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The Joy Code
A Message From Time BY LINDA ARMSTRONG ©2009
This book is a work of fiction. Places, events, and situations in this story are purely fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is coincidental. If you believe in coincidences…
©2009 by Linda L. Armstrong. All rights reserved.
Part One David’s Story
It was Friday afternoon. At least David thought it was. Who could tell anymore? He didn't have deadlines, he didn't have schedules, he didn't have to be anywhere or do anything. That's what having a stroke could do for you; make all the seemingly endless minutia of every day vanish like a rock thrown in a lake. Gone. It was surprising even to David that he had ventured out of the house. Normally, with as little as he was able to do for himself lately, he rarely went anywhere alone. And to go to the farthest point of the forest in the back of the house before getting entirely lost, well, that was definitely not like him. David sat down on a tree that had been bested by wind, weather and time. His breathing had long since become a concern to him, not to mention how he was ever going to get back to the house again. Maybe this was a signal: his last moments, here, alone. He could stop being a burden on his wife. His children didn't appreciate all he did for them, or at least what he had done for them before this stroke made him appear to be more like a twoyear-old. Would anyone ever find him out here? Absentmindedly, David slapped away some irritant from his arm. Lost in thought, he didn't realize how many of these small, barely noticeable flecks were making his arms twitch until he roused himself and looked: he was surrounded by thousands of iridescent golden strands that were no bigger than a thread spun by a spider, and as heavy. He believed he could
break free from them, had he the desire or ambition to do so, yet he sat, mesmerized by the show of lights that emanated from them, caused by the angle of the sun. Or they glowed by themselves, hard to say. Singly, the strands were irritating enough to cause his hand to move them from his arm, his leg, his face. Together, they were as warm and inviting as a bath in liquid honey. He had never had a bath in liquid honey, although he imagined that this is what it would feel like. The strands moved across his skin, danced on his face and played rhythms in the air all around him. David lost track of time in this space, not knowing how long he had been entertaining this phenomenon, and not really caring. This was the most incredible thing he had experienced in his life, and he let the feeling take him. Suddenly, there was a person inside this cocoon of dancing spider lights with him. It was as if this person were forming out of the strands, taking them into himself, absorbing them away from David to create this new person. Not feeling overly generous, David began to be annoyed at this intrusion of his moment of Nirvana. Until, at last formed by every golden, translucent light, the man appeared before him. David stood face to face with a person that he could only describe as himself. Or at least, David thought was himself. Maybe a much older version, although he recognized the chicken pox scar he carried on his right temple, the gash in his ear lobe from a fight so many years ago, the general shape and size of the face that stared at him in so many pictures that Nadine kept all over the house. “Don't just stand there,” the other him said. “Offer me a seat!”
David jumped up and moved some branches and twigs, making room for his apparition, staring as he did. “I know, I know. I can hardly believe it myself,” he said. “Such rugged good looks are hard to come by, so you have to admit that I've come back to haunt myself! It sounds funny, when you put it that way.” The older David started laughing. “What...I mean, how...” David managed to get out. “Look, I don't have much time,” Old David began. “So just listen to me. You can ask questions after I'm done, if there is time.” David looked himself in the eye and nodded. He had so many questions that he couldn't think where to begin anyway. “Three weeks from now, according to my calculations, Nadine is going to leave you. Well, let's say three weeks. It could be three months, or three days. I'm still a little shaky on this 'time-space continuum calculation' stuff. At least I know it is three time periods. So given that, you really don't have a lot of time, if you want to turn that around. “Look,” he continued. “I know this all is going to sound strange, although would I lie to you?” Old David laughed. “No, don't answer that. I know the answer! Just take what I have to say with a grain of salt and do what you want. I had to find a way to come and tell you what your future holds, although now that I'm here, it occurs to me that the future can still change. Which might mean that what I've lived through could still happen, or you could change
it, and this would all appear to be as a dream that you had. The choice is up to you. “Right after Nadine leaves you, us, me, oh hell! After Nadine goes, we decide that there really is nothing left to live for, so we, you, whatever you want to call us, drive out into the desert. After driving for hours into the desert, we walk farther than is prudent, and with no water or supplies, we get stranded out there. David didn't know if he was getting the condensed version of his future or if he was already clinically insane. None of this was making sense to him. Maybe it was the effects of the stroke and being in such a solitary place. He closed his eyes and hoped that the vision would go away. He didn't need this sort of complication in his life. He had enough to deal with. “Stop that!” Old David shouted. “You think I can't tell what you’re thinking? I'm you, for crying out loud!” David suddenly felt himself being shaken. He began to focus on the telltale lines and wrinkles on his old version. He had to be at least twenty years older, if not more. “Back to the story. Like I said, I don't have a lot of time. I know how stubborn we are, and you're trying to fight this right now. But I know you can use this information, if you give us a chance. Just give us a chance, will you?” “Ok, ok,” David said. “I might as well listen; I've got nothing better to do.” “That's what you think,” Old David said, and laughed a good, deep belly laugh. He appeared to be having trouble stopping himself. He
would dry a tear from the corner of his eye from the exertion, only to start again. David found himself wanting to join in, although remembered just in time that he really didn't have that much to laugh about. Nothing in his life was funny. “Au contraire, mon frere!” Old David piped up. “Either everything is funny, or nothing is. Just listen, will ya?!” It seemed eerie that this older version could mind-read so well. Or was it? Old David pulled himself together, ran a hand downward in front of his face, effectively wiping the smile off his face so he could be serious. David reflected that this older version of himself was unsettlingly different than he was at the moment. He wasn't sure if he liked it or not. “Anyway, in the desert, no water, no food, and all alone. You know how unusual that is.” David nodded. He didn't like talking to himself at the best of times. This was just too freaky for him now. “I was sitting there, waiting to die, wanting to die, hoping to die, begging and pleading to die. I have to admit that it didn't seem to be working very well. Then I saw a flash of light. I figured I was hallucinating, since I hadn't had food or water for so long. I ignored it. It didn't have anything to do with me dying, anyway. “After a while, though, there were people coming to get me. I could see them through the fog of my hallucinations. They put me on a stretcher and took me away. I remember being in some sort of hospital area, and that period of time I don't remember much. Other than they saved my life.
“When I woke up, I mean really woke up, I realized that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. Nothing was the same, yet everything was the same. It's hard to explain.” The strands started coming out of Old David's body a few at a time. Old David's face began to look worried and he coughed slightly. “Ok, here's the deal. I sort of broke the rules to come here. Not really legal rules, just rules of the time-space continuum, so I'm not going to jail or anything, I just don't have much time before I have to go back, or, um, I guess I don't go back.” He coughed again, as a few more strands began to unweave themselves from his arms. “I brought you something. You will find it underneath us after I'm gone. I had to send it first, so it is somewhat going to be buried from the pressure of all of this - -” he indicated the golden strands that were dancing around us. “Use the lights to read the document. I wrote it thinking of you, me, well, good grief, I wrote it thinking that if I had only known all of it earlier, I might not have been so miserable for so long.” He coughed. David could tell the strain was getting to him. “And now I'm thinking that if you read it and apply it, you won't be miserable. Although, if you do, I probably won't have had this experience that discovers all of this cool stuff that I'm bestowing on you, which is a conundrum of the time-space continuum. I'm finding that I really like this place and what I’ve been doing. It's better than anything I've ever known up to your present time. And who’s to say that's true? I
never lived life on earth according to the document that you are about to read. It might surpass what I've got going now. “So you might have the same experience I've had, or you could change it to make me and my experience simply a dream.” More coughing. “Either way, it's your choice. I just had to come and tell you, because the time-space continuum was at its shortest distance right now. I tried to come twenty years ago, but I wasn’t very good at it back then. Another problem is that there are very few opportunities for this kind of time travel. “You can congratulate me; I earned a degree in astro-physics in your, well, my future. It took me a while to do it, and it is the only reason I've figured out how to be here for a few minutes. “If you look at the time-space continuum, it is not like a straight line. It curves. Kinda like what happens when you sit on a cushion. Or if you outline the silhouette of a drop of water. It curves out, gets big at the bottom, then begins to come together again as it starts to fall. I'm at that point where the line is coming back close to the beginning. If I don't go soon, the drop will fall. No one has ever been to that point and returned to say what happens if you go beyond that. Not sure I want to find out. “I imagine that means that I won't exist anymore. I haven't found any data that refers to that happening, only dark missives here and there that allude to bad things happening. “Although if I go back, the drop will be prevented from falling, and my life will go on, just like yours will.” Old David stood up. More and more strands were dancing away from him.
“I can't tell you what to do. If I had a chance to hold on to Nadine, I would have wanted to take it. I'm not so sure what your chances are with her, although I had to come and tell you. I had to let you know...” Old David raised his arms and jumped up, the strands encircling him, moving away from David and rising into the air. It took less than three seconds before Old David was gone. The strands lost their glow, the air suddenly seemed chilled, and David found himself on the ground on his back. “That was the weirdest dream I've ever had,” he muttered to himself.
Whatever had happened in the dream, David felt better than he had in a long time. He reasoned that it was just the result of a healthy nap that had invigorated him. He found that the walk through the forest was not as tiresome as it had been when he came out. He was walking better; his breathing was not as labored. He was almost out of the forest; he could see the house through the last of the trees when he remembered something from the dream. Something Old David had said about leaving something for him under the area where they had been sitting. Now David felt torn. His habitual self felt like he needed to sit down and turn on the tube. Watch something while he vegged out on the couch, a drink in one hand and a pizza in the other. He felt a pull to become that couch potato that was almost ripping him apart, because now he also wanted to go back and see what was left for him by that old tree. His body was screaming at him, making him feel nauseous at the thought of not relaxing in front of the television, and his brain was saying that it was important to get whatever it was that was left for him. David never before this moment realized that his hours and hours of watching TV were an addiction. He thought he was just taking a moment to relax. Everyone said that relaxation was important. Libraries devoted themselves to the subject and industries thrived on helping people relax. If he happened to have a show on while he was doing it, that seemed like a little extra bonus to David.
Now that he had the pull in two different directions, he saw it for what it was. An addiction. It made him think of all the other things he was addicted to, without realizing it. Alcohol, whining, being absent in spirit for his family. Who was in control of his life, anyway? He wanted to say that he was in charge in spite of not being sure that he wasn't ruled by forces outside his will. Was he actually living the life he thought about when he was a little kid? Did he ever actually say, “When I grow up I want to be a fat-brained loser sitting on the couch all day long complaining about my lousy life?” He actually didn't think he ever did. He had wanted a life of adventure, excitement, and daring the odds. How had he ended up the way he did? With the thoughts still warring in his head, he turned to go back into the forest. He wasn't sure where he was when his dream happened, although he wouldn't give up until he found it. “I guess that means even if it takes days to find it, I'm going to do that.” David noticed that the nausea from not obeying his addiction was slowly fading. The more he walked in the other direction, the better he felt. “Maybe I do have a second chance coming,” he mumbled to himself. It hadn't taken David very long to find the place he had stopped to have a dream. He had gone off in different directions a few times before he realized that in the condition he was in when he first went into the forest, he would have taken the path of the very least resistance, even if that path were not
very straight. A few backtracks and he found the tree that had fallen over many years ago to afford him a place to rest when he needed it the most. Looking at the area, he couldn't remember what side of the tree he was on. The dirt looked more compacted on the right side of the tree, although the job of finding something looked easier on the left. He hadn't thought to go looking for implements to work with while he was so close to the house, and going back now was more than he wanted to think about. He looked about him for something useful. The ground was littered with old wood; he found a branch of a hardwood tree that would serve as a type of pick and a broader one for a shovel. After working for a few minutes on the left side of the tree, he decided that he was not going to find anything there. He just couldn't remember which side of the tree had witnessed his dream. He moved to the right side of the tree. If it were a dream, he was wasting his time anyway. “There's only one way to find out,” he told himself. He began digging.
The ground had been fairly well compacted in the area that he estimated was where he landed on his back when he fell from the tree. Did he really fall from the tree? He couldn't remember, although he knew that when he came to his senses, he was on his back. He was down about almost a foot and a half when he began to get the impression that there really was something down there. He widened the hole in order to get the object out all in one piece.
