Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye decade of 2000s, we hardly knew ye....

A word of farewell to the Decade of Naughts

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:

Golden lads and girls all must,
as chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:

The sceptre, learning, physic,
must all follow this, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

Fear no more the lightning flash,
nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
thou hast finish'd joy and moan:

All lovers young, all lovers must
consign to thee, and come to dust

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

Wm Shakespeare

Posted New Year's Eve
End of a decade, start of a new one,
the last such embarking under the current world order?
Thursday, December 31, 2009


For what may lie straight ahead, we recommend to you our top pick of the decade in nonfiction:

Not all stories end in an Extraordinary Comeback

You may recall Pat Tillman as a former NFL star who walked away from a $3 million contract to serve his country in the aftermath of 9/11. His harrowing tale is told here:

Very sobering stuff, on every level. But as a treatise on "how stuff works," in the real world, this is a masterpiece.

Strength in what remains

The remarkable and moving story of one "Deo" -- a young man who fled Burundi, an African nation neighbor to Rwanda during the 1993 genocide, and after a sojourn and an Ivy League education in the USA, courtesy philanthropic friends, returns to build a medical clinic. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Irony: while we were writing about a comeback hero, he was having a major setback, hospitalized for depression

Irony is never far from us here on planet earth. While we were writing about comeback exemplar Sen. Max Cleland in Extraordinary Comebacks, he was having a crushing meltdown that put him back in Walter Reed Army hospital.

He tells the story in his new book. "Heart of a Patriot - How I Found The Courage To Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed, and Karl Rove," by Max Cleland, with Ben Raines (Simon and Schuster, 2009) ISBN 978-1-4391-2605-9. Promotion excerpt follows:

But during his (2002) reelection campaign he is singled out by Republicans, who smear him as "unpatriotic." He loses his seat and begins another steep tumble. A long-dormant case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, awakened after 9/11 by the invasion of Iraq, pushes Max to the brink. Forty years after Vietnam, having reached -- and fallen from -- a pinnacle of power, Max returns to Walter Reed as a patient, surrounded by veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Among them, Max again finds the faith and endurance to regain control of his life.

In a memoir free of bitterness but frank about the costs of being a soldier, Max Cleland describes with love the ties America's soldiers forge with one another, along with the disillusionment many of them experience when they come home. He spares no one his humiliations and setbacks in this gut-wrenching account of his life in the hope it will keep even one veteran from descending into darkness. Heart of a Patriot is a story about the joy of serving the country you love, no matter the cost -- and how to recover from the deepest wounds of war.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New book from David Walker

What could be more significant to us all:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The secrets of resilient people

From AARP magazine, well worth your time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mind over mind

The Bible tells us "as a man thinketh so is he." Prov. 23.7 A seemingly simple statement, one you hear when you're young, and, if you're blessed with "understanding", you get it, and if you're not, it takes you the rest of your life to grasp it. Like the music of Mozart. Too simple, too effortless to comprise or contain the 'secrets of the universe,' or 'the meaning of life,' right?

But no, not so, too profound, I think. Now science concurs ---- what you think becomes what you are: Check this out:,8599,1929869,00.html

TIME says:

If any pill has been shown undeniably to work in clinical trials, it is the sugar pill, along with its close cousin, the sham treatment. The placebo, as such inert and cost-free remedies are known, can relieve depression as effectively as Prozac, ease discomfort as effectively as acupuncture, and reduce as much disability and back pain as a widely used vertebral surgery that costs up to $5,000.

That the effect of bogus treatments is real has long been known, but the mechanism behind them is still largely a scientific mystery. The standard explanation is that we are just fooling ourselves. In Latin, placebo means "I shall please," which suggests that the placebo effect is just a fleeting mind trick — that the mere suggestion of pharmacologically induced pain relief humors the body into temporary recovery. In trials, every drug response is in fact assumed to be at least partially due to the placebo effect. But the confounding thing about the benefits of the placebo is that the effect is often not beneficial at all. (See the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2008.)

