Memories . . .

It’s funny what our memories carry along through the years.  I remember a discussion I had with a few people from Lebo, Kansas, shortly before I closed my Facebook account.  In that discussion, one of them said that Lebo was the warmest, friendliest town in America.

That’s not how I remember it.

I was the smallest kid in my class.  Even the smallest girl was bigger than me.  When we started the Freshman year of HS (9th grade), I was 5’2″ tall and weighed in at around 98 pounds.  While mine is only one point of view, and to play “Devil’s Advocate” it is entirely possible that Lebo is the warmest, friendliest town in America, here is what I remember.

I remember that not one full week went by between 1st Grade and 10th without me being beat up by one of the bullies in school, and there were several.  One of those bullies eventually became the town’s mayor.

I don’t remember any of those bullies ever getting in trouble for starting a fight with me – but I remember getting in trouble many times for defending myself.  I also remember choosing to join the US Army because it gave me a contract that guaranteed me Special Forces training after I completed Basic and my MOS training.  Why?  Because I wasn’t going to ever let another bully put me on the ground.

I remember that not one girl who grew up in Lebo would go out on a date with me – ever.  A few indicated privately that they thought I was a special guy, but peer pressure wouldn’t let them anywhere near me in public.

I remember a town where it was a literal truth that everyone in town belonged to one of the two churches – and the only real Christians in the whole town were Anna Ruth Williamson (the teen/young adults group leader for the Methodist church when I was still there) and Jack Allegre.  Yes, that means I wasn’t a real Christian, too.  I wanted to believe, but I couldn’t.  “Faith” is hard to find in a heart filled with fear, loneliness, and hate.  I know, because I can’t begin to count the number of hours I spent on my knees looking for it.

I remember a town where the two kindest, gentlest members of my class were both afraid to be who they really were – because they were both homosexual.

I remember a town that was rocked by scandal the year a high school student (about 3 years older than me, I think) bought a motorcycle.  It wasn’t even a Harley-Davidson, but it might as well have been hand made by Satan himself the way Lebo reacted.

I remember the last day of Sophomore year, when it was obvious that my parents were divorcing and I was going to be moving to Emporia after 10 years in Lebo.  Not one member of my class was sorry to see me leave – or at least that was how it looked through my eyes.  On that same day, when David Fry started a fight with me during lunch, I can’t seem to remember him getting in any trouble at all.  I got suspended from school for throwing one punch in self-defense.

Because people are asking . . .

Serendipity – gotta love it! Someone else earlier today asked me a similar question (from a one-life-only point of view) and here was my answer to them:

Wow – there’s a loaded question! LOL!

I grew up in the United Methodist Church in Lebo, KS – back in the ’60’s and early 70’s. Then, in 1978, my parents divorced. Both were members of the same church, but this was one of the most bitter, ugly divorces you can imagine. Vicious!

My response to that can be summarized as “If this is how Christians express brotherly love, I’m going to look elsewhere. ”

Still, I didn’t give up on Christianity itself. I passed through many other denominations between 78 and 93. Catholic (never completed catechism), Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Nazarene, and a few more. At some point, there would always be a question I would ask that they either couldn’t or wouldn’t answer. When that would happen, the pastor would quietly advise me that it would be better for me to seek the answer somewhere else.

In 1992 I was working at a convenience store (graveyard shifts) in Enid, OK. One night when I was off, I was up watching late-night television, and saw a half-hour infomercial for a type of mental health approach I’d never heard of before. It seemed pretty straight-forward. I called an 1-800 number for more information, but ultimately couldn’t get the book because I didn’t have a credit card. Then, 2 weeks later, I found a copy of the book for sale at a yard sale across the street from where I lived. I bought it.

The book was Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. You may have heard of it – it was the book that ultimately led to the creation of the Church of Scientology. I won’t go through the long process of how it happened, but because I was using that book on my own, I eventually ended up in St. Louis as a staff member delivering Dianetics to the church’s parishioners.

I worked at the church from 12/1994 to 6/2004. During that time, I completed the church’s in-house Minister’s Course and was ordained (8/1995). All of the courses are self-paced study, and I’ve only ever seen one student who was faster on course than I was – and he eventually became the Executive Director of that church.

