A short time before I began writing this series of blogs I had a long conversation one afternoon with a good friend of mine. We have been friends for many years and throughout our friendship we have had some conversations that run very deep and leave far behind what would be perceived by many people as being reality. On this particular afternoon our conversation was centered around the mechanics and myriad ramifications of belief systems. There was a point in the conversation where my friend had a revelation of no small magnitude. A question that he had been asking for a very long time, a question that had been perplexing him as long as he had been asking it...was finally answered. The revelation was not abrupt. It unfolded gradually. Before I begin sharing with you only a few of the details of my friend's revelation, I want to give you enough back story so as to put the importance of the revelation into context.
My friend, like me, is in his sixties although he is a few years closer to being seventy than I am. We happened to meet at a business presentation given by an incredibly enthusiastic and passionate entrepreneur. We hit it off instantly and began talking with one another as if we were just picking up from where we had left off a short time before. At this point in time my friend was almost two years on the other side of a dramatic life changing event he had experienced. This event contained an elusive mystery that continuously tormented him and it has been a subject we have explored many, many times in great depth throughout our friendship. A mystery is any condition where there is not an answer to the question(s) being asked. The basic question my friend was asking was "Why?" "Why did this happen?" Followed by, various versions of "What did I do?" "What the hell happened?" and so on. Even though, in our exploration into this mystery we came up with many plausible answers that we both tried to make into "THE" answer, our attempts were, regrettably, to no avail. Thus, my friend's mystery (and also mine as I had adopted it) and his emotional turbulence tenaciously endured. Although, as time passed, the loudness of the mystery did subside and its incessant demand for attention did the same. I suppose, after so many attempts to solve and so many failure in solving, it was gradually slipping into the state of being seen as a futility.
Prior to my friend's dramatic life changing event he had achieved a lifestyle and was living the kind of life that people like to write books about. He had worked himself up the ladder of success to being able to play with the big boys and a few big girls (figuratively speaking) on the international corporate gameboard. He worked in public relations and advertising and, because of his particular areas of expertise, he got to work with folks who were on the cutting edge of incredible technologies in a wide range of fields. His work also put him into contact with numerous celebrities. He did a lot of work for companies that serviced the space industry. His work was exciting, adventurous and extremely demanding. He was a workaholic. He was on the fast track that was taking him higher and higher up that ladder of success. He finally was able to break out on his own and live his dream of having his own company, which became an instant success. Three years into owning a company that was steadily increasing in success, his ladder of success that seemed to have no end, abruptly folded over and instantly converted into being track for a roller coaster on its way down. The decent was much more rapid than the climb and then there was the crash, the shock and the stupor that lingered and lingered and lingered. When all the mental dust finally settled, there, squatting in the ruble and looking like one might imagine a demon to look, was the mystery. And my friend's response to the mystery....a bewildered "Why?"
A while back, in our discussion regarding myriad aspects of belief systems we eventually came around to looking at our belief systems about learning, school and education that we had entered the public education system with. This turned out to be a very rewarding part of our discussion. My friend was telling me about how he had entered the school system with such a joy. He said he loved learning and was so happy to be at school. Of course, his teachers liked him and his joy of learning was reflected in nothing but the highest marks on his report cards, which, by the way, he said he was oblivious to. "But, he said, that was about to change." And at this point in our conversation he seemed to digress from the theme of our discussion so that he could share a story with me.
My friend was the middle kid in a family with five kids. The oldest of the kids was his sister who was almost four years older than he. He said her behavior was unpredictable and she could very easily become violent. My friends siblings were not nearly so joyful and excited about learning and being at school as he was and their report cards reflected this.
When my friend entered junior high his being oblivious to report cards became impossible. His mother got the bright idea, since his report cards were stellar and the report cards of his siblings not so much, she would hold his grades up to his brothers and sisters as being the standard of measurement they would all be judged, punished or rewarded by. That is; as it pertained to their school performance. Of course, in his mother enacting this system of evaluation of school performance, my friend instantly became the target of his siblings resentment, even threats. The oldest sister got him alone and cornered him where she proceeded to inform him, in no uncertain terms, that if he kept making such good grades she would most definitely kill him. He took her threat seriously and immediately began to purposefully hold himself back. Fortunately for him, he only had to live with this threat for a little over a year. His sister graduated, got married and had other things to worry about. Hallelujah! The ominous threat ceased to be.
As he was sharing his story with me it began to occur to my friend how the threat from his sister and his response to it, even though it had only spanned a little over a year, had taken root as an obscure belief system. A belief system that had success and getting killed as being one and the same. At this point my friend took a long pause as he was obviously looking at something that was invisible to me. Such a pause was not uncommon between us during these in depth discussions. As I waited in silence and looked at my friend's face I began to see micro indicators in his facial expressions that hinted to something profound. Soon, a single light lit up on the panel of his consciousness then another, and another and finally the whole thing was in glorious illumination. An incredible revelation had occurred! What followed next was a rapid out pouring of recognition of things previously unrecognized and an enormity of new understandings.
The gist of my friend's revelation was this: Becoming aware of this idiotic belief system that had taken form in his mind around the threat that had come from his sister back when he was in junior high, was tantamount to finding a key piece of the puzzle that he didn't even realize was missing until he found it. This piece was the piece that once fitted into the puzzle, instantly allowed a lot of other pieces to fit (this is when the entire panel lit up like the sun). This particular belief system was the "unseen hand".."the man behind the curtain"..."the invisible fence"...that had been activated when my friend, by his definition, had become successful. The instant he acknowledged his own success the hidden belief system activated and 'killed' his success. This fact was clear as it could be to him. Finally! The mystery was solved. The "Why?" had been answered.
Oddly enough, the first thought that came into my mind as my friend shared his revelation with me, was that something like this must be what's going on with Fort Smith. For me, it was the only thing that seemed to make any sense of why Fort Smith is the way it is. And, it was in this moment, that I committed myself to writing about this in a blog on TCW.
Part 15 (a) is in the chute and being worked on. I hope to be able to post it by the end of the week. Part 15 is going to probably be, to date, the most tedious part of this series for me to write. Unfortunately for you, this also means that it will probably be the most tedious part thus far to read.