Consider the negative placebo response, called the nocebo effect. (The term nocebo is also from Latin, this time from the infinitive nocere, "to do harm.") A nocebo response occurs when the suggestion of a negative effect of an intervention leads to an actual negative outcome. When doctors tell patients that a medical procedure will be extremely painful, for example, they tend to experience significantly more pain than patients who weren't similarly warned. And in double-blind clinical trials of antidepressants, even those participants receiving a sugar pill report side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort if investigators have warned them at the outset that those effects are likely.

It's possible that the nocebo response is easily explained: in the antidepressant trials, maybe some patients — given that they already tended toward depression and anxiety — worried so much about the doctor's cautions that their stomach released enough acids to cause pain. That would make sense except that the range of possible nocebo responses stretches far beyond stomachache (in extreme cases, ailing patients who are mistakenly informed that they have only a few months to live will die within their given time frame, even though postmortem investigations show that there was no physiological explanation for early death). In a new paper published in the journal Pain, researchers found that clinical-trial participants have reported a wide variety of nocebo-fueled medical complaints, including burning sensations outside the stomach, sleepiness, fatigue, vomiting, weakness and even taste disturbances, tinnitus and upper-respiratory-tract infection. What's more, these nocebo complaints aren't random; they tend to be specific to the type of drug that patients believe they may be taking. (Read "The Year in Medicine 2008: From A to Z.")

The Pain study, which was led by Italian neuroscientist Martina Amanzio, reviewed 73 clinical trials conducted between 1988 and 2007. All the previously published trials pitted potential antimigraine medications against sugar pills. The medications included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil); triptans, which include Imitrex; and anticonvulsant drugs like Topamax. Those three categories of drugs carry different adverse effects: NSAIDs, for instance, often cause stomach problems; anticonvulsants can cause paresthesia (tingling) and memory impairment. Interestingly, patients who took sugar pills tended to report nocebo problems consistent with whatever drug they thought they might have swallowed. No one who thought they could be taking an NSAID or triptan reported memory problems or tingling, but some who thought they might have taken anticonvulsants did. Likewise, only placebo groups in the NSAID trials reported side effects like stomach upset and dry mouth.

Exactly why the placebo and nocebo responses arise is a puzzle, but a fascinating article in Wired magazine noted earlier this year that the positive placebo response to drugs has increased during clinical trials over the past few years. The article speculated that drug advertising — which exploded after 1997, when the Food and Drug Administration began allowing direct-to-consumer ads — has led us to expect more from drugs. Those expectations, in turn, have made us feel better just for popping a pill. (Placebo responses can also occur simply when you book appointments with doctors or psychotherapists.) (See the most common hospital mishaps.)

But the Pain study found that date of publication had no effect on the side effects reported: the placebo and nocebo responses were just as robust before 1997 as after. That leaves scientists still looking for an answer. The Wired story suggested that the act of merely doing something good for yourself may stimulate the body's "endogenous health-care system," perhaps by inhibiting stress hormones. But that wouldn't explain why the same act might lead to phantom nocebo aches and pains.

A final question: What happens now that more of us are onto the placebo/nocebo problem? Will our expectations adjust to reality? Who knows? "The placebo is a trickster," says Ted Kaptchuk, a placebo expert at Harvard Medical School. "We still don't understand how it works." But Kaptchuk says it's possible to defeat placebo benefits and overcome nocebo problems simply by being aware of them. Mind, in other words, over mind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

After 9 months on his back part of a 2 1/2 year stint of surgeries and rehabs, and after doctors said he'd never play tennis again, Taylor Dent thrilled tennis fans around the world by advancing to the third round of the 2009 US Open. He achieved this with a stirring fifth set tiebreak win over Navarro. It took no less than Andy Murray, a top 5 player, to stop him, but Dent won a legion of fans and admirers, and told media he was satisfied with his progress. Indeed. Hats off to Taylor Dent, an extraordinary comeback...! Read more

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Less is more, slower is faster and other paradoxes from the world of sound

Back in 1977, I heard the Philharmonia Hungarica perform at Orchestra Hall (Chicago). I can picture it as if it were yesterday, because one image stands out in my mind. It was the first and only time I ever saw Chef Louis Szathmary wear a tie.

It was that big a deal, at least for the Hungarian intelligentsia in Chicago, of whom Chef Lajos was captain.

