It’s time for a new perspective…
The Worldâ€™s Greatest Spectacle
A novel Novel
Copyright ÂŠ 2010 Brandon Janis All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Published by TWGS, LLC
For inquiries contact email@example.com
Front cover designed by Rene Munoz
To Everyone â€“ who tries to understand reality
Preface A dark room can suddenly become light with the simple flip of a switch. As you turn these pages and discover the truth that turns on the light of freedom, you have the opportunity to discover the reality that the change you seek can happen at the speed of light.
Cindee was up in the air. She wasn’t sure how high, or why, but she had the sense that somebody might be chasing her. What she was certain of is that she was trying to fly as fast as she could, even though she was moving in slow motion. Whenever she was flying, she would use the butterfly stroke with an emphatic dolphin kick. It probably had something do with her favorite race in high school being the 100 fly, and back then she was pretty good at it. Suddenly, she felt her head snap backwards, and she momentarily lost any awareness of where she was or what was happening. It was Samantha, her fourth grade nemesis, sitting behind her and pulling her long hair while Miss Peterson had stepped out of the classroom. Sam, as everyone called her, was an appropriate nickname because you couldn’t really be sure if she was a boy or a girl. She had the face and hair of a girl, but she was stronger and could run faster than most of the boys. It was the intimidating in-your-face demeanor that frightened everyone. The pain from her hair follicles was intense, and as she was frantically trying to figure out how to escape this nightmare she saw a… The obnoxious sound of Brock’s alarm startled her, and Cindee realized that she had “jumped” in her sleep. She could feel that her pillow was a little moist by the left corner of her mouth; she hated it when she drooled in her sleep. As she rolled over to her right side a full moon shining through the half-draped window allowed her to vaguely see the outline of Brock’s hunched figure sitting on the edge of the bed. He’s probably trying to decide whether to stand up or fall back on his pillow. She knew he would stand up. It was 4:05 am Wednesday morning and he had to be at work by 5:00 am sharp. Being late was not optional.
She watched him slowly stand up and drag his feet to the bathroom and then quickly shut her eyes before he turned on the bathroom light. She pulled the covers over her head. I hate him. Every morning the bathroom light would blind her because he never shut the door. She had asked him numerous times to keep the door closed, but all she ever heard was some lame excuse about not being able to remember. She gave up a long time ago and just resorted to fuming about it under her covers. She listened like she did every morning to the shower, the electric razor, the mouthwash gargle and spit, the toilet flush, until finally he stopped making noise and turned out the light around 4:30. She wished she could skip this next part of the morning, because the anger would linger for at least fifteen minutes before she could turn it off, and fall back to sleep, until her alarm woke her up again at 6:30. This morning she couldn’t even get back to sleep. The walls were closing in faster, she hated her life, but it was impossible to escape. She had wanted a divorce for many years, but her enslavement to Dustin and Brinlee stood in the way. Dustin was her 12-year-old, self-absorbed, don’ttell-me-what-to-do soon-to-be teenager, and in spite of his disagreeable presence in her life, as a mother she cared about him. She felt a sense of duty and responsibility to do the best she could to help him find his way in life, at least until he graduated from high school, and then she would let go. Brinlee was her cute one-and-a-half-year-old accident. She hadn’t wanted any more children after Dustin, but even though Brock was mad about it, he didn’t force the issue. It was one of the few things she admitted to herself as being her own fault. A couple of years ago she had lost track of maintaining her birth control schedule and Brinlee was the consequence. She detested changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, listening to temper tantrums, being woken up in the middle of the night by crying, and the list never seemed to end. What really gnawed at her was the decision to keep having sex with Brock. Years ago she had lost interest, but she had heard enough and read enough to conclude that if she didn’t meet his physical needs he would probably seek satisfaction elsewhere. The thought of him following other women with his eyes, going with his work buddies to strip bars, surfing the internet for porn, or the absolute unthinkable, having an affair, were much worse than the 15
unpleasant reality of intimacy. She was always looking for any clue that he was unfaithful; and she was reasonably sure that he wasn’t. To keep it this way, a couple of times a month she would extend an offer and he rarely declined. There was no enjoyment, communication, or bonding in the event, but at least it was always brief and seemed to accomplish the objective. She wasn’t sure it really made any sense. It was the only aspect of her life in which she felt she had some power and control over him and yet it was distasteful and always left her just as empty as she was before. Maybe it was just another form of bondage. The real problem was that if years ago she had decided differently, Brinlee never would have come along. Now she couldn’t give divorce serious consideration. She still felt the pain from her own parents’ divorce when she was nine and keenly remembered how for years they would use her to try to hurt each other. When she married Brock she made a commitment to never put her children through what she had experienced and, maybe subconsciously, that’s why she didn’t want any more children after Dustin, just in case. Sometimes she wished Brock didn’t have a good relationship with her children, because then she could rationalize the divorce as necessary to shield them from the pain he might be causing them. Unfortunately, he wasn’t causing them any pain, just her. Brock slowly reached over, hit the snooze button, and then turned the alarm off. Without thinking, he sat on the edge of the bed for a moment before standing up and walking to the bathroom. He must have slept well, because he couldn’t remember anything after seeing the numbers 11:43 on his alarm clock last night. His first conscious thought was to keep to his morning ritual of leaving the bathroom door open and being as noisy as possible without it appearing blatantly intentional. It really wasn’t fair that Cindee slept in every morning while he had to get up and go to work. And does she work? No. She used to after Dustin started going to school, but then quit her job after Brinlee was born. Occasionally she would actually make him dinner on the weekend but she never made him breakfast or lunch, and she spent most of her day reading romance novels, watching TV, and gossiping with her girlfriends. Maybe if she did more for Dustin and Brinlee he would shut the bathroom door. 16
The thought had crossed his mind more than once that she might want a divorce, but as separate as their lives were she never seemed to mind having sex. That was the telltale sign he had concluded. He hated her nagging, the animosity, the obsession with religion, and her unwillingness to take on responsibility. On the other hand he had never heard another guy describe a wife as anything better, so why look elsewhere? Besides, there was no reason good enough to rock Dustin and Brinlee’s world. He knew a lot of guys who philandered without their wives knowing about it, but because they had such a ridiculous one-track mind when it came to the female body, he didn’t want to be controlled by that addiction. For this reason he tried to keep his eyes from wandering from woman to woman and his mind on other interests. He did wish there was some eye contact and maybe just a little positive communication with Cindee, but he figured since you can’t have everything, you might as well try to be satisfied with what you do have. She finally heard the front door close so she rolled back over to her left side and tried to go back to sleep. Dustin would be getting up soon, and she would need to have a good breakfast ready for him before he headed off to school. Her mind rattled. Last night had been a tipping point, just like hundreds of previous tipping points to nowhere. The loud music in Dustin’s room had been turned off, or at least it had probably moved to his headphones, and Brinlee had eventually succumbed to sleep. She had changed into something more comfortable and had hopped into bed after an exhausting day of taking care of Brinlee, arguing with Dustin over rules, and helping out for several hours at a church activity. She was enjoying the quiet while reading an intriguing romance novel, when about an hour later Brock strolled into the room. She couldn’t remember exactly how the fight started. She may have abruptly said something simple and non-controversial like, “Where were you?” or “What time did you get off work?” and he took offense to it like he always did. Of course she did know what he was doing, even if she didn’t know where: drinking with his work buddies. Brock worked in the oil fields and hung out for a couple of hours with the guys almost every night after work. Oilfield hours were long but the pay was good. The kids never saw him during the week, and they looked forward to the time he spent with them on the weekends. Sometimes she was awake when he came home, but most of the 17
time during the week she only saw him when his alarm went off and he left the bathroom door open. On weekends they clashed over the kids: she wanted a break from Brinlee, and he wanted to take Dustin hunting or four wheeling or boating instead of letting him go to church with her. His idea of playing with Brinlee and making her think he was her favorite person in the world did not qualify as assuming any responsibility to take care of her. Sometimes she wondered if Brock was an alcoholic. If she thought about it carefully, he usually had alcohol on his breath whenever he came home, and she probably had just stopped noticing because it was so common. However, he never seemed to be so inebriated that he couldn’t function on a normal level. But then again, maybe it was those few beers that made him so stubborn, so inconsiderate, so ungrateful, so defensive, and so aloof in his own world. It was his defensive answer that caused her to say smugly without looking up from her book, “Nice to see you too.” The exchange of words gradually became more and more hurtful, tones were laced with animosity, and the volume was a rapid crescendo. Old wounds were reopened; new wounds were cut, and when the pain was too unbearable to take anymore, she had buried herself in the covers and sobbed herself to sleep. Brock ignored her when she cried. No matter how hard she tried to shut her mind off and go back to sleep, the pain she was reliving from the night before wouldn’t subside, and she curled up in a ball and began crying again, this time inconsolably. What made it even worse was that she didn’t feel there was anyone in her life that really understood and could help her. As time gradually exhausted her emotions, she knew sleep was not going to mercifully give her an escape, so she faced the hell and got out of bed, determined that later in the day she was going to try to open up and share a few realities with Rachel. She was desperate for any relief. She knew Rachel was dealing with a physically abusive husband and hoped she might have some coping skills to share.
Brock closed the door to his parked truck and headed for the office doors. The fight the night before with Cindee had been annoying but he had learned long ago not to get trapped in her emotions, because once inside it was very difficult to get out. At times he really did feel sorry for her and wished that he could help her, only helping her was about as likely as his paycheck miraculously having a few extra zeros on it. Did he feel some pain and loneliness in the relationship? Yes, but he had learned to suppress it and to seek companionship elsewhere by hanging out at the bar with the guys from work. He had no idea how rocked his world was about to be on the other side of those familiar office doors. After clocking in, he headed for the supervisors’ table in the break room. He could immediately tell from the expression on Kenny’s face that something was up. “Corporate’s here,” Kenny said. “And…” “And we really don’t know what’s going on.” “What do you know?” Carlos piped in, speculating, “They’re scheduling everybody on our crew to meet privately with some HR chick from corporate.” “That’s a new one. Are we headed out to the field?” “Not today. They’ve got another crew covering for us. I guess they want everybody available here in the yard to talk to whenever they want,” Kenny continued the speculation. Travis walked by the table, pulled a chair over from an adjacent table, and, sitting down in the chair as if he were lying on a 40-degree hill, said, “Wuz up, ladies?” Travis was the fifth chain link in the gang and the only one of color. Kenny was the accepted leader. Carlos was the goofball. Gavin was wild and 19
crazy. Brock was the cool hand. Travis was the politician. He wasn’t a supervisor like the other four because he only had a year and a half with the company, but that didn’t limit his ability to bond with the group. If conversation ever led to politics Travis became the center of the dialogue. He was constantly forwarding emails with political innuendos, reading some book, or commenting on the news. Considering his fascination with history and current politics, he was an unlikely member of the oil field community, but one entrepreneurial venture after another had failed to produce any meaningful fruit, so he had settled into a reliable job that provided well for his family. He wasn’t a regular drinking partner because he enjoyed the companionship of his wife and when it came to valuing and respecting woman, his perspective was exceptionally healthy. On the other hand, Kenny loathed his ex-wife 24/7; Carlos was consistently strategizing on how to get out of his third marriage without any financial obligation; Gavin could only think of women as a one-night stand, and Brock was conflicted. Travis’s contribution to the group was a unique perspective that the others seemed to appreciate. “The only lady at this table might find out sometime today,” Brock responded to Travis with a grin on his face. “Has anybody heard from Gavin?” Brock heard a disjointed “No,” “Nope,” and “Nah.” ----Gavin had barely opened the door to his truck when he got the phone call at 4:43 am. “Is zis Gaveen?” The “G” was pronounced hard and guttural. Gavin’s heart skipped a beat. Yuri was the HR Manager of their camp, and he worked 8 to 5, not 5 in the morning. “Sorry I bother you zis morning.” “Okay…,” Gavin’s voice wandered off momentarily before deciding he probably didn’t care about proper protocol. “Don’t be sorry then. We can talk some other time.” “Don’t give me crrap Gaveen,” Yuri’s tone was suddenly icy. “I haff my job, and I do it.” 20
“Whatever.” Gavin was now absolutely certain he didn’t care about protocol. He considered Yuri a brown-nosing putz who should have stayed in his own country instead of transferring inside of the company to this one. Yuri tried to act tough, but he really was just a puppet wrapped up in a bunch of bureaucratic red tape. This #%^$ could be ^&$%*@ fun. That &%# ^% @ ^$&*% is a $*&^%&#
. He’s &^$%#@* got nothing on me.
Yuri responded in his usual monotone voice.
“You vill be on
administrative leaff today.” “Yeah, right,” Gavin reacted with confidence and sarcasm in his voice even as he tried to adjust to the reality of what might be happening. Yuri had waited months to enjoy the power of this moment as he smugly confirmed, “Yes, you vill not come into virk today.” Gavin was ready to release a long string of expletives, but then decided against it; even though it was standard language in the break room and in the field, somehow over the phone or in Yuri’s office it could inexplicably be used against him. Is he $#%&*%^ acting by his %^&#*$@ self? There’s no
little %@#$^&* could &%^*&%@ do this. No #$^@$% ^%&$#@% $!@%^ in this camp would &^*#$%^ dare $!@% %^$ the $#@*^&% system. Is this ^%&#$%* administrative
real? Where the &%*^ did this #$@%^&*$ ^$%& come from? What a &%^&#$@ bunch of &^*$%#@^. “Thanks for the day off. I’ll see you tomorrow.” @$^#%&*
There was silence on the other end of the phone, and just when Gavin thought he may have gained the upper hand in the battle, Yuri clarified, “Za leaff is indefinite.” Now it was Gavin creating the silence, and the conversational void seemed to have hit a pocket in time that would never end. Eventually, Yuri filled the void. “Do you haff any…” Gavin threw his cell phone as hard as he could across the cab of the truck and it broke apart as it shattered the passenger window. Did some
snitch? They ^$&#%@ had to. They *&%^$#@ better not have %^$&*^% $#@$%^#* me. It *^&@#$% had to be those ^%&!@#$ new green *&^!@#%^ on the &!$@%$ crew. They don’t &*%#!$* know the &%^!@%$ rules. I’ll ^%$!#@ *&^$%#^% the rules &%^$%*@ #$@% %^&$# &*^%$!@# $%^ $#$%^#@#$ until they wish they ^&*%#!@ never have !$#%@^$ ^%$ &^#$ me. This !#@%#$* better not be eight *%&^%$# years $#@$%#^ down the $%@# drain because of some ^%&$#@!& #$!!@#% rats. $%%#*&%
Amazingly, that afternoon the call didn’t go to voicemail; Rachel answered her cell phone on the second ring and skipped a typical greeting when she said, “I was just thinking about you.” “Why?” Cindee reacted, a little surprised at hearing Rachel’s real voice, that especially feminine voice that almost always sounded soft, sweet, and inviting. Cindee knew the sweetness was usually quite effective at masking reality. “Not exactly sure, but I had a sense you might not be feeling well. You haven’t looked very good the last few weeks.” “Thanks a lot. Just kidding.” Cindee paused before adding, “Is it that obvious that I hate my life?” “I’m sorry.” Rachel’s apology sounded sincere instead of just being polite. “I’m the one that should be sorry,” Cindee retracted. “Here I am calling up to complain about my life, and my situation can’t be worse than having to deal with Garth.” “A few weeks ago I might have agreed with you, but things have changed. Talk to me; I can listen. Is it Brock?” Cindee ignored the question. “Things have gotten better with Garth? What happened?” “Garth’s the same jerk he’s always been. It’s me that’s changed. I’m finally beginning to understand how to deal with the situation, and it’s giving me the confidence to make some tough decisions. I don’t feel so trapped.” “What do you mean?” “It means I’ve got an unromantic book for you to read.” “You’re kidding. You’re recommending a book that has no romance in it? Are you serious? You sound serious.” “Trust me; it’ll open your eyes in a way you never thought possible.” “Translation?” “You and I read books to escape reality, right?” 22
“I guess so. I hadn’t really thought about it.” “This book will also be an escape, but if it works for you like it did for me, it will help you see your real reality differently. If you see it differently, you might be able to deal with it better. Besides, instead of dreading the end of your escape time, you’ll be curious to return to your real reality and experiment with it. As you experiment, I’m pretty sure you’ll start to find meaning and purpose in your life…and maybe even stop hating it.” “You really think that’s possible?” “Yes.” “So when should I come over to get it?” “That’s the problem; I can’t give you my copy.” “Excuse me? We always share back and forth.” “This is different. You have to have your own personal copy. You’ll understand once you read it. I was thinking we could meet at the bookstore over a cold latte and I’ll buy you the book.” “I don’t know if I’ve ever heard you sound so mysterious.” “I think you’ll be glad. Do you want to meet at three?” “I love you, Girl. See ya at three.” ----“Hey Dusty, check it out.” Dustin had just walked out of his science class and his best friend Hayden was waiting for him on the other side of the hallway. Hayden slightly cocked his head in the direction of the backpack over his right shoulder and Dustin understood. They each positioned themselves facing the lockers in order to shield from view the backpack as best as they could. Hayden unzipped it, reached his hand in, and pulled one of the items inside just close enough to the opening for Dustin to see what it was but not enough for any other wandering eyes. “Dude,” Dustin said awkwardly, trying to mimic the way the cool kids used the word. “Where’d you get it?” “I’ll tell you on the way.” Good secluded spots at their junior high school didn’t exist, but a half a mile down the road they had discovered a great hangout under the bleachers 23
of the high school football stadium. One side of the stadium backed up to the school. It was the other side that backed up to a large open field and had a fence in between. Two weeks earlier Hayden had shown him the first girly magazine he had ever seen. At first, he was a little bit shocked. He had often wondered what a girl looked like without clothes on, but he had never actually seen any nudity before. A few times in a movie or TV show he thought he was going to get to, but was disappointed when the camera angle or the script stopped just shy of it. Nothing was stopping him now as they spent about an hour looking at every picture in the magazine. He felt guilty afterwards. It probably had something to do with his mom. She didn’t dress in a revealing sort of way, and while he couldn’t exactly identify why, he knew she would have been horrified to see what he had done under the bleachers. Over the last two weeks since that first magazine, he eventually figured out how to brush the guilt away and, every time he saw a woman, he imagined what she would look like without her clothes on. He had done this same thing before he had seen the magazine, but now his imagination was more real, and his dreams at night were becoming wild and crazy. It was more difficult to imagine what the girls at his school looked like. Their bodies weren’t as developed as the women on those glossy pages, and he wondered what the differences might be. He liked the girls that wore really tight clothes because it made it a little easier to visualize. But then again, a little looser shirt that was low cut was great if he could catch the angle just right when a girl bent over. As Hayden started to unzip the backpack that same guilty feeling returned. He quickly brushed it off. The thought of what was inside of that magazine cover was too enticing. ----Later that evening after making dinner, cleaning the kitchen, giving Brinlee a bath and as soon as the kids were quiet, Cindee changed clothes, arranged the pillows on her bed, and, leaning against them, started reading…
The World’s Greatest Spectacle See Your World As Never Before to Discover Real Meaning and Purpose in Your Life
PREFACE Life is a journey, an adventure with a future that rarely can be predicted. Ugly, unpleasant realities exist. Beautiful, enjoyable realities exist. Some realities we can control; most realities we cannot control. We act, and we are acted upon. Why? To what end? The journey of a lifetime, short or long, can have meaning and purpose, if we understand how to discover it. Open the door to The World’s Greatest Spectacle and you will be introduced to a familiar world that looks very different as you discover the freedom of truth. INTRODUCTION Spectacles are what we see; an amazing event, an embarrassing blunder, a public display either man-made or of nature. Spectacles are also what we look through to see our world. In this sense, our eyes are spectacles. When our eyes create distortion, we use other spectacles such as contacts or glasses to give or restore clarity. If our eyes cannot see inner or outer space, we use spectacles such as microscopes or telescopes to explore fascinating “new” realities. Every spectacle that we use to see our world has one or more lenses; a simple lens has only one visual element, while a compound lens is made up of multiple simple lenses. A lens reflects light; light travels through it, and 25
depending on how the lens is created, it either adjusts the light to improve vision, or it manipulates the light to distort vision. A compound lens can focus more light and provide greater clarity than a simple lens. If there is no light, and because of its absence only darkness exists, then spectacles are useless and seeing is not possible. We refer to sight as one of our five senses, and this ability to see using light and spectacles, helps us to understand reality. Our four other senses also help us to understand reality; our ears hear, our nose smells, our mouth tastes, and our hands touch. Each of these five senses would be useless if we didn’t have a brain to intellectually interpret the information they collect. Our brain uses information from our senses to try to discover what is true and what is not. What is truth? …it’s a philosophy book. Rachel’s gone crazy. I haven’t read one of these since…well actually, I think I only read parts of one during my freshmen year at the community college, and only because it was required reading. I hope I can stay awake. At least it doesn’t look very long. Cindee was thirsty; she went to the kitchen and came back with a glass of ice water. When she turned the next page and saw the question with the blank lines beneath it, she said out loud to no one, “Oh brother, a workbook?” This had better be worth it or Rachel’s going to get an earful. She got off the bed again, retrieved a pen, and wrote down her answer before turning the page to…
Lens 1 Truth is reality. Harvey is sitting in a country café enjoying his favorite meal; a philly cheesesteak with fresh cut french fries and a large cola. Suddenly, he hears what sounds like a loud explosion and, before he can look up to see where it came from, he feels the table he's eating at 26
push him in the stomach and shove him and his chair fifteen feet across the dining room floor. A few seconds after coming to a stop, and with his adrenaline pumping, he tries to understand if he's okay and what happened. Harvey is trying to understand his reality, or the truth about what happened. Truth and reality are synonymous. Every time we hear the word “truth,” we can think the word “reality, “ and every time we hear the word “reality,“ we can think the word “truth.“ Other than some soreness, Harvey is not feeling significant pain. As he looks around what used to be an organized, clean dining room, through a cloud of dust and a little smoke he sees the front grill of a pickup truck pressed against several tables in front of him. He concludes that this truck must have driven into the dining room. But as he observes the truck more closely, he realizes that it is not running and that he cannot see anyone in the cab. Struggling to free himself from the debris surrounding him, he climbs over several tables and onto the hood of the truck to see if anyone is in the cab. It's empty. Confused, and suddenly realizing that the air is filled with a strong odor of diesel fuel, he hurries to find an escape path to the outside. As he finally reaches fresh air and a better sense of safety, he sees a car on the other side of the highway upside down and a jack-knifed semi-truck just outside the café. After speaking with some eyewitnesses, he finds out what “really” happened. The driver of the upside down car had pulled onto the highway without looking both directions. The driver of the semi-truck only had a few seconds to react. He swerved but was unable to avoid hitting enough of the car to spin it and flip it. Continuing in the direction of the swerve, the semi-truck had crossed the highway, skidded across the gravel 27
parking lot of the café, and slamming into the parked pickup truck had shoved it into the dining room. Harvey now better understands some reality. We commonly do not recognize truth and reality as nearly perfect synonyms; when we understand reality we understand the truth, and when we understand the truth we understand reality. …Cindee kept the book open and momentarily set it down beside her on the bed. Okay, Rachel said this book made a huge difference for her…..I guess I’m going to have to focus…..I kind of get this idea about reality and trying to understand it. But shouldn’t reality be what I want it to be? Reality should be Fabio, handsome, muscular, sensitive, gentle touch, good listener, not demanding, and ready at any moment to sweep me off of my feet when I need it. That was Brock when I dated him and for the first year of our marriage until Dustin came along. How did he disappear? How could he go from Fabio to Brock? I even named Brinlee in hopes that someday it might become like it used to be years ago. That was stupid and hopeless. Two completely opposite realities and I hate the real one.
The night before she sat in her hotel room reviewing all of the notes she had been given and the ones she had made herself. For several months she had been doing preliminary investigations into inappropriate behavior taking place on various field crews. Several weeks ago she had zeroed in on Kenny’s crew and now had flown south to finish the investigation. As she was walking over to Yuri’s office she was wishing she had been able to sleep better; it was going to be a long day and she was not used to a 5:30 am start. “Good morning, Yuri.” She shook his outstretched hand. “Good morning, Vanessa. Nice vee finally meet. Vee talk many times by phone. So tell me, how you say your last name? ‘Hairry’ or ‘haffrry’?” “The latter.” She detested her last name, just like she detested the man who had given it to her. “I’m curious. How did zis all happen?” “Confidentially, an email was sent to John in response to one of his weekly emails. You know how he always asks for comments?” “Ze email vas about ze sex stuff?” “No. It was about marketing, and how the behavior of crew members in front of customers sometimes hurts our company image. That’s really all I can say, and I’ve probably told you too much. Were you able to reach Gavin okay?” “No problem. Do you think vee fire him today or vait tomorrow?” “Whoa, time out. We can’t do anything until we’ve been able to corroborate the information we’ve extracted from our preliminary investigation. Besides, I fully expect I’ll be able to get some information about others and then Gavin won’t be alone. Tell me again the name of the service manager over this crew?” “Jhavierr Mendoza. I keep him in ze dark. I tell him vee meet greenies for training. He knows vat to do.”