After a lot more elbow grease, he got down on his hands and knees. Scooping the dirt out of the hole with his hands, he began to see the object. It was white, as far as he could tell, with some kind of knobs on the edges. He pushed the dirt off, reached for his stick to use as a lever and carefully began to unearth the thing. As he got the object up out of the ground, he was amazed. It was a rather small gizmo of some sort, only about twelve inches by twelve, if he had to guess. It looked like a frame of some sort. There was a whitish area of about nine square inches and surrounded by stones of varying colors. He didn't recognize them all, although he thought there was one that looked like turquoise, one like ruby, and a jade one. He could tell that this would bring a lot of money if he were to sell it, and didn't they need the money? Nadine could take a break, since she was the sole breadwinner at the moment. They would be in the black for once in a long time. There was another item: a small bag under the screen. It contained several small, thin and gold-looking pieces of metal. They looked like the tines on a computer chip, without the chip. He wondered if this was some sort of alien technology. Maybe it hadn't been a dream, after all. Looking around at the bejeweled screen, for lack of a better name to call it, David found a small opening on one of the sides that accepted these chips one at a time. He pushed the first one in and found that there was writing on the screen, although he couldn't tell what it was. It appeared to be hazy, like it was out of focus. “That doesn't do much good,” he thought.
David fiddled with the gadget for quite a while. He held the thing on the sides with both hands, turning it from side to side, contemplating. It was a beautiful piece, even if he couldn't get the chips to work; it should be worth a lot of money to someone. Suddenly, one of the stones on the side moved. It felt like it moved on some sort of axis that was hidden; he couldn't see or figure how it was engineered. David felt a sudden sense of elation because the turning of the stone had changed the configuration on the screen. “They must be tuning devices,” he muttered to himself. David spent more time adjusting the stones on the edge of the screen in different directions. When turned, the stones twisted the letters, enlarged and focused them. They worked together, and it was only through trial and error that he found the correct combination to allow him to see the words clearly enough to read them. The chip he had pushed into the screen's opening said it was number three, and even though he wanted to read it, he felt it would be better to get the information in order. Maybe later he could pop in his favorite, or one that contained something he didn't understand, although for now, he searched for the document labeled as the first one. Enthralled, he began to read.
Chapter 3 One.
It began tersely. Apparently David had not acquired flair with writing in his new adventures, so maybe he had acquired at least some sense of understandability. David could only hope. You may travel the four corners of the world in search of answers~ ~and yet~ Even your highest of earthly spiritual teachers can only show you the truth of their own path~ Not Yours. Trust ~ that your soul; your highest self, is divinely guiding you in all ways. You may travel the four-corners of the world, or the universe, for that matter, and still you will only find what is ‘out there.'
Everywhere people are finding ways to 'show you the way' and they themselves are lost. That does not mean that what they say is not true. All things are true. The question is: Is it true for you? Your path is different than anyone else's path. What might be right for one person might be totally unworkable for another. You can't rely on what other people think is right. You can't rely on what your spouse, doctor, lawyer or engineer say is the right thing for you to do. These people can give you suggestions, offer assistance, show you possibilities, and yet, for your path, you are the only one who knows what is true for you. There will be prophets who come and say, “This is the way.” And that could be true. For them. There will be people who come and say, “You should do this.” And that could be true. For them. You might think there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and chase it diligently until it runs you ragged. You might think that the popular belief of work is the only way to live in the times and surroundings you find yourself in. You might think that the only way to find happiness is through someone else. You might hold the belief that the truth lies somewhere 'out there.' It Doesn't.
Truth is true only when it works for you. And that kind of truth is found only inside of you. You have to test what comes to you to find its truth. You have to question the belief, the information, the suggestion, the comment. You have to question the circumstances of your life, for truly your surroundings shout your beliefs to all who care to listen. And what is a belief? Is it something that you think of your own accord? No! It was handed to you from your parents, friends, teachers, society at large. And usually, someone else gave them the belief they are trying to hand over to you. Is a belief true? Possibly. Although only if it works for you. Do you believe you are unhappy? Does that belief work for you? If it doesn't, then throw that belief away. Start with another one. Do you believe you are ill? Does that belief work for you? If it doesn't, then throw that belief away also. Nothing good will ever come from holding on to a belief one minute longer than when it stops working for you. And yet, we still do. We travel the world, looking for someone brave enough to tell us that the belief we have been holding on to for dear life is worthless, and more, possibly even causing us harm.
We look for gurus, sages, mystics, teachers, leaders. We want these people to tell us that magical word that will transform our life into a blissful state of peace and plenty. These people have power to speak to us. They have power to inform us. They have power to allow us to see things differently, if we look. They do not have the power to change your life. They do not even have the power to give you permission to change your life. These people, for as powerful as they seem, are only able to exert their power in their own life. You are the guru. You are the sage. You are the mystic. You are the teacher. You are the leader. You are the only person who can give you permission to change your life. Does it seem fair? That you, with your limited knowledge of the world and life, should be left alone to give yourself the permission to change, to actually change? And what changes to make, if you are bereft of the wisdom of those around you? Some call it the 'superconscious.' Some call it your highest self. Some call it your soul. Your physical manifestation in this lifetime is only a part
of your higher self. Most of the time we don’t allow that higher self to come through, although you can access your higher self by turning inward. By questioning, by listening to the feelings of your heart, and by trusting that. Now, I don't mean the feelings of your romantic heart. A broken heart, a failed romance, we like to think these are the feelings of our heart. If you go deeper, you will find the inner heart, the one that will tell you the truth for your path. The rest of these documents will help you to understand that part of you better. You can do with them what you will – read them, study them. You can memorize them, or throw them away. You can only do what is best for your path. So now, more than ever, trust yourself. Trust the feelings of your inner heart to know what to do with the information before you. Continue to read these documents and change your life, or continue as you have been. The choice is yours, although since I am actually you, the future you, I would hope that you give these documents at least a glance. Test them for yourself. You deserve it; Nadine deserves it, and so do Cody, Jake and Clare. I wish you luck, I wish me luck. I love...well, me.
Chapter 4 Two.
Gratitude is the password. If ever you wanted to know how to get into a good situation, here is the answer. In all military endeavors, sentries ask intruders for the password. If the intruder knows what the password of the day is he is admitted. If he doesn’t, they are told to go somewhere else. Also like computers, if you don't know what the password is, you are not able to open the file. So it is with life. If you want to get the very best out of life, the password is gratitude. Don't think that you can go up to the door of the first mansion you see and get in just by saying 'Gratitude.' Don't think the owner will hand you deeds and keys by simply repeating the word to him. Gratitude is more complex than that. Gratitude is a power unto itself. How do you cultivate that kind of powerful gratitude? It is very simple. Gratitude is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
You don't necessarily have to feel that gratitude in the beginning. The act of thinking gratitude starts it going. Try it yourself because it is the only way you will ever find out for yourself. I could explain in volumes and tomes to fill libraries, and unless you try gratitude in your own life, you will never understand how it can work such magic and miracles in your life. A simple exercise: Sit for one minute and repeat over and over for the whole minute, 'Gratitude.' If you can do that for one minute, you can do it for two, then five, then longer.
You don't have to have anything in mind that you are grateful for in this exercise. Just saying the word ‘gratitude’ creates an energy space inside of you that is tangible. When you feel that energy space, you are opening up channels of manifestation, of abundance, of happiness and joy. The longer you do it, the better able you are to maintain the manifestation, the abundance, the happiness and joy. You can do this in spare moments of the day to start. As you drive to work, to the store or anywhere, say gratitude over and over. You won't notice the irritating drivers as much, you will get to work in a much better frame of mind, and the day will be much smoother. Do this during the day and you find that you like the feeling of that energy space that is created. This kind of energy is very powerful, and it feeds on gratitude. All people live in a state of gratitude in some degree or other. Like a thermometer with temperatures that can go either above or below zero, so
is gratitude. Some people live in a state of below zero gratitude, or ingratitude. Some people live in a state of gratitude that is above zero. These levels can go up and down all the time. Having gratitude go up and down the scale like that is somewhat akin to blowing up a balloon. You get halfway there, then you let the air out. It seems like the balloon is more apt to fatigue from the constant blowing up and deflating than from any other danger. It never gets full, never stays full, and is just a wrinkled mess of useless plastic. A sustained form of gratitude will get the balloon filled to bursting, and then when you have manifested a beautiful, red balloon, you are able to pick up a blue balloon and manifest that, then the purple, orange... To be sure, it is good practice to express gratitude to those around us for the things they do. Just don't let it stop there. Gratitude is a state-of-being verb. It is something that you 'Be' more than any other thing you could do with it. Some people find it easier to have something to be grateful for, although that is very limiting. When you've come up with all the things you think are good in your life, you stop being gratitude. It’s funny that we think we can only be grateful for good weather, for lots of money to spend, for a nice car. It really isn't that much harder to be grateful for the potholes, for the rain, for the stale bread and the sour milk, the boss firing us. It takes less time and energy to be grateful for what we term bad things in life, and being gratitude has much more power to transform those things, if we choose.
Be Gratitude. Be Gratitude. Be Gratitude. It all springs from that simple exercise that took one minute. You can say gratitude out loud or to yourself in your mind. Notice the feeling you get when you have even a minute's sustained gratitude mantra. That feeling is what the state of gratitude feels like. After you have been gratitude for a while you will notice other things happening. You might notice that your gratitude muscle is getting stronger. It is easier to be gratitude for the sour milk and the lost job. It is easier to get to that feeling of gratitude. I thought I discovered this all by myself, until I found a quote by Cicero, who lived so long ago that you would think that other people would have figured it out, too. Gratitude is the parent of every other virtue. If you were to tell someone that, they might be skeptical. Everywhere, people tell us that virtues happen because you are good. No one ever tells you how to get more if you need more. Just be good! Or love your sister! Love your enemies! Sometimes we set ourselves impossible goals simply because we have no idea how to love someone. Loving your enemies right off the bat is a master level thing to do. I think it is possible, although not highly likely. It helps to know how to do that, and I’m not just talking the good neighbor type actions. If we don’t
know how to truly love our neighbor or our enemies, we end up treating our enemies nicer than the people we love the most. If we really love our family, would we treat them the way we do? It can all be much easier to do. Try another exercise. I know that at this moment in your life, Nadine seems to be the bad guy. She never does anything right, she nags all the time, she can't seem to keep the money coming in to sustain you through this stroke. She has a bad attitude. Try aiming your gratitude at her. You can think of it as being gratitude for her, if that helps, although it is easiest just to think of Nadine and repeat, gratitude. Try that for a minute. If you did that just now, I'll explain what happened. Some of the anger you've had towards her melted. Some of her incompetencies faded. You will find that as you 'are' gratitude more to her, she will not even resemble the person you held in your mind when you started this exercise. With repeated work on this exercise, you will find that you love Nadine. I know, you thought you loved her before. Let me tell you. (Me!) The love you had for Nadine before was a form of duty. You started out with that romantic business that everyone falls for sooner or later, and then you asked her to marry you before it wore off. Once the romance wore off, you were left with the 'duty' kind of love, one that says you have to love the person because of the circumstances. That isn't any kind of love that is useful. It isn't really love. It is a duty. And no duty that feels like a duty, like a chore, is going to be doing you any good.
The same with the kids. The moment they were born, they were so helpless, so cute, so well, compelling and repulsive at the same time. A force to be reckoned with, pulling you around by your heartstrings until they were old enough to start causing trouble. Isn't it interesting how fast those strings break? The love becomes a duty again, and you changed the strings like you would with a guitar. It just isn't the same. You love them, yes, although is that all that you want in life? A duty type of love? When you could have so much better, so much more with just a simple little gratitude aimed at them once in a while? It would surprise you how fast things would change if you were to 'be' gratitude around them and aim it at them. It requires no money, no talent, no more energy than you already expend when you are with them. In fact, it requires less energy than being angry or frustrated with them. It pays much better dividends, and you will find that you automatically manifest things that you never imagined were possible. Being gratitude is a life changing state to live in. Want more love for your children? Be gratitude. Want more patience with them? Be gratitude. Want more job offers? Be gratitude. Want more faith? More sincerity? More tolerance? More empathy? More focus? More purpose? More courage? More of any virtue? Be gratitude.