I don’t remember the program, but I remember the encore: the Rakoczy March, the unofficial national anthem of Hungarians everywhere. This piece is normally played faster, faster, and then faster still to make its point.

But the P.H. had another idea: they played it plenty fast alright, but at the point of restating the final refrain, they cut the tempo in half, and played with a resolute, martial, relentless inevitability. For those of us sitting in the first balcony, the effect was like speeding along in a top-down sports car, and with no warning, having the brakes slammed on, and being catapulted into space.

I never heard the piece performed that way before – or since. In just one short encore was contained an entire graduate degree’s worth of instruction in style and interpretation.

In later years, the orchestra made their mark by recording all 104 Haydn symphonies, and to great critical acclaim. I purchased a number of them. You can hear some on youtube. Only one ensemble has equaled the feat, the Austro-Hungarian Hadyn Philharmonic, led by Adam Fischer.

I came across a CD by the P.H. recently, works of Kodaly. I went to the Internet to find out where they might be traveling and performing.

Much to my chagrin, the group disbanded.

Here’s what I found in Wikipedia:

The Philharmonia Hungarica was … first established in Baden bei Wien near Vienna by Hungarian musicians who had fled their homeland after it was invaded by Soviet troops. This refugee ensemble gathered together some of Hungary's finest musical talent and was directed by none other than Zoltán Rozsnyai, former conductor of the Hungarian National Philharmonic. Through the ardent efforts of Rozsnyai and honorary president Antal Doráti, the Philharmonia Hungarica quickly matured into one of Europe's most distinguished orchestras. During the 1970s, Dorati and the orchestra, under contract with Decca Records, made a canonical, world-first recording of the complete cycle of Joseph Haydn's symphonies; only one other ensemble, the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, conducted by Ádám Fischer, has since repeated this feat.

From the orchestra's inception, the West German government sought to harness its anti-Soviet propaganda potential. As a result, the government generously funded the orchestra throughout the Cold War and continued extending subsidies even after the Iron Curtain fell in 1990. The full withdrawal of state subsidies at the start of 2001, combined with the long-term decline in concert attendances, aggravated the financial problems that threatened the orchestra's survival. The beleaguered Philharmonia Hungarica finally disbanded after giving a farewell concert in Düsseldorf on 22 April 2001, featuring a performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 conducted by Robert Bachmann. It was attended by an estimated audience of 150 in a concert hall meant to hold 2000.

To a hall 93% empty?


Our main topic of conversation here in this blog is the comeback, and the glory that attends.

But not every enterprise ends in glory. Some just end. And when only 150 are on hand to usher such a historic group into musical history, sometimes less is just, well, less.

POSTSCRIPT. Saturday, January 22, 2011. I recently located the Orchestra Hall program for this event that took place Monday, October 24, 1977:

Mozart, Symphony No. 40
Kodaly, Marroszek Dances
Chopin, PC No. 2 (Balint Vasonyi, soloist)
Tchaikovsky, Romeo et Juliette (two dances)
Liszt, Rakoczy March

The conductor: Zoltan Rosnay

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Leap of faith

It struck me the other day that the Christian faith may be expressed by this image.

At the behest of our superior, we take a leap, in this case, out of the safety of the plane into rough air.

Some jumpers writhe in fearful agony, all the way down, some relax and enjoy the descent, most go back and forth. And so it is. It's the same trip, either way. We race to the terra firma, to the promised land. Jesus is there holding us, securing us, making certain we don't perish. John 3.16.

The story behind this photo: June 12, 2009, Geo. Bush Sr. celebrates his 85th birthday with a parachute jump, aided and abetted by the US Army's Golden Knights parachute team. Sr. was himself a Navy pilot, and jumped on his 80th, and 75th birthdays, and notably, when his plane was shot down over the vast Pacific in WWII.