At 6:47 am Ashley in dispatch announced over the intercom, “Will crew seventy-five please meet in conference room number four? Will crew seventyfive please meet in conference room number four?” They heard the announcement while they were standing outside in the designated smoking area, speculating out of the range of prying ears, and allowing Kenny and Carlos to add another nail to each of their coffins. Brock reacted first, “Let’s find out what’s up.” ----The lights were dim and the general atmosphere was a mixture of laughter and melancholy. It was a typical bar for serious drinkers. Five friends sat quietly at their table, staring at the glasses in front of them, but only when they weren’t pouring the liquid into their mouths. Usually jovial, the mood tonight was morose, and the only reason for drinking was to escape reality. Earlier in the day, Gavin’s anxiety had become too intense, so he had
borrowed a phone and called Kenny.
cares if I
someone? They better not &^$%#!@ $%^# me. They can’t !@%#^$% make me *!&@&#$ not talk to the other $#@!*&^ hands. Kenny had told him what little he knew, which was that Javier had met with them in conference room number four to split them up and assign them to different projects throughout the yard. Gavin called four more times during the day because with his cell phone in the trash he didn’t have a number where Kenny could reach him. Kenny’s reports were all about the same. Once in a while one of his supervisors would get a phone call from an HR secretary asking to send so and so to her office to go over some paperwork. As soon as someone on a crew left, the supervisor would text all the others to report who it was or how long a person coming back had been gone. The time away had ranged from 13 minutes to 1 hour 8 minutes. They had tried to get information out of each greenie when they returned, but none of them would talk. They looked scared. At around 3:30 pm, Kenny received a phone call from Javier letting him know that everyone on his crew should clock out and that supervisors should finish all their paperwork before getting off the clock. Yard call would be the usual 5:00 am the next morning. Just before Kenny was about to hang up, 30
Javier added, “Oh by the way, do you know how to get a hold of Gavin?” Kenny immediately recognized that this might be an opportunity to get some information. “His cell phone. You do have that number don’t you?” Javier was silent for a moment, and the silence sounded like the thoughts in his mind were sputtering. Kenny waited. “I um…I’ve tried to reach him several times but haven’t been able to. It...uh…the call went straight to voice mail.” “Not sure what to tell you. If he calls me is there a message you want me to give him?” “Well, um…no, that’s okay.” Five minutes later Javier called him back. “Yeah, I guess there is a message, if you don’t mind passing it along.” “Sure.” “Let him know Yuri needs to meet with him today, if possible.” Gavin’s fifth call of the day came at 4:02 pm. Kenny greeted him with, “Read in to this whatever you want. I don’t know anything.” “@%^#&!! Why #^&@%* ^&%@#$ don’t you @!*#^%$ know @%^#?” Gavin’s use of foul language had started years ago and initially its primary purpose was to appear “cool.” It was consistent with his personality of acting based on “shock value,” as he forced as many expletives into his sentences as he possibly could, without causing his speech to be completely void of a message or point. The habit had become so entrenched that long ago it had no longer required any intentional thought, and he was entirely clueless to the extreme limitations he had placed upon himself to sound even remotely intelligent. Of course, he didn’t care, which was ironically representative of how little purpose and meaning he had in his personal life. “Javier asked me how to get a hold of you and that if I ended up talking to you, to let you know Yuri wants to meet with you today if possible.” “I’ll &^%*!@# see that ^%&$%#@ %$^%%$# !@# #$%^@#* ^&%$#^ @#!@$@ #$%@ when I %^&$#!*& feel like it.” “Make sure you hook up with us later at the bar.” “This #%^$&*%^ $%@#*.” Literally two seconds after Kenny pressed “end” on his cell phone, it rang again. The caller ID showed “private number.” 31
“Hello.” “Kennee? You still in building?” The accent and phraseology easily identified the caller. “Yes,” Kenny confirmed. “Can you meet in office now?” “On my way.” When Kenny walked through the door of Yuri’s front office, he was standing there to greet him. When he walked through the door to Yuri’s back office, the mystery lady from corporate was sitting behind his desk. While he didn’t know who she was, it was pure luck that he had found out that she was coming. About six months before he and his wife had decided to split up, one of the younger girls that worked upstairs in accounting had caught his eye. Apparently, he had caught her eye as well, because one day while passing her in the hall she had paused, told him to hang on a second, wrote an address on a slip of paper, and, handing it to him, said, “Come over to my apartment tonight.” That’s how he met Desirée. Over the next year he couldn’t remember having any meaningful conversation with her. She gave no indication that she was interested in a relationship and would only let him know when she wanted him to pay her a visit. He always did. After a few feral nights with her, for some reason that he couldn’t explain, he kept track of how many times they got together: twenty three times since he first got that slip of paper and, still no real conversation. Tuesday night Desirée had called him after work. While he was disappointed she wasn’t inviting him to knock on her apartment door, the information she shared seemed useful. That morning she had walked into Yuri’s front office because she needed to see him. Yuri’s probably another one of her conquests for the day. I wish she didn’t like to play the field, and we could develop a relationship. Yuri’s office door was half ajar and because she could hear that he was on the phone, she stayed out of sight and waited for him to end the call before she showed up in the doorway. She only heard Yuri’s side of the conversation, but it was enough to piece together that some female from HR corporate was flying out that afternoon to do something with crew seventy-five. Kenny told Desirée he appreciated the call and suggested that they get together 32
sometime. Her one word response before he heard the line go dead was, “Sometime.” And here was the mystery lady from north of the border in person, getting out of Yuri’s executive chair and walking around the desk to shake his hand. Kenny figured it was best to play dumb and not let her know he knew where she was from and that she had been meeting with members of his crew all day. He was anxious to understand what was going on, and didn’t want to limit the opportunities by disclosing his inside information. After introducing herself, Vanessa walked back around the desk and returned to Yuri’s chair. Yuri sat in a chair next to his desk facing Kenny. Kenny sat in one of the two chairs facing the desk in the middle of the room. It was a large office. Vanessa began professionally, “I’m sorry to get directly to the reason why you’re here, but it’s probably best. We’re going to have to let you go.” The words were like a 140 mph hurricane force wind that lifted Kenny out of his chair and slammed him against the wall behind him, which didn’t make any sense because the real day was overcast with winds 5 to 10 mph in the Midwest where hurricanes don’t exist. As if his neck had been broken upon the impact, Kenny sat paralyzed in the chair. Eternity stood still. His jaw and tongue were frozen. Even his brain was non-functional, because, as much as he wanted to process and understand what he had just heard, it was as if someone had hit the pause button and the paralysis in his body prevented him from reaching the play button. As he gradually regained movement, without saying anything, he shifted in his chair and mentally reached for any button that could reactivate his mind. He missed play and hit fast forward instead. This is impossible. How did this happen? Why is this happening? What did I do? What didn’t I do? Was this Vanessa’s decision? Who is she really? What does she know? I’m going to call an attorney. What did she find out today? Why is she really here? Did I do something wrong? I couldn’t have done anything wrong. I’m going to sue. Did Yuri have something to do with this? All of the management in the camp love me. My crew is one of the most productive crews in the camp. I’ve been with the company for 11 years. An attorney will salivate over this termination without cause. The supervisors on my crew love me. All the hands on my crew love me. Even if I have done something wrong, nobody on my crew would stab me in the back. We’re brothers. We don’t do that. Oh yeah, maybe those greenies have something to do with this. But what? I’ve been the head of this crew for three and a half years. I’m close to a 33
promotion to office management, my ticket out of the field. What did I do? Can I get a job somewhere else? It took me years of hard work and sacrifice to get to the top of a crew. Does Desirée have something to do with this? Was she using me somehow? Is she a corporate spy? Maybe Julie somehow did this to get back at me for cheating on her and divorcing her? All those years of loyal dedication and sacrifice for this company and this is how I’m treated? Just like that!! Am I being thrown out because there’s some dirty bath water I don’t know about? Am I being thrown under the bus? What is going on? The words slowly fell out of Kenny’s mouth, “Can I ask why?” “Certainly, but there’s really not a whole lot I can tell you.” Vanessa was still in charge. “As you know this is a ‘right to work’ state. Cause is not necessary to terminate an employee, but in your case there is significant cause. I’m just not at liberty to discuss those details with you at this moment.” Kenny could sense that from Vanessa’s perspective the meeting was over, and as much as he wanted to ask a dozen questions he couldn’t come up with any reason to prolong it. This issue, whatever it was, was not over; it was only beginning. He would make sure of that. He really didn’t have a temper, rarely even got angry, and he never lost his cool. But as he exited the door of Yuri’s back office the urge to grab something in the front office, anything, and throw it to break it against some other immovable object was overwhelming. Somehow, he managed to resist. As he entered the hallway and heard Yuri close the front office door behind him, he wanted to kick the wall with his steel-toed boot and put a large hole in the sheet rock. Again, he resisted the urge. He didn’t know the scumbag employee who was smiling and saying “hi” while passing him in the hall, but he wanted to use his fist to smack that friendly smile right off of his face. He kept walking with his hands down. As he stepped outside of the building doors, he stopped resisting, and gave the cigarette butt container a roundhouse kick. The container fell over; the lid dislodged; and hundreds of cigarette butts spread over the concrete sidewalk. As soon as he shut the door to his truck, he immediately dialed Brock’s cell phone. “Call Carlos and Travis. We need to meet at the usual place.” Kenny burned two work hours worth of rubber onto the parking lot asphalt as he sped away. Brock was already there when Kenny arrived. 34
As Kenny was pulling a chair back to sit down at the table, Brock verbalized the concerned expression emanating from his own face. “What’s wrong?” Kenny looked like a lost zombie trying to find the spirit inside of him that kept him alive. “You look like the walking dead,” Brock added. Kenny’s words were slow and distant, almost as if he were the dummy and the voice was coming from a ventriloquist. “If it’s all right with you, let’s wait until Carlos and Travis show up.” “No problem.” Brock left the table for the bar to order a shot of vodka for Kenny and a specialty beer for himself. Brock loved beer and prided himself in his ability to handle it. While most guys had trouble functioning on a normal level after a couple of beers, eight or nine at a time was no problem for him, and except for his breath, he could mask it just fine. The breath issue he minimized by using some special mints he had found by trial and error. He rarely ever touched the hard stuff, not because he didn’t like it, but because he was a purist: beer was his passion. His daily norm was just shy of a gallon, and less than five beers defined a bad day. Fortunately, he had a high metabolism, so while others quickly expanded their mid sections, he was able to keep relatively trim, even though the sheer quantity of liquid did limit what he could eat. The only time he didn’t drink with the guys was when they went to the strip bar. On those days he drove to a secluded spot in the hills and bonded with the liquid as he listened to country music. Kenny, Carlos, Gavin and Travis were the only ones who knew how much he drank each day. And just like he kept their dirty little secrets in confidence, they protected his. If Cindee found out, more fuel to the out-of-control fire. If upper management found out, he’d be tested and fired. If the cops found out, well, that had never happened because he always made sure his driving habits were to the absolute letter of traffic laws: a chipped windshield was replaced immediately, a broken taillight was fixed within the hour, he never started the truck without his seatbelt on, beer cans were never left in the truck, his registration and license plate were always renewed a couple of weeks before expiring, and he never drove over the speed limit. He remembered one time when he was leaving the bar before everyone else, and, as he headed for the front door, Kenny had called out, ““Hey Brock. Why don’t you ever take a cab?” Brock smiled inside as he had responded, 35
“Because unlike you girls, I drive straight down the road.” Kenny, Carlos and Gavin drank to get drunk. He didn’t, or at least that’s what he believed. For such a mellow personality, Kenny was fast and furious when it came to drinking. “Bring it hard and bring one right after the other,” was his approach. Zero to gone from reality was measured by a stopwatch, not a clock on the wall. Carlos and Gavin shared Kenny’s methodology, which is why they always needed a ride home. Travis, on the other hand, was a lightweight social drinker. He shared Brock’s passion for a good beer but differed by sipping his very slowly. If the occasion called for it, he was the designated driver by default. Carlos and Travis hurried through the front door and over to the table Brock and Kenny were sitting at. They didn’t even think about ordering drinks and Travis blurted out, “What’s up?” Brock directed them, “Sit down and wait until Kenny’s ready to talk.” The weight of the words describing the day’s events must have been heavy, because Kenny was immediately ready to get them off of his chest. He narrated to six attentive ears every detail of his five conversations with Gavin and his visit to Yuri’s office. While his eyes slowly moved from one glass on the table to another, six eyes stared directly at him. When it was obvious that he was finished, Carlos, always the goofball, grabbed the only full vodka shot glass sitting in front of Kenny, opened his mouth, and threw its contents down his own throat. Swallowing with his whole body, he mercifully declared, “I’m going to buy you 10 more of these,” and headed off to the bar. Brock was feeling Kenny’s pain and confusion. Kenny had been his boss for three and a half years and he respected his management and leadership skills. What can I say to him? Don’t sweat it? It will all work out for the best? No, how can it? Tell him he didn’t do anything wrong and someone else has to be at fault? I have no idea what’s going on. Try to remove his pain with the hope of a positive outcome? Tell him he needs to call an attorney? No, better left to tomorrow when the dust is settled. Brock played it safe, “Kenny, the best thing to do is to get stone drunk and deal with this later.” Kenny agreed and was anxious for Carlos to return from the bar. Travis directed his question at no one in particular, “I wonder when Gavin’s going to show up?” He was immediately answered by the front door of the bar opening the fastest he’d ever seen, Gavin’s sudden appearance in the 36
doorway, and the instant recognition that Gavin was ready to kill someone as he headed towards their table. At least Travis knew they were safe. After a few drinks, Gavin calmed down and the five of them sat quietly at the table drifting off into a fuzzy world, as far away as they could get from the real one they lived in. ----Cindee wrote down her thoughts about Lens One and decided to read one more lens before letting her mind drift into either oblivion or another reality…
Lens 2 Truth is either absolute or relative. Absolute truth is the way things really are. •
Babies are born.
Light travels in free space at a speed of 299,792,458 meters per second.
The pickup truck is pushed into the café where Harvey is eating.
Time is measured.
Absolute truth is simple. Relative truth is the personal perceptions of and opinions about any reality. •
Harvey thinks the pickup truck was driven by someone into the dining room.
Mr. Jones tells a blonde joke to his English class. Austin says “Mr. Jones is funny.” Jessica, who has blonde hair, says “Mr. Jones is rude.”
Relative truth is usually complicated.
…is truth absolute and relative? How can something be true and be relative? What does relative really mean? Absolute makes sense, but relative? . . . . . .relative is . . . . . it . . . . . . . it doesn’t make . . . . . . . sense . . . . . . . Cindee’s eyes were now closed and the next thing she knew she was doing the butterfly stroke through a strange world where everything had a sign on it. Some of the signs displayed the word “absolute” and the rest of the signs displayed the word “relative.”
Brock’s heart was still sitting in his stomach. Two of his best friends had been fired on the same day, and he had no idea why or what had happened. He had consumed more beers than usual, stayed much later than usual, and he tried to be extra careful driving home, because he was pretty sure he was drunk. When he opened the door to their bedroom, he could hear Cindee softly breathing in the darkness, which meant she was asleep. Noo neeeed to annoyy hur tonnnight. Brock changed clothes and was asleep about the same time his head hit the pillow. At 4:08 the next morning, during his robotic bathroom routine, he noticed a book he hadn’t seen before on the counter next to Cindee’s sink. The World’s Greatest Spectacle. Now that definitely doesn’t fit with “Dream Man,” or “Knight in Shining Armor,” or “Almost Heaven.”
Cindee never is
predictable. I wonder what it’s about? Brock picked up the book, opened the front cover, and using his thumb began to quickly fan the pages. Almost immediately something caught his eye, and he reversed direction until he had the book completely open to the page Cindee had written on, in between the introduction and the first lens. She’s writing down her thoughts in a book? That’s impossible. And this isn’t a romance book! Suddenly Brock felt a wave of guilt sweep over him, and the open door to the bathroom was causing him to feel vulnerable to exposure. He was invading Cindee’s private world and, though it had never happened, if she walked into the bathroom, he would have no defensible explanation for what he was doing. He closed the book, set it back down on the counter positioned exactly as it had been before he picked it up, and continued on with his day as if nothing unusual had happened.
Cindee waited impatiently with the covers over her head until she heard the front door close. She jumped out of bed, hurried to the bathroom, and turned on the light. How stupid could I be? After reading the second lens the night before she had carried the book into the bathroom before going to bed. She must have been tired, which would explain why she left it on the bathroom counter, and why she hadn’t read more, even though she had wanted to. Her mind was starting to form questions and trying to hypothesize answers. One bite at a time, she had concluded. She had remembered years ago when she was a teenager, lying in bed on a hot, sticky summer night and trying to answer the question “What is truth?” She never came close to an answer; truth seemed to be such an evasive word. Last night, however, the words “absolute” and “relative” turned on a light in her head.
Maybe truth really can be clearly defined and understood. If
nothing else, it’s helping my mind forget my hell while I’m awake, and not just sometimes when I’m asleep. Fortunately, the book was still next to the sink, and it didn’t look like it had been moved. She wasn’t exactly sure why she didn’t want Brock to know what she was reading. Maybe it’s because we never share real thoughts and feelings with each other, and this book might be important to me. I don’t want to risk giving him the opportunity to use it as a dagger. Maybe it’s because if I find something that might be beneficial to me, I don’t want him to benefit from it also. At least the book is still here; he probably didn’t open it, and I’m not going to be so careless again. Instead of waiting to get dressed until after Dustin left for school, today she showered, dressed, and had her make-up and hair done well before it was time to wake him up. After sitting down in the rocker in their bedroom and recording a few thoughts about Lens Two, she turned to…
Lens 3 Absolute truth is either universal or variable. Universal absolute truth affects all reality; it governs all matter, and can be best understood as the laws of nature; it never changes; it is the same for everyone; when understood, it is simple and predictable.
Light travels in free space at 299,792,458 meters per second.
Protons and electrons attract each other.
Variable absolute truth is reality. •
Babies are born.
The sun is shining. It is raining. It is snowing.
Time is measured.
Variable absolute reality is not the same for everyone. Time is measured differently by different people; some measure with a calendar, some with a clock, some with the position of the sun in the sky, and some by looking in the mirror. Variable absolute reality is constantly changing; it is unpredictable. Harvey is eating his meal, he is being shoved by the truck, he is climbing onto the hood to look inside of the cab, he is smelling diesel fuel, he is going outside of the building to get fresh air, he is asking eye witnesses questions in order to try to understand reality…
…Cindee closed her eyes and mentally digested the concept of universal absolute truth. I can relate to something being 100% predictable like the laws of nature. But what about Brock? Is he universal absolute truth because he is 100% predictable to be non-communicative, defensive, and off in his own world unless he’s looking for a way to stick a knife into me? What about Dustin? He’s 100% predictable to argue everything, to accuse me of hating him, and to listen to his music so loud that his ears must keep ringing after it's turned off. And Brinlee is guaranteed to make a mess in her diaper, scream at me if she doesn’t want some food I’m trying to feed her, rip 41
the leaves off of my favorite plants, and then mock me as she giggles to my face. But maybe these actions aren’t 100% predictable? They’re likely, but are they guaranteed to happen? Is that why they’re variable? This is confusing . . . . . . . the reality is, I’m living in my world and Brock lives in his. Now that I’m thinking about it, I really don’t know much about his world, and from the way he acts, he probably doesn’t know much about mine. I don’t want to know about his world. When we were dating, our worlds were totally connected. I couldn’t wait to see him, talk to him, touch him, or go somewhere with him. It seemed he felt the same. Was that time in life really real? It was so long ago. How did our united worlds move to opposite ends of the universe except when they occasionally collide? And why does his world enslave mine? I want to be free: free from Brock, free from Dustin, free from Brinlee. Who wouldn’t want to be free? But what does it really mean to be free? Do some people actually want to be enslaved? ----It had been several days since he had seen the second magazine, and Dustin realized that he couldn’t get rid of the guilt. Each day, a sick-to-his-stomach feeling swept over him. Each day, all attempts to get rid of it had failed, probably because he didn’t have another magazine to escape to. Why do people wear clothes anyway? If they didn’t, then I wouldn’t be curious what women look like. And why do I feel guilty? This shouldn’t be a big deal. I’m curious, and I’m satisfying my curiosity. It must have something to do with Mom. But that doesn’t make any sense. She hates my guts. She’s always trying to control me. If she doesn’t care about me, why would she care if I look at pictures in a magazine? She keeps saying she makes rules because she cares about me. Caring would be her actually showing some interest in what I’m interested in and letting me do what I want. She never even asks about my grades. The last time she looked at my grades was a year ago. Of course they were all A’s. She just ignores me. I do something good and she’s not interested. I do something bad and she’s all over it. She didn’t even go to parent/teacher conference. I work hard for those grades. I’m not going to work in the oil field like dad. I’m going to graduate from the best engineering school in the country. I just hope I can figure the money thing out. And that’s the thing: she doesn’t even care to ask what I want to do in life. All she does is act like her life is terrible, as if my life doesn’t matter. It’s never about me, unless she’s saying I can’t do something. 42
----Cindee was determined to explore this new thought; she wanted to really understand the concept of freedom. Dustin definitely wants to be free, which is probably why he won’t obey me. He thinks I’m trying to enslave him. But I’m not. I’m trying to teach him that . . . . . . . wait a minute . . . . . rules . . . . . . make him free? This is too confusing. Okay. I can figure this out. The rules are to help him learn not to make stupid decisions, decisions that would cause him problems. If he did anything he wanted, he would make stupid decisions and then would…would…what? He would…oh, duh, he would end up enslaved by the decision. What’s an example? Umm, like if he took drugs. I wonder if someone selling drugs at school has approached him. I don’t think he has taken drugs. I haven’t seen any signs. Back to the point. Stupid decision to take drugs equals addicted to drugs. Addicted to drugs is enslaved to drugs. So does that mean that if someone decides to take drugs they want to be enslaved? I don’t think so. They want the drugs but they don’t want to be enslaved. But then again, if they knew drugs would enslave them would they still decide to take them? You wouldn’t think so, but most kids have it pounded into their heads that drugs are addicting and they end up taking them anyway. Hmmm . . . . Even though she seemed to be formulating more questions than she was answering, Cindee felt she was opening her eyes in ways she never had before.
Brock hadn’t felt these same nerves since he had shown up for his first day at work sixteen years ago. Must be the uncertainty of what’s waiting on the other side of those doors. One foot in front of the other and just deal with whatever it is. Brock opened the front door and headed for the break room. He didn’t make it to the break room. Javier was standing in the hallway and asked him to walk with him to his office. When they arrived, Javier closed the office door and, as he walked around his desk to sit down, he said, “You’re probably just as confused as I am.” Brock countered, “I figured you would know what’s going on.” “I don’t, really, and even though I’m probably not supposed to, I’ll share with you everything I do know.” Javier always was cool, even after he got promoted. “Vanessa is the name of the lady from corporate. I think she tells Yuri, then Yuri tells me, and then I know what I’m supposed to do, but I don’t know why.” “That’s it?” “I wish. Yuri told me this morning what else I’m supposed to do.” Brock froze. Not me too? He didn’t want to be left hanging in midair for even a second and so he quickly responded, “Just spit it out.” “Oh, no, you’re not canned; if that’s what you were thinking. It’s bad, but not that bad. You’re being moved to a different crew.” Strangely enough, the news really wasn’t even bad. He had intellectually acknowledged the reality that Kenny and Gavin were gone, which meant the party was over. I might as well move on to new faces and make a clean break. At least my job is still intact. For now, anyways. I wonder what’s going on? “What about Carlos and Travis?” “I think Carlos is also being transferred to a different crew, and nothing will change for Travis.” He paused and then added, “Except for everything around him.”
----Her quiet peaceful time was just about over, and she knew this would be her last couple of lenses for a while…
Lens 4 Truth affects reality, truth is reality, and truth is perceptions of and opinions about reality. Universal Absolute Truth AFFECTS REALITY – We have made incredible advances in science and technology in the last century through better understanding the laws of nature. When we understand universal absolute truth, we can accurately predict reality. Considering all that we cannot predict with absolute accuracy, we don’t know very much universal absolute truth. Variable Absolute Truth IS REALITY – All reality in this world is variable absolute reality; it’s the existence of a tree, the waves of the ocean, a plane in the sky, a lion eating a zebra, the changing weather, a small rock on a mountain trail, and the actions of a human. These innumerable realities are created by billions of people and naturally occurring events. Personal Relative Truth IS PERCEPTIONS OF AND OPINIONS ABOUT REALITY – We each perceive reality using our five senses and then form opinions based on these personal interpretations of what we sense. Our personal perceptions are relative because we each sense differently. Our opinions are relative because we each interpret reality differently. Even though our perceptions of and opinions about reality are relative, we usually consider them absolute.
Lens 5 A narcissistic perspective causes an individual to consider their own perceptions of and opinions about reality to be more absolute than relative. A narcissistic individual views themselves as the center of the universe, considers their personal reality to be more absolute than others, and expects the matter around them to conform to their personal desires, perceptions and opinions. In reality, when considering the entire universe, personal truth is relative, and individual perceptions and opinions only become absolute when they are aligned with absolute truth. When we look inward, as if we are on the outside looking at ourselves, we can recognize our perceptions and opinions as relative to the universe around us and relative to the perceptions and opinions of others; we seek to better understand the personal realities of others; we focus on trying to control ourselves and not other people.
…Cindee closed the book and stood up from the rocker; these two lenses were going to be on her mind as she proceeded with her day. The current problem to solve was where to hide the book. After considering several different possibilities, she finally settled on the bathroom. Brock had his drawers in the large bathroom vanity and she had hers. She kept hand towels in her bottom drawer, and the book would fit perfectly underneath them. Brock never uses hand towels. He uses a shower towel for everything. Yuck. I hope he doesn’t use mine. He probably doesn’t even know what’s in this bottom drawer, and if he does open it, he’ll shut it when he sees the hand towels. And with it hidden in the bathroom, I can shut and lock the door and read even if he’s home. This is the one place in the house where I can actually escape. Cindee carefully hid the book, closed the drawer, and headed to the kitchen. Dustin is going to have a good breakfast today. 46
As she was scrambling eggs, cooking bacon, cutting up grapefruit and burning toast all at the same time, this idea of relativity simmered in her mind. Perceptions and opinions about reality are relative. Hmm. Perceptions and opinions about reality are relative. Is this true? That makes almost everything we see, relative. And if most of what we see is relative, why do most of us think and act like everything is absolute? Is it just human nature to be absolute? We think and act like we know everything but in reality we probably don’t know very much. I do know what variable absolute realities I create each day, and I know what Brinlee does. On the other hand, I really don’t know what Dustin or Brock do. Of course, except for infidelity, I don’t care what Brock does. The more he’s away; the less he can hurt me. But Dustin. I should know what is going on in Dustin’s mind and what realities he creates. If I don’t, I can’t really help him with his life. The problem is how could I ever find out what goes on in his mind? He won’t talk to me. He does everything he can to shut me out of his life. The second attempt at making toast was much better than the first. Satisfied with the breakfast spread she had set on the table for Dustin, she went to his room and knocked on his door. He always locked his door at night. She wasn’t sure exactly why, and wondered if he was hiding realities she wouldn’t want to know about. I really need to figure out how to understand what’s going on inside of his head. The first knock was answered by silence. The second knock she included, “Dustin, breakfast.” She heard a little sound on the other side of the door but couldn’t tell if it was a grunt, a groan, or her imagination. Before knocking a third time, she checked the door handle, just in case the impossible had happened and he had forgotten to lock it the night before. It was unlocked. She hesitated, and then resolved, she slowly turned the knob, cracked the door open and peered into the room. Dustin was sitting on the edge of his bed deciding if he really wanted to stand up or not. When he heard the door open he was startled and blurted out, “Shut the door!” Cindee ignored the command, and, leaving the door open before she headed back to the kitchen, politely informed him, “I made you a nice breakfast.” Dustin was confused. The door can be unlocked from the outside with a little screwdriver, but she’s never done that before. Why would she do it now, and what’s this bit about a nice breakfast? How dare she invade my privacy!?! Dustin stood up, walked over to the door, and gave it a hard push. It was only open about a 47
foot, and so the collision between the door and the frame produced a noise that would cause an unsuspecting bystander to take notice but not to physically react. Cindee heard it in the kitchen. That didn’t go very well, but it never does when I have to wake him up. I wish I knew how to do it without any unpleasantries. Brace yourself, Cindee. He’ll be on the offensive when he finally shows up to eat his breakfast. Eight minutes later, while Cindee was cleaning last night’s dirty dishes, Dustin sauntered into the kitchen and sat down at the table. What the
? She really did do more than cold cereal and a glass of apple juice. Is she setting me up? She better never unlock my door again. “Don’t ever unlock ^%#$*&@
my door again. It’s my right to lock it, and you have no right to unlock it without my permission.” The words were like a familiar electric shock Cindee had felt far too many times. Yesterday she would have reacted by sarcastically hurling a counterattack such as, “Get your facts straight. I didn’t unlock your door.” But milliseconds before opening her mouth to retaliate, a new thought stopped her. Perception and opinion are relative. His perspective is his. Can I respect it even if I know he’s wrong? Respect his opinion no matter what I think of it. I want to understand what is going on inside his head. Don’t try to insert my thoughts. Only he can accurately tell me what is going on in there. There’s got to be a way I can help him open up and be honest with me. She delivered the words as if she had walked up behind him, carefully turned his chair around, softly put her hands on his cheeks and bent over so that her eyes were gently looking into his, “Why do you think I unlocked your door?” The question caught him off guard. He didn’t know what to say, or even what to think. He tried. She answered me with a question? And she wasn’t even sarcastic? I don’t even understand the question. Why do I think that she unlocked the door? She unlocked the door. I don’t know why she did. She’d have to tell me why she did. I’m not going to guess what her reason was. His tone was a little less confident than his first directive, “You tell me why you unlocked it.” Cindee had observed the unusual. Typically, a response would come immediately if it came at all, but Dustin had paused for almost a minute before answering her question, and during that pause he had taken two bites of bacon, one bite of toast and a sip of the freshly squeezed orange juice. Maybe I am getting somewhere, even though I have no clue where I’m going. Don’t try to prove I 48
didn’t unlock it. Just try to understand where he’s coming from. ”Dustin, I want to respect your privacy. If your door is unlocked and I knock first, do you still not want me to open your door?” Dustin’s head was spinning. Respect my privacy? Yeah right. What’s this bit about using my name when she’s not yelling at me? Is she admitting that she did unlock my door or is she saying that it wasn’t locked? And she’s asking another question pretending that she cares? What is going on? Is it possible that she really does care what I think? Why would she all of a sudden start caring? His confidence was like a deflated, shriveled balloon on the kitchen chair, and this unique reality was detectable in his voice, an uncertain and unpredictable voice that was beginning to transition from the high pitch of a child to the deeper tone of a male adult. “You didn’t unlock my door?” Even though she was behind him and he was staring at his grapefruit, the way she delivered the words allowed his imagination to see the little smile that actually was on her face when she replied, “I don’t remember unlocking the door, but then again I am getting old and senile.” He didn’t smile even though a thought in his head suggested that he should. Without saying anything else, he finished his breakfast, grabbed his backpack, and headed out the front door, hoping that by the time he got home after school he would have been able to sort through this confusion. Cindee, on the other hand, was less confused. She could tangibly feel that progress had been made down the road that led to where she wanted to end up. She didn’t know what the rest of the road looked like, but that unknown didn’t seem to matter; she would find out soon enough. Besides, she could hear Brinlee playing happily in her crib, which meant that it was time to change a very heavy diaper. Brinlee always wakes up happy in the morning. I just wish it could last throughout the day.