Still, I’m a person who likes rules and structure. When rules exist, are written, and work, I believe they should be followed. Let’s just say that rules were not consistently applied during the time I was on staff in St. Louis. After some efforts at trying to get them more uniformly applied, I became convinced that the problems were systemic not just to that church, but the whole global network.

After much reflection, I’ve decided that my biggest problem with organized religion is – it never encourages “sheep” to grow up to be something more – let’s call it “shepherds”. There is always someone up in the pulpit, and the sheep leave their brains at the door and expect him to tell them what to believe and how they should act. It never crosses their mind to think that someday they should be able to clearly explain their motives to others.

Another big problem with organized religion is that most (even Jews and Muslims) put their leaders in the position of being supported financially by the gifts of their sheep. This gives the shepherds a financial motive to protect his flock against “poaching” by the shepherds of other flocks – us vs. them. The “other flocks” become evil bad guys who must be resisted and their ways are demonized. No energy is expended on understanding or tolerance, because the pastor would loose part of his standard of living if any of his flock were to choose to cross over to the other group.

But, as I see it, tolerance and understanding (especially between different religions) is the only way we can effectively deal a permanent blow to international/interfaith warfare, suicide bombings, and genocide. Until it becomes accepted, even fashionable, to allow others to practice the faith they choose without any compulsion to exclaim “You’re WRONG” – mankind as a whole will be forever brother-against-brother. National divisions and race divisions are just the same thing wearing a different suit. As Michael Douglas said in the movie “An American President” – something like this: America is about defending to the death the right of someone else to say something I would expend every ounce of my life’s energy fighting against.

Well, I would take it a step farther. America is about helping others to do as they choose, even if their choices are not the ones I would have made or preferred they would make.

– – – – – – –
Having shared that, here is a more specific reply to your questions.

What do I think of this world of ours? To be honest, I think things are progressing just as they should. 26,000 years ago, we had a matriarchal society that had as a primary shortcoming the fact that it failed to generate any sense of gender equality. 10,000 years ago, we over-corrected into a patriarchal society, and repressed or forgot all of the good that existed in the former one. Our time on this planet has been a very long-extended school, to teach us how to rejoin with primary source energy. Those few who have made it and remain are here only for the purpose of helping show the way to others, so that eventually all mankind will complete that cycle of learning.

Do I wish for the days gone by, like those in Avalon? Sometimes I find myself feeling very nostalgic for those days. Life was much simpler then, in many good ways. However, most of the time, I prefer today – for I would not have continued to grow to become who I am now were it not for the time that has passed in the interim.

Do I feel that we will return in the year 2012? We don’t need to – we’re here now. If we each do what we can to promote harmony, understanding, cooperation, and good stewardship of our home (mother Gaea) as far and wide as our circle of influence will allow, we can help to make the transition of 2012 as smooth and joyful as possible for the entire human race. And yes, I do believe that humanity is on a count-down to a transitional event of monumental proportions in 2012. Whether it concludes that year, or only begins now and continues beyond then, remains to be seen. Our ability to accept responsibility for the outcome without being unnecessarily attached to any specific outcome will do much to facilitate that change.

Please, stay in touch. Over the next 4 years I will have as much need for counsel as anyone else. This will be a time of chaos and uncertainty for all, to one degree or other.

Saying goodbye already . . .

In a sense, I said goodbye over 20 years ago. It was then that I moved with my family away from small-town Lebo, and with the exception of a couple of short visits, I’ve not been back.

But there is a saying – you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. So, in that fashion, part of my heart has always been back in Lebo. I openly admit this, and my wife and I have included in our long-range plans the purchase of wooded acreage outside a small town (not necessarilly Lebo, but certainly it is the model).

But, you know how teenagers always feel like they are bullet-proof? Well, with my particular point-of-view on spirituality, I have felt that not only was I bullet-proof, but so was the rest of my class. My peers. The people who knew me “back when.”

I was riding high on the win of finishing my tax prep class with good marks when I got an email from a dear friend who was also a childhood class mate and my next-door neighbor for 10 years. She was letting me know that another of our classmates was dead. Today is the funeral. I don’t think any of my classmates was emotionally ready to bury one of our own yet, though we are all in our early 40’s now.