Takes a certain courage to do this anytime, especially on one's 85th! Takes a certain courage to believe, any day, and every day. But "God so loved the world...." He said it, and we believe it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Magnificent Desolation

We watched the film GOODBYE LENIN! where a former East German astronaut is reduced, post-career, to driving a taxi. Can't happen here? Astronaut Buzz Aldrin found himself selling Cadillacs, used and new. He tells the whole story, beginning to present, including his moon walk, in MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION, his on-again, off-again story of disappointment and depression aggravated with chronic alcoholism. What ultimately cements his triumph? Swearing off drink, and the love of a good woman, who herself, undergoes a stunning reversal of fortune, from millions in family bank stock (her father founded Western Savings & Loan in 1929) to zeroes in the same bank stock, when its charter is revoked in the 1989 savings and loan debacle. An apocryphal yet hopeful tale of the fragility of life here on planet Earth as (once seen) from the moon. Many caveats for the close reader. And finally, an extraordinary comeback.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Author "chooses" not to buckle

We look for and file away stories of Extraordinary Comebacks, and this one is remarkable on any number of levels. The author suffers a Mahlerian trio of hammer blows of fate, by losing his son, wife and daughter within a 20 month period. He says at the outset: "I deliberately chose not to be destroyed." Cain tells the story of each tragedy, and then turns his attention to exactly "how" he repaired his outlook, the actual nuts and bolts of maintaining his sanity by living in the now, as he puts it. The re-telling carries the story of his own remarkable comeback, and has the capability to restore thousands. Hard to put down, we read it quickly over several days. What more pertinent gift for someone in your circle who is suffering? Buddha said "life is suffering" -- so this book is appropriate for everyone in or (momentarily) out of that status.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A triumphant comeback

Angela Hewitt brought the depth of her humanity, and dare we say it, a touch of divinity in her accounting of Bach’s Goldberg Variations Sunday May 25, 2009 at Symphony Center, Chicago.

She very generously preceded her 3 p.m. concert with a 2 p.m., half-hour lecture in the Grainger Ballroom. She noted that management was rather surprised at her request to speak, but that she wanted to make a connection with her audience before walking onstage and plowing into the monumental work.

The last time she was in Chicago downtown proper, she said, was in 1986 at the Dame Myra Hess concerts, a free series that was and is still broadcast on classical WFMT radio. She has well used that 23-year interval by becoming what many consider a foremost, if not the foremost, Bach interpreter on the scene today. I guessed that she must have been about 20 when she was here before, (43 or so now?) but it turns out that the youthful appearing artist is 51, so her age on her earlier visit would have been closer to 28.

Ms. Hewitt touched on historical notes to begin, the fabled gold goblet filled with coins with which Bach was apparently paid for the work (possibly a myth, no such item found among his effects at his passing), the fact that the work was so difficult it had not been played in public for more than 100 years after its writing (according to Grove’s dictionary, 1889), comments by interpreters Landowska, Tureck and Gould. She commented on Bach’s representation of pain, suffering, even the crucifixion using descending scales, minor keys and the like, but said that “ultimate despair was not in Bach’s mindset, his faith in an afterlife was ever present.”

Then she sat down to the piano, and worked through highlights of the work. Variation 3 “an outburst of irrepressible joy” (per Landowska), variation 13 “takes us up there,” variation 25, “the black pearl,” the longest and hardest variation where the keyboardist is called upon to “empty oneself,” variation 28 foretelling “late Beethoven,” and then the quodlibet folk tune speaking of something like if mother had prepared more meat I would have stayed, but “beets and spinach drove me away.” Bach the lofty, high-minded, otherworldly prophet, ending it all, with a commonplace equivalent of ‘where’s the beef?’ What could be more….Zen?

Turning the page of her extremely well-worn urtext edition, a fragment came off in her hand, causing a bit of laughter in the audience when she held it aloft. Ms. Hewitt said she would have to tape it back together.

All in all, the artist brought a sense of scholarship, artistry, humanity, humor and energy to her lecture, but the main course lay just ahead, where she would add her courage and stamina, which are prodigious (in October 2008 she completed her Bach World Tour where she played the 48 preludes and fugures of the Well-Tempered Clavier -- by heart -- more than 50 times!, so she knows all about courage and stamina).

Thirty minutes later, downstairs in the main hall, taking most all repeats, Ms. Hewitt traversed what many consider the greatest keyboard work of all time in one hour, twenty minutes, twenty minutes longer than most who do not take the repeats. Nary a note was out of place, the voicings were always clear, singing, unmistakable. She said in her pre-concert remarks that the trick was to make this “sound easy.” Indeed, she did. The N.Y. Times has called her playing "crystalline", she achieves this with minimal use of pedal. That, and her depth of passion, make her playing unforgettable.