It was one thirty-three, Thursday afternoon. Cindee had read Brinlee her favorite picture story, and then had rocked her until she fell asleep on her lap. Fortunately, she transferred to her crib without waking up. Minutes later, Cindee was lying on her bed letting her thoughts unwind so that she could catch a quick nap. Dustin’s words were playing hide and seek in her mind: “It’s my right to lock it, and you have no right to unlock it without my permission.” His right? It’s not his room, or his door, or his lock! These are loaned to him. He didn’t work to earn these. Why does he think it’s his right to do whatever he wants with them? As if a bomb had exploded, she heard the front door open and crippling fear immediately seized her. A week ago, she had heard of a couple of house break-ins on the other side of town, but they had all happened at night when the residents had been on vacation. The police hadn’t discovered any viable leads to the perpetrator. Why didn’t I lock the door after Dustin left? Her ears listened intently for any additional sounds. She didn’t hear the front door close. Do I hear footsteps? I should have locked the door. I never lock the door during the day. Brinlee’s asleep. I have no way to protect myself against the intruder. I wish Brock didn’t have his guns locked up. Why doesn’t he trust me with the combination? It wouldn’t matter anyway. I wouldn’t know how to use one. What should I do? What can I do? All of the bedrooms were upstairs. Her racing mind paused just long enough to recognize that she might be able to slip into Brinlee’s room undetected, if the intruder wasn’t in the entry or coming up the stairs. She silently slipped out of her room and down the hallway. Brinlee’s door was nine feet away on the other side of the top of the stairs. Cindee trepidly peeked around the corner to get a single eye view of the stairs, the entry, and the front door. The front door was open about two feet and she didn’t see anyone. She scurried past the stairs and disappeared behind Brinlee’s door, as quickly and quietly as she could. 50
She locked the door behind her. What now? What can I barricade the door with? Besides some small toys, the only furniture in the room was the crib and the rocking chair she had used to help Brinlee fall asleep moments before. She wished she had purchased that large dresser but had opted instead for one of those fancy closet organizers. Instinct told her she didn’t want Brinlee near the door and she didn’t want to remove Brinlee from the crib in case she woke up and started crying. The rocking chair’s not much but it's all there is. She moved it in front of the door. If the door opened, the crib wouldn’t be immediately visible, so she gathered all of the toys in a pile and knelt down next to them in front of the crib. If the intruder breaks in the room, I’ll throw all of the hardest toys at him as fast as I can, and then use my fingernails and feet to try to hurt him. Her ears strained to pick up any sounds that would lead to her impending reality. All she could hear was Brinlee quietly breathing through her stuffy nose. All she could feel was her heart pounding against every rib in her chest, even though it wasn’t. All she could see was the motionless door. Seconds passed like minutes. Minutes passed like hours. After seven minutes she finally moved her eyes from the door to the pile of toys beside her. Which toy is the best one to throw first? The biggest, the hardest, and the heaviest. She chose a clear, hard plastic ball about six inches in diameter. On the inside of the ball it was divided into eight sections. In each section were loose objects of varying colors and shapes. She didn’t dare touch the ball until she needed to use it, because all of the loose objects were intended to make noise. Her eyes quickly moved back to the door when she heard the sound that sent needles up and down her spine: someone on the other side of the door was testing the door handle. She held her breath. No more sound. Still no sound. She started breathing again, but as much as she wished she could relax, she couldn’t. Once again time had become suspended, and now it wasn’t just scary silent, it was freakishly silent. Why would he leave the door alone? I want him to leave it alone. But will he? He must know that someone is in the room because the door is locked. It must be a he. Women don’t burglarize homes or seek to prey physically on innocent strangers. And why did he leave the front door open? A passerby would see it and be alarmed. Or maybe that’s his twisted logic? A slightly open door means the owner is home and they went back inside to get something before coming back out? Maybe he only left the door open for a few minutes and then shut it so quietly I 51
couldn’t hear it while trapped in Brinlee’s room? Maybe he’ll just steal whatever he’s after and forget about the locked door. Please forget about the locked door. It had been long enough that she was starting to debate whether or not to venture out of the room and take her chances. The fear was too overwhelming. She was just in the process of repositioning herself from kneeling to sitting when the sound of an object touching the locking mechanisms of the door handle jolted her to her feet. She grabbed the predetermined ball, not caring if it made any noise, and positioned herself ready to strike. She waited tensely, her eyes glued to the doorknob, when it suddenly turned and the door opened about an inch before making contact with the rocking chair. The intruder wasn’t in a hurry, because he tested several times exactly how obstructed the door was. Each test moved the chair an inch or two until the final test came, significant force was exerted, and in one motion the chair moved several feet as the door opened halfway. As the intruder’s head appeared in Cindee’s view, she threw the ball as hard as she could. It was a lucky throw as it collided with the intruder’s face just above his left eye. The impact of plastic against bone was audible. As the intruder disappeared momentarily behind the door, the words she heard were even more audible, “Owww. What is going on?” She knew that voice. It couldn’t be. It was impossible. He had never shown up in the middle of the day on a workday. The terrifying anxiety of the last twenty-three minutes erupted and, without thinking, she hysterically ran towards the door, shoved the rocking chair out of the way, threw the door wide open, and while screaming, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you,” pounded her small fists on his chest as if it were a table. Her attack was brief. She forced her way in between him and the door frame, ran down the hall, slammed her bedroom door as hard as she could behind her, and buried herself in the bed covers.
She was pushing her feet against the ground to move her plastic bike along the sidewalk. Everywhere she looked she could see candy, and cookies, and cake. She even saw some of those tall cans that, when you pushed that thing at the top, fluffy, yummy white stuff came out of it. Of course, no one ever let her do it, but nobody was stopping her now, so she got off her bike, picked up one of the cans, and squirted whipped cream all over her bike seat. Yummy. Yummy. Yummy. She grabbed handfuls of whipped cream and pressed her hand against her open mouth again and again. It was all over her face, in her hair, and on her clothes. The loud screaming startled her, because maybe she wouldn’t be able to keep playing. “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.” She understood the word “I” and “you” but she didn’t understand the word “hate.” She didn’t want to open her eyes. They opened anyway, and she looked between the vertical bars of her crib and saw someone standing in the doorway. “Dada, Dada,” she called out excitedly. She clumsily scrambled to her feet, and, by sticking her arms between the bars, reached her little hands out towards him. Brock was perplexed. Javier had told him he and Carlos were supposed to take the day off, and he had spent the morning with Kenny and Gavin performing the role of a sounding board. Carlos had disappeared and he hadn’t bothered to track him down. He had declined to go drinking after lunch with Kenny and Gavin because it sounded too depressing. He was anxious to isolate himself with his own beer but had decided to come home to grab his guns. Today was a perfect day to drink and shoot since he would have daylight. He had left the front door open because he was only going to be a quick minute. While he was unlocking the gun safe that was proudly displayed in the family room, he suddenly realized that the house was awfully quiet. This shouldn’t have been a surprise, because the house was always quiet when he 53
came in late at night, or left early in the morning. But this was the middle of the day, and he didn’t know what it should be like. His curiosity was mounting. Cindee must be gone or she’s taking a nap. Instinctively, he had proceeded with his movements in stealth mode. He slid his guns under the couch and first went to the garage to see if her car was there. It was. He went through all the rooms downstairs. All silent and empty. When he got to the top of the stairs he observed that the doors to Dustin’s and Brinlee’s rooms were closed, while his office door and their bedroom door were open. He first checked the office and, as he suspected, there was neither noise nor any signs of life. He stood briefly outside their bedroom door listening for any sounds before going visual. The bedroom was empty. The closet was empty. The bathroom was empty. The only two rooms left were Dustin’s and Brinlee’s. She wouldn’t be in Dustin’s room, but he checked the door anyway. It was unlocked. He silently opened it and looked inside. Nobody. What a mess! Now the moment of truth. She might be in Brinlee’s room. She’s got to be in Brinlee’s room. He stood by the door for a minute and listened. Nothing. He slowly tested the door handle. It’s locked?? Why would it be locked? If both of them are in there, and it doesn’t sound like they are, why would Cindee lock the door? And if they aren’t in there, why would the door be locked? Maybe they went for a walk to the park. Brock went to the garage again, this time to see if the stroller was there. It took him a while to find it folded up and gathering dust behind the ski equipment. Maybe she walks while Brinlee rides one of her bikes. Brinlee had so many bikes he had never bothered to count them. Hard to know. She’s got to be in Brinlee’s room! Nothing else makes sense, but that doesn’t make sense either. I wonder where that little screwdriver is? Brock began to search through his tools in the garage for the one small screwdriver he knew could unlock Brinlee’s door. He couldn’t find it. This is stupid. Why am I even doing this? Who cares? I’ve got a great day and my beer and my guns are waiting for me. He went back to the family room and as he was retrieving the guns from under the couch the image of Brinlee’s locked door popped into his head again. Amazingly, the curiosity was more powerful than the appeal of his impending escape. His third trip to the garage successfully produced the screwdriver he was looking for, and he headed upstairs. Why is the door obstructed? Is something wrong? What could be 54
wrong? Is it really obstructed? Whatever is in the way, it’s not very big or heavy. Cindee had appeared out of nowhere, and the next few seconds in time were a series of firsts. She had never thrown anything at him. His left eye was throbbing. She had never physically attacked him. At least it didn’t hurt when she had pounded his chest with her fists. She had said a lot of venomous words to him in the past but never those words. He couldn’t admit it even to himself how much they hurt. And there was Brinlee with a big smile on her face wanting him to lift her out of her prison and give her a hug. Tears didn’t come and she couldn’t understand why. Emotionally, the usual feelings of anger and bitterness were the same, but the hurt and pain was missing. It was as if her mind wouldn’t let her heart go there. Perception and opinion is relative. Her emotional explosion had been triggered by her immediate conclusion that Brock was the reason she had had to endure twenty-three tortured minutes. Now her mind had taken over and was processing reality. Do you know why he was home? Do you know why he didn’t unlock the door the first time? Do you know what he was doing after he tried the door handle? Do you know why he decided to come back and unlock the door? Aren’t you glad it was him and not somebody else? Aren’t you glad he didn’t physically retaliate when you pounded on his chest? Did he purposely set this whole thing up? Why don’t you go out there and try to discover what happened? Cindee was not going to open that door. She got out from under the covers, walked over to their bedroom door, quietly locked it, and prayed that he wouldn’t use the screwdriver. Brock carried Brinlee downstairs and shut the front door. His beer and his guns were still calling out to him but he didn’t know how to answer the call. As much as he wanted to take Brinlee back upstairs and deposit her in their bedroom, he couldn’t push away the invisible barrier on the other side of their bedroom door. If the door was locked, he wasn’t going to use the screwdriver again. In fact, he couldn’t even get himself to approach the door to see if it was locked. I don’t think this afternoon is going to work out the way I planned it. In the kitchen that was open to the family room, Brinlee was obviously bored of Brock holding her, because she was stiffening her body like a board 55
and pointing to her doll house. Brock set her on the floor and she wobbled over to play with her dolls. I think I’m trapped. I don’t dare approach Cindee. I can’t approach Cindee. But what about Brinlee? Who’s going to take care of her? I really just want to grab my guns and…oh, I need to get those back in the safe. While Brinlee was occupied facing the opposite direction, Brock retrieved the guns from under the couch and locked them up in the safe. Lacking the decisiveness to execute a different plan, he sat down in the plush recliner and figured he’d watch Brinlee play for a few minutes. At least for the moment she’s interesting to watch. What makes her decide which doll to play with? How does she decide what action to force the doll to perform? Brock had never witnessed what Brinlee did next. She was sitting on the floor and suddenly stopped playing, almost as if she was tagged with a freeze gun. Her facial expression turned serious, complete with concentration. He even noticed that her face may have been turning a slight shade of red. Then, as suddenly as she had frozen, she unfroze and continued playing as if nothing unusual had happened. That was weird. I hope she’s okay. I wonder if she has a minor case of epilepsy. Isn’t that where kids randomly have seizures? What do I know?! She looks fine. Cindee was lying on her back, head on her pillow, staring at the ceiling. The ceiling held no unusual appeal; it was just there, but because her eyes were open she had no other choice than to look at it. Normally during this time of the day she would be craving a nap. I wonder how long it’s going to be before he invades my space? Kind of funny in a way. It’s the middle of the afternoon. I’m locked in my room and Brock is downstairs with Brinlee. Oh no, I hope she’s okay. Brock better not have left her alone. I’ve got to check on her. I can’t. I’m not going on the other side of that door if Brock is still in the house. But how do I find out if he left, without the risk of possibly having to face him? It’s always the same…I’m trapped. Why don’t you keep reading in the book? Now that’s an idea. I might as well. Brock wouldn’t dare leave her alone. The strange and unlikely realities of the afternoon had turned fortuitous; Cindee got off of the bed, retrieved her book, settled into the rocking chair and turned the pages to...
Lens 6 Truth is defined by the past, the present, and the future. We associate reality with three general time references: 1. What happened in the past. Grandma Ruby, as the country locals affectionately call her, pulled out onto the highway without looking both directions. 2. What is happening right now in the present. Chuck, who is driving a semi-truck, sees a car pull out onto the highway about 100 yards ahead and he is swerving trying to avoid hitting it. 3. What will happen in the future. The company Chuck works for has a policy that if you are in any accident, whether or not it is your fault, you will be fired. Will his company fire him, or after investigating the details of the accident will they make an exception?
Brock was still perplexed. I can’t leave Brinlee alone because I have no idea when Cindee might come out of our room. Daylight's wasting, I haven’t even had one beer today, and I could be shooting my guns. I don’t even know how to take care of Brinlee. What if she needs to eat or starts crying? The aroma from the recent deposit into Brinlee’s diaper finally reached Brock’s nostrils. Panic set in. Is that what I think it is? It can’t be. It’s got to be. I can’t deal with that. I haven’t the slightest idea of how to change a diaper. It wasn’t just that Brock had never changed a diaper; he had never even watched the process. He had caught the finishing touch, once, years ago in an airport, and 57
he had heard the sounds of the procedure several times from a nearby room: Cindee talking baby talk in a high pitched voice and Brinlee either cooing, laughing, or crying. He certainly didn’t have much experience to draw on, but he concluded that he really didn’t have a better alternative than to give it a shot. Just for this one moment in time, he was wishing his chauvinistic approach to the fundamental needs of children hadn’t prevented him from learning something useful about what he was going to attempt to do. His first challenge was to find a diaper. A thorough search of the downstairs produced nothing. He was contemplating going upstairs to Brinlee’s room, but his inexplicable resistance to getting that close to their bedroom caused him to explore the possibility of Cindee’s car. He hit pay dirt. Next to the car seat was what looked like a purse, only it was four times the normal size, and next to this zipped up bag was one, solitary, unused diaper. Feeling a little more confident, he grabbed it and headed back to the family room. Brinlee was playing happily, but when Brock put his hands under her armpits to stand her up, she began to wiggle her shoulders as violently as she could and cried out, “No, no, no.” Of course Brock was bigger and stronger. He held her vertically in the air as she kicked her legs back and forth as fast as she could. Is she going to stop kicking? Gradually the kicking slowed down, so Brock tested her feet on the ground by lowering her body weight onto them. As soon as she felt his hands release complete control of her upper body she immediately sat down on the ground with her eyes glaring directly into his as if to say, “I dare you to try that again.” Brock retreated to the kitchen to look for a bribe. He finally settled on what he hoped might work. “Brinlee, if you stand up by yourself I’ll give you this marshmallow.” Brock hit a homerun. Brinlee loved marshmallows. She stood up and he placed the squeezable white ball of sugar in her outstretched hand. While a third of the bribe was disappearing into her mouth Brock pulled her pants down around her ankles. Figuring out how to undo the diaper was easy as Brock found the tabs across the front. He pulled each one, and, as the second one released its grip on the diaper surface, gravity took over, and the diaper fell down on top of the pants around Brinlee’s ankles. The unexpected sight and smell of what now confronted him caused Brock to quickly close his mouth, hold his breath, and to exert commendable discipline 58
as he somehow managed to control his sudden gag reflex. Even more sudden was his realization that he didn’t know what to do next. ----Dustin was sitting in his woodshop class staring out the window. It was one of those classes that the teacher never really taught anything; you just went to him if you needed help with your project. He didn’t need help. His project had been completed weeks ago: a very cool chessboard with hand carved chess pieces. He was exceptional at chess, as evidenced by the fact that he had never lost to anyone. True, his competition was restricted to students at his school, but even against the computer he only lost against the most difficult settings on the game. As he was staring out the window, he was wondering what to do with the set he had made. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to take it home, or not, but in the back of his mind, he was secretly hoping that if he did, one of his parents might see it and ask about it, and find out how good he was at the game. The geek inside of him was crying out for acceptance. ----Like Brock, Brinlee was also trying to figure out what to do next. Her dad had left the room, and standing with her pants around her ankles and a dirty diaper between her legs was an unfamiliar situation. As a typical eighteenmonth-old toddler, she didn’t think about the situation for more than a few quick seconds before she waddled like a penguin towards the kitchen in search of another marshmallow. Unlike a penguin, however, she overextended one of her steps as the restriction of the pants interrupted her balance, and she toppled face first onto the carpet. Undaunted, she lifted her sticky mouth and hands off of the carpet as she managed to return to her feet. The foul contents were beginning to travel beyond the acceptable boundaries of the diaper, which was now mostly on the floor in front of her. As she began to struggle forward, the pants caught the diaper in such a way as to force it to begin to fold over itself. She had learned from the first fall, so with the diaper restricting her progress, she took very small, slow steps until it finally separated from her pants. Then, with the diaper behind her in a distorted upside down mess, she reached the kitchen just as Brock reappeared. 59
The thought of Brock and Brinlee kept coming back every time she pushed it away. I wonder if Brock would be stupid enough to leave her alone. He’s so irresponsible. It would be just like him to do that. Cindee set the book down, walked over to the door, got on her hands and knees, and placed her ear as close as possible to the one inch gap at the bottom of the door. She couldn’t detect very much sound, but there was just enough that she could determine that it wasn’t completely quiet in the house. She was pretty sure she heard the door from the kitchen to the garage open and close. A minute later she heard it open and close again. Interesting how I can identify the different sounds that different doors make in the house. She heard the distinct and unmistakable sound she was looking for: “No! No! No!” She went back to her book. Brock’s home; he didn’t leave, and he’s trying to take care of Brinlee. What a relief. I can stay in my room. If she had stayed by the door for a few more minutes, she would have heard: “Brinlee, look, if you stand up by yourself I’ll give you this marshmallow.” This may have aroused her curiosity to the point that she might have gone downstairs to see what was really going on. Instead, she turned to…
Lens 7 Universal absolute truth is what was, what is, and what will be. Universal absolute truth never changes which is why it is always 100% predictable. The speed of light while traveling in free space is 299,792,458 meters per second or 670,616,629 miles per hour. To the best of our knowledge, the speed of light has always been the same, and therefore it will always be the same. But what if it did change tomorrow, say to as slow as 2 meters per second… While sitting in a pitch black theatre waiting for a show to begin, you don't know that an actress has 60
come onto the stage because you can’t see her. When the spotlight is turned on, you watch the light slowly travel 46 meters until 23 seconds later it finally reaches the actress and you can see her. This might temporarily be an interesting spectacle to watch, but we know it will never happen because light always travels in free space at 299,792,458 meters per second. Universal absolute truth has always existed, currently exists, and will always exist in the future. If universal absolute truth changes, it isn’t absolute, it’s variable.
Lens 8 Variable absolute truth is what was, what is, and what may be. Variable absolute realities are what really happened and what is really happening. Because we usually do not understand the variables that determine what will happen, we cannot predict with certainty the variable absolute realities of the future. When eating at this café at least once a month for the last 11 years, Harvey has always finished his meal. On the day of the accident, after Harvey went outside, he didn’t go back inside the café to finish his meal. The realities of the past sometimes indicate with high probability what might happen in the future, but they provide no certainty. Chuck’s company has had 54 accidents over the last 18 years and they fired all 54 drivers. After investigating the accident, his company makes an exception and doesn’t fire him.
Lens 9 Personal relative truth is what might have been, what might be, and what may be. Our perceptions of past, present, and future realities may or may not be accurate, even if we think that they are absolutely correct. •
Past – Somebody drove a pickup truck through the café wall. MIGHT HAVE BEEN.
Present – A person is in the cab but is not visible. MIGHT BE.
Future – Harvey is going to see the person in the cab when he climbs up on the hood of the truck. MAY BE. When he discovers that the cab is empty, he realizes that his past perception of what was the future needs to be reconsidered.
Lens 10 A falsehood is the opposite of an absolute truth; it was not, is not, and will not be. A falsehood is absolutely not reality. •
Babies are not born.
People do not die.
The truck was driven into the café.
Protons and electrons are not attracted to each other.
Atoms do not exist.
A falsehood creates a false reality; the perception that what we sense is real when in reality it is not. •
In the desert you see a pool of water in the distance, but as you walk towards it, the distance to the water never changes and you never reach the water.
A friend tells you about an incredible investment opportunity. You invest, and a few weeks later you find out that the opportunity was a multimillion dollar scam and all of your money is unrecoverable.
A politician makes numerous campaign promises in order to “win” your vote. After being elected, the promises are not realized.
…Cindee pondered. I know the absolute realities that I create. Do I know the absolute realities that other people create? I know Brock is home today because I saw him; I even hit him. That wasn’t good. What I don’t know is why he’s home. There must be other realities of the past that could explain the present reality of why he’s here. Hmm. He quit his job. He got fired. He called in sick. None of these seem realistic. I hope the first two aren’t true. The problem is, the only way to know for sure is to have him tell me. But even that’s not for sure, because he might lie for some reason, and I may never know the reason. Maybe this is why truth is relative? Cindee closed the book. A new thought had just invaded her mind and she felt the need to try to reconcile it. I should go downstairs and try to find out why Brock is home. What am I thinking? That’s crazy. He just gave me the biggest scare of my life and I attacked him. I shouldn’t have done that. So what. I didn’t hurt him. There’s a reason why he’s here. But if I try to find out the reason, he’s just going to get defensive. Is it possible that I can approach him in a way that he will open up? I made some progress with Dustin this morning. He may not have opened up, yet, but I did succeed in preventing the conflict from getting worse. In fact, I think I succeeded in diffusing the conflict. And he did head out the door with a confused look on his face. I wonder if I could ever make some progress with Brock.
If it weren’t for the scene that greeted him, he would have been the perfect depiction of a man on a mission ready to do battle. In his left hand was a full roll of toilet paper. In his right hand was moist toilet paper that had been carefully folded over again and again before it had spent too much time under the sink faucet. He was outmatched and defeated, but then again, he should have realized that reality before he had gone in search of the diaper. If Cindee were to have observed the last few minutes of this scene unfold strictly from Brock’s perspective, and set aside her own motherly experience, even she would have felt empathy underneath concealed laughter. He had been trying to do the right thing, and now he was stuck in the middle of it. It stunk, and he was in way over his head. Brock retreated to his recliner to try to figure out what to do next. He couldn’t deal with the challenge of cleaning up Brinlee. He had resolved the inappropriateness of her waddling around the house half naked by simply pulling her pants back up. Besides, it hid a good portion of the unpleasant reality that he couldn’t deal with. The diaper on the carpet would have to wait. The marshmallow in the carpet would have to wait. Brinlee would have to wait. Wait for what? There’s no way I can clean up any of these messes. His world had turned upside down in the short span of less than an hour, and the plan to go drinking and shooting was now as best as he could determine never going to become reality. He did realize, however, that his world wasn’t completely upside down because Cindee suddenly appeared around the corner. Now it was unmistakably and entirely upside down. He was speechless, shell-shocked, and trapped in his favorite leather chair. Since he was bound to the chair and had no desire to say anything, even if he could think of something to say, he figured he’d just have to wait to see who made the next move: Brinlee or Cindee. It was Brinlee. She scampered over to her mom and gave her leg a big hug before returning to her dollhouse to play. Cindee meanwhile was trying to process the scene in front of her, but her thoughts kept stumbling over each new reality she observed: Marshmallow in the carpet; a dirty diaper upside down on the carpet; feces on her pant leg; Brinlee with her pants on and a sticky, stinky mess on various parts of her body; and Brock sitting in the recliner with a roll of toilet paper by his side during the middle of a work day, looking helpless and submissive for the first 64
time since she had known him. For Brock, her first words were as unexpected as they were liberating. “Looks like you need a little help,” she said with an inviting grin on her face as she began to unwind his nightmare of the last fifteen minutes. He intently observed how she cleaned the carpet, cleaned up Brinlee, and finished the process of the diaper change with Brinlee lying on her back instead of standing up. When Cindee left the room he concluded it was to get a clean pair of pants for Brinlee. He was partially right. When she returned with a small pair of clean pants in her hand, she was also wearing a clean pair of her own pants. As she was putting the pants on Brinlee she heard a sound come from behind her that was as unexpected as it was liberating. “Thanks.” She contemplatively finished with opposite the recliner, and sat down. contact by looking at the floor, or the person without looking into their eyes. was how awkward the silence felt to
Brinlee, walked over to the couch As usual their eyes avoided making ceiling, or even looking at the other What made this moment so unusual both of them, when normally they
preferred not talking to each other. It was Cindee who interrupted it. A sincere apology may help to break down his defenses. “I’m sorry I attacked you.” Brock was trying so hard to understand how an apology could have come out of Cindee’s mouth that he almost neglected to formulate a response. When he did respond, it was atypical. Brock was a deeply analytical mute. During waking hours his mind would restlessly but carefully evaluate words, phrases, actions, decisions, existence, non-existence; in short, he tried to make meaningful sense out of every reality he encountered. When he couldn’t satisfy the acuteness of his reality sensor, which was often, he would temporarily accept the lack of understanding in order to avoid anxiety and stress. Very few realities were worth anxiety and stress. This personal conclusion was an accurate explanation for his typically calm, cool, and mellow personality. Of course, the certain exception to this persona was during communication with Cindee, which was almost always highly charged and stressful until silence interrupted the noisy distortion. Brock rarely if ever shared his observations about reality with others. This would explain his short, matter-of-fact sentences, slowly delivered in a tone that was mundane and uninspiring. This afternoon, as he sat in his recliner facing Cindee, his response was unusual because of its length and the fact that it 65
validated Cindee’s apology. “I guess it makes sense that you wouldn’t have expected me to be home in the middle of the day.” “I assume it’s okay that you are home?” she gently probed. Brock didn’t want to reply. Cindee was opening a can of worms and he did not want to join her fishing expedition. But on the other hand, the weight of the last thirty-three and a half hours was feeling heavy, and maybe getting it off his chest would provide some relief. He had performed that service for Kenny and Gavin. Maybe Cindee might be willing to provide that service for him. “Do you really want to know?” “Sure.” Do I really? Is he actually going to share something with me? Brock was more surprised than Cindee at how much detail he shared, and Cindee was stunned. Fifteen minutes passed as though it were a short minute. She didn’t say anything during his narrative except to give him clear visual and verbal confirmations that she was listening attentively. Without the confirmations, he may have stopped mid sentence. With them, he continued uninhibited. When he finished, he was amazed at how therapeutic it had been to share with someone who seemed willing to care. What made the entire experience so confusing was that it was Cindee who was that someone. There was awkward silence again. This time Brock broke it. “I’m going to head out for a bit.” Cindee was just starting to think that would be typical of him to…when she stopped the thought in midair and switched to…I’m glad he opened up and shared. That was exactly what I was hoping for. I learned more about him and his world in the last fifteen minutes than I have in the last fifteen years. No reason to get greedy. Be grateful with a little bit of progress.