I can’t say I’ve stayed in touch with him, but I do remember him. Vividly. For one thing, he was the tallest, strongest member of our class. The trouble makers never seemed to bother him, probably because they instinctively knew he could break them like a dry twig if they did. Yet, he was quiet, and gentle like a stuffed teddy bear.

He had a strong work ethic, too. From the earliest that he was allowed to, he would spend his summers out working the hay trucks, tossing bales of hay up onto the trucks to be stacked by others. And, from what I heard, he was good at it. The guest book (online – sponsored by the funeral home) had several entries in it by people who have worked with him more recently, and the pattern seems to have held. They each comment on his work, his honesty, his easy-going grace. Well, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.

Though many other kids did, he never caused me any trouble. He just didn’t get involved. I respected him for that, because he could have easilly given me some severe beatings. Looking back, I think I can see why he didn’t. His obit says he was survived by a significant other who was also male. I’m sure some of my classmates are surprised, or shocked, or dismayed. I’m not. It fits what I remember of him, without making him ugly or bad in any way.

Perhaps because what I remember most about him was that he was quiet, and kept to himself, off to the side of the group, as if he knew something about himself that the rest of the group probably wouldn’t have accepted. Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I hope they aren’t as narrow-minded as that. I’ve had several close friends over the years who lived homosexual lifestyles, and I don’t try to change that in them, as long as they accept that I’m heterosexual. I don’t see why that should be a problem for mature, intelligent adults.

Well, Chris, you cast a long shaddow. You touched more lives than you can possibly know, and never harmed any of them as far as I know. It is my belief that you have only left behind one body to get another and start over, and if it turns out I’m right, I hope and pray that you find the deepest wells of happiness, and drink from them as you start your new journey. Farewell, my friend. You will be missed.

Growing pains . . . . . . .

I had a rough night last night, but the results were well worth the lack of sleep. Read on.

I think I said in the post about my purif that I was far from being the most popular kid in my class. At 16 (when my parents divorced and my family moved away) I was still around 5’2″ and perhaps 100#. I was insecure, rebelious, a loner – oh, and let’s not forget that I had spent about 8-10 years making a total fool of myself over a female classmate. Just one.

She was the only member of my class who was smaller than me, and she was beautiful even as a 2nd grader (in my opinion, anyway). When we reached junior high school, she became one of our cheerleaders, and was always either Captain or #2 of the squad. She also never gave me the time of day. I was an annoyance, a pest. If she could have sprayed me with DDT, I think she would have. And I didn’t care.

Now, I’ve had several intimate relationships since I left Lebo. Each was always very dear and special to me, but last night I realized why they all (up to this one I’m in now) ultimately failed.

I had never given up on that first girl who never said a kind word to me.

So, about last night. It started with a dream. Now, I know that LRH doesn’t speak very highly of dreams, but please hold onto your hat and read through this. In the dream, I’m in the locker room back in Lebo, showering alone. I’m tired and sore, like I’ve had a tough workout. I’m also my current (real time) age of 41.

In walks this old flame, wearing exactly what you’d expect her to wear in her home shower. She’s looking pretty good for 42 and being a mom of teenagers, too. Somehow, though, this didn’t turn into an erotic dream. Instead, I’m standing there in a half panic thinking to myself – “Barbara would shoot me if she could see this.” That was when I woke up, still feeling the typical symptoms of a panic. Barbara is my current wife.

LRH once described a dream as the resting mind’s efforts to solve a current problem. So, I had to spend some time trying to figure out what problem that dream was trying to solve.

About a month ago, Barbara and I took a trip back to Lebo, and this old flame was one of two of my old class mates that I talked with while I was there. For the first time that I can remember, she seemed genuinely glad to see me.

So, after waking from that dream, I had to sort out how I felt. It came down to this – I had finally let go of that hope that I would find a way to get the old flame to want me. More importantly, I didn’t want her anymore, because my current marriage means more to me than the childhood fantasy did.

After reaching that cognition, I realized something else. Why she was so friendly. 20+ years ago, I had her on a pedestal, and she was a cheerleader. Now she is a housewife with teenage kids. A soccer mom.  Seeing me, I think, brought back for a moment, the memory of how if felt to her to be on that pedestal. Oh, she’s still shorter than me, too, but now between 4-6 inches shorter. And I probably weigh twice what she does.

Well, that is my story for today.