You say you've had a hard life and people have treated you poorly. Lots of people have such excuses. Such incidents can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks, and it all depends on how we are gratitude for them. It is easier to love the stranger outside your gates than the people you live with. Why? Because we have no knowledge of the stranger. If we were to know that stranger as thoroughly as we do those we live with every day, surely the love would stop as abruptly as it did for the one we know. Is it knowledge, then, that leads to love? Or lack of knowledge, maybe. Saying that would only be ignorance of the way that love grows, as with any other virtue. It grows with gratitude. Maybe we love the stranger outside the gates only because we are gratitude that we don't know him better. Your father abused you? Aim him some gratitude. It's not going to hurt you in the least, and it might do you some good. Aim some gratitude at every incident in your life that led you to the miserable standstill you now find yourself in. Are you willing to be damned like that and stay miserable, or are you willing to move forward, knowing that you have learned much from your hardships? Schooling wouldn't be much of a learning experience with nothing to learn. You can yell and scream about the unfairness of life all you want, and yet, that, too, is gratitude of some form, and it manifests for you. Do you like what that is manifesting for you? You have a situation that you don't like in life? Be gratitude. Go through the same simple exercise that I described above, and be gratitude. Aim that gratitude at every situation that you don't like. You will find that you are
growing all sorts of virtues, ones that never came with the struggling you did with being 'love.' Just do it the easy way, man! I know what you are going through, and I know how easy it is to think you are never going to get it right. That's what is cool about gratitude. You don't have to get it right. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. You just do it. You will find that you automatically have more love when you are gratitude. It’s a sort of impossibility to have gratitude without love, even though we struggle to have gratitude while trying to be love. This concept will be a little clearer as you read the rest of the documents. So, for right now, be gratitude. Gratitude is the key that will unlock the doors, give you its secrets, find opportunities that are ripe for your enjoying. Gratitude can shift your life in unexpected and very pleasant ways. After a while of being gratitude, you will find that gratitude is also an action verb. You can find out about that on your own, after you be gratitude for a while. It is a natural result, and you will like that also. All I can ask is that you try it for yourself. Give it a good, heartfelt try, expend some time doing it, practicing the 'Beingness' of gratitude. If it doesn't work for you, you will have wasted very little time or effort. If it does work, you will reap the rewards for the rest of your life. It is up to you. Either way you choose, I am gratitude.
David noticed that some of the chips looked fatter than others. There were some that were melted together in some fashion, and he didn't figure he could get them apart without doing damage. So he focused on the ones that were numbered and easy to access. David could already feel things going on inside of himself by what he was reading. Rather than go back and reread the previous chips until he understood them completely, he chose to go on, and read all of them again later after he got the general idea of what his future-self was trying to tell him. He began again. Three. Focus on 'Being' before 'Doing.' It is much better to be happy than to do something that you think will make you happy. Did you get that? Remember, I know who you are! I am you, so I know whence I speak! Remember thinking that if only you could get away and go fishing, you would be happy? Did that ever work? For a time, maybe. If you had been happy before you went fishing, you would have found that the fishing was much more enjoyable. Like truth, happiness is not found 'out there.' You can't find it at the amusement park, a wonderful job, a fancy car. You can be happy while at
the amusement park, at a wonderful job or in a fancy car. Problem is that tends to be the only place you are happy. Life happens to all of us. We don't live on the river, in the car, or even at the job. Being happy, however, makes all experiences better, including the ones in between the car, job and fishing. You want to be a famous artisan with those wood and wire gadgets in the backyard? Then BE that first. You can't expect anyone to know what you do with such gizmos until you BE that artisan, DO some work with your supplies. Then you can HAVE clients who know and ask for your work. It doesn't work the other way around. You want to BE happily married to Nadine? Then BE that person first. Then DO the things that a happily married man would do. (Which, by the way, I know isn't sitting on your duff all day long, complaining that she isn't helping with the kids and telling anyone within earshot that you don't feel good.) Then you will HAVE a happy marriage. I know from experience, both yours and mine, that we expect things backwards. We want to HAVE, then DO, then BE. It simply doesn't work that way. You've heard the lament, “If I only had a contract, then I could sing and then I'd be a famous singer.” If someone is a singer, they sing, whether they have a contract or not. Someone who is a true singer will sing with emotion. They sing for friends and family, events and parties. They sing because that is their nature, their being. These singers get noticed. No agent ever signs someone who hasn't sung before.
Look around you. See a beautiful flower? It doesn't need to have anything for it to be a flower. It is only being what it is meant to be. If that flower now has you as an admirer, then it is because it was being a flower, doing what flowers do best. Then, you came to admire it. BE the person you want to be. DO the things that person would do. Then you HAVE all that goes with that BE-ing and DO-ing. That's the only way the formula works. I don't want you to expect that I know this for anyone other than myself, except that you are myself! Still, try it for yourself, find out how it works and see if it is true for you. We do have a few years distance between us, so I might be mistaken when it comes to telling you something that is true for me. All I ask is that you remember the formula: BE. DO. HAVE.
Chapter Six Four.
All that I am is reflected in all that I see. I AM that. I Am that. I Am. You are a unique person and creation of the universe. Having said that, you are also part of the whole creation. You are the ground you are standing on, the tree you are looking at, the sky above you. You are the person standing next to you at the store; you are the solicitor on the phone. You are the pebble in your shoe; you are the air you breathe. You are the President of the country. You are its arch enemy. You are the horse in the field; you are the dog that just got run over. You are the geese that fly; you are the mosquito that bites. You are the good guy, you are the bad guy. This is only a remembrance of empathy. Everyone has empathy, which is being able to feel what the other is feeling. Some tune into their empathy, others ignore it. The reason anyone can feel what someone else is feeling is because we are all one. We are part of the whole universe,
and the universe is made up of holograms, wherein the part is actually the whole, and the whole is found in every part. Sure, you are unique. You have unique thoughts and desires. Still, there are common areas that you share with all people, because we are connected. We come from the same source. We are one. I've heard people say that they are NOT like those bad guys, whoever they are. Charles Manson, Osama bin Laden, Jeffrey Dahmer. They have nothing in common with those guys; they are not even human, ad infinitum, yada, blah, etc. We are all those people. We all have dark sides. We chose to ignore that fact to our own detriment. You are not Charles Manson? Who knows if you had the experiences and story of Charles Manson that you wouldn't have done the same thing he did? By ruling out what we are not, we are limiting ourselves to our own little corner of space, being judge, jury and executioner all by ourselves. Did Jeffrey Dahmer have the right to kill the people he did? To eat their dead bodies and not tell anyone? For you, that does not seem like the truth, although that is your path. Jeffrey Dahmer followed his own path, and who can tell what came from it? He definitely liked what it manifested for him, or he wouldn't have kept doing it. We are always doing what we want to be doing; otherwise we would be doing something else. Meaning, there is always a return of the investment. Whatever you do gives you something. You either like what it is giving you, or you change
what you are doing and get a different return. Even the miserable life you lead at the moment gives you returns. The pattern of addiction to everything from drink, food, TV, or complaining gets you some return. It could be cessation of unpleasant physical sensations. It could be the attention that you get, even though it might be negative attention. You get the return of not having to do or think anything else, of being able to put your thoughts on autopilot, to let others do that thinking work for you. The rewards are not always pleasant. They are merely the payback we seek for the behavior. When we get the payback, our brains automatically search for more experiences that give us that payback that we expect to find. We program ourselves that way. You can't judge someone else and where on the scale they are at any given time. And all of us are required to play a part in this play. All of us. You can't leave the world wanting for the Hitlers and Mussolinis of the world. This is a world of opposites, and it is those very opposites that allow us to learn. The opposites are what allow us to move up or down the scale of gratitude, up or down the scale of life. Without opposites, we might as well not even bother to live, for what would happen? Nothing much. There is no judgement, no comparison. That would be like a rubber washer comparing itself to the computer that directs the spacecraft to fly. Both have their places in the world, both have their jobs and abilities. Together, they create beyond their solo ability. Hold an imaginary mirror up to those people you are not. See that you actually are those people. Then hold that same mirror up to those people who you are. Mother Teresa, St. Francis, and see that you really are those
people, too. Good or bad, light or dark, green or purple, you are the reflection of all that you see. Knowing this, you begin to see the best in everything around you. Hitler actually thought he was doing good works. Osama felt compelled to cleanse the world for his god. They all showed you who you want to be. They showed you the good and the bad, the helpful and the unkind, the dangerous and the protective. Without examples like these, you would not know how to find courage, seek out adventure, or live to the beat of your own drummer, which I can only hope you will learn to do soon enough. Don't think that you are going to lose yourself by remembering that you are a part of all. You will only find that part of you that is so unique, that nothing is like you. You might find bits and pieces of you in everything that you see out there, however, there is still only one you. Tell yourself many times a day as you look around you, “I AM that. I AM that. I AM that. I AM.” This will keep your empathy muscles activated, and it also helps with your Gratitude muscle. You create the world you live in, as does everyone. This is because everyone is in a different place, has a different vantage point, and everyone sees things from a different angle than anyone else. So what do you want to create? Do you want to create evil that lurks and springs out at you when you least expect it, or do you want to create a world of wonder and joy? It is all up to you, and it begins with what you see.
If you see a criminal as a cruel and wicked person that would be because you are cruel and wicked. You only see what you are, for that is the way we are created. You have to be familiar with something before you can differentiate it from all the rest. If you see the criminal as someone who made a mistake and is capable of change, then you are just as capable of making mistakes and changes. How wonderful to have that option! What you see is what you get. Or in other words, your perception is what creates for you.
I AM that. I AM that. I AM that. I AM.
Chapter Seven Five.
Fear is the marker of the treasure.
Being human means that we have fears. Everyone has them. You wouldn't be human without fears. Animals have fears, mostly of tangible things. Predators, thunder, earthquakes, fires. We don't know if animals have fears like our fears. Do they fear not finding enough food out there in the wild? Do they worry that their children are up to no good and their future is going to hell? Do they fear dying, or just the pain of it? We assume they don't, and that's ok. The animals have enough fear to give us some comfort. Our fears hold us back from living fully. We have fears that the stock market is going to crash and take away all the plans we had for retirement. Or that the government will collapse and we'll be vulnerable to third world countries. We fear the future, the unknown, the repeat of some dreadful thing that happened before. What you fear already is.
If you fear that the government will collapse, you are already living as if it had, and the pain is there already. The time you spend thinking about it, worrying about it, gives you the same effect as if the event actually occurred. You would do better to fear that someone will come and find you to give you a new yacht because he finds he is afraid of the water, and he knows that you'd do ok with the thing. I mean, if worrying about something gives you the same effect, why not worry about something that you want to happen? I used to worry that Nadine would leave me. I was anxious, upset and it meant that I yelled at her a lot so that either she or I would leave the house until I cooled down. The effect was that Nadine wasn't there. Believe me, there is an upside to this. Knowing that the fear already is, you are able to look at it. You are able to distinguish that it is a fear, maybe an irrational fear and that you don't have to hold on to it. Ok, some fears are good. They would be considered the fears that keep you out of burning buildings for fear of something untoward happening to you. The kind of fear that tells you to run when a bear is chasing you. The irrational fears are the ones that are not present – the ones that predict the future. We all know that the future is malleable, changeable,
and doesn't have to be set in stone. All it takes to change the future is a different vantage point, a different perception, a breath. If you hold a hot piece of charcoal you can predict the future with a fair degree of accuracy. If you hold on to fears that same way, you can predict that your future will end up looking like your fears. You ask me, “How is fear any part of the treasure?” And I answer by saying, that without that fear, you wouldn't know where you had the ability to change the future. You would be less powerful, less able to deal with the situations of your life without that examination. You also find that fear hides a lot of joy behind it. Once you let go of the fear, you have more room for the contentment and peace that expand, like they are taking a big breath. They expand and only contract if you engage your mind with those fears again. And why would you do that? Ever again? After finding such treasures as you did, would you ever want to pick that fear up again? Hold it to your heart? I didn't think so. Fear gives you a starting point. A point to leap from and you either jump an incredible way and enjoy a wonderful trip, or sooner or later you learn to fly. It is inevitable. Start looking at your fears. I know that one of the fears you (we) lived through around this time in your life was fear of not having enough money to pay the bills. And looking at it from that point, the energy of that fear is the same as if you didn’t pay them.