Brock had decided on his way out of the house to let the guns wait for another day. The beer couldn’t wait. When he arrived at his favorite drinking sanctuary, he turned up the music and opened the first can. Something was different. What feels different? I’m not doing anything different. The beer tastes the same. The music is the same. The isolation is the same. It must have something to do with Brinlee or Cindee. Yeah, that was a pretty weird afternoon. Brock placed his fingers on the unmistakable lump that had formed just above his left eye. And I’ve got an ugly mark on my face to prove it. As he was opening the fourth beer can the realization hit his mind harder than the ball had hit his eye. That book I saw on the bathroom counter must have something to do with Cindee’s unusual behavior. Not that I’m complaining…I like the change, but at the same time it scares me. If her behavior today is so unpredictable, what can I expect the next time I see her. I’ve spent years adjusting to her escapades into her fantasy worlds that always paint me as a failure and leave me out in the cold. And I’ve figured out how to make the most of the situation. And then she throws me a curve ball, doesn’t complain about cleaning up a huge mess, and genuinely seems to want to know about my world. Is she setting me up? It’s got to have something to do with that book. Leaving the other four cans unopened, Brock disposed of the empty ones, and took the long way home. Arriving home at five o’clock on any workday was unusually early. Dustin was home and so Brock went upstairs to find him. His door was locked. Brock knocked on it. No response. He could hear the loud music on the other side of the door, which meant he needed to knock louder. The second knock slightly hurt his knuckles. After a few seconds the volume of the music was turned down and he heard an annoyed “Whaaat?” “Dusty, it's Dad.” The door opened slowly and the bewilderment on Dustin’s face was obvious. 67
“What are you doing home?” Brock didn’t want to explain the whole truth: he was too afraid to interact with Cindee, he wasn’t interested in getting together with anyone at work because that would just remind him of all those ugly realities, he didn’t want to spend any more time alone, and Dustin was the best alternative. “I got off work early and wondered if you wanted to do something.” To Dustin, this answer did and did not make sense. Dad never gets off work early. Weekends are cool when we fish or hunt. I think he likes doing that with me, but we never really talk that much. Am I just an excuse so that he can do those things and not have to do them alone? We can’t do any of those things tonight. So why does he want to do something during a weekday? And why is he home anyway? Dustin’s mind didn’t screen his answer ahead of time; the words just came out. “Do you want to play chess?” Brock didn’t screen his answer. “Sure.” Dustin pushed a bunch of clothes into a pile to create some space on the floor and set up a small plastic chess set he had taken from the game closet a few years ago. In the first game Brock was checkmated after Dustin’s 11th move. The second game was a little better and he lasted until Dustin’s 14th move. The third game was over on his 5th move. Brock finally verbalized the questions consuming his mind, “Who have you been playing chess with? Who taught you?” Dustin wasn’t sure how to answer. Is he actually interested in me? Should I make something up? Am I safe telling him the truth, or is he not going to believe me? “I play with anyone I can at school. I taught myself.” They talked for thirty minutes, most of the time spent with Dustin showing Brock different moves and strategies on the chessboard, especially the errors he had made to get checkmated in five moves. The time seemed to fly by and was interrupted by Cindee appearing in the doorway and announcing that dinner was ready. Brock and Dustin looked at each other with puzzled looks on their faces; they looked at Cindee, and then coincidently said as they both slightly shrugged their shoulders, “Okay.” The dinner was a strange experience. All four members of the Stewart family were sitting at a table eating a meal together for the first time since Brinlee was born. Everyone enjoyed the food. Nobody said anything except Brinlee, because they didn’t know what to say, and if they thought of something, they were too afraid to say it. Cindee cleaned the kitchen. 68
Later that evening after Brinlee was settled and Dustin was quiet, Cindee sat in bed reading the Bible while Brock watched news commentary on TV. She resisted the urge to go into the bathroom, lock the door, and add her thoughts to the workbook. I’ll have plenty of time tomorrow when Brock is at work. At about ten o’clock, Cindee turned off the light next to her, lay down on her side with her back to Brock and said simply, “Good night.” Brock echoed her words. The last conscious thought Cindee could remember was I wonder if he’s going to leave the bathroom door open tomorrow morning? A few minutes later, Brock got up, turned off the TV, turned off the light next to his side of the bed, and lay down on his back. His mind wouldn’t shut off. He tried deliberately to shut it off. It wouldn’t obey. His thoughts were interrupted and then slightly modified because he could hear Cindee softly breathing. She’s asleep. I can’t sleep. I wonder where she put the book. She probably hid it. If I’m quiet I bet I can search for it without waking her up. I’ll wait a few more minutes until she’s a little deeper into her sleep. Brock quietly got out of bed and carefully left the room before heading downstairs. Fifteen minutes of searching produced nothing. He even checked her car. He sat down in the recliner to think about possible locations upstairs. That was going to be more difficult to search without waking her up and so he had to plan carefully. His first choice was the bathroom. Besides, I can get away with shutting and locking the door and turning the light on while I search. With the bathroom door secured behind him, it didn’t take long to find the book underneath the towels. Wow, she really didn’t want me to find this. Suddenly feeling guilty, he realized how directly he was invading Cindee’s privacy. He rationalized the thought. She’s my wife. I should know what’s going on in her head and in her life. Maybe I’ll learn something. Yes, but you should ask her first and get her permission to read her thoughts. Fine, I’ll skip over what she’s written. The real question is, do I read here or downstairs? Brock opted for downstairs. As he opened the book while sitting in the recliner, his imagination played tricks by showing a slow motion picture of Cindee suddenly appearing around the corner. He brushed aside the false reality and was soon immersed in the lenses. It didn’t take him long to finish the first ten lenses and turn to…
Lens 11 Our existence is relative unless we consciously exist in the past, the present, and the future. •
Living only in the past by ignoring the present and the future is a relative and meaningless existence.
Living only in the present by ignoring the past and the future is a relative and meaningless existence.
Living only in the future by ignoring the past and the present is a relative and meaningless existence.
By living in the past and the present, and trying to anticipate the future, our existence has the potential of becoming less relative and more meaningful.
Lens 12 After our existence in this world ends, we will either cease to exist or we will continue a perpetual existence. After we die, even if we move to another relative existence and then to another, eventually we will either cease to exist, or we will continue to exist perpetually, or in other words, universally. Did Grandma Ruby cease to exist when Chuck’s semi-truck hit her? From a universal perspective, an entire lifetime on this earth is only the present. Thus, if we don’t have a universal past and future existence, this life is entirely relative and meaningless. 70
For this current existence to be something more than relative, we would need to have a universal existence in the past and a universal existence in the future. Obviously, it remains our individual choice to either view our existence as universal or to restrict our perspective to only our current relative reality. But if our perspective is universal, and a cognitive universal past, present and future does indeed exist, then our future universal reality is absolute whether we view it as such or not.
â€ŚBrock was thirsty. He set the book down and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. His love for philosophy was countered by the unfortunate reality that he didnâ€™t have anyone in his life with whom to mutually explore penetrating questions. He had concluded long ago that the best way to evaluate the realities of life was with an atheistic perspective. Religion was too emotional, intangible, and it created intellectual havoc. The logical and preferred approach to understanding his existence was to focus on the tangible and scientifically verifiable. Philosophically, the ideas of truth and freedom, and living and dying were fascinating to him.
Earlier in the day, shortly after Brock had left the house to find some isolation with his beer, Cindee had the urge to call Rachel. A new pattern was developing as Rachel answered again on the second ring with a slightly different greeting, “I was hoping you’d call.” “I bet you were. You knew that book was exactly what I needed,” Cindee chided. “Well actually, I wasn’t sure. I knew what value I had gained from it, but wondered if it was just me.” “Don’t wonder anymore. You’re not alone. I’m only through Lens Ten but I wanted to ask you some questions. Do you mind if I come over?” “Of course not. When should I expect you?” “Fifteen minutes?” “Perfect.” Cindee made sure the diaper bag was stocked, gathered some extra toys for Brinlee, buckled her in the car seat, and arrived in front of Rachel’s mansion in thirteen minutes. Rachel’s house wasn’t really a mansion like you’d see in some ritzy magazine or an old English movie, but it had to be the largest and most expensive house in town. As comfortable financially as Cindee was with Brock’s income, she felt a tinge of jealously every time she knocked on Rachel’s front door. They were really unlikely friends. A couple of years ago they had met at a book club that gathered every week for lunch. It didn’t take long for them to recognize how passionately in love they both were with romance novels. No book was read by either one of them without a lengthy exploration into another fantasy world. Since Rachel rarely heard the knock, Cindee pushed the intercom button. When she heard Rachel’s voice say “come on in, I unlocked the door,” she looked up high to the left at the hidden video camera, gave Rachel a smug grin, opened the door and stepped inside. She had almost made it to the kitchen when Rachel appeared around the corner, threw her arms around 72
Cindee and Brinlee, and squeezing them both said, “Let’s talk in the sunroom. Do you want anything to drink?” Cindee declined the offer as she situated Brinlee with some toys. As they sat down Cindee asked, “Do you mind me asking how you’re dealing with Garth?” Rachel didn’t really want to talk about herself but she knew it would probably be helpful for Cindee. I might as well get right to it. “He’s on a business trip and when he gets back in a week I’ll be gone. I filed the divorce papers last week and because I don’t want any of the money it should be over pretty quick.” Cindee was aghast. Except for the little she knew about the abuse, Rachel had it all. She had the looks any girl would kill for, the freedom to go anywhere and do anything she wanted, and not only did she get to decide which shoes to pull from her walk-in shoe closet, she could decide each day which of the three exotic cars she wanted to drive. Could the abuse really be that bad? “Rachel, there must be more to this story.” “There is. But you didn’t come over to talk about me. What were your questions?” “They can wait. Talk to me.” Rachel sighed, adjusted her body position on the couch to something presumably more comfortable, and began her narrative. “You know I came from a poor family with an abusive alcoholic father?” “I didn’t.” “I’ll try to give you the short version. My mom was a sweetheart. My dad never abused me, but I spent many tortured nights listening and sometimes watching him yell at, push around, and hit my mom. She was everything to me. When I was thirteen she became seriously ill and two weeks later she died. To this day I’m convinced she let herself get sick as her way of escaping the pain and trauma of her life. The day after the funeral, the cops came to our house and told my little sister and me that we were being sent to live with our aunt, my mom’s sister, who lived on the west coast. Did I tell you I grew up on the east coast?” “No.” Cindee was sitting on pins and needles. “My aunt was so good to us and took the place of my mom. I used to wonder why my mom didn’t just send us to live with her sister years earlier. 73
But now that I’m older I understand that she was conflicted in so many ways. As a mother she couldn’t let go of her responsibility to us, she was too afraid to leave my dad because she didn’t know how she would be able to provide for us, and she was too afraid to stay with my dad because of what he did to her. I’m certain that she contacted my aunt shortly before she died and made the arrangements without my dad’s knowledge.” “Anyway, I was a lead cheerleader in high school, senior prom queen, graduated with honors, and headed off to a prestigious university. During my junior year I met Garth at a nightclub. He was several years older than me and even though he was only two years out of law school, he had already played major roles in some large tort cases that had him rolling in the money. I was attracted to his looks, his charisma, and the money. I was young and stupid. We lived the big city high life in a penthouse for a few years until Garth decided he wanted to move back to his roots. We built this house here, but I think it was his way of isolating me so he could philander without me around. He works occasionally from home and travels a lot. I never graduated from college, and with all the money we had I didn’t want to work a menial job. I wanted so badly to be a mom but I let the money and the image-based lifestyle stand in my way. Three times I got pregnant. Three times I…” tears were starting to appear in Rachel’s eyes and she couldn’t get the words to form that would complete the sentence. Cindee waited a few seconds to see if Rachel was going to find her composure, and when she knew that she wouldn’t, she switched couches to sit next to her. She put her arms around her shoulders and gently moved her head against her chest. Rachel cried continuously until the haunting memories were less poignant and she could gather in her emotions. With her composure regained, Rachel straightened herself on the couch, put her hand on Cindee’s knee, and looking directly into her eyes continued, “Garth wouldn’t let me have the babies. Three times I told him I was not going down to the abortion clinic. Three times he yelled at me. Three times he pushed me around and slapped me. Three times he drove me down to the clinic, threatened me with doing the abortion himself if I didn’t go inside, and then waited outside the clinic until I came back sobbing and got back in the car. The third time I went inside the clinic and hid in a bathroom stall for several hours. I faked the emotions when I came back outside and got in the 74
car. I don’t know what my plan was to be able to have the baby; I just knew I couldn’t endure another abortion. The next day I found out that Garth had a friend at the clinic that he was using as his way of verification. When he found out I had deceived him he attacked me so violently that I thought he was going to kill me. I pleaded with him to let me go and that I would cooperate by leaving for the clinic immediately. He released me and I lost a baby again. That was four weeks ago.” Rachel stopped talking and looked down at Brinlee playing on the floor with her toys. Cindee also looked at Brinlee. And here I am thinking this beautiful little girl is one of the monsters in my life enslaving me. What is relative and what is absolute? The bondage I think she creates in my life is relative. The bonds of love are absolute. Universally absolute? I so wish Rachel could be as lucky as me. Cindee softly asked the next unplanned question. “So what happened in the last four weeks?” Rachel continued therapeutically. “For the first few days after this last abortion I was contemplating how I was going to commit suicide. I couldn’t come up with a way I wasn’t afraid of. Maybe it was because down deep inside I really wanted to keep living, and all that was missing was my understanding of how to find meaning and purpose in my life. I started searching the Internet. When I put those two words “meaning” and “purpose” into the search bar, the book showed up near the top of the search results. I’ve read it nine times and I’ve discovered new realizations with each reading. When you called, it was an easy decision to recommend it and buy you a copy.” Cindee was wondering if she was going to need to ask any of her planned questions. She hadn’t asked one yet and they were one by one getting answered. She asked another impromptu question. “What was the meaning and purpose you discovered?” “You’re going to think I’m crazy when I tell you this, but it’s really two simple words.” “I’m all ears,” Cindee eagerly confirmed. “Other people.” “Other people?” “Yep.” “I think you better help me out cuz I’m not getting it.” 75
Rachel explained. “I realized as I read the lenses that my life had been all about me, all about what I wanted, all about trying to get people to look at me and to listen to me. There had to be a connection between my approach to life and the emptiness I was feeling. As much as Garth was a nightmare reality in my life, he’s not the problem. The problem is me. I wanted the hairdo, the makeup, the clothes, the shoes, and the house: all the trappings that called out for other people to pay attention to me. As I thought about it, these things were all of a sudden so very relative in value, no matter how many dollar signs they represented. So in my mind I simply reversed my perspective. I started to think about giving rather than taking.” “It was really difficult the first time I went down to the women’s shelter. I was scared. I didn’t know what to say or do. But in the back of my mind I had this thought to just try to let them know that I care and that maybe they’ll feel comfortable enough to start talking. So I listened really well, and not only did I realize that people had greater challenges than my own, I felt some of that emptiness start to disappear. For some of the women a listening ear meant the world to them and that’s all they needed. For others, I began to see where I could help them with my own resources as they tried to find their way back onto their feet…” Cindee interrupted. “But why aren’t you going to get your fair share of the money from Garth?” “That’s a little more complicated to explain. Another realization while reading the lenses was that everything I had Garth had earned, and truthfully, I think the money he gets from tort cases is dirty money. It’s more like legalized stealing than the result of honest work. Besides, none of us really own anything. Everything was here before we got here, and we don’t take it with us when we die. For me, the important recognition was that I had never worked for anything I claimed my own. If I want to be free from Garth, I need to be free from his dishonest money. I’ve allowed him to use money to control me ever since I met him.” Rachel paused before continuing. “For a while I’m going to be like some of those women in the shelter, but I am going to take care of myself, and eventually, I’m going to do it well. If I’m fortunate enough to discover a good marriage and I’m able to be a mom, I’ll stay home and let him earn the money. And if marriage doesn’t happen, I’m still fortunate, because there is no 76
shortage of people I can give my time and my heart to. What I’ve learned in these short but long few weeks is that giving is living. It’s too bad most people in the world focus on taking, like I have. That’s the real reason why we become enslaved…but I think you’ll understand that better as you read the rest of the lenses.” Wow, all my questions have been answered and I didn’t even have to ask one of them. ----Brock returned from the kitchen with the glass of water, sat back down in the recliner, and continued reading…
Lens 13 Universal absolute truth defines freedom. A falsehood enslaves. Freedom is realized when personal relative truth and variable absolute realities are aligned with universal absolute truth. Throughout the entire recorded history of the world, people have been willing to sacrifice and even die for what they call freedom. Why? These self-sacrificing individuals have sensed the reality that they universally exist, and for the cause of universally living free and helping others to live free, they are willing to make sacrifices in this world, and even give up their lives if necessary. Conversely, a falsehood enslaves any individual who believes it to be real until the false reality is recognized and then disregarded. You perceived an investment opportunity to be incredible. It was a scam, a false reality, and you lost 16 years of savings. The perpetrator disappeared with no trace of 77
the money. Revenge, another false reality, consumed you. After five exhaustive years spending twice the amount of money you lost, you succeed in finding the criminal in a foreign country. After spending another eight years trying to get him extradited so that justice could be served, you finally give up and move on with your life. For 13 years you were enslaved by false realities.
As silence had followed the end of her narrative, Rachel’s eyes moved from Cindee to Brinlee. Cindee kept looking at Rachel. The Rachel she had known for two and a half years bore little to no resemblance to the inspiring example now sitting next to her. How did she make these dramatic realizations? Could it really be as simple as understanding some truth? It makes sense and it doesn’t make sense. Most people most of the time are only concerned with me, me, me. Give me what I want, and give it to me now. Rachel is finding her new life, her freedom through giving to others … I wonder if that’s a universal absolute truth?
Lens 14 Some universal absolute truth is self-evident. Falsehoods are fabricated to hide absolute truth. One of the greatest documents in the history of the world, the Declaration of Independence, includes these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….” This universal absolute truth is self-evident, or in other words, to the honest seeker of truth it is obvious that all humans are created equal; one is not superior or inferior to another in value. False realities, on the other hand, are fabricated to obscure absolute truth. When individuals refuse to acknowledge the obvious and instead perceive and act according to false realities such as, •
Women are inferior
Men are stupid
Skin color differentiates
Religious beliefs in a book make us superior to you
I have the power and the money and you don’t
I hate you
Rachel kept watching Brinlee play on the floor as she continued the conversation with Cindee. “As you’ve been reading the book have you wondered what universal absolute truths really are?” “Yes.” “I’ve discovered in the last few weeks that real freedom is only achieved through giving, not taking. I’ve concluded that this is a universal absolute truth, and it’s given me a purpose to my life. Real living is really about love. The world distorts what true love is by using it to describe lust or to express how badly you want money, or a house, or a car, or clothes. I love this house. I love this car. I love these clothes. True love has nothing to do with things, especially things that prove our selfishness. True love has everything to do with how we view other people. Some people might say we have a limited capacity to give. I think that’s because the giving has some selfish element to it. If we give without any selfish motive, our capacity to give actually increases instead of decreases. Real love fills the emptiness inside of us.” Cindee didn’t feel like she had much experience to know for sure one way or the other, but as difficult as it was to believe, she had a sense that Rachel had discovered a universal absolute truth.
Lens 15 The discovery process is the pursuit of universal absolute truth. 80
Most universal absolute truth is not self-evident; it must be discovered. The closer a personal relative truth aligns with universal absolute truth, personal perception and opinion become less relative. Thus, the discovery process is realizing new personal relative truths of lesser relativity, until, if it can be achieved during this lifetime, universal absolute truth is ultimately discovered. Both science and religion pursue the discovery of universal absolute truth. Focusing solely on one to the exclusion of the other limits the success of the discovery process. The discovery process unleashes a power which naturally facilitates the alignment of individual decision-making with truths of lesser relativity until some decisions may become perfectly aligned with universal absolute truth. Thus, the discovery process can increase the universal freedom of those who embrace it.
Brinlee was tired of playing with her toys and stood up to wander. As she left the room unnoticed, Cindee questioned Rachel, “I think I understand the value of what you’ve discovered, but aren’t you afraid to face the reality of not having any money?” Rachel pondered the question for a long minute. Cindee patiently waited. “Yes, I do have fear, but I’d rather face the truth than run and hide from it. In the last few weeks, I realized that for most of my life I’ve been hiding from real reality by trying to live in a dream world. If I want to be free, I can’t expect other people to take care of me. I need to stop being dependent, like Brinlee, and start becoming independent, like Brinlee wants to be. Somehow as an adult I lost that childlike desire to be independent, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t grown up yet and become an adult. Brinlee relies on you for everything, but even though she’s not capable of taking care of herself, she tries 81
to express her independence; which is why what you want and what she wants are constantly in conflict. You want to control her, and she doesn’t want to be controlled. Your challenge as her mom is not to always control her, but to respect her desire to be independent as you protect her and gradually help her to be responsible with it. No one ever helped me take responsibility for my life, and now that I understand and have accepted this reality, I’m going to learn how to change it for the better. And once I’ve mastered independence, then hopefully someday I’ll meet someone I can trust enough to become interdependent. As for the money, I can’t realize the benefits of the truth if at the same time I’m living a lie.” Cindee wanted to continue the discussion but she suddenly realized Brinlee had disappeared from the room and she needed to find her.
Lens 16 The distortion process is the attempt to hide self-evident and discovered absolute truth through distraction, manipulation and fabrication. Motivated by greed, hate, ego enhancement, physical stimulation, fear, or the desire to control others, individuals will distort and manipulate perceptions of reality, even to the point of fabricating an entirely false reality. •
Latif is the financier of a global terrorist organization.
Susan profits $6 million dollars from insider trading.
Ricardo is the head of a multi-billion dollar drug cartel.
Richard is seeking reelection for his sixth term as a Senator.
The distortion process enslaves both the perpetrators and the victims. A man believes the country he governs should rule the world and rationalizes killing millions of individuals he considers to be inferior. He is intellectually enslaved to false realities that drive his obsession to control others, which fanatical pursuit keeps him enslaved until his relative existence ends through natural or unnatural causes. Pursuing any agenda other than the discovery of absolute truth immediately results in the distortion process. Thus, it is difficult to always be singularly focused on the discovery of truth; selfish motivations incessantly distract us. •
A well-intentioned pastor becomes enamored with his gift of speech and begins to speak to impress and not to teach the truth.
A well-intentioned leader of a minority group after realizing economic benefit and social status seeks power from his followers instead of encouraging them to pursue the discovery process.
A well-intentioned politician who initially wants to serve the people’s best interests becomes selfserving while in office.
No one is exempt from this reality of reversal, the sudden shift from discovery to distortion, which is why constant vigilance and commitment to the discovery of truth is required to achieve true freedom. The distortion process and its negative consequences are avoided by the degree to which we remain focused on the discovery process. Unfortunately, because of distortion created by others, the discovery process does not necessarily protect or insulate an individual from having to deal with unpleasant realities.
Cindee found Brinlee in the guest bathroom. The vanity door was open and she was sitting on the floor with some hand lotion between her legs while she pressed down on the pump top, obviously not concerned that lotion was covering her leg and the floor. When she saw Cindee appear in the doorway, she grabbed the bottle with both hands and held it close to her chest. As Cindee carefully pried the slippery lotion bottle out of her hands Brinlee futilely resisted and screamed, â€œMine! Mine!â€? It took a few minutes for Cindee to clean up the mess, and when she returned to Rachel, carrying a squirming crying Brinlee under her arm, she had forgotten exactly where their conversation had been interrupted. Rachel put down the magazine she was reading, and, getting up from the couch, offered to take Brinlee. Brinlee liked Rachel, and she stopped crying since the transfer represented an escape from the person trying to control her; besides, she had no reason not to trust her. Rachel recommended they entertain Brinlee with some food, so they all headed to the kitchen.
Lens 17 The discovery process builds trust. The distortion process destroys trust. Trust is synonymous with truth and freedom. Unfortunately, by nature, we usually apply trust in extremes; we give absolute trust when it is not deserved, which is why we are so easily deceived and enslaved, or we absolutely distrust which is why we experience constant fear and missed opportunities. If an individual gives and withdraws trust relative to the degree of discovery and distortion manifest by others, freedom may be maximized and unnecessary enslavement may be avoided.
