MESSAGE 3: MF to DF
Dear One — I just came across this crusty e-mail. I should have read it at the time. Nov. and Dec. were not good months for me. I should say, rather, they amounted to a particularly difficult chapter in my Grownup School textbook. But I mastered the material and now find myself better equipped for the next 30 years than I would have been otherwise.
At a business conference in the early 1980s, one of the speakers instructed us to work with the person sitting next to us in this exercise: Each of you turns around and changes four things about your appearance; then you have to face each other again and figure out what changes the other guy made. You think that the point must have something to do with how good you are at noticing. But the speaker has us repeat this process over and over… and people get really inventive. It becomes clear that the point is actually to discover how creative and resourceful you are, as you keep reaching farther and farther into your imagination. That pretty much describes the process I started experiencing after I arrived here. Probably a bit like boot camp: You can’t possibly do that thing (scale that wall, do those push-ups), but you have to so you just DO.
I did follow instruction (1) below… at first, by default. My effed-up spine made me nearly immobile, but I was too depressed to do anything anyway. Mostly I prayed, meditated, and read escapist novels. I spent the requisite amount of time beating myself up for all manner of infringements of my personal code; I had intended to help Nancy around the house and spend lots of time with the kids. Fortunately, the doctor assigned to me is generous with opioids but is also a responsible physician. With her help I found the dosage that allowed me to move around but didn’t make me crazy.
I listened to a lot of Louise Hay “affirmations,” which normally cause me to run like the wind in the opposite direction. There’s nothing more depressing than being depressed AND pretending you’re not. But one of her maxims stuck. Actually, it’s more a way of life: loving oneself unconditionally. It was a real awakening to discover how unkind to myself I had habitually been, all my life, really, propping myself up with achievements, job success, and the genuine regard of good friends and family. Rick’s defection was bad enough, but Martha’s was a killer, and losing my competence in my profession (marketing, promotional writing, ghostwriting) cost me my confidence. Of course YOU never abandoned me, but you’re not allowed, it’s in your contract. (Didn’t read the fine print, did you?)
At some point I just decided to lean back against the universe, and trust. If I was disappointing Ed, Nancy, kids — so be it. I needed to rest and regenerate. Getting sane again, and THEN some, was like when I learned to swim. I was terrified of the water, but I had a really skillful and patient swimming instructor at camp and in the space of a week, even though it seemed as if we were taking tiny baby steps, I learned to float. Once you trust the water, you can do anything. One of my most vivid memories is the experience of discovering that if I relaxed and didn’t struggle and splash, the water would hold me up… likewise, almost 60 years later, discovering that Life (God, the Universe, the Divine Wow) will support me if I let it.
When I found out, right before Christmas, that when Ed and family find the house they want to buy and then actually move, our arrangement ends, I was devastated. Ed was insisting that I’d been told that THIS (i.e., living beside their house in large RV trailer) was just a temporary deal, and surely I could find an inexpensive apartment or trailer to rent nearby, and I said, well, that might work if the effwits in Iowa hadn’t disposed of all my furniture and household goods, not to mention clothes, eyeglasses, Collected Writings, computer and peripherals, don’t get me started… and I was thoroughly pissed off all over again.
NEW AND GLORIOUS DAWN
But THEN, the Clouds Parted, the Rising Sun Burned Away the Mist, and I was witnessing the New and Glorious Dawn of my life — the fulfillment, actually, of a lifelong dream, with a bonus. (SEE IMAGE, TOP.) I can have it all! I can travel coast to coast and visit relatives and friends in my little motor home or pickup-truck-with-camper, and if I run out of money or the vehicle balks, I can just stay where I am until the next check comes. But THEN, out of the blue, came the quasi-minstrel idea, and I am even now preparing to contact local churches where I can test my concept, file away any rough edges, and possibly collect some $$$ for travel expenses and my Emergency Camper Failure Fund. (Going to have to find a less fatalistic name for the fund.)
I had a sort of spiritual corroboration of my plan when I was meditating one afternoon last week. I’ve always liked “performing” and doing clever, entertaining, and educational little children’s-sermon-type things, which I do very well and which, back before I started Loving Myself Unconditionally, gave me some fuel for keeping on being wonderful. But during the recent meditation, while I was focused on the delightful sensation of breathing through the entire body at once, I had this brief but powerful vision of being in front of the Assembled Multitudes on my upcoming “tour” and feeling motivated NOT by the opportunity to feed my ego but RATHER by a surge of love and compassion for the people in the audience. I mean, I’ve always assumed that that was there, somewhere, mixed up with the thrill of being visible and funny and admired, but I can’t say it’s ever been THE factor. But at that particular meditative moment I understood all the way to my toes that I really do have something valuable to give in a way that will provide deep satisfaction to all concerned — not just an ego fix for me. I’m making this sound too black-and-white and making myself appear evil and self-absorbed, while the truth is that I’ve always enjoyed connecting, it hasn’t just been one-way love coming in my direction. STILL — I didn’t know that it was possible to feel such detachment from my own “success” in favor of sharing something precious and genuinely uplifting to my brothers and sisters, etc. … something that, in combination with other people’s small and large acts of love and goodwill, will actually lift the planet just enough to be detectable. Everyone will say, “Oh, my, aren’t we 4 centimeters higher in elevation than we were earlier today?”
More soon, my angel. Thanks for listening.
MESSAGE 2: DF to MF
Prayers, etc., coming your way, with love, per your request….
(1) Then I took stock of the nature of my disaster. ‘The first thing to do in such a case,’ I remembered old Flight Sergeant Norris telling us, ‘…is to reduce throttle setting from cruise speed to a slower setting, to give maximum flight endurance. We don’t want to waste valuable fuel, do we, gentlemen? We might need it later. So we reduce power setting from 10,000 revolutions per minute to 7,200. That way, we will fly a little slower, but we will stay in the air rather longer, won’t we, gentlemen?’ He always referred to us all being in the same emergency at the same time, did Sergeant Norris….
(2) When we are totally lost above unbroken cloud, gentlemen, we must consider the necessity of bailing out of our aircraft, must we not?
— Frederick Forsyth, The Shepherd
MESSAGE 1: MF to DF
Sorry to have been out of touch. Been in a funk. Curl-up-in-a-fetal-position variety of funk. Seeing dr. Tuesday. Would not object to prayers, positive vibes, whatever’s your style. Thanks….
P.S. DF — the Perfect Book. Per. Fect. TY