So if you dropped the fear, what would happen? You still might not have enough to pay the bills, although you wouldn't be living with the energy of that particular fear. Once you've let go of the fear, the actuality of the situation changes. It has to – it is a universal law, like gravity. Your thoughts and feelings direct the outcome of your life; no way to get around that. Fear lets you know where there is treasure. More treasure, let's say. You might have good things in life here and there in between your fears. If you are willing to look at your fears, you are sure to come up with more treasure. Remember that old saying, 'Seek and ye shall find?' Well, I'm telling you where to seek. I'm telling you that you will find good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over hiding behind the loosed fears. You won't ever see that if you don't let go of the fears. They are like the 'X' that marks the spot on the pirate maps. That is where the treasure is. And in all the universe, the one truth that I've found consistently is that the purest form of God, whatever people conceive him/her/it to be, is abundance. Fear hides the treasure. Let it go and you will be. Whatever you want to be.
David was crouching on the ground beside the fallen tree. He hadn't moved in well over a couple of hours, at his estimation. It was starting to
get dark, which surprised him, since he hadn't noticed until he began to shift his position to ease the strain he was beginning to feel. He was so lost in this miracle before him, that the outside world had faded. His focus was confined to the foot square screen and its magical lights that emanated from the precious stones that bordered what he guessed to be some sort of fiber optic material made of something he had never seen. He thought about what would happen at home when Nadine and the kids found him gone. Would they worry? Would they look for him? Would they even notice? Nadine might work overtime, trying to catch up on the bills, while Cody and Jake would most likely be playing basketball with their friends. Clare would find amusement with her friends in some sleepover or another. No, he thought, they wouldn't even notice he was gone. With all that he'd done for his family that is the gratitude they showed... David suddenly sat up straighter. Gratitude? Was that really him, throwing that word around so casually? After all he'd been reading, he took stock of his use of the term. Did he expect gratitude from them? And why was it that he did? In everything the future David had written about gratitude, did he anywhere say that you could expect it from other people? That receiving gratitude from other people was important? He didn't know if there was more to come on the subject, he hadn't read all the chips yet. Maybe there would be one that would talk about the gratitude other people owed to you. He just hadn't gotten to that point yet.
His mind wandered for a bit. He had been told every day of his youth that his parents expected gratitude for what they did for him. Was that some kind of fear? The fear that what you do won't be appreciated? Given what he had just read about fear, he allowed himself some time to think about it. What would happen if no one showed him gratitude for what he did? Would he stop doing things for other people? Was his generosity based on their reactions? Did that seem like generosity, in the real sense of the word? He rather thought not. It sobered him up a little bit. If giving is merely a means to an end, that is not generosity, that is a business deal. It is a way to further your own ends. You can give, he thought, or you can be generous. If you give, you expect something in return. Being generous meant that you expected nothing back. Good grief, David thought. He was thinking like future David! Is that all it took to change your thinking, to read something that shows you what is right in front of you in a different light? In a way that you would never have thought of on your own? With his family members taken care of in his mind at their respective activities, he settled in the indentation on the ground and began reading the next chip.
Chapter 8 Six.
It is only what you are holding on to that is keeping you down. Let it go. Let all of it go.
There is more of an energy requirement to hold on to things than there is to let them go. So in the economy of all good things, it makes sense to let it go. Whatever it is, let it go. When Gulliver traveled to the land of Lilliput, he was a giant. The little people who lived there were able to bind him because of the sheer number of bands they held him with. Life is like that. Your possessions make you think you need security alarms, car alarms, alarms of all sorts to prevent their theft. You hold on to the bad experiences of the past in the same way. When something happens in the present that has some resemblance to a bad event of the past, those security alarms in your head go off. The numbers of alarms are what bind you in place. They hold you still, keeping you
from moving out from that bad place, and you wonder why bad things always happen. Seeing is illusion. What you see is different from what everyone else in the world sees. Your emotions are illusion. They present themselves to you in the fashion that you have trained them in, and that is different from the way everyone else has trained their emotions. Holding on to the emotions, holding on to the sights and sounds and smells in front of you are illusion. They are not real. Let them go. Let everything flow around you. Let the noise, the hustle and chaos flow around you like the river. Let it all go. People like to hoard. They like to keep things. One never knows when something might be useful. Most would say that the minute you throw it away is the time you will find you need it the most. That might be true of a nail, although not of an odd bit of anger. A broken piece of heart floating in the aura. A faulty reasoning that never worked right in the first place. These things you will never need again, most likely you never needed them in the first place. Let them go. Let everything go. Even good thoughts, good emotions and good energy has to be recycled. Let everything go. If you don't, you
are blocking the stream, disrupting the flow and that is when damage occurs, health fails, lives fall apart. Take a light bulb and put a dot of paint on it. You can still see the light coming from within it. Add more dots, then more, and soon you will not be able to see the light coming from the light bulb because it is holding on to so many of the dots. People are the same way. If you want to see your inner light, get rid of all those dots of paint! They might be the most adorable color in the world, pretty design and all, and if they stay there, you will not see the light. Let go of the past. The anger and upset of yesterday, the good feelings of today; let them all go, for there is a river of energy flowing behind them. You will never lack for any of it – your lack only comes from blocking, holding, hoarding, hanging on; keeping anything from flowing as freely from you as it came. Let it go. Open your hands, open your heart, open your mind. Let everything go. Start over every day, every hour, every minute. Let the river flow. Let it all go.
Chapter 9 Seven.
Do it for yourself. Whatever you do, if it is not for yourself, Then it matters little if it is done at all.
Nadine is working at a job she hates because she feels she has to, since I, we, (you!) had that stroke. It is paying the bills, keeping the house together, and look at the outcome. No one is happy in that house. Nadine exudes the resentment she feels, Cody and Jake are never home because it is not a fun place to be, and Clare is young enough to feel like she needs someone to be around when she gets home from school. She goes to a friend's house, a friend whose mom is home. There is no laughter in your house. No love either. It is not expressed, it is not given, it is felt only as a duty. The parents' duty to provide for their children before the law steps in is not a powerful type of love in any child's life.
No bonding, no learning, no helping, no desire to be with anyone in the family. That is a pretty pitiful story of a house. It is not a home; it is only a house where people live. Not where people love. What the people who live in your house are doing is taking. They are taking what they feel they need to get by without thinking of giving back. They have no reason to give back. No desire to change the status quo. Taking without giving is called hoarding. Holding. Sure, it feels icky, this environment that has been created in this house. Although you and everyone else believe subconsciously that it is easier to keep up the appearances than actually change something. And nothing could be farther from the truth. All it takes to change this environment is one person (that means you, David! Do you think I'm writing this for Nadine? If I were, I would have given it to her, so I meant for you to read this and wake up!) one person to do something for himself. You feel awful? Your health is lousy? Well, who are you holding on to that for? If you want good health, you have to take care of yourself, for yourself, and hang the thought that someone might take advantage of you if you were able to hold down a job again. Take care of yourself even if you don't get the supposed sympathy vote from all the complaining you do. You don't have a job? You think it is your turn to sit around the house like Nadine did all these years? Your turn to play the martyr of the house by doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning? Let me tell you, if we are being
honest amongst ourselves, and why wouldn't we, that you aren't doing that good of a job. Are you doing a lousy job for yourself? Or is that for Nadine? Examine your motive and find out what you are fearing in it all. Make it matter to yourself before anyone else's needs are added to the mix. Do you want a happier family? Then talk to your kids! Take a few minutes away from your dvds and TV to ask them what is going on in their lives. They might not like it at first, so ask yourself, are you doing it for them or for you? They might get to like it, but only if they know that you are doing it for the right reason. If they think you are trying to get a good grade to impress some social worker, they will give you nothing but grief. If they can tell that you are doing it honestly for yourself, because you like to be in your children’s lives, then they will give you the leeway you need to get back into their lives. Do it that way, or don't even bother to try. They can tell the difference. And Nadine is the same way. How many times have you taken her for granted? Expected that she would be there, take up the slack, do what she said she would do? How many times have you even done all that? If you aren't the person you want her to be, why are you expecting it of her, or even thinking it could work out between you? I have had lots of time to look at things that have happened to us, and I know that unless you give it a sincere try, being gratitude, focusing on being before doing, realizing that she is the part of you that you are seeing right now, looking at all the fears you have about your relationship and letting it all go anyway, you might as well throw in the towel right now. Work on your relationship with Nadine because you want to get back a wonderful relationship for YOU, or don't bother.
Don't do it for the kids. Don't do it for Nadine. Do it for YOU. The other ways simply do not work. If it is not something you want in your life, don't mess with it. Things will float away on their own accord. Even if you try to force it, they will move away from you if you don't have the right motive. Let go of the duty. And I'm not saying to be stupid about it; the law will come into your life if you are literal in this. I'm saying that if you want the good things in life, examine your motives in what you do. It is possible to change your motive midstream. It can be a daunting task, even for a master level magician. It will all be easier if you follow the guidelines I've given you. If you are doing something merely for duty, be gratitude at it for a while. Drop your fear about it. You'll find that all of these suggestions will help transform your life in subtle ways that add up to a huge change that is noticeable. You'll also find that if you are gratitude for what you are doing, you'll find that very shortly you are doing them for yourself anyway. It is a natural consequence of the journey these guidelines take you on. Whatever it is that you do, Do it for yourself. You and those around you will only reap the benefits if you are the motivation.
There were many things that David knew on a subconscious level that he agreed with. Why had it taken so long for those truths to be made apparent to him? He knew that he hated feeling like he had to do something because someone wanted him to do it, or someone needed something from him. As he sat in the murky dark of the forest in the depression underneath the fallen tree, he felt that his body knew that it felt awful to have to do something by force, guilt or expectation. Still, as he looked at his life, what was different between people forcing him to do things and the way he forced other people to do things? Is that just the way the world worked? He had no idea what to think about that one. The world worked because people manipulated each other, made other people do things for them. Otherwise, how would anyone be a part of society? Or the world? David could only see that manipulations were a necessary evil. He hung his head and sighed. It might be the way the world worked, although he knew, and future David had learned as well, that it didn’t have to be that way. It could start with himself. He could make a change, and if others stopped manipulating him, then that was up to them. He wouldn’t have to do it himself. What else had future David learned? The guy must have been busy all those years.
Eight. History, From one second ago all the way back through time, Is as it should be. Trust that. The future Is endless possibilities.