Wednesday morning, Vanessa sat in Yuri’s office waiting for the first green hat to arrive. She had chosen Eric to come in as the lead rat, because based on the sketchy information she had gathered, he was one of the more likely to open up and talk. He, uniquely, had four daughters ranging in ages from five to sixteen, and was still married to their mother. A guy with all those girls at home would most likely disagree with what is going on in the field. When Eric appeared in the doorway, Vanessa ignored him as she pretended to be intently working on the computer; she was actually reading the news on the Internet. Yuri will get him seated. Intimidating Eric puts me in the driver’s seat. If Vanessa would have invited him in and watched him sit down, she would have seen the body language that said, “I don’t want to be here.” Instead, she waited a long fifteen seconds after her peripheral vision had confirmed he was sitting down. Then she leaned back in the executive chair as she made eye contact and smoothly fabricated, “Eric, I’m a consultant, and the company has asked that I randomly interview new employees to understand what your experience has been thus far.” Yuri disappeared as he shut the door, and they were now alone in the office. Fresh meat. Soften him up before going for the jugular. “Have you ever worked in the oil field before?” Vanessa had reviewed his file and knew the answer. Eric tested the situation. Whoever this lady is she’s a fake. Something’s up. We’re supposed to be out in the field. Why was I really told to come in here? That whole bit about my social security card I faxed to them weeks ago not being very legible couldn’t have been the reason. If it was, why do I have to meet with this “consultant?” I may not be able to get away with not answering her, but I can at least test her to see how long it takes to get under her skin. When she finally looked like she might respond to his silence Eric answered with a lie, “Yes.” Three letters in one small word and Vanessa knew the soft approach was over. He was playing hardball, but she could throw the ball harder. “Tell me what you know about Gavin?” 85
The question and her sudden shift in tone confirmed to Eric what he had suspected. He had no idea what truth she was looking for, and whatever it was, he was going to make sure she didn’t find it. “Is he one of the supervisors?” he answered as ignorantly as he could. Everybody new on the crew knew Gavin; it was impossible not to. Vanessa ignored the attempt to divert her fact-finding. “How has he treated you?” Images and memories flashed through Eric’s mind that he wished he could erase: The morning he had bent over to tie his boot and Gavin had come up behind him as if he was a dog in heat. Gavin leading the charge to gang tackle Sebastian, and while laughing out loud they pinned him to the ground and took turns mimicking sexual acts. The day Ricky was celebrating his two-year anniversary with the company and after several crew members had duct taped him to the front of a semi-truck, everyone laughed while Gavin…. Eric stopped the naturally repulsive images from replaying in his mind, and when his mind was clear, he began to concentrate on how he was going to respond to the question. He hated the horseplay that went on in the field and wished he didn’t have to wonder and fear when something he had seen done to someone else was going to happen to him. I can’t cross the line and tell her what I know. That’s part of the culture. If you want to keep your job, you keep your mouth shut. But maybe some of the other new guys will talk and then I’ll be okay? I can’t take that chance. It’s too risky. I’ve got to keep this job. Jennifer would kill me if I lost it. We’re just starting to make a little progress on paying off the debt we went into while I was unemployed. “He’s treated me fine.” “Has he ever touched you?” “Like shaking my hand?” “In an aggressive way or a sexual way?” “No.” “What about Kenny?” “He’s a good crew leader and a really hard worker.” “Has he ever hit you in the groin?” “Of course not.” Eric was wondering if his lies were going to come back to haunt him. He couldn’t tell the truth, and now he was concerned he couldn’t get away with the lies. “What about Carlos?” 86
“He’s a funny guy.” “Funny in what way?” “Jokes.” “Crude jokes?” “No.” Vanessa resolved herself to the fact that she wasn’t going to get anything from Eric, but out of protocol she asked the last question. “What about Brock?” “He’s mostly quiet and does his job.” At least one of my answers was truthful. Eric wasn’t sure how to respond to the mystery lady’s attention back on the computer screen and so he waited until she flippantly said without looking at him, “You can go.” Eric left the office with his nerves rattled. Vanessa reconsidered her approach as she mentally prepared for the arrival of the next greenie. Hopefully it’s going to be a real rat. She was from corporate, and like most large corporations, the truth needed to be manipulated within certain boundaries in order to meet fiscal objectives; not to mention the importance of distorting the truth for the purpose of self preservation. Intimidation is not going to work out here. Besides, I can’t disclose the fact that I’m from corporate and so what’s the point of intimidation? Manipulate the truth to get the truth, yes, but I better go with the warm, fuzzy, I’m-your-friend approach. By mid afternoon, Vanessa was in shock. Her wildest imagination could not have contrived what she had learned about the commonly accepted behaviors by crew members. From an investigative perspective, her modified approach had been very productive as she had been able to corroborate many details. On a related subject, she had asked Jose if he thought some of the guys were openly gay and his answer was not what she had expected. “When I first came to the crew they told me that ‘so long as you don’t make eye contact and you keep your socks on it’s not gay.’ Maybe some of the guys are and maybe they aren’t. Either way, I think it’s mostly about sex, and sex is sex.” Thai, the only Asian on the crew, had been very quiet until she had asked him about all the “hitting people in the groin.” Like everyone else, he had been hit multiple times. “It’s a game, and everybody laughs a lot, but 87
sometimes it’s not funny at all. It hurts. One day Carlos motioned to me that he wanted to ask me a question. The noise is really loud on the job site, so we wear headsets. To hear what someone says you have to lift one side of the headset away from your ear and lean in close to their mouth. Carlos asked me some question and then before I knew it he whacked me. It hurt for hours.” Some of Vanessa’s conclusions were easy. Gavin was an out-of-control animal and had to go. For the most part Kenny wasn’t bad. It didn’t matter. He was in charge and therefore had to take the full hit of responsibility. It wasn’t really fair, but then again, what is? Carlos was questionable. She would have to discuss him with her superiors, which would probably end up in a severe demotion and cut in pay. No one could remember Brock ever participating in any of the horseplay. Truthfully, she wondered if the whole crew should be let go. Some were probably innocent, but the legal risk and liability of the culture she had uncovered could cripple the company. On the other hand, she had a nagging suspicion this behavior was prevalent company wide. Isolate a bunch of guys in a rough working environment and they’ll act like animals.
…Brock needed another glass of water and so he made a second trip to the kitchen. His mind was racing as if he was on the thrill ride of his life. He subconsciously acknowledged that too many questions and too many new insights were appearing and disappearing so quickly that he wouldn’t be able to retain most of them in his memory. It didn’t matter. As he turned the page he knew he would make a lot of time in the coming days to revisit the workbook…
Lens 18 Humans act like animals unless they seek universal absolute truth through the discovery process. Approximately ninety-nine percent of human DNA is exactly the same as the chimpanzee. Unless we seek absolute truth and freedom, however, we demonstrate similar behaviors to that of the chimp and other animals of even lesser intelligence. Without the determination to be more intelligent than animals: We partially or completely take our clothes off in public, we place no restraint on what we eat, we are territorial, we embrace addictive behaviors, we entertain acts of sexual relations in public on movie and TV screens, we act on nature’s heat with no regard for commitment or loyalty, we let our offspring fend for themselves, we try to be superior to others instead of trying to be better than our own nature, our language includes expletives that describe the base realities of the animal kingdom, we gather in large crowds and cheer as two 89
“humans” get in a cage and violently try to render each other unconscious, we try to control and enslave others, we seek the destruction and death of others, and we wander aimlessly through our current existence without real meaning or purpose. The seemingly insignificant one percent difference between humans and animals is the intellectual ability to seek freedom by aligning personal relative truth and variable absolute reality with universal absolute truth.
…intellectually, Brock felt like he had been hit across the forehead with a two by four. Out in the field, the behaviors he had observed for so many years had seemed normal and, for the most part, not a big deal. But sitting in his home with the book on his lap, and Cindee, Dustin and Brinlee upstairs, the words and actions of his work associates were suddenly disturbing and appalling. It wasn’t just Gavin that should have been fired. It was as if a light had turned on, and looking through a new lens, the light had exposed a darkness he had grown accustomed to. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t really participated; he had accepted it as a reality and had done nothing to encourage something better. His mind wandered. What is it about sex that obsesses everyone? It’s like . . . . in the field, the glasses the guys use to see and interpret everything are sex glasses. Everything is a sex object. With this kind of a lens, decency and civility just don’t exist, which is kinda weird, because the guys do bond together and for the most part watch out for each other, even as they laugh and sexually abuse each other. I guess we are all animals. . . . we just don’t have to act like it. . . . . I wonder . . . . since sex creates so many problems, what is the real purpose of sex? After turning the page and reading Lens 19 several times, he had completely shifted gears. Travis needs to read this, and I need to ask him a lot of questions. Little did he know as he turned the next page that he would shift gears again, and be blindsided…
Lens 20 The existence of at least one supremely intelligent Organizer is a self-evident universal absolute truth. Matter is neither created nor destroyed; it simply changes from one form to another. If we watch a log burn to ash, we think the log has been destroyed. But if we place the burning log in a sealed container we discover that the total quantity of matter hasnâ€™t changed, it merely transformed from wood and oxygen to ashes, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Science refers to this universal truth as the â€œlaw of conservation of mass.â€? As matter changes from one form to another, it is either organized or disorganized. If a large jar is filled halfway with fine white sand, and then the rest of the way with marbles, the sand is organized together and the marbles are organized together. If the jar is shaken and turned upside down numerous times, the sand and the marbles will become disorganized. The jar could be reorganized by dumping everything out, picking the marbles out of the sand, putting all of the sand back in the jar, and then putting all of the marbles back in the jar on top of the sand. But what if fine red sand is used instead of marbles? It would take years of painstaking work to reorganize the sand. Considering all of the complicated matter in just one human body, being capable of organizing this matter along with all of the matter in our world and the universe is incomprehensible to our finite minds. As intelligent as we are, an infinitely greater Intelligence that organized all of this matter has to exist. The evidence is overwhelming.
Curiously, we encounter thousands of human-organized objects everyday; houses, cars, planes, computers, skyscrapers, cell phones, roads, bridges, clothes, a meal at a restaurant…. Rarely do we know the people who organized the matter used to create these objects. We don’t know their names or anything about them, and yet we rarely if ever question whether or not these intelligent people exist. In like manner, we have no logical reason to question the existence of a supremely intelligent Organizer of our universe, this world, and us. This universal absolute truth is self-evident. Any other conclusion is the distortion process. …maybe for someone else it would have been a train wreck, but for Brock, deep down in his consciousness, it was the exact reconciliation he had been searching for. Religion can be logical, just like science can be logical!! Neither one has all the answers to every question that can be asked. They both pursue the answers. But they need to be used together. One without the other is limiting. Together they can enhance the discovery process. I guess I may be spending some time with Dustin at church, if I can convince him to go. Brock eagerly turned the page, hoping there might be some additional discoveries…
Lens 21 The existence of a destroyer is a self-evident reality. We live in a world of opposites. The opposite of an Organizer is a Disorganizer. However, a thorough search of dictionaries and thesauruses reveals an apparent void in the English vocabulary: The word organizer has no antonym. The word disorganizer is rarely defined and also has no antonym. A destroyer, one who disorganizes what has already been organized, is the opposite of an Organizer. 92
The evidence of a destructive force in our world is overwhelming. This destroyer encourages all falsehoods, is the source of all enslavement, and absolutely cannot be trusted. This destroyer fabricates false realities to appear like real realities, and then hopes that we take ownership of these false perceptions. If we do, we usually spread the falsehood with the hope that we will realize some selfish gain, whether it be for control, greed, hate, ego enhancement or physical stimulation:
We treat others as inferior or superior to ourselves.
We endeavor to control and enslave other people.
As we realize “success” by enslaving others through the perpetration of falsehoods, we may enjoy momentary spoils and triumph, but we ourselves become enslaved to the passions that drive us to take freedom away from others.
Lens 22 Our Organizer knows all truth, is aligned with universal absolute truth, and can be absolutely trusted. Every manmade creation requires an understanding of how to organize all of the raw matter used in each creation. Similarly, in order to organize the universe, this world, and each one of us, our Organizer had to know and be aligned with all universal absolute truth that governs all matter. Alignment with universal absolute truth evokes absolute trust, and therefore our Organizer can be absolutely trusted. If we can communicate with our Organizer, this trust can be 93
absolutely confirmed, and we can discover “new” universal absolute truth.
Lens 23 Light reveals truth; therefore, truth is light. A falsehood hides truth; therefore, a falsehood is darkness.
Without light, we wouldn’t be able to see, and without seeing, we wouldn’t be able to know reality. The actress is on the stage but you don’t know it because the light is not shining on her. Light reveals what is not real by illuminating what is real; therefore, light is truth. In a pitch black theatre, your friend says “nobody is on the stage.” Immediately a light is turned on, and you both can see that an actress is on the stage. The “success” of the distortion process is defined by how well it hides truth. Ironically, for someone to believe a falsehood, the lie needs to appear as if it is really light, or truth. Because a falsehood has no light of its own, it borrows the minimum amount of real light needed to accomplish its destructive purpose. But if enough true light prevails, then the falsehood is exposed for what it really is: darkness.
…Brock carefully read Lens 24 and closed the book. His fatigued mind was racing again as he tried to formulate a plan. He needed to take the book with him to work, but he couldn’t violate Cindee’s privacy. As much as he wanted to, while reading he had been careful not to view anything she had written. Tomorrow he would buy his own copy, later in the morning when the bookstore opened. In the meantime he needed Cindee’s copy. But sometime 94
tomorrow she’s going to look for it in the drawer. He thought of several different answers he could give her when she asked him where it was, but decided that they were all lies and he wasn’t going to go there. During a relatively brief moment in time, he had gained a dramatic appreciation for the importance of truth, and he was feeling newly committed to it. A new thought resolved his dilemma. Cindee’s not going to suspect it was me that took the book. It’ll freak her out when she discovers it missing, but with everything that happened today she won’t believe that it was me, and if by some chance she does then she’ll be too afraid to confront me on it. Resolved, he slowly opened the front door, walked through the refreshing spring night air to the driveway, and placed the book under the seat of his truck. As he quietly entered their dark room he could hear Cindee softly breathing. I did it. I discovered where her changed behavior came from and I didn’t get caught.
The street he was walking down was pitch black and it felt deserted. He reached in the back pocket of his pants. As his hand went down further and further into the pocket it seemed like he was trying to find an object in the bottom of a large burlap sack hanging on a wall. His hand finally touched something long and cold and, as he pulled it out of his pocket, he realized it was a flashlight. He turned it on. As the light cut through the darkness he immediately recognized that this was an old western town just like in the movies. He wasn’t alone. He slowly moved the beam of light from one side of the street to the other, catching glimpses of the town people peering out from their hiding places, obviously wanting to know what was out in the street, but too afraid to come out to where the light was. The words he was trying to say to them were gradually forming in his mouth but they sounded like a recording played at half speed. He so badly wanted to assure them that everything was okay and that they had nothing to fear. “Coommme oouuuut aaaff yoouuuur hiiiiddinng.” He strained his ears to hear and thought he understand the unison reply. “Yoouuu doooonnn’t unnndurrrstaaannd. Heeee’s therrrre.” What’s there? Who’s there? He instinctively moved his hand to the left side of his waist and was relieved to feel his six-shooter right where it was supposed to be. He would protect the people. He would somehow make it safe for them to come out into the street. The sound of the old clock striking high noon began softly and slowly, and then sped up to normal speed and volume as it gradually morphed into an obnoxious electronic… Brock reached over and turned off his alarm. He got out of bed and without any hesitation headed for the bathroom. It must have been out of habit and not intent, because after he turned on the light, he didn’t realize he left the door open; the thought of Cindee never crossed his mind.
Cindee rolled over so that her back was to the light coming from the bathroom. Her eyes were open and her mind was engaged in an active debate. He’s rude. That’s relative. Hide under the covers. Don’t hide, and do something different for a change. Like what? Try anything. I can’t go back to sleep. Then get up. And do what? Anything. I don’t want to get up. Then stay in bed…and feel sorry for yourself. A new thought materialized out of thin air and it made her feel liberated and apprehensive all at the same time. Since I can’t sleep anyways until the light is turned off and he’s gone, I might as well join him in the bathroom. That’s CRAZY… but then again, it does make some sense. The door is open. If it was shut and locked I’d be invading his privacy to get the screwdriver. But it’s not shut and it’s not locked. In a strange sort of way it’s kind of like he left it open inviting me to come in. Okay, that’s probably not true, but I could pretend it is. Without giving it any more thought Cindee got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. She was within a few feet of the doorway when she hesitated. This is too weird. What am I going to say? What am I going to do? What is he going to say? What is he going to do? When she appeared in the doorway and greeted him with a drowsy “Good morning,” he was standing in front of his vanity, head tilted back, in the process of gargling mouthwash. The sound of her voice and the close proximity from which it came startled him so severely he jolted forward as if someone had given his shoulders a hard push. As he did the sudden closing of his lips to keep the mouthwash contained was countered by an instantaneous expansion and contraction of his cheeks which caused the green liquid to literally erupt out of his mouth all over the mirror, sink and counter. Time stood awkwardly still as Cindee analyzed the scene in front of her. Finally, she couldn’t suppress it any longer and some of the laughter building up inside of her escaped. She quickly suppressed it again. Brock was still leaning over with his hands on the counter, trying to adjust to the shock he had just experienced, when he heard the short and muffled laugh. His adjustment quickly resolved itself and he burst out laughing. His laughter released Cindee’s laughter, and back and forth their laughter played out like a ping pong ball, until Cindee suddenly held up her index finger and, quieting her laugh, momentarily disappeared. Brock’s laughter trailed off as Cindee was shutting the door to their bedroom so that they wouldn’t wake Dustin
and Brinlee. When she returned to view and this time passed through the doorway, Brock inquired, “What are you doing up?” “I couldn’t sleep, so I figured I might as well get up.” “Not that I object,” Brock responded as he surveyed the mess in front of him, “but next time you might want to give me some notice.” The contagious laughter started all over again. Cindee couldn’t remember when she had laughed so long and so hard. It was therapeutic; a moment of bonding that connected them in a liberating kind of way. For a fleeting millisecond she even felt the urge to touch him, but that was a different door to be considered later.
Brock closed the door to his truck, dialed Travis’ cell phone, and started backing out of the driveway. I hope I catch him. On the last ring before going to voicemail Travis answered his phone. Brock wasn’t sure if it was really Travis or his voicemail greeting when he heard “Wuzup?” But two seconds later when he didn’t hear “leave a message,” he knew it wasn’t voicemail. “Travis, I’ve got a favor to ask.” “Fire away.” “Will you call in sick?” “What?” “I’m going to call in sick, too.” “Why? You’ve only taken one sick day in sixteen years. Your record is common knowledge around the camp.” “Yeah, that was the day Dustin was born.” I should have taken the day off when Brinlee was born but one of Cindee’s friends was all over that situation. I guess at the time I figured I would have just been getting in the way of all that female stuff. “Anyway,” Brock continued, “I need your help to sort through some thoughts rolling around in my head.” “Okay. Let me get this straight. You didn’t even take the day off when your daughter was born, and you want me to call in sick so we can talk?” “Yeah. I guess that pretty well sums it up. I’ll buy you breakfast.” “Where?” “Porter’s Café.” “You’re on. See you there.” Cindee resisted the urge and first got dressed and ready for the day. Ever since leaving Rachel’s house the day before, she had wanted to isolate herself and finish the book. Rachel had given her some teasers about the rest of the lenses, but her day had been full of Dustin, Brinlee, Brock, and dinner. It was a strange experience to have Brock in the house.
Now that he was gone and she was ready for the time when Dustin needed to be woken up, she opened the bottom drawer of her vanity. It’s gone?? She felt the bottom of the drawer again. Where did it go? Did I put it somewhere else? She took every towel out of the drawer to convince herself that it really wasn’t there. This is freaky. I know I put it back. Maybe I didn’t? I know I did. Her disappointment at not being able to just sit down and read was intertwined with her bewilderment. She didn’t know what to do. All she wanted to do was sit down and read. The next thought that crossed her mind was preposterous. Brock took it? That’s impossible. He did see it yesterday morning on the counter, stupid me, but what would cause him to go looking for it? And if he did go looking for it, why would he think to look in my bathroom drawer? It could have been anywhere. Even if he did want to find it that bad it’s not a logical hiding place. Did he want to find it that bad? No way. If he did want to find it that bad, why? Cindee’s disappointment was turning into anger. As illogical as it might be that Brock took it, she couldn’t come up with another explanation that had any element of plausibility. I need to confront him. The accusatory anger seemed so contradictory to the positive moment they had shared twenty minutes ago. She wrestled with herself, trying to consider all the different options of how to approach Brock, or not to approach him at all. She finally decided that she was going to call him, and she had narrowed her opening line down to two options, but as she dialed his number she wasn’t sure which one she was going to use. When Brock arrived, Travis was already seated at the most isolated table in the dining room. As he walked over to sit down, Travis couldn’t help but notice the book he was carrying in his hand. Brock sat down, set the book on the table face up, and as he slid it across to where Travis’ breakfast plate would eventually be placed, he asked, “You ready to order?” “In a minute. What’s this?” “A short book. We’ve got all day to talk about it.” If the book was about politics the prospect of talking all day was very appealing to Travis. However, the title The World’s Greatest Spectacle sounded rather mysterious and he hoped he wasn’t going to be trapped for more than an hour or two. “Let’s order some food.” 100
Brock motioned to the waitress. She took their order, and Travis began to read. “Why are pieces of paper taped onto some of the pages?” Travis inquired. “I put them there,” Brock explained. “It was the only way I could bring the book with me and have you read it. Those pieces of paper are covering up my wife’s personal thoughts.” Silently, Travis’s level of trust in Brock increased. When their food arrived, Travis kept the book in front of him and without raising his eyes from the pages took the plate out of the waitresses hand, said thank you, and set it to the side of the book. He took a bite every time he flipped a page. Brock ate his own food while he rehearsed the questions he wanted to ask. During a particularly good bite of waffle, strawberries and whip cream, he was mildly startled by the ringing of his cell phone. After fishing the phone out of his pocket and looking at the caller ID, he was definitely startled. Five thirty in the morning and Cindee’s calling me? Oh no, she must have discovered the missing book. I really didn’t think this call was going to happen. He hesitated before answering. What am I hiding from, the truth? He answered the call. “Hello?” There was a brief pause before he heard Cindee’s tentative voice, “I’m not really sure how to ask this, and you might think I’m crazy, but by any chance did you find a book in the bottom drawer of my vanity?” Cat's out of the bag. Don’t run from the truth. Just deal with it. “You might think I’m crazy. I went looking for it last night until I found it. I don’t expect you to believe me, but I promise you, last night as I read the book I didn’t read anything you wrote.” His answer was long coming from him, but short by any other standard. To Cindee, it was as if he had just narrated the entire plot of a mini novel. He went looking for it last night? He found it and took it? He read it but he didn’t read what I wrote? How? He respected my privacy? Why? “Where are you?” Cindee asked, bewildered. “Porter’s Café.” He’s not at work? Is he telling me the truth? Why isn’t he at work? Is he with someone? Is he sharing the book with someone? Is someone I don’t even know reading 101
what I wrote? Why didn’t he just tell me he wanted to read the book? Does he have the book with him? Did he get fired and not tell me? Did he lie to me yesterday? How did I not hear him sneak around the house looking for the book last night? When am I going to get the book back so I can finish it? Cindee controlled herself and only asked one question as she seriously doubted his answer would be what she wanted it to be. “Are you there alone?” Uh oh. I hope she believes me or this could get ugly really fast. “Okay, here’s the deal….” Cindee’s heart sank. “Last night I cut out pieces of paper and lightly taped them in the book over everything you had written down so far. I have this friend at work who….uhh, I assume you haven’t finished reading the book?” Panic was setting in as Cindee quickly said, “No.” “At the end of the book there’s a topic I’ve been wrestling with in my mind for a long time. This friend, his name is Travis, knows a lot about the subject and I was anxious to get with him this morning so we could talk about it. I needed the book, but I also couldn’t violate your privacy, so I covered up what you wrote.” The ensuing silence that existed in the space between the two cell phones was screaming in Brock’s ear as his heart pounded against his chest. The seconds seemed like minutes, and the minute seemed like an hour. Finally, a soft sound filled the empty space between the phones. It was Cindee’s voice. “You really did cover up my writing?” The relief in Brock’s voice was palpable. “Yes.” The relief in Cindee’s voice was palpable. “I guess you can explain everything else later. I’m just glad to know where the book is.” “Sorry I didn’t tell you about it this morning.” They both hung up the call and Cindee sat in the rocking chair in their bedroom looking at the cell phone in amazement. The cell phone wasn’t amazing; it was the sound that it had just transmitted. Ending a short but surreal conversation, Brock had spoken the word “sorry” to her for the first time in the seventeen years she had known him, and even more miraculous, it had seemed genuine.
Brock patiently watched Travis study each page of the book, and finally as he finished reading Lens 13 and was turning the page Brock interrupted and asked, “What do you think?” Travis looked up from the book for the first time, and, as he made eye contact with Brock, carefully considered the question. Can I trust Brock? Why is he asking? I’ve never shared these thoughts with anyone except at home. “Our society has become so twisted and distorted that a lie is politically correct and the truth is not politically correct. In fact, the two very words ‘politically correct’ are a false reality because they are used to try to silence someone else, even if they are accurately describing reality. It may not seem like it, but as abhorrent as physical and economic slavery can be, the worst kind of slavery is when someone else tries to control your mind, and succeeds. Powerful people are trying to control what we think and believe by distorting the truth. As truth is silenced and not valued, freedom is lost.” Travis grinned as he added, “Are you sure you want to know what I think?” Brock returned the grin as he replied, “Absolutely... and I absolutely won’t interrupt you again until you get to Lens 19.” Travis slowly read the next five lenses before turning the page to…
Lens 19 Truth is evaluated either on a continuum or a balance scale. When evaluating truth on a continuum, one opposite extreme is right and the other opposite extreme is wrong. Universal absolute truth is absolutely right, and the opposite, a falsehood, is absolutely wrong. •
Honest versus dishonest.
Love versus hate.
Light versus darkness.
Freedom versus enslavement. 103
In between right and wrong is maybe right and maybe wrong, or personal relative truth. “Aren’t you going to interrupt?” Travis asked before Brock could say anything. “I guess I can’t now. Tell me your thoughts.” “It’s pretty simple. These two words, ‘freedom’ and ‘enslavement,’ are not used enough in our political and social dialogue. And yet everything we think, say or do is directly linked to one or the other. It’s a great distortion of our society to become so distracted with opposites that are both wrong, that we lose focus on what’s really important.” Brock scratched an itch on the back of his head and didn’t know what else to say except for, “Since I don’t think you finished reading the lens, you might as well go ahead and finish.” Travis acted on Brock’s suggestion… When truth is evaluated on a balance scale, the two ends of the horizontal lever represent equally wrong opposite extremes, and truth is the fulcrum in the center. In order to understand some opposites, truth must be evaluated on a balance scale. The labels liberal and conservative are opposites. Basic dictionary definitions describe a liberal as open-minded and a conservative as close-minded. Using these definitions, an extreme liberal would be so open-minded that they would embrace any new idea that came along simply because it was new, with no comparison to previous ideas. An extreme conservative would be so close-minded that they would refuse to even listen to any new ideas, because to them nothing could be better than what they already have. The extreme liberal represents reckless and undisciplined “progress.” The extreme conservative represents no progress. By evaluating these extremes on a continuum we unproductively debate which one is right and which one 104
is wrong. Some say left is right and some say right is right. The truth is both are wrong. When placed on a balance scale, truth is the fulcrum in the center of the horizontal lever. The fulcrum of truth reveals that open-minded to freedom and close-minded to enslavement is right. It also reveals that open-minded to enslavement and close-minded to freedom is wrong. Truth balances the two opposites by clarifying when it is right to be open-minded and when it is right to be close-minded. By placing the concepts liberal and conservative on a balance scale instead of a continuum, any individuals committed to the discovery process can have a synergistic exploration of absolute truth and freedom. But if explorative discussion becomes debate or argument, which is the distortion process, pressure is placed on the fulcrum of truth to be moved to the left or right of center, which causes the horizontal lever to become unbalanced and enslavement to prevail. Debate, in rare instances, may slowly and eventually lead to the fulcrum of truth finding the center of the horizontal lever, but the surest and quickest way to find truth and freedom is thru mutual, undistorted commitments to the discovery process. The Founding Fathers of the United States of America explored truth on a balance scale when they met to create a new Constitution. On one extreme of the horizontal lever was tyranny. On the other extreme of the horizontal lever was anarchy. Using many valuable lessons from history to find the balance between these two enslaving extremes, the resulting Constitution was proven to be the greatest representation to date of the fulcrum of truth and freedom. The Founding Fathers created the United States, not the Divided States of America, and they hoped that these states would always stay united in the quest for truth and freedom. 105
…Travis was not trapped; he was going to enjoy the day as long as Brock wanted to keep the conversation alive. At home, Travis felt fortunate that he could openly share and explore his thoughts with his wife, but he had found no such opportunity elsewhere, until now. “Well?” Brock probed. “I love it. But tell me why you really wanted me to read this, and call in sick?” The question was unexpected, and Brock scrambled quickly to find an answer that would make sense to Travis. “I listen a lot to the radio, and I read the news on the internet. Sometimes I watch news commentary on TV, but nothing makes any sense when it comes to politics. I’m fascinated by it but it drives me crazy, because when you step away from it for a second, it just sounds like a bunch of people yelling and screaming at each other. No real answers to any real questions seem to exist. As I finished reading the book last night, for the first time I sensed that maybe some real answers to all of our problems do exist. I was hoping you could help me understand what’s going on at a deeper level. Whenever we talk politics at the bar or on the job, you always seem to be holding back, even though you’re totally into the conversation.” “You’re right,” Travis readily admitted, “but before we get too far into this, I need to educate you on something so basic it’s incredible how few people understand it.” “I’m all ears.” “Our Founding Fathers did not create a democracy. They feared a democracy, because as they studied history, they knew that every democracy eventually leads to tyranny. The reason why this happens is a fascinating study into the nature of humans, but I’ll simplify it to this: The collective voice of the people can be easily swayed by those seeking power and privilege until the people’s voice has been replaced by tyranny’s voice.” “The word democracy,” he continued, “is really a congenial word for anarchy, and tyrants use the chaos that anarchy creates to come in and ‘save the day.’ The fact that we call ourselves a democracy is a destructive distortion of the truth and it facilitates our march to enslavement.” 106
“So if we aren’t a democracy, what are we?” “A Republic.” “And that is…?” “The best balance the Founding Fathers could create between tyranny and anarchy.” “Then give me Republic 101.” “The people elect representatives. The representatives are not supposed to follow the voice of the people, but instead their duty and obligation is to act on what they understand from the Constitution to be in the best interest of the people, which is always the equal protection of inalienable rights. Special favors or privileges should never be granted to anyone, regardless of who they are.” “That’s all the government does,” Brock interrupted, “is grant special favors and privileges to one group of people or another.” “Yes they do, and the Constitution was created to minimize self-interest so that power did not become isolated to one individual or a small group of individuals. Obviously, these checks and balances have been seriously eroded.” “So self-interest destroys freedom?” “Absolutely. Self-interest always applies pressure on a republic to move it closer to anarchy or tyranny. Public interest is the only virtue that can preserve a republic, if the citizens of a country are fortunate enough to have one.” “Wow,” Brock admitted as he slightly shook his head in disbelief, “and to think I’ve lived for thirty-six years in this country and never understood something so basic and important.” “You’ve got a lot of company. It should be taught in every school, reinforced by our elected representatives and the media, and be required understanding for any immigrant to receive citizenship. But it’s not. In today’s environment, it’s not politically correct.” “So tell me about this idea in the book about liberals versus conservatives.” “What the lens is explaining is that open-mindedness can be good and bad, just like close-mindedness can be good and bad. It depends on what you’re evaluating. Extreme liberals have one set of reasons why they want to control other people, and extreme conservatives have a different set of reasons why they want to control other people. We’ve become so distracted with these 107
two opposite labels and ideologies that it keeps us from focusing our discussion on what’s really important: truth, freedom, and enslavement.” “How did we become so distracted?” “Political parties.” “Really? Haven’t we always had political parties?” “Technically no, but I’ll get to that later. A few years ago I was doing some research on George Washington and I became interested in his farewell address to the nation. If anyone deserved the title “The Father of Our Nation,” it had to be him, and I was curious what his concluding thoughts would be to present and future citizens. You’re not going to believe this, but he strongly argued against the creation of political parties.” “He did?” “His words were undeniably clear.” “What did he say?” “I can’t do them justice. If you want we can go over to my house and I can dig them up?” “We’re outta here.” They both jumped into Brock’s truck, figuring they would return to retrieve Travis’ car later. When they pulled up to the house, Travis said, “I’m realizing it’s still kind of early and the kids won’t be up. Let me grab it and I’ll be right back.” A few minutes later Travis reappeared out the front door of his house and headed back to the truck. As he climbed inside he asked Brock where he wanted to go. “I’ve got a favorite spot and it’ll be perfect for watching the sunrise.” No beer drinking today. That’s different; it doesn’t seem to matter. As Brock parked the truck, daylight was beginning to break through the darkness of the night, and he randomly commented to Travis, “You know, darkness really is just the absence of light. If light appears, darkness has no other choice but to disappear, and the only way for darkness to return is to cover the light or get rid of it altogether.” “That’s pretty deep,” Travis chided. “I didn’t know you were such a philosopher.” 108
“Now you know….” Brock played along before pausing and then returning to their previous discovery process. “Before you read to me what George Washington had to say, weren’t there political parties from the very beginning?” “Not during the first eight years that he was in office as President.” “But I would have guessed that political parties were part of the Constitution.” “Have you ever read the Constitution?” “No.” “Most people haven’t, including our elected representatives. Political parties have always been common in governments throughout the history of the world, but the Constitution actually fulfills the purpose of its design better without political parties. If you want, we can come back to this after I read what President Washington wrote.” “Sounds good.” “One more thing. Back then the vocabulary and mastery of the English language by the common man such as a farmer was far superior to today. I’m just warning you. To understand what was written back then you have to think.” “I’ve been warned.” “Here goes…. ‘I have already intimated to you the danger of parties
in the state…. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effect of the spirit of party generally.’” “What does baneful mean?” “Destructive, deadly, or poisonous.” “And the spirit of party is talking about political parties?” “Yep.”
