds me of an article I read in a business magazine. The reporter interviewed a number of highly successful business people, all of whom had "failed" at least three or four times along the way. Each person in their own words said the following "I could not be the success I am today, had it not been for all of my previous failures!"

Do you have some "failures" in your life that possess the seeds of future success? I am guessing that we all do.

Charlie Badenhop

About the author:

Charlie Badenhop 

Charlie Badenhop is the originator of Seishindo, a licensed instructor of Aikido, a long term practitioner of Self-relations therapy, a Trainer in NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis, and he practices the Japanese healing art of Sei Tai. Contact Charlie at - You are welcome to subscribe to his complimentary newsletter "Pure Heart, Simple Mind" at

Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many.

  Ecclesiastes 11:7,8 (KJV)

Passing shadows

I was working in a shipyard, building gunboats for the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy. As often in the Pacific Northwest, it was overcast. Word had passed around that there was going to be an eclipse that day, and quite a few of us were prepared to see it by carrying a piece of darkened glass, just like the welders use. Others gave it no thought; it was just another day to them. That was to change.

It got darker as the afternoon went on, but it happens when the cloud layer gets thick, and I didn't take any particular notice of it right away. Then it got really dark, and the lights controlled by photocells came on as if it were nighttime. Activity in the shipyard ground to a halt, except for those inside the bowels of the ships under construction, and we stood around in small groups, speaking in hushed voices. Even the birds were still. "This is spooky," someone said...

We discussed how quickly it went from a grey dusk to really dark. It was an almost immediate nightfall, unlike evening when the sky darkens more gradually. Some of the workers just coming outside from below-decks were visibly shaken by the darkness, as if they had lost their sense of time and had worked into the night without knowing it.

Believe it or not, the total occlusion of the sun only lasts four minutes.

After a short while, the night-like darkness passed and the dark-grey returned. Once again, it did so rather quickly. Soon, the novelty of the whole thing wore off, and most people got back to work. Not much later it was daylight, just like any other cloudy day in Washington State. It took about 5 or 6 minutes for this sequence of events to happen.

I remember that several of the workers were upset because they were not able to see the eclipse through the clouds. Others were still standing around, still discussing the eclipse, still hoping that the clouds would thin out so they could see it. After a few meaningful looks and stern words from the production supervisors, we all got back to work. The clouds eventually did thin out, and a few of us peered through the smoke-glass and the cloud cover to see the moon obscure just a fraction of the sun.

We had been talking about the impending eclipse for days before it happened. For me, it was the first solar eclipse I could remember experiencing, and the last for many years to come. I wanted to see it. Looking back on the whole thing, it is curious that I could have been so excited about four minutes of darkness. What were the production supervisors concerned about with respect to the eclipse? A report was later issued that an estimated total of 200 man-hours of production were lost in that few minutes. The supervisors were excited not at all.

How many hours of my life have I spent being concerned about the challenges I am facing, and being gloomy about the darkness that those challenges bring? Hundreds? Perhaps thousands of hours. Days of darkness, according to The Preacher's words in Ecclesiastes... Too many. There is work to do. The sun is up, and I must go about the job of living.

Four minutes a day to feel sorry for myself and my situation, if needed. But no more than that, please. No more time than it takes for a total eclipse of the sun. That leaves four-hundred and seventy-eight minutes per day for sleep, and nine-hundred and fifty-eight minutes each and every day for everything else. Over the course of a lifetime, the bad stuff will take only as much of my time as I give over to it. One full 24-hour period, distributed over the course of a year in four-minute daily increments, should be more than enough.

Hey, it is just a shadow. It will pass; shadows always do, and the light will quickly return. You'll see.

The Author
Peace and Light, Michael

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