What has happened was supposed to happen. How do I know? Because it did. That is a great test to see if anything was supposed to happen. And I’m putting my neck out on a chopping block by saying that, because as you know, I came from the future, a time that is unknown to you. If you change the course of your life that created what I’ve done for the last twenty-five years or so, then it is possible that I will not be saying this to you. The future is changeable. The past is equally malleable, although it helps to have a time machine and someone with an open mind who is willing to take some risks. You see, that is just what I’m doing. I’m putting myself, my life, everything I have at risk to bring you the information in these documents so that you won’t have to repeat so much of what I consider a long learning period. It took me too long to learn the things I’ve written for you – I could have been happy much sooner had I only had someone to slap me upside the
head like I’m doing for you. (Me!) I suppose that even if you do change your future, and my past, I’m ok with that, since any change you make for the better will mean that you’ve read and understood what I’m saying. Or at least some of it. Life is always dependent upon our ability to understand the messages we are receiving. Sometimes we hear something and absorb its meaning, other times it takes twenty or thirty tries to get through to us. And sometimes we need someone to say something in just a slightly different way for it to make sense to us. People are not always ready for the message, so they need other ways to learn, other opportunities to understand, other means of hearing what is important. What might look like a complete failure to understand might just be someone who needed more time to prepare himself for the message, the life lesson. If someone needs more time, the lesson will come again. That is a given. The lessons always find us. We don’t have to go out of our way to get the learning of life; they find us wherever we go. You will find that life is easier when you get the message the first time. The lessons don’t get easier the more you put them off. That could mean that I was supposed to go through twenty-five years more of learning and struggle in a strange place without my family, my support system, my TV! No time to tell you about that one, though. I did get to a point through all of it where I found I could be happy. And by doing that, I’ve had to validate all the lousy things that happened to us all our life. You have two choices about the past. One, you can gripe and complain and say, “That should never have happened.” Or, you can believe that you
wouldn’t be where you are without the past as your foundation. Aren’t the best foundations made out of solid, immovable, hard-as-rocks material? With the learning I’ve had at every stage of my life, I can say that I did the best that I could at that time. Which doesn’t mean that I can’t do better! It only means that beating yourself up for things that didn’t happen doesn’t help, either. Give yourself and everyone you come in contact with the benefit of the doubt. Everyone is doing the best they can with the knowledge and wisdom they have at the moment. The very best. Knowing that means that you don’t have to judge anyone for their performance. It means that you have something that will help you to be happy. Should people die in horrible accidents at an early age? Yes, because they do. Should people die in earthquakes and floods and hurricanes? Yes, because they do. Tragedies happen, every day, somewhere to someone. It’s what happens when we opt in to this game of life. Everyday is a roll of the dice, and we all know that. To be upset and angry that life happens is destined to make your life miserable, too. Should Nadine leave you? Hard to say, because you are at a juncture where it could go either way. It is her decision, at the very least, and not yours. You could force her to stay, but what would that get either of you? Marriage is another roll of the dice. To be upset and angry at what the other person does is guaranteed to make your life miserable. You can only live one life at a time: yours. And you certainly can’t live God’s life for him. To think that you can tell God that there shouldn’t be wars, or sick babies, or starving children. Who are you? You know better than God? If you were to create a tenth of what God has created, then maybe it would be appropriate for you to give
some input on how the whole thing is run. Until then, maybe there are things to be learned from being sick, starving or victims of hurricanes or floods. Until then, maybe you just live your life and do the best you can do at the moment. Trust that if the things in your life that have brought you to this present moment were for your good, to help you to learn, then trust that it works that way for other people, too. You can’t fix it anyway, so trust. Trust in someone or something higher than yourself.
If it happened, It was supposed to happen. Trust more.
David was getting the sinking feeling that he wouldn’t be finding the answers he expected. There would be no mention of other people giving you gratitude for what you do for them. He would find no violins singing laments for other people using him. He was starting to get angry. He only had two more chips to go, though, so he set his mind to finishing. He might as well, he’d come this far, and it was from himself. He did wonder at the experiences that made his future self write such impossible guidelines.
Chapter 11 Nine. Allow.
That was the shortest heading of the chips so far, David mused to himself. Allow? What did that mean? He kept reading.
Turn the other cheek. Give your cloak along with your coat. Go the extra mile. You’ve heard the admonitions in Bible school all your life. People read that part and totally ignore what it says right there among those ever-present words: Allow. It actually means ‘allow evil.’ In your Bible, it would say something like, “Resist not evil.” Whoever translated that went for the pink elephant thing. I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, and bingo! There it is, sitting right in front of you. When you tell people to Resist not Evil, the big words there are Resist and Evil. No one ever hears the ‘not.’ So why even say it that way? Turn it into language that will get the point across: Allow evil. Well, that’s all well and good, to allow evil. We are really good at allowing good, so once again, why even say it that way? Just allow. Allow everything that happens. Allow the hurricanes especially since you can’t do
anything to stop them, anyway. Allow the sick babies, the starving children, the murders and the muggings. Does that mean that you should go out and invite yourself to get mugged and murdered? Does it mean that you can’t help a sick baby or a starving child? Or someone else who might appear to need a helping hand? That one is totally up to you to decide. Sometimes the lesson isn’t for the person with the problem; sometimes it is for the person who sees the problem. Are you expecting problems? And could that be part of the problem? Are those problems there because you are expecting them? Or would they have been there in any case? That one is for philosophers of greater stature than I. You – go with your gut. I personally don’t think that allowing means that you go out and find trouble for yourself and then say, “Here I am! Abuse me!” However, if you are in the street and someone mugs you, allow that, and then move away. Allowing is not synonymous with finding. Or keeping. Allowing does not mean staying with an abusive spouse. Allowing does not mean keeping an employee who steals. Allowing does not mean ranting and raving about the poor performance of the mayor, the neighbor, the garbage collector. Allowing means that you change what you can, keep your environment free of invitations to those who want to hurt you, and then being at peace with whatever happens. All we are talking about here is your peace of mind, your happiness. All of the things that you will be doing if you follow these guidelines is for yourself, no one else. It doesn’t really matter if your neighbor is happy or not. It is more important that you are happy. Not happy because you’ve
cheated him out of his lawn mower, real happiness that is found inside you, and not dependent upon anyone else’s actions, words or thoughts. You can see now, can’t you, that allowing other people their choices means that you don’t have to get ulcers worrying about the stupid decisions they make. You don’t have to get high blood pressure because you can’t get other people manipulated the way you would like. You don’t have to worry about what they do at all; all you think about is what you are doing. Allowing is also for allowing yourself. Allow yourself your mistakes. Allow yourself to be human, to maybe have an emotion or two. Allow yourself to fall short once in a while. Allow yourself to be doing the best you can at the moment. Trust yourself more. You are always doing what you want to be doing; otherwise you’d be doing something else. Allow everything! Allow the rain and the snow. Allow the boss to fire you, another boss to hire you, allow other people to be miserable, if that is what they want. You can’t make anyone happy, especially if you are not happy yourself. Allow Nadine to leave, if that is what she wants. Allow her to find what it is she is looking for, allow her to be and do and have what she thinks is best for her, as she is the only one who knows what is. You might think you are the best thing for her, although if she doesn’t have that knowledge, it will do neither of you any good. Allow your emotions to come up, because you are human. Allow them to leave as well when they are spent. Allow that all is well with the world, the universe, and with God.
Be more allowing with your children. Allow that they have personalities and desires. You can feed them, clothe them and put a roof over their heads, and they will still think what they think. You have no control over that, so allow them their thoughts, their talents, their friends, their habits. They are building their own foundation, and the best thing you can do is be supportive of them and allow them to be who they really are. If thoughts of disaster come to you, go ahead and think of the very worst thing that you can think of in your mind and allow that to happen. If you get it over with in your head, you might not ever have to face it in real life, since the brain can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined event. Get the worst over with as fast as you can, and move on to better things. Allowing isn’t always easy. It takes practice, although it is worth the time it takes to practice. You can do it with everything you do – shopping, talking with friends and family, reading. Take a book and as you read it, allow everything. Allow the villain his thought processes, his ideals, his actions. Allow the inept heroes of the story their inadequacy, their foibles, their humanness. It will make it that much easier to do in real life. This isn’t so that you can become a saint and place a polished halo on your head. This is only for your happiness. No one will be praying to you after you’re dead, no one will ask you to perform miracles for them. This is only because I’ve seen how miserable we’ve been, how close to giving up on everything we’ve been at times. I’ve figured out how giving up solves nothing, for whatever problem you have, you take it with you everywhere you go until it is resolved. Different continents, different planets, different
dimensions, it doesn’t matter. You resolve the issue or you will never be at peace, you will never be happy. What you have to work with is yours until you graduate that level and move on. You do it until you get it right. And right only means that you are happy. Make no judgments, take no retaliatory actions, make no resistance. Allow. Allow until you are happy. Allow. How hard can it be? Instead of doing something, this is doing nothing. To be happy.
David put the screen down at this point. It could appear that future David might have felt somewhat frustrated at his current self at this point. Of course, only future David could know how much David resisted. He was the only one who could, with some degree of authority, say that David had been a SOB blankety blank blank. David felt that some of the anger he felt before reading this chip was being returned, in some small measure. “Ok,” David said. “We’re not playing around anymore. We mean business. Let’s get to it, then.” He slipped the last chip into the screen.
There is only one purpose in life. To be JOY! You have only one mission in life. To Do whatever brings you JOY!
There are no special tasks, No important lessons, No destiny for you to find. Your lesson – Your taskIs Only to Remember. Remember who you are. You are JOY.
That was it. The last chip. Apparently future David forgot his soapbox. Joy? The purpose of life is joy? What in the world did that mean? Disgusted, David put the chips in his pocket and stood up. He wiped some of the accumulated dirt off of his pants and looked around. It was full dark. He had no idea what time it was or how long he had been here. It had been around six when he left the house, so it was sometime between then and morning. He began to walk towards home. Was he supposed to figure out the meaning of that last chip on his own? Future David had so much more practice at this self-help psychobabble. How was he supposed to figure it out? He didn’t know anyone who was JOY, except for a few girls with that name. They hadn’t seemed especially joyous to him. As David walked, he admitted to himself that his life had not been particularly happy. He wasn’t sure he even knew how to be happy. From everything he had learned growing up, things were supposed to make you happy. Big trucks, fast cars, huge yachts. People were supposed to make you happy; wife, children, friends. Future David said that it was his responsibility to be happy before he had all those things.
Could Future David be wrong? Given that I rarely am, he thought, how could he be wrong? It was a lot to think about in a short amount of time. He had three months, or three weeks, or three days. Three time periods. How was he supposed to make such a big change in that amount of time? David kept his head down as he walked. His emotional state was volatile at the moment; he didn’t trust himself with much thinking at the moment. He didn’t want to rage against the seemingly inevitable, and he didn’t want to break down and cry. Then he remembered the last thing he read on the chips. Almost as an afterthought to the rest of the test, the one word that ended the whole shooting match. Breathe. David took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure he felt better, although he could now think clearer. If breathing was the last thing to do, he tried to remember what the first thing was he was told to do. Yes, find his own truth. It all came from Future David, so did he have to test it? Probably not, although he felt like he wanted to test it. He wasn’t sure how well he liked this future self. If he was going to turn into a weakling, he wanted to know for sure that it was what he was supposed to do for himself, not his future, weak self. He would test everything he had read. He would find out if the guidelines made sense in the light of day, at least more sense than in a dark corner of the forest. He would see if it changed anything between him and Nadine, or the kids. He stopped short. He really didn’t have anything to lose trying these guidelines out. He was already at rock bottom, what else could go wrong?
If they didn’t work, it would be just like everything else he had done in his life. Breathe. He took another deep breathe. He would start tomorrow. When he had some sleep, some food, maybe some TV. He had to relax some; this had been a stressful evening. Although, he was feeling better than he had in a long time, his breathing was good, he was walking without too much exertion, and his heart didn’t feel like it was going to jump out of his chest. David approached the edge of the forest, and he could see the house through the trees again. The porch light was on. Had he left it on? He couldn’t remember turning it on, although his memory left lots to the imagination these days. No cars in the driveway – Cody and Jake were gone, most likely, as well as Nadine. He was home alone. Again. He turned the light on in the front room and turned on the TV as he made his way to the kitchen. His first instinct was to go to the fridge. He reached out his arm and caught the note taped to the handle. This was the most written communication he had received in a long time. “David,” it began. “I suppose that you will have forgotten that we had agreed on talking about our situation tonight. You were not home, so I took that to mean that our relationship means nothing to you. So don’t bother coming after us – we are gone, the kids and I. If you want to make things right, do so before you contact me again. Which I guess means that I don’t expect you to be calling me.”