“’This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.’” “I got lost on that last part.” 109
“Rankness means it stinks. What I think he’s saying is that this party spirit exists in all types of governments, but in those governments where the people get to vote and express their voice, political parties stink the most.” “That makes sense.” So political parties are kind of like what Brinlee did in her diaper yesterday.
“’The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism…’” “Hold on,” Brock interrupted. “I think there were about five new words I didn’t understand.” “No problem. Let’s walk through it. ‘The alternate domination’ means sometimes one party has more power and sometimes another party has more power. It alternates back and forth.” “Go on.” “’Dissension’ means to strongly disagree and fight with each other, so this next part is saying that as the power shifts back and forth between the parties, party members fight and quarrel out of a spirit of revenge. Think about when one party is the minority, and how they act when they finally get a majority. It’s like ‘in your face; it’s payback time now that we’re in power.’” “So this is really the source of all that ‘yelling and screaming’ I referred to earlier?!” Brock interjected. Travis nodded his head and continued, “The last part has three words you probably want defined. ‘Perpetrate’ means to commit, as in commit a crime, ‘enormities’ means hugely heinous or atrocious, and ‘despotism’ means absolute power or control, or tyranny. So in other words, history has demonstrated that this revengeful fight over power between political parties leads to heinous and atrocious crimes against freedom.” “So why didn’t he just say it like you said it?” “Back then people understood this language just as easily as you understood my simplified interpretation. But his language is much richer and deeper in meaning.” “Sorry. You already warned me about that before you started reading.” “No worries.” 110
“’The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.’” “Pretend I didn’t understand any of that, even though I think I did.” “A lot of bad stuff happens as political parties fight back and forth. After a while people get tired of it, and when they do, they look to some leader who has gained more power than everyone else, hoping that he or she will solve all of their problems. But almost always this leader is really only concerned with their personal power and privilege, so the end result is the loss of freedom for everyone.” “I still like the way you say it,” Brock said with a grin. “Fair enough.”
“’…the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.’” “Simply said, we would be smart not to have political parties. I’m going to jump to the bottom line. It’s pretty powerful imagery.”
“’A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.’” “Wow!!” Brock exclaimed. “Talk about describing today’s reality. The flame of party spirit is definitely consuming us.” “Yes it is, and it sounds like you’re starting to understand the language of the past.” Brock grinned. “So what can we do about it?” “That’s simple. We each have to do our individual part and first educate ourselves to the truth. Without understanding the truth, we have no hope.” “But what about the political parties? They’re too powerful, and every time a third party tries to make a difference, it never does.”
“The answer is not a third party. If a third party succeeded in gaining power, it would only become like the other parties. Remember what he said about party spirit?” “So do you have the answer?” “I think I do.” “Well come on then.” “There are three parts to it. The first part I mostly mentioned. A lot of people in this country need to become educated to real history, which means they embrace the discovery process the book talks about. That’s what the Founding Fathers did.” “Okay.” “The second part is a majority of the people need to cast their vote against the party system and not affiliate themselves with any party. In a true republic, the ultimate power comes from the people. Parties steal power from people, but the people can resist and not allow their power to be misused. Taking the power away from the parties would be the same as a revolution; only this kind of revolution doesn’t require bloodshed. Instead, it requires a sacrifice of time and commitment to the discovery process. If enough people sacrifice and commit, a revolution to free ourselves from the party system can be successful.” “You’re not being realistic…you know that could never happen.” “Just like we never should have been able to win the war against England, or create a one-of-a-kind Declaration of Independence, or write a Constitution that has survived for over 200 years and resulted in the greatest degree of freedom known in the history of the world, or innovated in the last century through the discovery process more advances in science and technology than the previous 59 centuries combined? Sorry to disagree, but our past says that a non-violent revolution to get rid of political parties would be easy in comparison. The success of our past is the foundation for the success of our future. All we have to do is rediscover the truth and be willing to deal with it.” “For a minute I was thinking you were crazy,” Brock admitted. “But now that you say it like that, someone would be crazy not to agree.” Travis savored a rare moment to verbalize a thought he had imprisoned in his mind for many years. “The forces in this world distorting the truth often seem to be much more powerful than the influence of honest seekers of truth, 112
which is why the success of the American experiment is really a miracle. I believe another miracle can happen.” The discussion led off onto several different tangents, mostly about current political trivia. Brock hadn’t forgotten about the third part, so when one of the tangents hit a dead end, he reminded Travis. “Before I tell you,” Travis obliged, “I wanted to clarify one thing about part two. Remember what the book said? ‘Humans will act like animals unless they align their actions to universal absolute truth.’ The only way for freedom to exist is for enough people to become better than their own nature by seeking the truth.” “How many is enough to realize a truly free society?” “The best answer I can come up with is one at a time.” “That makes sense. Now what about part three?” “True public servants instead of politicians.” “What does that mean?” “A republic doesn’t survive unless the representatives serve the public interest instead of self-interest. It’s obvious that most of our politicians are driven by self-interest, even if they claim or give the appearance of being a public servant. I have a few ideas on how to do it, but what matters most is that we actually succeed in finding and electing genuine public servants who are committed to the discovery process. There are great men and women in this country far better qualified to serve than our current self-serving politicians, and far less willing to distort and manipulate the truth. And they shouldn’t answer to a political party; they should answer equally to all of the people they serve. Somehow, as a people, we need to identify them and ask them to serve.” “Travis, people want it spelled out. They want specific answers.” “The Founding Fathers didn’t have anyone to spell it out for them. They got together in different forums and taverns and discovered truths that led to the greatest degree of freedom known to humankind. I’ll tell you this, if as a society we could replace the word ‘politics’ in our nomenclature with a term like ‘freedom synergy,’ or ‘citizenship,’ we’d be well on our way to a much more enlightened future.” 113
“Sounds like we need a new generation of people committed to the discovery of truth.” “I couldn’t agree more.” Brock spent a few more hours with Travis exploring the political past, present and future. He wanted to stay longer, but in fairness to Cindee, he felt the need to get the book to her. After stopping at the bookstore to each buy personal copies of the book, Brock dropped Travis off at Porter’s Café and headed home. He had barely finished closing the front door behind him when Cindee appeared in the front entry to confirm that he really was home and that he had brought the book. “Here you go,” Brock said as he handed her the book. “Thanks,” she said with a tone of sincerity. “Have you finished it?” Cindy shook her head no. “Go ahead and finish it; I’ll take care of Brinlee.” With an expression of both gratitude and relief which Brock acutely recognized, Cindee turned and headed up the stairs with the book securely in her hand. As she neared the top, she announced over her shoulder, “I just changed her diaper.” Brock smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and went off to find his cute little girl. Cindee eagerly started with Lens 11 and read until she finally turned the page to…
Lens 24 Our sixth sense makes the discovery process possible. We have five senses that help us to know and understand reality; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. As valuable as these five senses can be, our sixth sense is infinitely more valuable even though it is less tangible.
You listen to a very persuasive and convincing investment opportunity, and even though “you can’t put your finger on it,” you have a sense that the reality being described is false.
You consider the existence of an Organizer, and you sense the importance, value, and purpose of your own universal existence.
You have explored 23 lenses and you have a sense that the discovery process of universal absolute truth is much more important in your life.
Our sixth sense is like an old-fashioned radio dial that must be finely tuned on a radio signal. If left or right of the signal, we will hear a little static, a lot of static, or only static. The distortion process moves us left or right and away from the signal until all we can hear is static. Our sixth sense is the light of truth that emanates from our Organizer. As we use this light to embrace the discovery process, the static will diminish until we hear a clear and strong signal of truth and freedom. Your greatest spectacle is your own sixth sense. Fine tune it and use it to discover truth and freedom. And because you share in common this same sixth sense with everyone else in the world, it is… …the World’s Greatest Spectacle.
…Cindee finished reading Lens 24 before slowly and contemplatively setting it down beside her on the bed.
Cindee read the personal goals she had just finished writing in the workbook.
1. Treat everything I hear and think as relative unless I’m certain it’s a universal absolute truth (don’t jump to confusions) 2. Genuinely listen 3. Control myself, not other people 4. Love people, not things 5. Give, don’t take 6. Build a relationship of trust with Dustin 117
7. Once I’ve earned Dustin’s trust, discover what his enslavements are, patiently help him understand the principles of the book in language he can understand and offer to help him free himself from enslavement if he expresses interest (don’t enslave him anymore than he already is) 8. Stop reading romance novels (use my time in the discovery process, not the distortion process) 9. Study the beginning history of America (a little bit at a time, but regularly) 10. Within the next 6 months create a relationship with Brock where he is more attracted to my mind than my body. Satisfied that this list was a good starting point, Cindee slipped the book under her pillow and headed downstairs. When she rounded the corner to the family room, the sight in front of her was picture perfect. Brock was sitting in his recliner, head back, eyes closed. Brinlee was sitting on his lap fast asleep, 118
the back of her head supported by his right arm.
Brinlee’s favorite picture
book had fallen between Brock’s legs and was wedged between his feet. She must have asked him to read the book. He wouldn’t have known how much she likes it. Cindee considered her options for a minute. Eventually she went over and carefully lifted Brinlee out of his lap. Fortunately, Brinlee didn’t wake up from the movement. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Brock did. He looked a little startled and like he was going to say something, but when he realized what Cindee was doing he held onto the thought in order to hopefully preserve the intended success of the transfer. He instinctively followed Cindee upstairs as she put Brinlee in her crib and quietly closed the door to her room. As soon as Brinlee’s door was shut, Cindee explained with hesitation in her voice, “I came downstairs to see if you’d be willing to discuss the book.” Brock was conflicted. On one hand he thought that might be interesting. On the other hand he was afraid of the prospect of any open communication with Cindee; he had been burned too many times. He finally reached a decision when he acknowledged to himself that Cindee was taking the initiative to open a door that made her equally vulnerable. I guess we’re both taking a risk. Maybe because we’ve both read the book it’ll be different. I hope I don’t regret this. Brock didn’t answer verbally, but the slight movement of his head was enough for Cindee to conclude that he was willing to give it a try. They went to their room. Brock laid down on the bed with his hands behind his head as he stared at the ceiling. Cindee chose the rocker and left the book under her pillow. Brock spoke first assuming no responsibility and from appearances might have been talking to the ceiling when he said, “Where do you want to start?” He was slightly curious. Because it seemed to matter, Cindee had previously analyzed several different beginning points. She settled on the most difficult option. “At the beginning...” and then the ensuing pause seemed to suggest to Brock that she was struggling to allow the rest of the sentence to escape past her vocal cords “...at the beginning of us.” Brock’s heart momentarily stopped as he moved his eyes quickly from the ceiling, to Cindee, and back to the ceiling. Did I really hear her say what I think I heard her say? This conversation is guaranteed to end in a yelling fest. And then I’ll have to ignore her when she starts crying. I hate it when she cries. She wears her 119
emotions like jewelry. Does she really think we can have this conversation and get a different result? “Are you sure you want to try this?” “No,” she responded, as if she had already asked herself that question. “But I was thinking that because we’ve both read the book, maybe understanding truth could help us get a different result. I have a lot of fear, but I don’t really want to give up all hope.” In a strange way Cindee’s words seemed to take away a small portion of the fear that had seized Brock when she had first uttered the word “us.” It wasn’t that he didn’t want to hope; it was that he didn’t believe there was any point in hoping. What am I so afraid of? Words? I say words; she says words. What is so powerful about words that they can create fear? Words that haven’t even been spoken, that might be spoken? . . . . . Is it the reality that the words might describe? . . . . . Realities that I can’t or don’t want to deal with? What’s the reality I’m afraid of? . . . . If I tell her what I really think, she won’t understand, she won’t even try to understand. She’ll just twist what I’m trying to say around and throw it back in my face. That’s probably why over the years I just stopped saying very much. It’s better if I don’t say what I’m really thinking. It’ll backfire. It’s best if I just keep everything short and simple; the minimum of what I have to say. The problem is, right now, in a conversation like this, she’s going to want to know what I really think. Cindee wasn’t in a hurry and because the ball was in Brock’s court, she left the silence alone. In the continuing silence, a word from the book suddenly pushed its way to the front of Brock’s thoughts, and when it arrived, he tried to wrap his mind around it. Trust. That’s the reason for the fear! I can’t trust her. If I share my real thoughts, and she does actually understand correctly what I’m saying, she won’t be able to deal with what I’m saying; her emotions will erupt and all logic and intelligence will be thrown out the window. She doesn’t think logically and intelligently. She thinks with her feelings, if that’s even possible. What did the book say about trust? Something about it being relative and not absolute? I can’t remember. Maybe I’ll look it up later. Brock’s thoughts morphed into words as he began speaking. “I can somewhat relate to your ‘yes’ and your ‘no.’ I think the problem is that we aren’t honest with each other, and because we aren’t, we can’t trust each other.”
For Brock, the response was unusually long.
For Cindee, the words
penetrated deep into her intellect. Is he right? Do we lie to each other? We must. I didn’t even realize that. When was the last time you told him the truth? This afternoon when I hit him and told him I hated him. Do you hate him? I don’t know. I don’t want to hate him. So what’s the truth? That’s what I want to know. What IS the truth? If you don’t know what the truth is, how can you be honest with him? I don’t think I want to be honest with him. He’ll hurt me. So you lie to protect yourself? I guess I do. I have to. What other option do I have? Ask him. He won’t know. He doesn’t even care about me, about having a relationship. Except for sex, I’m the last thing is this world that he’s interested in. You’re getting angry. Why shouldn’t I be angry? Negative feelings will spiral out of control. I’ve got to keep my head focused. What was I thinking about? The truth. Can I be honest with him? Cindee chose her words carefully. “I think I’m afraid to tell you the truth, assuming that I know what the truth is.” Brock wasn’t sure he had heard what he had just heard. He wasn’t even sure it was Cindee sitting in that chair in their room.
genuine…and honest. Is that possible? She’s admitting that she does lie? She has the same fear that I do? I guess I never really looked at it from her perspective. Maybe her perspective actually has some similarities to my own. What does she mean assuming she knows what the truth is? Why wouldn’t she know what the truth is? The next thought was more subconscious, but the feeling was acute; Brock felt like creating alignment between his reality and Cindee’s reality. “I have the same fear. I can’t remember the last time I wanted to tell you the truth.” They both had communicated the truth to each other, and a sudden rush of positive emotion warmly embraced Cindee. She and Brock had just connected, positively, reassuringly. They were actually sharing something in common, a congruent perspective, a similar emotion. The original emotion; fear, and the reality; lies, were negative, but the reality that they both could understand each other, keenly understand what the other person was thinking and feeling in one small seemingly insignificant way, took a negative reality and transformed it into a powerful moment of optimism, of confidence, a feeling of trust. For a brief moment in time they were not alone. While the emotion they were both feeling was similar, their understanding of this unique experience differed. For Cindee, the emotion was the filling of a glass that she had reached for every day for many years as she longed to be 121
able to take a drink from it. For Brock, he was somewhat confused. This is weird. What just happened? And why is she looking at me that way? What is she thinking? This actually seems positive. Is she expecting me to say something? I just said the last thing. It’s her turn. Is she going to say something? That expression on her face? What is going on in her head? Without knowing it, Cindee answered this last unspoken question in Brock’s mind. “I think I’m realizing for the first time in my life how powerful the truth is.” “What do you mean?” “I’m not exactly sure how to say this, but do you feel like we just positively connected…like we have a common understanding?” Brock hesitated before confirming; Cindee had used the word “feel,” and he had years of experience from which he had acquired a natural aversion to it. “Yes.” “I’ve wanted to experience a moment like this, with you, for the last fifteen years. It was impossible. I had given up all hope. And then all of a sudden, in a matter of a few minutes, I was honest with you, you were honest with me, and the impossible happened.” It took Brock a minute to process what she was trying to say. She screamed at me today, saying “I hate you, I hate you.” She’s probably hated me that way for years. And all this time she’s wanted to positively “connect” with me? Whatever that means… She sure hasn’t acted like it. Always on the attack. Always comparing me to some ridiculous, bare-chested imagination from one of her books. Telling me she hated me was probably the first really honest thing she’s said to me in a long time. Now where’s the power she’s talking about in that kind of honesty? Negative power. If she really wanted to positively connect with me all these years, why didn’t she show it, just once? Women are impossible to understand. And yet, right now she does sound sincere and honest in what she’s trying to say… “Why didn’t you ever communicate that, or act like that?” The words “I don’t know” escaped past Cindee’s vocal cords even as she was quickly trying to find an answer to this question that she should have asked, but never had asked herself.
If I did want it so bad, why didn’t I
communicate it or act like it? I know I wanted it. You were hiding that truth, that reality from him. Why? I was afraid. I didn’t think it was possible. I wanted him to just know what I was thinking and feeling, what I was wanting, and give it to me. If he 122
cared about me he’d just understand me and figure it out. Figuring it out is how he would prove that he cared. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for him. “Doesn’t it seem obvious that’s what I would want?” Brock thought this question was laughable, but he didn’t want to make light of the obvious lack of logic; and he didn’t want to risk introducing a negative turn into the conversation. He was stumped. How do I answer her question? . . . . . . Nothing is obvious about women, except their emotions, and you can’t make any sense out of emotions. As a new thought began to form in his intellect, he took a risk and began to verbalize it at the same time. “I think there is so much that goes on inside of our heads . . . . . a lot of it we don’t even understand . . . . I think it’s almost impossible to understand what’s going on inside of someone else’s head . . . . . . unless they clearly communicate it.” Internally, Cindee felt a rush of negative emotion and her thoughts began to spiral out of control. Fortunately, because of the positive context of the conversation, she kept her lips sealed. Is he calling me stupid? What does he mean I can’t understand my own thoughts? He’s the one that doesn’t communicate. Impossible? He’s the one that’s impossible. So he thinks I’m a mystery? He’s the mystery. If he’d just open his mouth once in a while and say what’s going on inside of his head instead of being dumb and deaf . . . and a mute. Is this really the road you want to go down? What you mean me go down? He’s going down it. What’s the truth? That’s what I want to know. What is the truth? The truth is, it’s the same thing every time. He thinks I’m stupid, and I can’t think for myself. Then set your emotions aside, and communicate your intelligence. You did make that one of your goals . . . . . . . . . . . I should. Can I? Yes. Do you agree with what he said? “A lot goes on in our heads, sometimes it’s hard to understand, it needs to be clearly communicated” . . . . . . . yes. I can do this. “I think you’re right. The challenge is being able to have enough trust that it feels safe to openly communicate what you’re thinking.” “Personally, I wouldn’t mind learning how to have good communication with you.” Brock was surprised that he had responded so spontaneously, and even more surprised at how honest his comment had been. Subconsciously he had wished for years that he had someone in his life with whom he could feel safe sharing his deeper thoughts, and all of a sudden, unexpectedly, this feeling had been given a voice. His interest in the potential of this conversation was 123
peaked and he was intellectually engaged; he wanted to explore the discovery of truth, and he wanted to explore it with Cindee.
The Discovery Process
The excitement elicited by Brock’s admission swelled inside of Cindee almost to the point of disbelief. But she knew that this was real; she could feel that he had spoken the truth. The lenses in the book had uncovered inside of her a desire to better understand truth; what it was, and how it affected her life. And now even more amazing, it appeared that Brock shared the same desire. As she basked in the gratification of this realization, she became eager to seize the moment. “Let’s learn how to do it, together.” Brock thought her comment sounded a little cheesy, but he agreed with her and wanted to move the exploration process forward. “So what’s next?” It didn’t take Cindee long to have an answer. “The book talks about the discovery process. I think trying to really understand what it is.” “What do you think it is?” Cindee hesitated, and then said with a surprising degree of confidence, “The simple answer? Trying to discover the truth.” Brock carefully considered the thought while Cindee acted patient as she impatiently waited for a response. Is it really that simple? There’s got to be more to it. Truth is complicated. It’s not easy to find. It’s not easy to understand. Sometimes it’s impossible to find. Do simple answers even work for something so complicated? “I guess what makes it complicated is that there’s a lot of different ways to try to discover the truth.” “True,” Cindee replied with a slight grin, as if her use of the word in this context could be a pun. “I think the focus is on the trying, how hard we try to discover truth.” “That just seems abstract to me, and not very tangible.” An idea suddenly occurred to Cindee, and without hesitation she acted on it. “Let’s talk about emotion.” 125
“Okay?” “Do I inflict pain on you?” “Yes.” This was not the answer Cindee expected. Her perception of Brock was that he never showed emotion because he didn’t care. If he didn’t care, he couldn’t feel pain. If he didn’t feel pain, there was no emotion to show. Since he never showed any emotion, it was obviously impossible for her to inflict pain on him. It was only him that inflicted pain on her. “Are you sure?” she challenged. “Yeah.” Brock was trying to figure out what this had to do with the discovery process, but he continued down the road Cindee was heading. “Do you not believe me?” “Honestly, it’s hard for me to believe that you ever feel emotional pain.” “What makes you think that?” “You never show it.” Brock was suddenly perplexed. If you don’t show emotion you don’t feel it? I guess coming from her that makes sense. She shows every emotion she feels. But she thinks that I don’t feel any emotional pain because I don’t show it? Do I feel emotional pain? I’m not going to admit it to her. But I just kind of did, and she doesn’t believe me. “So you think that if someone doesn’t show any emotion they don’t feel it?” In a different setting, Cindee probably would have interpreted this question as a challenge and being offended she would have lashed out. But in this setting, she only wanted to understand. Is he saying you can feel emotion and not show it? That’s impossible. The feelings are too strong, too powerful to hide. “I don’t think it’s possible to feel an emotion and not express it.” A small light turned on in Brock’s head. That would explain why she cries so much. She can’t control her emotions. I can. “I think the key is controlling the emotion. If you don’t feel it, then it doesn’t need to be expressed.” In a different setting, Cindee definitely would have interpreted this comment as an attack, and she would have viciously lashed back. But in this setting, she was intensely interested in understanding and had no desire to be distracted with distortion. “So,” she probed with a sincere tone of
curiosity, “you do feel emotion, but you control it so well you don’t need to express it? That’s why you don’t show it?” The small light turned off in Brock’s head. He would have liked to believe that he had total control over his emotions, but inside, in a place that he didn’t want to share with Cindee, or anybody for that matter, he knew he didn’t have control. That’s why he drank so much. It was his way of escaping feelings that he couldn’t understand and couldn’t control. And when he wasn’t drinking, he believed he was very skilled at masking on the surface the fact that the emotions even existed. It was a constant state of denial. What really shook his intellectual foundation in this moment was a new realization… I do show my emotion every time I yell at her, or tell her how stupid she is . . . . . . or even ignore her when she cries. I may not cry like she does, but I do show my emotion in other ways. I can’t admit this to her. But here we are having a positive conversation for the first time in years, about the truth, and I need to hide the truth from her? I’m trapped. Maybe I can figure out how to sneak my way out of this . . . The period of silence that continued to grow longer had only served to increase Cindee’s level of curiosity. She couldn’t read the expression on his face. What is going on in his head? I probably should just wait. . . . I need to deal with the truth. Is exploring the truth always positive? Can I deal with this truth? I’ve got to at some point. Oh well, what have I got to lose. “I think,” Brock paused before continuing, “the reality is I express my emotion differently than you.” It wasn’t a complete disclosure, but it definitely was headed in the right direction. “You do express emotion?” On a conscious level, Brock had committed himself to the truth, and so for the first time in his life he continued to experiment with being open and honest with his wife. “Every time I say something with a disgusted tone, or yell at you, or even when I ignore you when you cry; that’s my way of hiding the fact that you’ve hurt me, and that I feel bad for hurting you.” These words had not been easy to say, but as they left his mouth, Brock felt an overwhelming sense of relief, as if a heavy weight he had been carrying around on his shoulders for years had suddenly been lifted. He didn’t yet realize on a conscious level that the reason Cindee was the only person in his life that he got angry with and raised his voice at, was because deep down he did care, even if it was only wanting to care. 127
Cindee was so intensely focused on the discussion topic that she completely missed on a conscious level the significance of what Brock was experiencing. “Now that you say that, it seems so obvious. How did I not recognize those as expressions of emotion?” “My guess is that you were thinking that crying is the only way that emotional pain is expressed. Since I don’t cry, and you do…” “It’s amazing how relative perception is.” “What do you mean?” “There’s just so many different ways to look at something,” Cindee contemplated. “We think the way we see everything is absolute, but then when we look at it from a different perspective, we realize how relative our perception really is.” “That’s it!” “What?” “That’s the discovery process.” “How?” “Like one of the lenses said, relative truth is personal perceptions about reality. The discovery process is exploring other perceptions of reality. The more we perceive the better chance we have of moving closer to absolute truth. We may not always discover absolute truth, but the closer we get to it, the better we do understand reality.” “You’re right,” Cindee heartily agreed before adding, “and doing it together with someone else makes the process more likely to lead to success.” Is she right? I’ve figured a lot of things out on my own over the years . . . . . . . no, she’s got to be right. Look at what we just accomplished. There must be something about the dynamics of two people mixing thinking and speaking all together . . . . . . at least if they’re both committed to discovering truth.
