Making Different Choices

Graduate Profiles

STAR Foundation Newsletter

Making Different Choices
by Vilma Ginzberg

“I remember the day.” His voice is soft, reflective. “In my car, on the way home from work, I thought I’d stop in at the casino on the way....” His voice trails off.

A successful corporate team leader, at the time a senior account executive, was on his way home to his wife and son in Phoenix. It had been a month or so since he had returned home from doing his STAR in Northern California, a period of time he describes as “four to six weeks of bliss, of being raw, open, forgiving.” Other than that, nothing much had changed; he had continued his gambling.

“But suddenly I realized that this didn’t feel like me. I remembered what I had so profoundly learned a month ago at STAR—that I could make a different choice! So I went straight home. That’s the point at which I started to make real changes in my life!”

I can hear the clarity, the simple truthfulness in his voice. “It was a moment of integrity I’ll never forget. I can no longer be the person I had been. I have a choice. I have willpower that I’m in charge of! It was that simple.”

He is telling me about what STAR has done for his life, and how and when its benefits unfolded for him. I ask him if there was any particular STAR experience that was unforgettable. “The major realization was finding out how I had been conditioned... to get on the treadmill and play the role. This was profound for me. Once I realized that early in my life I had made those decisions—that they were not hard-wired in, they were just decisions, and I could make new decisions now—that was the unforgettable part of STAR for me. I became more centered and courageous, my family life became more intimate, I got my career off that treadmill. I’ve been able to achieve a more centered approach to my life, with a more lasting peace of mind. All this is a direct result of looking at my life through the STAR Process.”

He tells me more about his life before STAR. It’s hard to believe that this now-successful businessman, husband of 20 years, quietly centered, humbly confident man, looking and sounding much younger than his actual age, could have been in a dysfunctional earlier marriage, on the brink of jeopardizing his current marriage, addicted to gambling and other behaviors to “escape,” a “regular John Wayne-type guy who had to prove I could do it all myself, by my rules.” He’d always been a seeker, had a drive to improve himself, read spiritual and self-help books, and been in therapy off and on. And though in his work he was okay, he was still “mostly depressed, stuck, going in circles, having trouble with trusting and with intimacy.”

When asked what he would say to someone “on the fence” about doing STAR, he says, “I tell them how it’s helped me. I say ‘It’s probably the best opportunity you’ll ever get to look at how you got to become who you are now.’ I tell them that if they consider it, they’ll come away with more options than ever to look at their lives. I tell them STAR helped me to know I have choices to change the course of my life.”

And then he tells how soon after the epiphany in the car he decided to make a major career move, and in how many ways his life is expanding, how he is “more in tune, more directed, more in touch with my emotions, knowing better the choices I make, seeing my old conditionings at play.”

“I was an adolescent until I was 50, a boy in a man’s body. I spent my 50th birthday at STAR, and got another life!” And I know I am talking not just with a man who has an impressive resume, but with a rejuvenated, mature, and privately very spiritual man.