He ripped the note from the fridge and went back to the front room to sit on the couch. He didn’t remember scheduling tonight to talk to Nadine. That didn’t mean anything; he didn’t remember much anymore. Drugs, physical condition, apathy? Hard to tell which thing exactly was the thief that took of his memories. “I’ll have my lawyer contact you. I don’t suppose this will be pleasant, although I hope it doesn’t have to be horrible either. At least for the kids.” David felt betrayed. He had three more months. Or days. A lump rose in his throat. Maybe it was only three more hours. And he had spent them in the forest reading guidelines that were meant to resolve problems like this. David felt torn in two. He had the golden key in his hands, and it was too late. Nadine was already gone. What good did those chips do him, now? He tore the note to pieces and threw them on the coffee table. He had two choices, he figured. He could get mad and be resentful and complain the rest of his life. Or he could try the advice of his future self and make some changes. And what good would it do to be happy if he couldn’t be with Nadine? He wanted to whine like a little child, cry like a baby and yell at the universal umpire. Again, the thought came to him. He had two choices. Be miserable because of the circumstances, or be joy. He didn’t stand a chance of reconciliation with Nadine by being miserable. He’d already tried that. Although, if he was joy, it might be more incentive to make her come back.
Then another thought caught in his mouth, like a worm wiggling to find a way out. He couldn’t do it for Nadine; he couldn’t try to change only to get her back. That was on one of those damn chips, wasn’t it? He had to make a change for himself, or it wouldn’t even be worth doing. Future David said that people could tell. They could tell if you made changes for the wrong reason. Would Nadine? Yes, he had to admit it, she would. She was like that. If anyone would be able to tell, it would be Nadine. Misery or joy. What a choice. If he had been asked to make a choice like that two weeks ago, he wouldn’t have had to think. David admitted to himself that he wouldn’t have had the first clue about what it meant to achieve joy, though. Did he want to be joy for himself? What did it entail? He couldn’t remember a lot of work involved in the guidelines that were in the chips, just a lot of thinking, or not thinking, depending on what the chip was describing. Maybe it wouldn’t be that hard after all. He only had the two choices, now. Misery or joy. The thought weighed upon him as heavy as the weight of a million strands of light. He shuddered, remembering. He threw the remote to the TV in the trash. “I might as well start now,” he said.
Chapter 1 It was Friday night. Nadine was alone, for the first time in unimagined eons. It seemed that with kids, extended family, co-workers and friends, Nadine never had a second to herself. Finally, she created some space for herself. And it felt weird. Nadine almost didn’t know what to do with it. She was so used to being the ‘answer man’ for anyone who had a question or problem. She was always the solution, even if it the solution turned out to be a miserable failure. Somehow it always was up to Nadine to do something about every problem. Now, however, she had just walked away from the problem. Taken her children and walked away from the biggest problem in her life; her husband. He had never lived up to the expectations she had when they first got together, he had never lived up to his goals and dreams from the beginning, he had never become the person she always thought he was going to turn out to be. And she was tired of all the broken promises and the empty and abusive words pulling her down into a pit she was getting more and more impatient with. Nadine had taken her children to her parents’ house. Well, sort of. Tonight, the children were at friends’ houses and ball games. For the next two weeks, they were going to be staying at her parents’ house. Until she could find a place of their own. Let David keep the house. It was over four months in arrears anyway; it was close to being repossessed. And all the furniture in it was either run down or rented; there was nothing there that held her. She had taken enough clothes for her and the kids each had a bag. They could go back later and pick up odds and ends. Was it over with David? She had thought that she was going to be married to that man forever. That was what marriage was all about – till death do you part, richer or poorer, all that fine print that meant that there was no honorable, ethical way out of the contract. Stuck.
Better to be married at a distance, at least, than to live in that nightmare one more day, she thought. I don’t have to get a divorce, although nobody said I had to live with him, either. And in her heart, Nadine knew that neither of those outcomes were the answer to the current problem. Why in the world would anyone come to her with a problem and expect her to fix it when she couldn’t even solve her own problems? How could she have thought all these years that she was able to manage anything when she couldn’t manage her own marriage? I’m not the first one to get to this point, she thought. And knowing that she was with at least fifty-percent of the population didn’t help any. What was wrong with her? “You’ll be fine here,” her mother said when Nadine had called earlier that day. “We’re on our way to the airport tonight, you know, a slight vacation in the south of France. We’ll be gone for two weeks, so stay for a few days while you find an apartment. You will find an apartment, right?” Nadine could see her parents’ glee. They most likely hadn’t had anything planned for the south of France; they probably packed a bag after the conversation and headed out so she could have the house to herself. As supportive as her parents were, they never had helped her with her problems with David. They never gave her advice or told her what to do. She found that they cut her off when she even mentioned him in any way other than logistical. It was like they didn’t want to know what was going on, that they didn’t acknowledge David and didn’t want him around. They loved having the kids over, although the family get-togethers never happened. That would have to include David. Nadine walked around the huge house. It was dark; she turned on some lights. It felt empty with no sound; she turned on the TV. She wandered into the kitchen and felt the old familiar tug of food; it was calling to her. Opening the fridge, there were fruits and vegetables, staples of every kind to ‘make’ something, although nothing premade, nothing ready to pop into the microwave and massage the emptiness that she felt inside. The only thing she could readily eat was a piece of fruit.
Not quite decided about the apple in her hand, she wandered back to the den. Infomercials were playing on the TV. Maybe a good old movie classic would keep her mind distracted from impossible problems. She browsed the selection of DVDs stacked on the shelf. All the old classics: ‘West Side Story,’ ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘A Bridge Too Far.’ One case was pushed back and more underneath the others and caught Nadine’s attention. She carefully set the others aside and pulled it out. She chuckled at the typo in the title. It was an apparent classic story that was done in an underfunded studio. Then she took a second look, and it wasn’t the classic movie she was familiar with, it was the cover of a porn movie. Nadine was incensed. What her parents did, she supposed was their business and she didn’t want to even know about it. Although with her kids in the house for the next two weeks, they didn’t need to be exposed to this kind of thing. She opened the case and was surprised to see that the DVD was marked only with the number ‘3.’ No title, no other reference to the supposed movie on the outside. Maybe this was worse than the cover and it spoke for itself Her mother would have some explanations to give when she got home. Nadine could only imagine what her mother was thinking by leaving this sort of thing out where anyone could find it. Without giving her action much thought, Nadine put the DVD into the player. She was curious to see how long before she would have to take it out and throw it away. She could buy her mother a new one when she got home, if she ever noticed. In the meantime, her children would not be able to look at it. They would be saved from influences they didn’t need to be around yet. Nadine sat on the couch with the remote and began to watch.
Chapter 2 “You teach people how to be with you. You don’t like what people say and do to you? Well, guess what? You are the one who taught them that behavior. You have implied every single time they behaved badly that it was ok, simply by not taking a stand.” Some skinny, balding man was talking to an audience member. Nadine was wondering if this was an opening of a movie about the talk show host or the audience member. “Let’s say, for example, that you go into a restaurant and order a filet mignon. You get a greasy, disgusting hamburger that looks a week old with a moldy bun and wilted lettuce. When the bill comes for the filet mignon, you get up and pay it. Now that is bad enough. What’s worse is that you do that same thing every single day for the rest of your life. “Is that restaurant ever going to be serving you the filet mignon that you ordered? NO! Because you’ve taught them that what they are doing is perfectly fine with you! How do they know? Because you’ve never said otherwise! You keep paying the bill! Other people in the restaurant get their filet mignons; you can see and smell it! “So what’s the problem with you?” This guy was getting very agitated at the woman in the audience. “It’s just that I expect that he…he’s supposed to…” she stammered. “Have you ever told him that you expect him to do any such thing?” the man quizzed. “No, well, in the beginning I tried, but,…and why should I have to tell him? Isn’t it just normal to be nice to your wife?” The man talked fast and he interrupted her before she could defend herself any more. “Every time you settle for less than you deserve, you tell the Universe NOT to send you anything better.”
The words rang in Nadine’s brain. Settle for less…settle for less… settle for less… She finally realized that her whole life she had settled. For a lot less than she deserved. A tear came to her eye. How did she know what she deserved? She didn’t even know what she wanted, other than to be happy for once. Deserved? Did she feel like she deserved anything better? Her head was beginning to swim, and she was ready to rip the DVD out and shatter it into a thousand pieces, it made her so mad. This wasn’t any porn show; this was something that her mother had planned for her benefit. She must have known that the porn cover would have been the best way to make sure Nadine saw it. She never knew her mother was so devious. Devious? Her mother had a couple hours notice at most that she was descending on the house. How could her mother have known that Nadine would be here, that she would watch this DVD? She would have to be a mind reader and have planned this for months, at least. She sat back on the sofa and wondered. Had her mother ever settled for a situation that was less than she deserved? Her mother lived in luxury, able to take trips to distant locations at the drop of the hat. She never lectured Nadine, never nagged, never told her what to do one way or the other. And yet, here was her mother, telling her without doing it herself, that Nadine was settling for something that her mother would never put up with. What other surprises did her mother have waiting for her in this house? “Look,” the man said. “You have choices. You can put up with the behavior, or you can leave. You can say nothing, whereby you validate the action, or you can speak your mind about it. Either way, you have choices, and it is those very choices that determine what you will experience next with your husband.” The woman in the audience looked close to tears. “I can’t confront him; he would explode all over everyone! You don’t know what it is like to live with him; he’s a ticking time bomb!”
“You can wait for the explosion, or you can get out,” the man said. “There are always choices, always places you can go, always things you can do. To think you are a victim means that you have already given up any possibility of change. And ultimately, that means that the only thing you want now is sympathy for your whining. You want us to be concerned that you have a splinter in your hand that you are unwilling to take out.” The host came in here, “Yes, in fact, it might appear that you like pushing that splinter in even deeper because it hurts more, therefore you get more sympathy.” Nadine thought these people were being unnecessarily cruel. She agreed that the woman was not taking responsibility for her problems; although there had to be a more tactful way of saying it. Until she thought about it. Sometimes it is only the cruelness of the truth that sinks in. How many splinters had she complained about to her friends and family over the years? She could have left years ago; she could have told David the very first time that she wouldn’t put up with his behavior. She hadn’t. She had pushed her own splinter in further; it got infected and spread to her entire life. She might have been exposed to this truth in the past, although she never would have heard it any other way than in this cruel manner that was happening to this poor woman on national TV. She was relieved that she didn’t have to be the person in that audience in order for her to hear the message. She was also saddened that it had taken her the better part of her life to wake up to the facts that were before her now. She had choices and she had used them in the past. She had settled. Now she was taking matters into her own hands, risking everything for an unknown outcome. Which, she thought to herself, had to be better than the outcomes she had been getting lately. Nadine bit into the apple and covered herself with the afghan. This collection of talk-show wisdom looked like it could last a while. She wondered what had caught her mother’s eye for this talk show, or had she just been a closet talk show junkie? Nadine thought she might learn more about her elusive mother by watching the recording. Did her mother need to hear these things to bolster herself to her station in life? She doubted it. The
only clues were in this recorded DVD, and Nadine was as curious about her mother as she was intrigued about what the talk shows were saying to her.
Chapter 3 The scene faded out and another popular daytime talk show host came on. The dress of the people on the DVD ranged from various time periods. This work must have taken her mother quite a while to compile. “People don’t read your mind,” the host was saying. “If someone isn’t living up to what they said they would do and that bothers you, say something! Most people don’t mind the nudge along the way, and the rest, well, it at least helps you distinguish between them!” “Absolutely,” said another man on the dais, apparently another expert in the field of helping these poor, unfortunate women who didn’t have a clue. Some of these things are self-evident, Nadine thought. That’s what she thought, right before she stopped and looked at herself. Were these things self-evident? She tried to remember if she had ever told David how disappointed she was in their marriage. She tried to remember if she had told him what she felt on any issue. And she couldn’t remember. She had kept herself so busy with everything else that she had to wonder if it was to avoid what was causing her the most pain. The woman in the maroon silk suit was babbling on when Nadine brought her thoughts back to what was going on with the show. “You can’t change anyone,” she said. “Whatever change occurs because you have dealt an ultimatum will only be temporary and superficial. That is not a change; that is only a pretense to get a desired outcome. “So if what you want is only the desired outcome, then go ahead and force the issue, realizing that the person will resent you for it. Otherwise, know that what you are looking for is not found with the person you are looking at. He/she is not capable at this time.” The host interrupted, “Fundamentally, then, a person’s temperament will not change. They can change jobs, circumstances, environments, and unless the person wants to change inside, only the outside looks different.” “Exactly,” said the maroon outfitted expert.