Animals or Humans
Brock got off the bed and walked out of the room, leaving Cindee rather dumbfounded. When he returned a few minutes later, he was carrying the book in his hand. With a confused look on her face Cindee asked, “Is that mine? How did you get it out from under my pillow without me knowing?” Now it was Brock’s turn to look confused. “Your book is under your pillow? This is my book.” “You have your own copy? When did you get it?” “This morning, just before I came home.” He really is affected by the lenses in the book. It’s probably a good thing I accidentally left it out on the counter. Brock returned to the same horizontal position on the bed and slowly thumbed through the pages until he found what he was looking for. He looked at the page for a minute, and then read, “Humans act like animals unless they seek universal absolute truth through the discovery process.” Cindee wondered what was coming next and decided not to say anything. “Among the many things that really changed my perspective when I read this book, this one was dramatic.” “Why?” “You probably don’t know anything about my work environment, do you?” “Not really.” “I’ve worked in it for so long, it wasn’t until I read this that I realized I work with a bunch of animals.” Cindee wanted to say something but again she decided not to. “I mean, for the most part they’re good guys…” Brock didn’t finish the sentence. 129
Cindee decided he needed some encouragement to express whatever it was that he wanted to get off of his chest. “What exactly was your perspective, and how did the lenses change it?” Repulsive images from the past were rapidly replaying themselves through Brock’s mind, and it took him a minute to slow them down and finally hit the pause button. “I’m not sure how to explain this. I like the guys I work with, but I don’t like the way they act. Over the years I guess I became so accustomed to it I just stopped thinking about it. Now after reading the book I can’t stop thinking about it….” “Is it really that big of a deal?” “Yeah. Besides the fact that a lot of it is considered criminal behavior, it’s not human; it’s animalistic.” “What do you mean by animalistic?” “Imagine living like an animal without the capacity of an intelligent human brain….” Brock wanted to interrupt himself and make a point about Cindee and himself but he continued, “…everything is about sex. Well, almost everything they say and do. It’s all supposed to be clever and funny, but when you step back and think about it, it’s not: it’s predatory.” Cindee was suddenly becoming very uncomfortable with the new subject; it was way too close to home and her own deep feelings of the confusion, resentment, and enslavement in their sexual relationship. What am I going to do? I can’t talk about this. I think I understand what’s bothering him, but how does that relate to me, to us? How do I explore what’s bothering him and not disclose what’s bothering me . . . . . . something I WON’T talk about? Brock glanced over at Cindee to get a visual cue before continuing. Something’s not right. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Are you sure?” “Yes,” she answered curtly. Her answer obviously didn’t seem truthful, but he didn’t want to encourage a negative situation by suggesting directly that she was lying. He gambled on the light, playful approach. With his best smirk and jesting tone he said, “Is that a distorted answer?” The question invaded her private space and anger quickly consumed her. Fortunately she was able to put a lid on it and turn down the heat just before it 130
would have boiled over. How dare he call me a liar? If I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t have to. Why won’t he just accept my answer and move on? Am I distorting the truth? What’s the truth? The truth is I don’t want to tell him what’s wrong. Why can’t he just deal with that? Are you dealing with the truth? What do you mean am I dealing with the truth? Are you dealing with the truth? Probably not, but what’s the big deal? Just deal with the truth. I can’t. You can. I won’t. Your choice. Fine, I’ll try. Don’t try, just do it. This is frightening. “Yes, it was a distortion,” Cindee softly said with a mild tone of disgust. It was probably not the words she used and more the way she said it that caused Brock to quickly try to suppress a laugh before it became audible. He could sense he was treading on thin ice and didn’t want to fall into frigid water. Fortunately, the way he tried to suppress the laugh struck Cindee as funny, and since she was questioning her tight-lipped approach to the matter anyway, she threw all caution to the wind and had a small grin of resolution on her face as she said, “I can deal with this.” “I’m sorry if my teasing offended you.” “No, it was my fault. My answer wasn’t truthful. I didn’t want to talk about this.” “Whatever ‘this’ is, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” “We probably should.” “You sure?” “As much as I don’t want to, probably yes.” “We can change subjects anytime you want,” Brock assured her. Outwardly she may have appeared calm and relaxed, but inwardly she braced herself for a blast into the unknown as she said without any distortion, “For me, sex is a detestable form of bondage.” The words jolted Brock’s consciousness. What? Where did that come from? I’m talking about sex maniacs at work and this is what’s on her mind? Besides, she’s the one usually initiating it, and if I initiate it she rarely says no. Has she been acting all of these years? Talk about a distortion. Here I am thinking that it’s the only part of our relationship that’s not really problematic, and it’s the exact opposite? Maybe I don’t want to know the truth. Where does this go from here? “I don’t understand,” Brock confessed.
“I wouldn’t expect that you would. I know I initiate it most of the time, but the only reason I do it is in the hope that you don’t look at other women and seek physical satisfaction somewhere else.” If her first disclosure had blind-sided him from the left, her explanation had now blind-sided him from the right. She’s been manipulating me? She hopes I don’t seek physical satisfaction elsewhere? She’s never even asked me if I mess around with other women. Of course I don’t, but obviously she doesn’t know that? And yet she goes on detesting it and thinking she’s in bondage? What is there to detest? And how could it possibly be bondage? I’ve never forced the issue. Be careful. She seems willing to discuss this but it’s obviously highly charged. “Why do you feel like its bondage?” Oddly enough, Cindee had never consciously asked herself such a basic and relevant question; she was unprepared to answer it. Without thinking she responded, “Because it feels like bondage.” That doesn’t help. And there’s that word again; feel. She needs to think, not feel. Well, at least she needs to think so she can understand the way she feels. Brock let silence settle in before thinking, gently dig deeper, and then asking with a surprising degree of empathy, “Do you know why you feel that way?” “No, I don’t,” she said with an irritable tone. Brock didn’t respond, mostly because he really didn’t know what to say. The silence gradually helped to neutralize her emotions. He’s probably right. I do need to understand why I feel this way. Why do I feel this way? I just do. But why? What is bondage? Being forced to do something against my will. He’s not forcing me. But it’s still bondage. Is it bondage? It has to be. I feel enslaved. Who is enslaving me? If it’s not him, then who is it? Is it the fact that men are attracted to women’s bodies and he’s a man? I want him attracted to mine? Well that’s true . . . it is natural for a woman to want a man to like how she looks. I wonder if it has something to do with all the other women out there using their bodies to attract his attention? Are they the ones enslaving me? If they would keep their bodies covered and not act sensuously, I wouldn’t have to feel like I have competition. Is it all those other women? I’m married. Alright, maybe not in the best marriage, and maybe it’s going to get better, but I am still married, and he’s married to me. Doesn’t that mean something? Something like “leave him alone he’s NOT fair game.” Maybe this is it. I hate the fact that there’s always some actress in a movie, or in a beer commercial, or on
the front page of a magazine who looks better than me, and they’re always partially dressed and wearing a seductive expression that says, “You want me, don’t you.” They’re animals!! They have no regard for human decency and the fact that there are a lot of married men seeing them that should only be looking at their own wives. “I think I may have figured out why I feel this way,” Cindee began with a hint of relief at having possibly uncovered new understanding, and then inserted a loaded question. “Do you like the way I look?” It took Brock a few seconds to transition from the silence that had him wondering what might come next, to the curiosity of what she had figured out, and finally to the apprehension of having to respond to a question that posed great risk of a negative reaction. Play it safe. Less is better. “Yes.” “Do you like the way other women look?”
If the first question was
hazardous, this one was treacherous to the extreme. What is she after? A confession? Good thing I don’t go to the strip joints with the guys or watch x-rated movies or I’d be doing a lot of lying. But what exactly is she asking? Am I attracted to other women? I’m a guy; of course other women look attractive. Cindee had succeeded, whether she was intentionally trying to or not, in boxing Brock into a corner, and he couldn’t find anything to say that would improve his uncomfortable position. The longer he remained speechless, the more confining and unpleasant the position became. Lately in the conversation, Brock had more frequently been looking over at Cindee, but now his eyes were rigidly fixed on the ceiling again. He felt like turning his head away from Cindee or leaving the room altogether. He decided not to, because that seemed even more awkward, and he’d have to deal with this situation at some point in time anyway. Fortunately, the rapidly increasing distance between them, which was physically only nine feet, began to decrease when Cindee suddenly realized her question left Brock no safe answer. “You don’t need to worry about how you answer the question. Just answer it as honestly as you can. Whatever the truth is, I’ll deal with it.” I guess that’s mostly true. Could I really deal with the truth if he’s had an affair? Brock decided to trust Cindee’s reassurance. “I’m not sure I’d be normal if I didn’t think other women were attractive.” Cindee wanted to ask if he found other women more attractive than her but she resisted the urge. “What do you think when you see an attractive woman?” 133
Fortunately, while the question might have kept most men cornered, Brock was feeling less so. “I guess there’s a difference between seeing and looking. After we got married, I didn’t think it made sense to look or to study what a woman looks like.” Brock resisted the urge to ask where she was going with all of this. The fact that he did resist was probably advantageous to the discovery process they were engaged in. Moments earlier, Cindee had thought she knew where she was going with the discussion, but now she wasn’t so certain. “Is that really true?” “Yes.” “That doesn’t seem normal.” “It’s probably not, especially based on my experience in hanging around other guys.” “What do you think when you see those women in the beer commercials?” “I wonder why it is that advertising seems so successful when sex is used to sell products.” Cindee hesitated before asking, “Is that a distorted answer?” She was beginning to like this question now that they both understood what it meant; it was a reality check to confirm if a conversation was still engaged in the discovery process. When Brock had first asked her this question, she didn’t handle it gracefully, but she had successfully dealt with it. Now it was Brock’s turn. Brock considered the question momentarily before answering. “No, that really is what I think.” “And you don’t lust after those women?” “I don’t think so. I see but I don’t look. It just seems stupid to me that most guys can’t think about anything else except sex.” Suddenly a new thought entered Cindee’s mind and she reacted to it. “Can you read everything in that lens, one part at a time?” “Sure.” Brock picked up the book again, which was face down on his stomach and still open to Lens 18. He read, “Ninety-nine percent of human DNA is exactly the same as the chimpanzee. Unless we seek truth and freedom…” Cindee interrupted. “Try the next sentence.” 134
“Without a reason to be more intelligent than animals: We partially or completely take our clothes off in public…” Cindee interrupted again. “That’s what I was looking for. But I think there’s more. Keep going.” “…we place no restraint on what we eat, we are territorial, we embrace addictive behaviors, we entertain acts of sexual relations in public on movie and TV screens…” “That’s the other one.” Brock was thinking he might know what she was thinking. “Are you thinking that when women act seductively in public they’re acting animalistic?” “Yes, but it's more than that. It’s not just your workplace, our entire society is sex crazed: TV shows, movies, comedy, music, video games, magazines at the checkout stand in the grocery store…my romance books…” “So what are you saying?” “By making sex so public, as a society we are constantly thinking and acting like animals. It’s very rare for animals to form relationships outside of sex. To animals, sex is the extent of the relationship; when the act is over, the relationship is over. I think sex could mean so much more. The next sexual urge almost always occurs with a different partner. Not to mention the fact that animals don’t wear any clothes in public unless a human puts some on them.” “I never thought of it like that. This next part of the lens kind of ties into what you’re saying, ‘…we act on nature’s heat with no regard for commitment or loyalty…we let our offspring fend for themselves….’” “Well, offspring are the result of sex…” “And,” Brock added, “if there’s no meaningful relationship between sex partners, then there probably wouldn’t be a lasting relationship between sex partners and their kid. Most animals abandon and forget about their offspring after the newborn is weaned.” They were both quiet for a moment before Cindee asked, “Do you think all sex is animalistic?” “It seems that way, but if you think about it, it doesn’t really make sense that we’re human except when it comes to sex?” “I was thinking the exact same thing,” Cindee agreed before echoing his question out loud more to herself than to Brock. “If we are human, and 135
significantly more intelligent than animals, then why would this act only be animalistic? There’s got to be more to it.” “Does this have to do with why you think it’s detestable?” Brock carefully asked. “I don’t know. If I view sex as only animalistic, then it would make sense why I feel like it’s a form of bondage.” Cindee didn’t know what else to say. Neither did Brock. Suddenly, a new thought occurred to Cindee. She hesitated expressing it, though, because while she knew very little about Brock’s perspective on life, she did know of his atheistic tendencies. “Whaaat?!” Brock was responding to the expression on Cindee’s face that said, “I just had a light bulb turn on in my head.” “Nothing.” “Not that again?” Brock teased. “Alright…” “You don’t have to.” “No, it’s okay. I’ll try to explain. God creates…” Cindee paused. “Actually,” Brock interrupted, “according to the book, God organizes.” His interruption initiated a rapid series of questions she wanted to ask, but she set them aside while making a mental note to bring them up later; right now, she wanted to express this new thought. “I’m going to stick with creating for the moment. I believe God creates everything in this world. Then we take what is already here and use it to either create or destroy. When we create something, we’re acting like God.” “Okay?” “What would you say is the most complex living organism on the earth?” Brock gave the first answer that came to his mind. “The human body.” “That’s what I would think. Let’s assume it is. How is the human body created?” “No one really knows.” “But we do know how the creation process gets started.” “Sperm and egg uniting. Usually from sex. So what are you getting at?” “Sex may be the most God-like act we can engage in.
Brock let the idea sink in for a moment, and then probed, “Are you suggesting that sex can be, and maybe should be the opposite of animalistic?” “I think so.” Brock wasn’t sure why he did what he did next, but he randomly began to think out loud. “Hmm. We are significantly more intelligent than animals. Animals have sex mostly on impulse and the result is other living organisms of limited intelligence. Humans have sex more by choice than impulse and the result is other living organisms with far superior intelligence. We only use a small percentage of our brain. I wonder if this is really true, and if it is, how has science proven it? Why do we carry around with us an intellectual potential that we never reach in this lifetime?” “Keep going.” Cindee was fascinated by Brock’s ramblings. Brock reset his thought patterns and continued, “Animals are not intelligent enough to destroy their offspring inside of the womb. Humans are intelligent enough to destroy inside of the womb the offspring created from sex. Is destruction intelligent or is it the misuse of intelligence?” “Good question. Keep going.” “I might be running out of ideas. Let’s see… Animals have sex in public. Humans are like animals if they have sex in public. You say God created humans to be more intelligent than animals. Humans demonstrate their superior intelligence by wearing clothes, keeping sex private, and caring about their offspring?” Cindee answered the rhetorical question emphatically, “Yes, that’s it! That’s why sex can be, and should be, the most God-like act we can choose to
do. God creates more intelligence through human sex. The more intelligently we use it, the better we participate in the creation of more intelligence.” Brock let this thought settle before countering, “So why is it then that our society is so blatantly and publicly sex-crazed? We’re just all stupid?” “Maybe it has to do with the destroyer the book talks about? If something is so God-like and private, it would make sense that an opposing force would do everything possible to turn it into something animalistic and public. As a society, we consider sex mostly as recreation; it’s just messin’ around.” “Hmm.” Cindee hesitated before asking, “Can we talk about the ‘can be’ part?” “That sex ‘can be’ the most God-like act we can choose to do?” “Yes.” “Really?” “Yes. I didn’t want to before, but now with these new perspectives, I really want to talk about it.” “Talk about a complete flip-flop,” Brock teased. “I know. I guess that’s what the discovery process will do to you,” Cindee played along before adding more seriously. “I’m just seeing what I’ve never seen before, that it can be an incredible type of bonding for a human relationship. If all it is is animalistic, it’s bondage, at least for me. What I want more than anything else is a relationship of bonding, not a relationship of bondage.” Brock should have better understood what Cindee was saying, but instead he was distracted with trying to figure out if this was one of those romantic moments he needed to avoid getting roped into; and if he was getting corralled, how he was going to get out of it. Just like his disdain for Cindee’s love affair with romance books, which he had never read because the book covers told him more than he wanted to know, the current atmosphere seemed like a scene out of a chick flick. Granted, he had only endured a couple during his lifetime, but that had been enough to conclude that if “you’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all.” What didn’t make sense is that this moment was somehow different from those movie scenes. Something was more real, more tangible, and more logical. His mind was engaged with Cindee’s, and he liked it. But along with his intellect, he felt a positive, emotional connection to her that he was resisting. He decided to be honest. 138
“I think I sort of get what you’re saying, but you’re going to need to be patient with me. There’s a lot I need to understand about this concept of relationship bonding.” Of course his words were initially disappointing, but when Cindee considered what had happened to their relationship in the last twenty four hours, and particularly the last hour, there really wasn’t much to be disappointed about. “I’m patient,” she said out loud to reassure herself as much as she said it to reassure him. Brock stared pensively at the ceiling. The Cindee that sat nearby the bed was a complete stranger to him. Was he ready to dive into understanding who she really was? He wouldn’t have been able to articulate the reason to anyone else, but something compelled him to at least stick his foot in the water. He unlocked his fixation on the ceiling, moved his head slightly towards Cindee, and as their eyes briefly met until the words he had organized had been spoken, Brock asked, “Are you talking about a bonding that isn’t physical?” Cindee wanted to answer impulsively, but checked herself before slowly expounding, “Yes. Intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.” “Is there an order of priority?” Cindee hadn’t considered that question, but it didn’t take her long to feel confident in an answer. “I think that is the order. Intellectual first, spiritual second, and then emotional.” “What about physical?” “It comes last, after those three.” “So the physical is the most God-like act we can engage in and it’s the lowest priority?” It was a tough question, but when the answer came to Cindee, it all finally made perfect sense. “Our society emphasizes the physical aspects of a relationship as the one and sometimes only priority. But if the focus is first intellectual, second spiritual, and third emotional, then the physical becomes the ultimate climax in binding a relationship together.” Brock knew, and silently acknowledged to himself, that he could embrace this new emerging relationship with Cindee. ----139
Dustin was almost home. He had purposely missed the bus so that he and Hayden could hang out under the bleachers. Missing the bus meant he had to walk an extra mile and a half in addition to the time hanging out, so he was getting home later than usual. Mom never seems to pay attention to when I get home anyway. What’s the difference? Besides, all he could think about lately was the images on the pages of those two magazines he had seen, and Hayden had brought a third magazine to school today. Even better yet, tucked away in his backpack was the first magazine; Hayden had said he was bored of it and so he let him borrow it. He knew what he would be doing later tonight after he made sure that his door was locked. As Dustin rounded the corner and his house came into view, he was surprised to see Brock’s truck in the driveway. Two days in a row. What is going on? I wonder if he has some problem with his job. He better not. I don’t want to end up like Chris when his dad lost his job and they had to move a few months later. He slipped through the front door and quickly headed upstairs hoping to make it to his room undetected. He succeeded. After locking the door to his room, he kicked off his shoes not caring where they ended up, did a back flop onto his bed, put his headphones on and cranked up some rap beat talking about girls in heat. As his feet, hands, and head made small imitative gyrations of larger dance moves he had seen on music videos, he debated on when to start his homework. Usually this wasn’t a question since he always did it immediately when he got home; it was part of his determination to get straight A’s and become an elite engineer. Today, however, he didn’t feel like doing it right away, so his mind went back and forth between his homework and the magazine, both of which were sharing the same space in his backpack. The conscious debate slowly faded into oblivion, and without thinking, he took the headphones off, rolled off the bed, walked over his clothes on the floor to the backpack sitting on his beanbag chair, unzipped it, and pulled out the magazine. Downstairs, Cindee was supervising Brock while he changed Brinlee’s diaper. When he finished, he concluded that even though it had its unpleasantries, it really wasn’t that difficult once you understood the mechanics. “That sure went a lot better,” he commented to Cindee as he tickled Brinlee on the 140
stomach and then tossed her up in the air. She giggled with delight. After catching her he gave her a tight squeeze and set her back down on the floor to go play. She didn’t walk away, but instead reached her arms out as Brock stood up and said, “Ghin, ghin.” He obliged, and carefully moved away from the ceiling fan before throwing her up in the air again. “What are you thinking of for dinner?” Brock asked in between tosses, not noticing that Cindee had just opened the door to the refrigerator and was beginning to study the contents inside. “Don’t know,” she replied, wishing she didn’t have to decide. “Let’s go out to dinner then.” “I’d love that. We’ll have to take Brinlee though, since we don’t have anyone to watch her.” “I was thinking all of us, as a family.” Cindee immediately looked at the time on the oven. With a bit of panic in her voice she exclaimed, “Dustin, he’s not home yet, and it’s almost four.” “I’m pretty sure he is,” Brock said reassuringly. “I heard the front door open and close about fifteen minutes ago.” Cindee wasted no time in hurrying upstairs. Consciously deciding that she wouldn’t open the door, even if it was unlocked, she tested Dustin’s door handle. It was locked. She knocked firmly on the door and called out, “Dusty, are you home?” On the inside of the room Dustin was sitting on his bed with his back against the wall, while he slowly turned the pages of the magazine. The sudden sound of the knocking caused him to jerk his head upright and stare at the door. The sound of his mom’s voice caused a tidal wave of guilt to sweep over him. He quickly slipped the magazine under his pillow, brushed the guilt aside, and slowly walked over to the door. Before he opened it, he made the determination to act like nothing was out of the norm. “I’m home,” he confirmed after unlocking and swinging the door wide open. “I’m so glad,” Cindee responded as she resisted the urge to question him on why he was so late. Don’t immediately put him on the defensive. As she turned and began to head downstairs she said over her shoulder, “We’ll be leaving to go out to dinner in a little while. Just wanted to let you know.” 141
Life around here is getting really weird. Dustin closed the door and went to get his homework out of his backpack. Life around here is beyond weird. We’re all in the car together driving to a restaurant on a Friday when dad would normally be drinking with his work buddies, and mom and dad are sitting in the front seat actually talking nice to each other? They never talk nice to each other, if they talk at all. The only way they know how to communicate is when they yell at each other while I’m trying to go to sleep. I hope they don’t start talking nice to me. Give me my space and stay out of my life. Cindee and Brock decided on a steakhouse, famous for its BBQ ribs. A young attractive female host wearing tight clothing and a low cut shirt opened the front door as they approached it. Once the door was closed behind them, she picked up three menus and a coloring book and asked, “Would you like a table or a booth?” They had arrived shortly before the dinner rush and so options were still available without a wait. “Table, please,” Brock responded. She led them to their table, retrieved a sturdy wooden high chair, and handed out the menus. Brinlee sat across from Cindee, and Dustin sat across from Brock. Cindee and Brock sat next to each other. Brock ordered a Coke. Cindee ordered a virgin piña colada. Brinlee slowly and methodically drew in her coloring book as if she really knew what she was doing. Dustin glared at the unopened menu in front of him. When he didn’t respond to the waitress’s question, Cindee ordered him a raspberry-lemonade. For now, their table was void of conversation. Brock subtly people watched. Before their drinks arrived, an elderly couple was seated at a booth. The man walked with a cane, a little more hunched over than his wife, and yet showed more grace and concern over helping her to be seated comfortably than a richly paid waiter at a five star restaurant would have done. A younger couple was also seated at a booth. Brock couldn’t help but notice that something about their demeanor was out of place. It was more than their choice of clothes and hairstyle; he thought it was their attitude portrayed through mannerisms. A family with four children was seated at a table next to their own. Brock guessed that the three girls were 142
ages 8, 6, and 5. Their little brother looked to be about Brinlee’s age and also ended up in a high chair. The mom was pregnant. Brock turned his attention to Dustin. “Does anything sound good?” No answer. No change of expression. Brock gently kicked Dustin’s foot under the table. The corners of Dustin’s mouth barely moved before returning to their original position. “Hey buddy; it’s s - t - e - a - k time. Don’t act like they’re going to serve you a rubber bone to chew on.” The corners of Dustin’s mouth moved a little more this time before again returning to their original position. Without looking up, Dustin flipped the menu open and began to read the options. Cindee really wished she could get inside of his head. Brock ordered two appetizers for everyone to share: gourmet potato skins and mozzarella cheese served temporarily on fire as the waiter placed it on their table with small crisp pieces of bread. Dustin stopped staring at the table long enough to watch the flames before they died out. Brinlee made it very clear she wanted some of both appetizers, so Cindee gave her samples cut up in small pieces. By the time their entrees arrived, Dustin was beginning to lighten up a little as he avoided eye contact with Brock and Cindee and casually observed other people throughout the dining room. His ears, however, were trained on the noise and conversation directly behind him. He didn’t dare turn around to look as he heard the five and six year old talking. What are they doing? “Let’s pretend like they’re orphans and they lost their parents. Yeah, and we’ll use this napkin as their house because they don’t have anywhere to sleep and this will keep them out of the rain. Rocky, I’m so cold. It’s okay Charcoal, just stay close to me and we’ll be warm. I miss Mommy. Don’t worry, Charcoal, how about we go to a movie when the rain stops? Good idea, Rocky; what movie? Let’s go see ‘Cats and Dogs.’ I heard that’s a good one. Okay, the rain stopped so now they’re going to go see the movie. Here, put the glasses together.” Dustin couldn’t resist any longer. He casually turned his head just enough to catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of his eye. The two girls each had a small stuffed animal. One was brown with white spots and the other was solid black. A napkin was draped over two glasses that had been pushed together and the two little dogs, each held by their owner, were facing the draped napkin. Dustin turned his head back to his own table and continued 143
listening. “Let’s get something to eat now. Okay. Where should we eat? Let’s eat at the steakhouse. Good idea, Charcoal. Look, there’s a menu right here so we can pick what we want to eat now. What do you want? I think I want a grilled cheese sandwich. What are you going to have? I’m going to get chicken fingers.” Dustin’s concentration on their conversation was interrupted by the eight year old saying, “Petey, sit down, you’re going to fall and break your head.” The new voices captured his primary focus. “No! No! Down! Down! Here look, it’s a coloring book. Do you want this piece of yummy bread? And here’s some chocolate pudding. Sit down. No! ….aughhhh.” As Dustin turned his head to get a visual explanation of what was going on, he saw Brinlee finish pulling her legs up so that she could turn around and kneel in her high chair facing the opposite direction. Petey’s sister was struggling to physically keep him from climbing out of his high chair, but when he twisted his body, he saw Brinlee looking at him. He suddenly relaxed, Petey’s sister momentarily let go, and he began staring at Brinlee as he moved from a standing position to a matching kneeling position. The backs of their high chairs were only separated by about twenty inches, and the close proximity facilitated a moment of silence as they faced and studied each other. Brinlee made the first movement by turning just enough to pick up a piece of mozzarella cheese and hand it to Petey. He took it out of her hand and pushed it into his mouth. She gave him another one. He pushed the second one into his mouth. Then he turned, picked up a piece of bread, and handed it to Brinlee. She took it and ate it. Dustin looked at Petey’s sister. She looked relieved that the battle with her little brother was temporarily suspended. The parents at both tables, one by one, began to watch the spectacle unfolding in front of them. The food continued to be handed back and forth between Brinlee and Petey. Brinlee was the first to take it to the next level. Instead of handing over the next food offering: a cut up piece of potato skin, she leaned over far enough so that her hand could reach his mouth. He was rather taken aback as, suddenly, she pushed the food into his half open mouth. He seemed to pause for a moment, trying to decide what to do next, until he swallowed the food, took a broken saltine cracker, leaned over and pushed it into Brinlee’s mouth. Brinlee was startled, not because she didn’t expect him to do what she 144
had just done, but because the cracker was slightly bigger than the width of her mouth and it pressed against her skin as Petey forced it in. Undaunted, however, she reciprocated in order to continue their new level of bonding. The culmination of the spectacle occurred before any adult realized that they should or could prevent it. Petey decided to introduce a spoon into the exchange. He picked one up and clumsily dipped it into his small bowl of chocolate pudding. Reaching over, he held it in front of Brinlee’s mouth and then hesitated because he was waiting to see what her reaction would be. Brinlee kept her lips closed, not certain she wanted to receive the spoon into her mouth. Petey moved it closer to her lips. Brinlee kept her lips closed and moved her head back. Petey stood up and moved the spoon closer. Brinlee leaned back further. Suddenly, as Petey leaned even further to try to get the spoon to her mouth he lost his balance and fell forward out of the highchair. Fortunately, his face cleared the edge of Brinlee’s chair and landed on her stomach, a perfectly soft landing created from her backward arch in her kneeling position. The spoon ended up by Dustin’s feet and some chocolate pudding covered his shoe. Creating a bridge between the two high chairs, and unable to push himself back upright without falling on the floor, Petey was stuck. Brinlee didn’t know what to do and had a look of utter bewilderment on her face. They remained trapped against each other until both moms were able to scramble out of their chairs and rescue them. The laughter coming from nearby tables was audible. Even Dustin thought it was funny. Moments before the puppy love demonstration, Brock had been casually following the actions of the out-of-place couple. He was close enough that, if he tuned out the general noise of the dining room, he could hear everything they said. He hadn’t detected much conversation between them; mostly dialogue with the female and the waitress. She had first ordered an appetizer. After they had eaten about half of it, she motioned to the waitress. When the waitress arrived at the table and pleasantly asked what she could do for them, the female used her eyes as if they were laser beams burning holes into the waitress's face, and with a tone of inexplicable hatred said quietly, “There’s a hair in that spinach dip.” The waitress did a good job acting as though the manner in which the complaint 145
had been delivered had not rattled her, and she leaned over to see what the customer was referring to. When she returned to an upright position, she politely responded, “I guess I’m not seeing what you’re referring to.” The female said nothing as she reached over, and as best as Brock could tell, the tips of her thumb and index finger actually submerged slightly into the dip before they were lifted pinched together and held in front of the waitress. Since Brock couldn’t actually see what her fingers were holding, he had to presume it was a piece of hair. The waitress apologized and asked if she could get them a replacement appetizer and a second one for free. With that same soft-spoken, icy tone the female said, “Just get us our salads.” As the waitress turned and left their table to obey the command, Brock could tell she was flustered. The entire interchange had raised his curiosity to the level that if he wasn’t continually observing their actions, his eyes didn’t leave the table for more than a few seconds. Shortly after the waitress had delivered the salads, and about a minute before Petey fell on top of Brinlee, Brock watched the female pull one of the hairs from her own head and inconspicuously plant it in the salad in front of her. Meanwhile, the male across from her sat quietly concentrating on eating his own salad as if he was entirely unaware of what she was doing. As much as Brock wanted to keep his surveillance uninterrupted, Cindee had softly tapped his arm and said, “You’ve got to see what Brinlee is doing.” That, also, was interesting, but as soon as the moms had reconciled the situation, his eyes returned to the couple. He saw the female take several bites out of her salad before getting the attention of the waitress and using her finger to demand that she come over to their table. This time her words to the waitress were, “What is wrong with your kitchen? Don’t your chefs wear anything on their heads? This is disgusting.” The hair must have been obviously visible because the waitress, now unable to hide the fact that she was quite flustered, began to apologize profusely and to ask what the restaurant could do for them to remedy this unpleasant experience their kitchen had caused. “I don’t know,” the female continued to manipulate, “I guess we’ll just have to see how the rest of the food is.” The waitress immediately headed for the kitchen, and Brock guessed that she was going to talk to the chefs to make sure the meals they delivered were 146
perfect. His guess was accurate. The meals were in the last stages of preparation and the meat had already been cooked. Fortunately for the waitress, the meat looked like it had been cooked perfectly to order, so with an understandable degree of apprehension, she let the server know he could deliver the meals. Both of the customers were expressionless as the meals were set in front of them. They both ignored the server when he graciously said, “Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.” The male customer began to eat his 24 oz. prime rib meal at an above average pace. His female companion slowly picked away at her meal. She first ate everything but the meat. When she had eaten about one-third of the thick, rib-eye steak, and her counterpart had nearly finished his meal, she again motioned to the waitress who had regularly been stealing glances at their table. When she arrived she was greeted with, “I specifically told you I didn’t want any red or pink meat. I wanted this well cooked all the way through. What do you call this?” She pointed her knife at the center of the steak which was a little pink, but not red. The waitress obviously didn’t know what to say next as her silence confirmed. She was certain that the instructions from the customer had been very precise, “I hate tough meat and I hate raw meat. I want a little bit of pink, no red.” To the waitress's second observation, now with the center of the steak fully exposed, the meat had been perfectly cooked to order. Had she heard the customer wrong? She was absolutely certain she had heard correctly. But the customer was now emphatic that she didn’t want any red or pink meat. She couldn’t call her a liar, or even imply it; her training had been very definitive, “The customer is always right.” She couldn’t give them an entirely free meal without her manager’s permission, even if they would take it. She regretted not having involved her manager earlier, but because he was easily irritated she usually tried to handle problems herself. Befuddled, and without breaking the silence she had created, the waitress turned and headed for the kitchen. Brock could tell that she was on the verge of crying. As soon as she disappeared, the couple got up from the booth and casually left the restaurant as if nothing was out of the norm.