She held the silence following the ending note for a full 30 seconds, and then was engulfed with a tsunami of roaring applause, cheers and standing patrons. Many curtain calls followed; surely it was too much to ask for an encore after such a traversal. In fact, it would be wrong to tack something onto the end of something this grand, this magnificent, this “complete,” as Ms. Hewitt had earlier called the final restatement of the Goldberg theme, no?

As it turns out, no.

Ms. Hewitt obliged the still-hungry crowd with perhaps the only encore that would have felt “right” at this exalted point, i.e. Bach’s own Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.

It was the perfect spiritual counterweight – this time in sound -- to her earlier comments on Bach’s faith.

And so it was on this late spring afternoon in Chicago, that this daughter of an Ottawa cathedral organist, named for God's helpers it was pointed out to me, who had graced her many fans and patrons with the depth of her humanity in lecturing and her impeccable playing, left them with a touch of divinity.

Read her blogs – and her own account of her Chicago concert -- at

Postscript: I have just finished listening to her GV recording; this would be my proverbial desert island disc, had I to choose but one, without question..........

Friday, May 1, 2009


Just watched THE WRESTLER. An unimaginably harrowing, brutal, sordid, nauseating, transfixing, existential piece of film art (non-squeamish only, please). More on the star from Wikipedia:

Rourke's acting career eventually became overshadowed by his personal life and seemingly eccentric career decisions. Directors such as Alan Parker found it difficult to work with him. Parker stated that "working with Mickey is a nightmare. He is very dangerous on the set because you never know what he is going to do".[11] He is alleged to have turned down a number of high-profile acting roles, including Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Tom Cruise's role in Rain Man, Nick Nolte's part in 48 Hrs., Christopher Lambert's part in Highlander and a part in Platoon.[citation needed] In a documentary on the special edition DVD of Tombstone, actor Michael Biehn, who plays the part of Johnny Ringo, mentions that his role was first offered to Rourke.[12]

Boxing career

In 1991, Rourke decided that he "…had to go back to boxing" because he felt that he "… was self-destructing … (and) had no respect for myself being an actor."[13] Rourke was undefeated in eight fights, with six wins (four by knockout) and two draws. He fought as far afield as Spain, Japan and Germany.[14]

During his boxing career, Rourke suffered a number of injuries, including a broken nose, toe, ribs, a split tongue, and a compressed cheekbone.[15] He also suffered from short term memory loss[16].

His trainer during his boxing career was Hells Angels member Chuck Zito,[17] and his entrance song was Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine."[18]

Boxing promoters said that Rourke was too old to succeed against top-level fighters. Indeed, Rourke himself admits that entering the ring was a sort of personal test: "(I) just wanted to give it a shot, test myself that way physically, while I still had time."[19] In 1995, Rourke retired from boxing and returned to acting.

Rourke's boxing career resulted in a notable physical change in the 1990s, as his face needed reconstructive surgery in order to mend his injuries. His face was later called "almost unrecognizable".[20] In 2009, the actor told The Daily Mail that he had gone to "the wrong guy" for his surgery and that his plastic surgeon had left his features "a mess."[20]

Monday, January 12, 2009

She came back by helping others

We don't always "win," but we can almost always "come back" -- the story of brave Kindra McLennan, surely a must read.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Making your comeback in 2009

Wrote this for a friend's blog, and thought of posting here, too:

TOP 10 “To Do’s” for making your 2009 comeback

If you owned an asset in 2008, chances are it is worth less today.

You may have lost a job, or a home.

If you have a job, you may be thinking, “how secure?”

No one is immune. From Warren Buffett and his fellow billionaires, on down. Only the number of zeros and the degree of suffering varies from person to person.

We are all “one-down,” as the saying goes.

A few years ago I wrote a book: Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success. It was as much for me as for anyone else. I needed a lift, and visiting Border’s (their stock is less than $1, and they’re almost bankrupt now, too, that’s what I mean when I say we are all “one-down”) thought I’d have 20 such volumes to choose from. None (at that time) existed. So I took my tearsheets, and newspaper clippings gathered over the years, and created the manuscript and found a publisher. (I am now completing volume 2.)