The perky young thing hosting the next talk show excerpt was too young to know anything about the subject, Nadine thought. She waited to see where she could point at the fallacy of this mere child’s logic. “You can’t love someone when all you want that person to do is change,” she said. Nadine was aghast. That was exactly what she had been doing all her life. Trying to love someone and wanting him to change. She wondered what this spry young thing would say was the reason she couldn’t do that. Obviously, she hadn’t been able to do it, although for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why. Maybe youth did have an advantage here. “You want someone to change, and you put conditions on your love. If your husband isn’t the dashing romancer of your dating era, then you are loving the figment, not the real thing. If your wife isn’t the best housekeeper and arm candy that you wanted, then you are loving a figment, not her. “In this world, you can love figments, except that only gives you heartaches when you overlap those figments onto real people and the real people don’t measure up. Nobody can measure up to the perfection we create in our minds. “You say you love your husband? Except that you want him to know how and when to share his feelings with you, you want him to help with the housework, you want him to be more available to the kids? That’s not your husband you are loving; that is the figment. Until you can say that you love your husband, faults and all, you are kidding yourself.” Nadine nodded her head. She had been doing that. She had put pedestals all over the house, and no one paid any attention to them. They sat dusty and unused, regardless of the desire she had for David to perch himself atop them. “Look,” said another expert, this time a man. “Let’s call it by its name. If you want someone to change, it is control. You want to control the other person. Love doesn’t want to control; love just wants to love, regardless. It doesn’t matter when it is love. If it does matter; it ain’t love.”
That sounded pretty radical, even for a psychologist. They were showing his book, and the audience was ‘ooh’ing and ‘aaah’ing over it while the host was giving the man’s credentials. If it matters, it ain’t love. If it doesn’t, then it is love. That sounded like too easy a test; no one would be loving anyone, Nadine thought. Everyone wants people to change, from the boss to the telemarketer to the clergyman. Who loves in this world? Nadine asked herself. She wondered if the fast-talking expert loved anyone. Sure, she thought. That’s all I need; more deflection. This isn’t about that guy on TV, it’s about me. Can I ever love someone regardless? Would I ever be able to get to that point in my life? Would I ever want to? With thoughts of what would happen if people were allowed to roam freely doing whatever they wanted because people would love them regardless, Nadine paused the DVD player. She needed a break. Back to the kitchen. Maybe there were some cookies in the pantry.
Chapter 4 Nadine went for one last exploration in the freezer. Behind some parcels wrapped in white and a couple of leafy looking oddities, she discovered a pint container of name brand Double Trouble ChocolateChocolate Chip ice cream. She could tell she was salivating; she was in definite need of some comfort food after watching that little bit of reality on the DVD. Taking the container to the sink, Nadine grabbed a bowl from the cupboard. She pulled off the lid and was ready to dig in with her spoon when she discovered that her ice cream was really a frozen pond of water. Nadine was ready to throw the whole container through the window. She needed some junk food! Her body was revolting against the apple already. Then she noticed the note inside the frozen water. It was upside down and slightly blurred from the interaction of the water and ink before it froze. She pulled the mass of ice from the bottom of the container and held it up to the light. Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that can happen to me! It wasn’t in her mother’s handwriting or her father’s. It almost looked like an antique scrawl on a piece of weathered parchment. A message left to float in a bottle, or rather an ice cream tub for someone to find. Actually, Nadine thought, the best possible thing that can happen to me now is a pint of ice cream! She felt the lurch in her stomach as if her body had realized that it wasn’t going to be receiving the ice cream and was protesting. Nadine slid to the floor and started to cry; a luxury that she rarely allowed herself. Not that she hadn’t wanted to cry – that had been a constant wish for years now. She was around too many people and she didn’t want to appear wimpy, so she had never allowed herself to cry. The crying took sudden turns. She made loud sobbing noises for a while, then soft whimpering moans. She tried to cry silently, and that didn’t
work. Suddenly, the crying stopped as Nadine realized something important. She didn’t know how to cry. She rotated the hunk of ice on the floor. It left a trail of water as it slowly thawed. She made patterns with it between her legs, a soggy mess on the floor and in her heart. She didn’t know what to think. If she were being open-minded she would have to say that the message from the ice cream tub was true. If it were, then being with David was the best possible thing that could have happened to her. Yesterday she would have fought that logic; today she wanted to know what made anyone think like that. David had been mean and cruel. Maybe not physically, although she knew there were more ways to kill someone than physically. If there were anything good to come out of her experience with David, she wanted now to find it. Maybe she had her eyes closed all of these years and was not seeing the big picture. Nadine sat silently for a long time trying to find the good that came out of her time with David. Finally, she agreed that her children were priceless. They were three of the best possible things that could have happened to her. She waited for more. She was struggling, and although she wasn’t outwardly crying, her face was moist with tears and her eyes were stinging. I learned how to deal with problems, she thought. Shaking her head, she had to take that one back. She had dealt with problems all during her marriage to David. She couldn’t say that she was particularly good at solving them. A thought came to her, and she brightened. I finally learned to stand up for myself! The thought of leaving while David was out of the house almost seemed cowardly, although she knew that she might not have done it had he been in the house to manipulate her into complying with his wishes. She
shuddered at the thought of having to face him in the future. Would her resolve hold? She picked herself up off the floor. She could continue to think about why it had been so beneficial for her to be with David. In the meantime, she felt a compelling urge to wash her hands. The water on the floor would evaporate, and she would get the note later. If she dared to touch it.
Chapter 5 Nadine had never really paid attention to the decorations that her mother had spread across her home. She knew there were witty little sayings here and there – printed on every kind of background from wood to glass. She had never read them; she was too busy and too mired in her own problems to see what was right before her face when she visited her mother. Now, she had new eyes for everything in her mother’s house. She saw a stack of fortunes from the fortune cookies given out in Chinese restaurants. They were lined up in the hallway to the bathroom, and the first one that Nadine saw had a simple message on it: The lesson continues until you’ve learned the lesson! That stopped her in her tracks. Could it really be that if she had only learned to stand up for herself twenty years ago that she wouldn’t have had to go through this hell? No. She could not accept that. Most of everything that had happened was David’s fault! She had convinced herself of that so thoroughly, that even though she had a fleeting thought just a few minutes earlier about not having told David of her disappointment, she still had a hard time taking responsibility for this. She needed to point to someone else for the blame. It was just too overwhelming if it all rested on her. It always had rested on her! Everything! If something went wrong, it was her fault. If nothing happened, it was her fault. If they didn’t have money, it had been up to her to make sure that the family was covered. She was absolutely sick of it! And if she had to think that she would have to take even one more fall, be responsible for one more problem, she would scream! And yet, in the bottom of her heart, over in the back corner in the darkest part, she dreaded having to go through more of the same problems simply because she wanted this to be about someone else instead of her. If she could learn this lesson, get over it and on to something new, she thought she would do almost anything. To stop this vicious cycle of misery, she
thought that maybe she could, in some small part of her, try to see what the lesson was that she needed to learn. She continued down to the bathroom. Stop loving the figment. Check. She could do that. See how everything is the best that can happen to you. Check. That might take a little more time to see, although with practice, maybe she could get better at it. Learn the lesson the first time so it doesn’t have to repeat! Check. Well, maybe the second time would give me enough time to see what the lesson is. Nadine thought about that. No, that would give the other person more training in the undesired behavior. It would be best to learn the lesson the very first time, regardless. She thought about her past. How it would have been different had she stood up for herself, if she had learned her lesson the first time? She probably wouldn’t have her children now. She would have been gone and lost in the world somewhere, never knowing the joys of motherhood, the absolute love that you only get with children. More than you can get with a jerk of a husband, she thought. No, that isn’t fair. Love has to be where you are, or it isn’t there at all. Nadine washed her hands, splashed water on her face. She stared at the stranger who peered at her from the other side of the mirror. Who was she? And where had she missed the turn all those years ago? Why had she needed to learn this lesson, out of all the myriads of lessons that she could have had, why this one? Because this is the one that you most needed to learn, whispered the reflection in the mirror.
Chapter 6 When Nadine was a child, her father let her make things in his workshop. Little stools, sawhorses, birdhouses. She cut them with a hand held saw, nailed them together and then painted them. They never had to look perfect: her father let her create however she liked. She loved that her father used those sawhorses with the bright yellow and red polka dots painted on them. And now she felt like she needed to pound a few nails. She needed to get some aggression out, so she headed for the shop that was her father’s domain in the back of the house. It had been years since she had been in this workshop; probably not since she had been married. She wasn’t sure it would be the same, although she thought she could manage to find a few old boards and hammer some nails in it. Nadine turned on the light and the old familiar smells of sawdust, turpentine and linseed oil soothed her immediately. She was back in her childhood, loved and honored by her father; a special guest in his world. She found the boards, some nails and a hammer and took them to a workbench by the far wall. She reached for the light over the workbench and was stunned to see what hung there. A wooden mosaic of sorts; part wood burned, part painted, part inlaid in such precision and grace that it took her breath away. It was about five feet wide by about three feet high and polished and shined without a speck of dust anywhere on it. The rest of the workshop had dust everywhere, but not on this item. The workmanship was exquisite, and she read the inscription on this masterpiece of craftsmanship. You can’t make peace with your past until you’ve made peace with your present. Once you’ve made peace with your present, everything in your past resolves itself.
Was her father in on her mother’s devious plot? Had they both conspired to plant these messages for her to find? Nadine was torn with this conspiracy theory. She had no proof that these messages weren’t in her parents’ house for many years and she just had never noticed them. She didn’t often go rooting in her mother’s ice cream tubs, nor did she venture to her father’s workshop. How could they have known? How could they have plotted all this? And yet, it still seemed suspicious to her. Of course it seems suspicious, she thought. I’ve lived with someone I don’t trust for the last two decades. Everything seems suspicious to me. And yet, these messages seemed to be building on one another. Love doesn’t demand change, everything that happens is the best that can happen, learn the lesson the first time, and present acceptance resolves the past. It was as if these messages were laid out for her in perfect sequence to lead her to conclusions that only she could draw from her experience. There was no way that anyone could have known that she would follow the trail of these messages. There was no way that her parents could have planned for her to seek solace in the comfort of ice cream or nail pounding. And why would her mother, who had everything anyone could ever want have all these things around her house anyway? Did she have to be reminded to stay on course? The more she questioned what was happening to her, the more confused she got. So stop with the questions! She thought. I can accept where I am right now. Nadine stood still to see how that reaction went over with her body. She had gotten over the ice cream disappointment, and now, her body was not giving her any specific problems over accepting where she was and what she was thinking. If I can accept my circumstances right now, I don’t have to worry about the past. At least that is what she thought, from what she could tell from the message. So all I have to do is keep on accepting where I am.
But! There was so much to think about in the past – all the hurts David had caused, all the disappointments, all the dreams that never came true. So many wounds, so many heartbreaks, too much to just leave them all behind, abandon them. She looked at the artwork her father created, absentmindedly running a finger over the smooth surface. Make peace with the present. She had no idea that she had been warring with the present, although when she thought about it, that was the only thing she had been doing. She certainly wasn’t enjoying the present, or even living in it. She had been dodging the present and avoiding it at every step so that she could live in the past and hold it like a trophy over the mangled present. The trophy showing everyone why she was damaged goods; why she couldn’t do anything right. The only person who sees my trophy is me, she thought. I’m the only person who gets any payback from that damn trophy! It is my miserable excuse for not being who I am now, right here, in this moment. Nadine spent the next hour pounding nails. She made a lot of noise and hoped that the workshop was insulated enough that the neighbors would not be disturbed. She pounded nails until she had blisters and a cramp in her arm. If she couldn’t cry, she could release some of the pent-up anger she felt in the peace of her father’s workshop.
