Imagine if you were told to close your eyes and put on a blindfold? Then you were
instructed to remember what was on your calendar for the day and to try and complete
any one of them. Quite daunting. Remember that there are people that never get to take
off the blindfold.
You’ve heard it before; if you give all control to Hashem you’ll be happy. My Rebbe has
told me, “When you give control to Hashem, that’s when you gain control.” This seems
illogical. Could you be in control of a moving car if you take your hands off the wheel?
We are wired to think, feel and yearn to be in control all the time. In my private practice
as a psychotherapist, I see anxious people fighting to find a sense of control. They’ll do
almost anything to gain control; they’re not looking to give it away. So how do we control
the voice in our head that controls everything including our need to feel completely in
As a recent winner on CBS’ Million Dollar Mile, produced by Lebron James, I had to
beat a pro athlete. It was scary task to compete against this pro that no one had yet
beaten on the show beyond one obstacle. I felt everything was up to Hashem during my
experience on Million Dollar Mile. Even during the moment I thought I was about to lose,
I felt calmed knowing it was all up to Hashem. I had worn my yarmulke proudly and
discussed my frumkite on the show. I made sure to have so many bobby pins that I’d
finish the race with my yarmulke and bitachone in tact. Giving up control helped me beat
the odds because I simply wasn’t competing alone. I was then gifted with the honor to
speak at camps and events about empowering ourselves.
Then came the day I was asked to run an event at Camp Simcha Special. I wanted to
share my passion of running Spartan Obstacle Courses with them. We created an
course for the campers. Soon it became apparent that they were sharing their passion
with me as well. Kids in wheelchairs, double amputees, cancer patients, all working
hard to show themselves and the world that together we can overcome. There was fist
pumping, cheers and shouts of glee signaling victory as they received their medals
rewarding their grit.
But one child changed my life perspective. He was an 8 year old who was blind. He was
not a blind 8 year old because he had more sight than most. He depended on me to
help him through the course and was elated every step of the way. I felt I needed to
understand him better, a child who had every excuse to feel miserable, instead showing
elation. That next Sunday there was a 4 mile, 24 obstacle Spartan race at West Point. I
completed it, blindfolded. I’d Ike to say that it was great or fascinating. But primarily, it
was... just terrifying. I had a guide who I knew would not let me get seriously hurt, but
that didn’t mitigate my fear. Even though I knew I was safe, I could barely control my
own anxiety. When I removed my blindfold, I thanked Hashem. What a bracha that I
was able to take it off. There are many who cannot.
It’s trusting another and giving up control that is against our nature. When I later
watched the video, I didn’t see the rationale in my fear. But it was real and it showed me
the true inner strength of my new 8 year old friend who inspired me with his sight in the
midst of his blindness. He speaks to every one of us. We are living in a theoretical
construct of blindness in our daily lives. There are so many factors we can’t control that
affect our lives, but our brains protect us by telling us we are fine, we are in control. We
live in a blindfold and thus, many of us live a life in a subconscious state of fear.
Hashem is our Guide, but many times we just say He’s in control, but do we feel it? Can
you reach out for His hand and when He grabs it, can you totally give yourself over to
Him? Or are you like me, where you can’t trust your guide and just feel disoriented as
you try to get your bearings? We all want to believe we can do it, but it takes some real
effort to go against our instinctual desire to be our own guide.
And here’s the thing: there is no right answer to how to give yourself over to Hashem.
It’s a unique experience you, and only you, can have. No one can do it for you. You just
have to do it. But sometimes, we have to just blindfold ourselves and take the leap, fight
against the inner voice that doesn’t want to let go.
I learned that I am blind. Whether I can have true sight like my 8 year old friend and
trust my Guide is up to me.
Michael Neuman is a Florida based psychotherapist and recent winner on CBS’ Million
Dollar Mile, produced by Lebron James. Michael’s foundation will be providing a
wellness program where he will be training kids with physical challenges and volunteer
teammates who will assist the kids through an actual Spartan obstacle race. To join or
get involved, please visit: Jifoundation.org