500 comeback stories later, what did I learn? How does one “make a comeback?” Here is my summary and I hope it contains at least one idea that is a positive spark, a positive catalyst for you:

1. PERSIST. Don’t quit. “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Sir Winston Churchill. As the Bible says, consider the ant.

2. MAKE THE EFFORT. Word hard. Great comebackers use all the hours in the day: chef Paula Deen barbequed all night when she was starting out with her sandwich business, mogul to-be Wayne Huizenga collected trash at night, sold new accounts in the day. Heavyweight George Foreman out-trained younger fighters to retake his crown. You can find your comeback right in the effort you make. The writer of Ecclesiastes said: “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.”

3. UNDERSTAND TRANSIENCE. Don’t extrapolate temporary setbacks into permanent defeat. It’s not always going to be like this. “This, too, shall pass.” Lance Armstrong was given a 2% chance to survive cancer, he went on to win seven, consecutive Tour de Frances. Churchill again: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

4. CHANGE DIRECTION. Sylvester Stallone was stymied as an actor, so he wrote Rocky after seeing the Wepner-Ali fight. Billy Beane was a so-so baseball player, he quit and became a top GM for the Oakland A’s. Quincy Jones was a talented trumpeter, but after a stroke, he had to quit, and then became a legendary music producer. Someday we’ll all change direction: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Cor 15:19. There’s a big change coming….meanwhile:

5. EMPLOY SUPPORT. Stay away from the nay-sayers, even if they’re famous or going to be (Martin Scorsese told Billy Crystal he had “no talent.”) Pack your corner with friends who won’t let you quit. Ali did that: he wanted to quit during his first heavyweight championship, his manager wouldn’t let him. “Wherever two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them…” “Forsake not the assembling together of yourselves…”

6. REPEAT. It took Sir Edmund Hillary two attempts to climb Everest, Peary eight times to reach the North Pole, and various authors scores and sometimes hundreds of tries to get their works published. Go back again, and again, and ………Remember the woman who woke the judge at midnight, and was rewarded for her “importunity?” She was persistent, and in the end, got what she needed.

7. DREAM BIG. Your effort and ideas are worth many times what you may imagine. Fred Smith wrote a college paper that got a “C,” as the story goes, then turned it into $40 billion FedEx. Dean Karnazes ran a 226 mile ultramarathon and 350 mile run, plus 50 marathons in 50 days (2006). J.K. Rowling wrote her ideas about a fictional boy during a train ride. Harry Potter sold 100 million copies, and $4 billion movie box office, and counting. Pavarotti and his fellow two tenors got nothing for the first Three Tenors concert, it was for charity. They re-packaged it for pay the next time around, and a string of concerts and CDs followed. When he passed on, Pavarotti’s estate was valued at $475 million. You can do much more than you imagine. Dream big. The biggest dreams come from God himself: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11

8. STAY HUMBLE. Attitude -- is everything. When tennis legend Andre Agassi fell from No. 1 to No. 141 (1997), he started over, went back to the minor leagues, upped his training, including weightlifting. It set the stage for greater things than ever before. Attitude – not image – is everything. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” Matt. 6:33

9. SELF-PROGRAM. Get a mantra. A psychiatrist-hypnotist provided Rachmaninoff the composer, who had a writing block, with a positive self-talk mantra: “You will begin your concerto. You will work with great facility. The concerto will be excellent.” It worked. He wrote his Piano Concerto No. 2. Many of us Christians employ a special verse that never fails to give a meaningful lift, or helps us refocus on what is truly important: “Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither. Ezek. 40:4” Speaking of which:

10. LOOK UP. Greatest comeback of all time, that of Jesus Christ to his kingdom on earth is still ahead, some say just ahead. That is the last comeback in Extraordinary Comebacks. “I will come again.” “In my house are many mansions.” Hey, Christian. Great news. No matter what the score at halftime, we win in the end. Never forget it, or your worth to God in that kingdom, even for a minute.

Learn more about Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success by John A. Sarkett at or Amazon. He has two blogs: and

Also the author of After Armageddon and A short BOOK OF BIBLE PROPHECY: 77 predictions on USA, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Europe, The Euro, Mideast War, Global Warming, and more, see for more.