Chapter 7 Having found some relief for her frustration in the workshop, Nadine went back to finish the DVD that her mother had created. She was exhausted although she knew that she wouldn’t be able to sleep any time soon. She might as well follow the bread crumbs to see where they led her. The next section was a strange compilation. It wasn’t from any one show; rather it was from lots of shows with a message made from the mind of her mother. Her mother had pulled the electronic strings of the digital puppets on the screen to put a script together. It was like a hi-tech version of cutting diverse letters from newspapers and magazines to formulate a message. It was strange in that every word, spoken by someone different was also said in a different cadence and rhythm. “If … you … abdicate … your … power … of … choice … even … in … the … past, … you … also … remove … yourself … from … the … ability … to … change … the … present … circumstances. “Everything … that … happens … to … you … - … you … have … chosen. … That’s … the … good … news … - … if … you … don’t … like … what … you’ve … chosen … you … can … always … choose … again. Nadine stopped and went back to the beginning of this one. There were so many different people saying this that she wanted to write it down so she could look at what they were saying exactly. If you abdicate your power of choice, even in the past, you also remove yourself from the ability to change the present circumstances. Everything that happens to you – you have chosen. That’s the good news – if you don’t like what you’ve chosen, you can always choose again. I have never chosen to be a victim, Nadine thought. Suddenly, Nadine felt as foolish as that woman who was being scolded by the experts. She had chosen to be a victim; she had chosen every single thing that had happened to her; her friends, her associates, her methods of spending time, all of it. Everything she had ever done was just a
choice she made about something. Go to the mall and spend money, or spend time with David working on the relationship? It had all been there before her eyes, and she had never seen it until now. Nadine wondered if it had something to do with this house. There was no contention in it anywhere. Her parents were retired and did what they wanted. They had nice furnishings and chose to live a simple and stress-free lifestyle. The house that Nadine left tonight was full of clutter; shoes, homework, junk mail, papers and magazines from years ago. Baseball bats, tire pumps, horse shoes. The house was littered with things that were legitimately good items that no one ever used anymore. Laundry piled up and overflowing, dishes in every conceivable place to put a dish, coats and hats and boots that never saw anything other than the floor by the front door. Where had all of it come from, and why did no one ever take it away? She could see how she was surrounded by the choices of others. And the most important part of this one was hiding around the corner of her mind. She could feel that there was something in the message about other people’s choices – and it was being elusive. Her choices and other people’s choices. Could her choices affect other people’s choices? And did other people’s choices affect hers? She stopped to think. David usually made all the decisions, even though he told everyone that Nadine did. What had she ever done if she didn’t like his choices? She hated to admit to herself that she had done nothing. She had let her own opinion go by the wayside because of the image she had of David, of society’s image of the ‘man of the house.’ She had let other people’s choices be her own. And they had made her miserable. Still, she couldn’t deny that she had made a choice – the same one that David made. It seemed so much simpler to do it that way. It must have made as much sense to the little boy who stuck his finger in the dike when he saw that it was leaking. It works for a while.
Nadine was coming to realize that she had chosen every last bit of her life. And her agreement of this fact was more out of desperation; it seemed that she had to agree to some of the messages she was getting tonight if she wanted things to be different, if she wanted things to change. I can choose again, she thought. I can make today unlike any I’ve had before. And tomorrow I will do the same thing. It’s all about the choices. Nadine was starting to smile. She ran to the kitchen and found a piece of notepaper from the drawer and wrote a message: I can create something new. She put the paper into the ice cream container and added water. Carefully opening the door of the freezer, she put it back where she found it.
Chapter 8 Putting the paper back in the drawer, Nadine found among her mother’s pile of mail a postcard with an unusual design on the front. She pulled it out from under the rest of the mail her mother had placed on top of it. Nadine didn’t know the person whose address appeared at the top of the other side; it was a foreign name, it looked French, although she couldn’t tell. It had come from San Francisco, and had been delivered about three months ago. From all that Nadine could see, it was in chronological order of the mail that was in this pile. If it were part of her mother’s devious plan, it would have had to have been an elaborate plan, to get some person in California to send her a postcard three months ago because her mother was psychic and knew she was falling to pieces. Nadine shook her head. She was going off the deep end. There was a simple message on it. Unlike the ‘having a wonderful time, wish you were here’ type, this one was a bit deeper. The Master who will be happy is one who is willing to give up everything. Nadine dropped the post card as if it were poisonous. She walked into the den again, agitated. She paced the den then moved to the hallway and back. She did not know what to do with this message. It was too hard, it was too heavy, it was simply too much. Who gives up everything? Nadine thought about what that would entail. Her life was pretty much upside down now as it was, but to give up everything? Her children, her job, her parents? She couldn’t do that. She didn’t want to do that. That was completely unrealistic. People are supposed to have families, they are supposed to take care of them and stay together. People aren’t just supposed to walk away from everything and run off to find their own pleasure. Her mother had become an enigma to her. No wonder she never heard her mother talk about solving problems; Nadine would have thought about calling a shrink for her. What was her mother saying with this? Did she
want Nadine to leave everything, go on a cruise and run off into the sunset with some handsome stranger? She was becoming more and more agitated. She didn’t know what to do; there was no junk food to calm her nerves with. Her parents didn’t drink, so that was not an option. She didn’t want to go out at this time of night; she would have to get cleaned up and dressed. As Nadine stood at the kitchen sink she felt like she was falling apart. She didn’t know what to do with this message out of all of them. The rest she was coming to terms with, slowly. And this message had run a cold, icy finger down her spine. It was obvious that her parents were happy. They had been together for a long time. They certainly hadn’t given up everything. Although, she thought, I don’t know everything about my parents. I don’t know much about their life growing up, or how they met, or what beliefs they have. I don’t know much about them at all, other than the fact that they seem to be happy. Nadine had never wondered about the missing pieces in her parents’ history. She had never wondered about her long deceased grandparents and how they raised their children. She never thought to wonder what grades they got in school, what dreams they had, what heartbreaks they had suffered. Everything in her life had been about her – and then about her and David. What did her parents give up to become happy? Maybe it was their past, maybe it was the pain of life that they had put down. There was one word that kept coming to her mind from that demon post card that was lying face up on the kitchen floor. Willing. It didn’t say that you necessarily had to give up everything to be happy; it just said that you had to be willing.
Well, she wasn’t willing. Nadine imagined that if you were sincerely willing to do something, it had to be backed up with the thought that you could actually do whatever you said you were willing to do. And she was not willing to give up her children, her life. She just wouldn’t do that. The master who would be happy…. That postcard seemed awfully sure of itself. It was taunting her from the floor. It didn’t feel the need to explain itself; it was cocky enough to know that the message was that simple. She looked at it again. Willing to give up everything. Who was she kidding? Her children would be leaving in a handful of years anyway; she wouldn’t have them forever regardless. What was she really hanging on to? Her anger. Her frustration. Most of all - the past. The answers came floating to her mind, now that she was willing to see them there. David she could give up. Her job…well, if she had to. It wasn’t like she was happy in anything she did in life. David had spoiled it all for her. She pushed that thought to the back of her head. She had spoiled it for herself. She had been given a lemon and was continually cringing at its bitterness. She knew there were other things you could do with lemons. Willing to give up everything. If she were to give up everything that would mean whatever was holding her in the ‘stuck’ position she was in. The anger and frustration would be hard to give up. She could feel them in her like the pull to the ice cream. They were a visceral part of her. She would need a patch or something to help wean her from its draw. How had her parents achieved this state of giving up everything without appearing to give up anything? Suddenly, everything about her parents was a mystery to her.
Give up every belief that doesn’t work for me. Can I really do something so audacious? The expectations, the ideals and standards that society holds collectively is what holds things together, can I just give them up and still be a member of society? From what she could see, society in general wasn’t much happier than she was. People were always complaining about something, the way she was. Bail-outs, terrorists, taxes. There was always something to rage against. Something to point the finger at as being below par. The splinter in society’s finger. Nadine got to her feet. She realized that she was at a point where she had a choice. Oh, she had learned about her choices, and this was one that was facing her right now. She began to climb the stairs to get ready for bed. She was getting exhausted; it was nearly dawn and she had been stewing all night in the maze of puzzles her mother had left her. She pondered her choices as she climbed the stairs. She could let everything go, as the postcard suggested and be happy. Or, she could continue as she was and be miserable. What kind of choice is that? she wondered. As Nadine climbed the stairs of the empty house, she was reminded that her parents had given up everything – their house and everything in it so that she would have a place to go after leaving David. They had given up any need to give her advice or scold her; they have given up the need to put pressure on her to leave David at all. They had given up everything for her. They loved her without the need to control her. Nadine felt tears coming again.
Chapter 9 The heat of the water on her skin felt good. The shower allowed her to think about what had happened to her tonight. She had never had an experience like that before – and didn’t understand why. Apparently all the information that she got tonight had been around in one form or another for a long time…little snippets of truth hiding in the most obvious places. In fact, every one of the messages she had received tonight were right in front of her face. She must have been ignoring everything to get so blind to things that were so beneficial and right within her reach. How had that happened? Nadine got out of the shower, relaxed and ready to take a couple hours nap before going out to look for apartments. Nothing like a fresh start for a fresh start. She grabbed a towel and wiped the water out of her face and as she removed the towel what she saw took her breath away. The mirror, steamed and foggy, held another message. It was as if someone had written something on the dry mirror that was invisible until you took a shower when the steam would make it visible. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find joy! Find joy in every breath, every footstep, in every action. In reality, Joy is all there is! And in smaller letters, the usual disclaimer: This message will selfdestruct in five sec… The last part of the message was true. As soon as Nadine had read the message, it was gone. She was tempted to run the shower again to see if she had just imagined it. Nadine thought about the unadulterated joy she experienced as a child. She remembered times when the family went to the park and rolled down the hill, over and over. Nadine remembered how she was so into that very moment that she had no thoughts for anything else. There simply was no room for thoughts of the homework assignment she had not finished, for
the fear she had of talking in front of her class; there was simply joy of laughing, running, and being with her family. That day, she had rolled herself up into a ball so many times to hurl herself down that hill, only to be caught by her father with a hug. She would laugh and jump up and run to the top of the hill and do it again. The day ended with the feelings of joy and contentment of being with her family and the pure joy of exhilaration of movement. She had not felt that in a long time. Adult lives didn’t always lend themselves to that type of joy. There was no time to roll down the hill; there was work to be done, bills to pay, errands to run. Endless minutia of everyday to look after; no time for joy. Nadine stopped herself. Yet again, she had found an exception to the message in front of her. And none of these messages ever said that there were exceptions. And if there really were no exceptions, she had to figure that she had lost a lot of joy along the way. She had chosen to stop the joy. She never went to the park anymore. She never thought to find joy in her daily activities. It just hadn’t occurred to her. And what is to stop me from doing it now? She thought. My own choices, she thought again. I can choose to find joy in my life. It is out there – I saw it when I was a kid. I know what it looks like, I can do it again. Nadine remembered that feeling of joy. She concluded that it was possible to experience the feeling without necessarily having to roll down the hill to get there. All it takes is a desire and the moving of the grey matter to that same spot. I can practice this, she thought. Nadine looked out the windows. It was getting light, it was Saturday already. She could go and look for a place to live, or she could take a quick
nap and dream about a new world with different choices and different outcomes. A new world full of joy. She pulled the covers over her and snuggled in for the dream of her life.
If you enjoyed this book, look for other books by Linda L. Armstrong: Phoenix In Aquarius, Book 1 of the Phoenix Chronicles Sanctuary of the Heart, Book 2 of the Phoenix Chronicles The Last Attachment Look for them online at Scribd.com or from any online bookseller like amazon or barnes and noble.
Resources There are many different options out there if you want help in getting out of a stuck area of life. Here are just a few. Check them out, there are many techniques that are free and very powerful. Rapid Eye Technology www.rapideyetechnology.com Emotional Freedom Techniques www.emofree.com Z Point Process www.zpointforpeace.com (503) 399-1181
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