Just before they reached the front door, and without saying a word of explanation, Brock set down a BBQ rib he was eating, wiped his hands and mouth, stood up, and also headed for the front door. As he exited the restaurant, he saw that they had walked through the parking lot and appeared to be headed down the sidewalk of the busy Main Street. Their pace was brisk, but not so brisk that it would attract any extra attention. Brock followed from an inconspicuous distance. Two blocks later they turned right and disappeared. Brock ran to the corner and then slowed down to a walk, as he rounded the corner, wondering what he might see. Their car had been parked on the street about sixty feet from the corner, and as Brock came into view, he saw and heard them laughing, as they were both opening the doors to the car. He heard the male say, “You rocked…next time it’s my turn.” When Brock yelled out “Hey,” they both immediately stopped entering the car, and somewhat startled, turned their heads to look at Brock. As quickly as the startled expression left their faces, it was replaced with a quizzical expression of “Do we know you?” They said nothing, which left the ball in Brock’s court. They must not recognize me. Hmm. No reason to beat around the bush. “I noticed you left without paying.” Brock was standing on the sidewalk about ten feet from the female. “What’s it to you?” she demanded. “Mind your own business.” As she said this, the male let out a long string of unintelligent expletives and walked around the car until he was face to face with Brock, intentionally invading his personal space. With a menacing finger pressed into Brock’s chest he said, “You better get lost before my knife comes out.” Maybe naively, this was not quite how Brock imagined an encounter and so he quietly apologized, “Sorry I interfered.” He slowly backed away, turned, and started walking towards Main Street as he imagined a knife sinking itself into his back. In reality, had he turned around, all he would have seen was the male make an obscene gesture at him as he shook his head in disbelief and got into the car. Just as Brock began to turn the corner, he did look back and quickly memorized the license plate number before returning to the restaurant.
Dustin noticed before Cindee that Brock had returned when he saw him standing near the front doors talking to the hostess. After a couple of minutes when he obviously had finished talking to her, she picked up the phone. As soon as Brock arrived back at their table, Dustin bombarded him with questions. “Where did you go? Why did you go? Why were you gone so long?” Brock smiled and said, “Are you ready for a story?” “Duh!” Dustin eagerly replied. Brock proceeded with a detailed and all-inclusive narrative. As he finished, both Cindee and Dustin wore expressions of disbelief. Dustin verbalized his disbelief. “Why are you pulling my leg with that story? Why didn’t anybody else see these make believe people you’re talking about?” “Why would I lie to you and make the story up?” “That’s what I can’t figure out. Why would you?” Brock continued smiling and concluded, “I guess there’s no way to convince you of the truth.” Cindee was having a hard time believing the story as well. He must be trying to have a little fun and this is his creative way of doing it. Fourteen minutes later as Brock was waiting for the waiter to return his credit card and receipt, he was the first to see two male police officers enter the restaurant. The door had barely closed behind them before one of the officers was conversing with the attractive hostess, and the other was visibly trying to be inconspicuous as he studied her body. Brock motioned with his head to the lobby of the restaurant and playfully asked Dustin, “So why do you think those two guys are here?” Although Dustin and Cindee both looked and saw the uniformed officers, they were still having a hard time believing that Brock had told the truth. Their wrestle with reality continued as they watched the two officers, now accompanied by the restaurant manager, approach their table. The lead officer looked at Brock and asked authoritatively, “Are you Brock Stewart?” The question was simple, and under normal circumstances the answer would have been easy. For Brock, under these circumstances, the answer was not simple. Do I really want public disclosure of who I am? I’d rather be invisible in this matter. I just did my public service and that should be good enough. They should be able to get enough information from the waitress…they really don’t need me. I should 149
have just minded my own business and left the whole matter alone. The waitress could have pretended nothing happened and then maybe avoided any trouble she might be in, and the restaurant certainly wouldn’t have missed the lost revenue because they’re obviously rolling in the dough. Was it really worth the risk and hassle I took? I should have thought about it more carefully. On the other hand, hopefully I’m setting a good example for Dustin. Maybe this public service thing isn’t as easy as I thought. “Yes,” Brock replied as he shook the officer’s hand. “We just wanted to come over and personally thank you,” the officer explained. “The license plate you provided made it possible for us to quickly find and apprehend the thieves. This investigation has been ongoing for over six months as we’ve had numerous complaints from restaurants regarding customers who have disappeared without paying. The non-paying customers in every case were able to stage their exit undetected by restaurant staff, and other customers either weren’t paying attention or they did see what was going on and didn’t care. We appreciate you paying attention and doing something about it.” Cindee and Dustin now believed Brock’s incredulous story. Not only that, they were impressed with what he had done. The comment came out of nowhere and shattered the silence inside of the SUV as the Stewart family drove home. “Dustin, your mom and I both read a short book and there’s going to be some positive changes in our family. I want you to read the book. You probably won’t understand very much of it, but we can talk about it.” The previous silence inside of the car quickly pieced itself back together. As Cindee climbed into bed later that evening, she pulled the book out from under her pillow and read the goals she had written earlier in the day. Brock was immediately curious when he walked out of the bathroom and saw what she was doing. “Someday do I get to read what you wrote?” he asked half teasing and half serious. Cindee pondered on the question. If he had asked me that question eight hours ago the answer would have been an absolute “no.” But then again, only yesterday I didn’t even want him to know about the book. How can it be that now I’m not uncomfortable with him reading my thoughts? 150
“You can read some right now if you want.” “Serious?” “As long as you don’t laugh,” Cindee qualified with a smile. “I won’t.” Brock read the list silently as Cindee awaited his response with nervous anticipation. He finished reading with a contemplative expression on his face. “This is a good list of goals.” Then he added with a smile, “I guess you won’t have to wait six months on that last one.” Cindee returned the smile. As Dustin slid into bed and stared at the dark ceiling, he suddenly remembered what was underneath his head. He reached his hand underneath his pillow, pulled out the magazine, turned his light back on, and became entranced by the naked women on each page. When his eyelids finally grew heavy, he returned the magazine to his backpack, flipped his light switch, and soon became lost in the darkness of his room and his disconcerting dreams.
Cindee became conscious when her eyes suddenly opened. The transition from sleep to fully awake was usually a long, drawn out battle between not wanting to face reality and the reality that, except in the case of death, it is unavoidable. But this Saturday morning she transitioned from unconsciousness to seeing the numbers displayed on her bedside clock in an instant. 6:37. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I must have been in a deep sleep. And I don’t even mind being awake. Cindee rolled over. The light in their room was halfway between night and day, even though outside it was fully another late spring day as the sun was beginning to peek over the nearby mountain range. As she enjoyed the comfort of the blankets pulled snugly over her left shoulder, she stared at the back of Brock’s left shoulder and head since he had clearly kicked off the covers. Her mind went back and forth. Wouldn’t it be great if he woke up and we could talk for a while before Brinlee wakes up? I can’t believe I’m actually thinking this. Two days ago I was wishing he would simply vanish out of my life. How is it possible that I can have these positive feelings? How can it be that I kind of want to touch his shoulder? But if I did, he’d probably turn into the venomous snake that he’s been so many times in the past. I bet he wouldn’t. I bet he would slowly roll over, take a minute to wake up, grin and say “Good morning.” I must be insane. That’s impossible. And yet how is it that I can actually imagine him doing that? He still scares me. Maybe, in time, my fears will subside. In his relatively shallow sleep, Brock somehow must have read her thoughts, or at least he must have sensed that she was awake. Keeping his eyes closed, and still not completely awake, he was conscious enough to make sure that he looked like he was still asleep as he rolled over. When he finished 152
repositioning himself, he tried to retreat back to a deeper level of sleep. He couldn’t. I think she’s looking at me. Why would I think that? It just feels like she is. Why would she be looking at me? If she is, it would be a little awkward to open my eyes. But then again, maybe it wouldn’t. The instant that Brock opened his eyelids, their eyes momentarily bonded. To Brock, Cindee’s expression appeared quizzical. To Cindee, Brock’s expression was… unreadable… until he grinned and said, “Good morning.” Cindee returned the grin as she said, “Hi.” Silence followed until Cindee asked, “Are you going to go back to sleep?” “No. Why?” “Can we talk?” “You mean explore?” “Yes.” “So what’s the topic?” “Simplify.” “Sounds easy.” “Is the truth complicated or simple?” “The lenses suggest both; it depends on what kind of truth.” “So which was which again?” “Absolute truth is simple, and relative truth is complicated,” Brock recalled without hesitation. Cindee pondered. “I was just thinking about the distortion process,” Cindee shared. “I think it’s the process of making the simple complicated.” “Interesting,” Brock added to her thoughts. “That would suggest then that the discovery process does the opposite, it takes what was complicated by the distortion process, and simplifies it by removing the distortion.” Cindee immediately began searching for an example. It took a few minutes to connect all the dots running around in her head before she broke the silence. “You know, the first goal on my list is to treat everything I hear and think as relative, unless I’m certain it’s an absolute truth. So you leave the bathroom door open in the morning and the light and noise is disturbing me. My conclusion is I hate you. I’m angry; I cry; I’m confused; I’m trapped; I want a divorce; I don’t know what to do. I call my friend Rachel. She tells me about 153
a book. I find out that the way you’re abusing me is very relative compared to how Rachel’s husband is abusing her. I have choices. I decide to consider the open door as relative, and I walk through it to find out what is really inside of the bathroom, which is still relative, but maybe closer to the truth. I do it with an open mind, no absolute conclusions. Then later, I decide to walk downstairs in order to find out if you’re interested in discovering truth. I find out that you are. You find out that I am. And because we were both trying to discover truth and willing to deal with it when we found it, we’ve created some simple positive realities in our relationship that we didn’t think could exist. Distortion complicated our realities for many years and hid the truth from us. Discovery uncovered the truth and made some parts of our relationship simple, and positive.” “Nicely done!” Brock paused for a minute before adding, “So if we treat relative truth as absolute, we’re actually distorting the truth and complicating what can be simple?” “I think so.” “But what about the variable absolute reality I was creating? I really was being inconsiderate and rude, because I was purposely leaving the door open.” “You were?” “Unfortunately, yes. I was resentful because I had to get up and you got to sleep in. I had to work all day and I thought you were playing all day, doing whatever you wanted.” Cindee was confused. “So if I perceived that you were being inconsiderate and rude and purposely leaving the door open, and based on your admission you really were, then my personal relative truth really was absolute?” After another long moment of silence, Brock ventured, “I’ve got a thought. In this case, your perception was aligned with a variable absolute truth, but you wouldn’t know that for sure unless I confirmed the truth. It is possible I never really thought about it, and I wasn’t doing it on purpose. But either way, if you don’t know for sure, it’s best to treat it as relative. This is hard to accept, but let’s say I left the door open for the rest of our lives. You’d have to deal with this unfortunate reality for a very long time. But at some point in time, for one of many different reasons, it would end. I might die tomorrow; you might die tomorrow. I might change; you might change. Everything in this life ends at some point in time, but before the end, 154
whenever that is, the possibility of change exists. You did change, and it ended up helping me to change. But even if neither of us changed, the realities will still end. As absolute as our minds naturally look at reality, most of our reality in this world is still really relative.” “You kind of lost me in all of that, but you’re saying you won’t be leaving the door open anymore?” Cindee asked with a grin. “Not to purposely try to annoy you,” Brock answered, returning the grin. Cindee moved to more serious reflection. “It doesn’t seem fair that during this lifetime it’s impossible to avoid having to deal with unpleasant realities that other people create. Maybe that’s why we go back and forth between wanting to be alone and wanting companionship.” “Maybe you just explained why seventeen years ago we said to each other ‘for better or for worse.’ Unfortunately we became totally consumed by the ‘worst,’ and couldn’t see or find any of the ‘better.’ We just became slaves to each other.” “But as we discover truth together we have the possibility of helping each other experience freedom.” Silence comfortably settled into their room. “You know,” Brock said, slightly changing subjects, “distortion and discovery is like the difference between chaos and calm, disorganized and organized, war and peace, pain and comfort. When I was with Travis yesterday, he made a comment about how the forces in this world distorting the truth often seem more powerful than those people trying to discover the truth and live by it. I guess that’s why it’s so easy to live a life of pain and confusion, because there’s so much resistance and opposition to discovering truth. But in the end, I think the truth can always win for each of us if we want it to.” Cindee excitedly took his thought in a little different direction. “When you just used the word 'organize,' it finally hit me what the difference is. At church we talk about God’s creations. At a deeper level, everything we see as created is really just the process of matter that already exists and is disorganized, becoming organized. I guess the difference between God and us is that He already knows all truth, and so it’s easy and simple for Him to organize. Because we know so little truth, we have to struggle through the process of discovery.” 155
Brock looked at Cindee with amazement. For as long as he could remember, his perception of her was an emotional basket case that couldn’t produce a simple, logical, intelligent thought. All she had represented in his life was emotions and sex. This new amazement was produced by the realization of how wrong he had been for so many years. The intelligence had always been there. The potential and ability to intellectually connect with her had always been there. And suddenly the amazement became regret by the realization that he was responsible for the incorrect perceptions, not her. What had he done over the years to pursue the discovery process, to search for the truth? He had allowed distortion and negative emotions to blind him and bind him to the darkness of their relationship. If only over the years he had dealt with the negative emotions, and not ignored Cindee as a person, he would have been the one to initiate the discovery process, and so much pain would have been avoided and so many lost opportunities wouldn’t have gone unrealized. And then the regret became gratitude as he realized that it was Cindee, not him, who had taken the responsibility and initiative to find and use a key that could begin to loosen the chains that bound them both. Brock reached over and gently touched Cindee’s hand. As their eyes bonded, Brock’s words penetrated softly, deeply, and warmly into Cindee’s entire being: “I just want to thank you for taking the initiative to get us going in the discovery process.”
Less than a half an hour later, Brock commented out of the silence, “I think I hear Brinlee.” “Sounds like that’s our wake up call to get on with the day,” Cindee concurred. “What should we do today?” “I was thinking about a family outing.” “Great idea. Where?” “Not sure yet. I’m working on it.” “I guess it’s kind of related, but what are we going to do about Dustin?” “That one’s easy, at least for starters: try to find out if he’s interested in the truth.” He couldn’t see anything. It was another moment when all of the light was hidden by the darkness until everything was black, only black, penetrating, all consuming black. The transition between light and dark had occurred numerous times, and each time the light was the same, and the darkness was the same. He couldn’t see, but he knew they were alive, and they didn’t have any clothes on. He wanted to see, he tried desperately to see. It was impossible. He tried to imagine in his mind what they looked like, but the darkness had penetrated even the visual capabilities of his brain. All he had were his thoughts, intangible impressions that could only be translated into words, stinging and painful, frightening words. Finally the darkness began to give way to the light. He knew it would be the same. It had been the same every time. It was the same. Every face he had seen was there. Those attractive, seductive, inviting faces. Only now they were expressionless, as if they were figures carved out of cold hard stone. He didn’t care. He wanted to 157
remove the black shrouds covering their bodies as they lay motionless on the ground. The paralysis was still the same. He couldn’t move. He didn’t even try. He knew the effort would be in vain. Besides, the darkness was beginning the process of hiding the light again. In desperation he wished he could escape this alternating nightmare back to a different reality that he was certain existed. He was sure he had experienced a different reality before. But if he couldn’t get back there, then he simply yearned to vanish and become void of any awareness. Was it possible for the energy powering his mind to be unplugged so that it would cease to function? That would be a dream come true. Instead he heard a series of knocks, several at a time, creating confusion between where he was and where he had lost hope he could return to. But when he heard Cindee’s voice call his name, he knew he was free, free at last... Dustin’s first thought after opening his eyes was dreams are so stupid. His second thought was where do dreams come from anyway? As he slowly opened the door and looked at Cindee through groggy eyes, he realized that he didn’t feel like being rude this morning, and so he said evenly, “I’m up.” “Sorry I woke you. I would have let you sleep longer but we’re going to float down a river today and we need to get going.” “It’s all right. A river? What river?” Did I just hear him say “it’s all right?” Weird. “You know the one that starts at the bottom of the dam? Dad says there are really cool cliffs on both sides of it and a spot where you can jump into the water.” “We’re all going?” “Yes. A family outing.” The car was still backing out of the driveway when Brock asked Dustin over his shoulder, “What’s freedom?” Dustin was predictably quiet until he surprised both of his parents by actually giving an answer. “Being able to do whatever you want. No restrictions.” “Should there be any consequences, positive or negative, for whatever you do?” Brock probed. 158
“No. That wouldn’t be freedom. Real freedom is doing whatever you want with no consequences.” Instead of leading to another question or comment, Dustin’s answer became multiple questions in Brock’s mind. That’s an interesting point. Why should there be any consequences?
Obviously, this reality we live in does have
consequences, but why? What’s the point? Wouldn’t it be better if you could do whatever you wanted with no negative consequence? But if you didn’t have a negative result, would that also eliminate positive results? Or maybe just have no consequences at all, positive or negative? Or best yet, why not just have positive results no matter what you do? Cindee was wondering why Brock wasn’t responding. She thought he had started a great topic of discussion and Dustin was actually communicating. Do I dare jump in since I think I’m beginning to better understand what freedom really is? “If we didn’t have consequences, we couldn’t be free,” Cindee interjected. “What?” Brock asked, more as a reaction to Cindee's entering the discussion, before asking the more relevant question forming in his mind, “How?” “I don’t know, it just seems to be true.” Brock realized it was a good time to explain. “Dustin, this may seem weird to you but your mom and I have discovered that we’re both interested in the truth. Sometimes we can discover truth when we think about it and talk about it. You can join in anytime you want.” Dustin said nothing as he thought yeah right, like that’s going to happen. Turning to Cindee, Brock commented, “It seems to me that like Dustin said, freedom is being able to do whatever you want without any consequences.” Dustin was suddenly interested in the discussion. “Well,” Cindee responded, “if that’s true then it would be impossible for anyone to be free since we can’t escape consequences; they are a natural reality of living.” “But why do consequences have to be part of reality?” “It’s a good question.” Dustin was surprised that they both stopped talking for a few minutes. Parents always have an answer for everything. That’s probably why they say such stupid things. They act like they have all the answers and since most of the time they don’t, 159
they just make stuff up. But mom and dad aren’t acting right now like they have all the answers. Brock spoke first. “Maybe the importance of consequences is so we can become more mature…increase our intelligence. We were born into this world with potential, the potential to become more intelligent. Take Brinlee for example…” Brinlee stopped starring out the window and looked at Brock when she heard her name. “…if she were to try to eat some of the deposits in her dirty diaper, the consequence would be a pretty nasty taste in her mouth. We know that would be a very unintelligent thing to do, but at birth none of us knew that. Hopefully the bad smell deters her or we’re able to teach her by implementing negative consequences before she tries it herself. If somehow she manages to do it, however, without our knowledge, then hopefully she’ll live another day to decide that she doesn’t want to do that again. Bottom line, consequences teach us what is and what is not intelligent.” Brinlee was confused. Of course she understood her name, but it didn’t seem like “dada” was talking to her, and most of the words he was saying she didn’t understand. Usually when someone said her name they were speaking directly to her, and using words she mostly understood. “I think you’re on to something,” Cindee continued the exploration. “Without consequences we would never learn, and I guess unfortunately, even with them we choose sometimes to not learn from them.” “That still doesn’t explain how consequences make you free.” The comment had come from Dustin. Probably startled by the sound of the words escaping his mouth, he immediately looked out of the window and pretended as if he had said nothing. “I think it may,” Cindee responded with a tone of surprise that Dustin had been listening. “If after we were born we never learned how to take care of ourselves, we would always be enslaved by being dependent on someone else to take care of us. Consequences, both positive and negative, must help us learn to become independent, or free. Without consequences, we’d never learn anything, and we’d always be enslaved.” Then she added with an excited hint of new personal realization, “It is the truth that can set us free!” “What?” Brock said and Dustin thought. 160
“Decisions based on truth free us from the consequences of decisions based on lies and distortion, which enslave us. Using your disgusting example, a lie or distortion would be ‘feces are good to eat.’ The truth is: it isn’t good to eat. If we eat it, we’ll be enslaved by the consequence. If we don’t eat it, we’ll be free from the consequence. This is really gross,” Cindee continued as she gave Brock a disapproving look, “but living according to any lie is really like eating feces.” “You know,” Brock jumped in as he gave Cindee a little smirk for his disgusting example, “this is starting to make some sense. Animals have limited freedom because they have limited intelligence. Animals can’t really increase their intelligence, but as humans, we have the ability to dramatically increase our intelligence, and as we do, we can realize more freedom.” After a few minutes of silence, Brock pondered out loud, “I’m curious, what do you think we mean when we say intelligence?” “How about discovering truth and living according to it?” Cindee volunteered. “I like that,” he reflected. “Intelligence is discovering truth and living according to it. Intelligence can make us free.” Dustin sat quietly, deep in his own thoughts, so many different thoughts all at once. He’d never admit it, but he understood most everything that had been said. He’d also never admit that he agreed with what they had said. Or would he? He hated to be controlled. It was his parents, well, mostly his mom, who was always trying to control him, to enslave him. Maybe some of the attempts to control him, to implement negative consequences in his life were to help him to learn how to be free? But most of the time it was so over the top that he felt like he had no room to make his own decisions; he felt like a programmed robot, told to do this or don’t do that. Actually, it was almost always don’t, don’t, don’t and rarely do. He fought her because he didn’t want her controlling him, but that didn’t mean sometimes he didn’t think she was right. He just wanted to have ownership of his own life. He wanted to be intelligent, to make decisions that would make him free. Freedom was important to him. Maybe truth was important to him. It just wasn’t very appetizing when it was crammed down his throat. Besides, oftentimes he wondered if the reason why she tried to control him was because she couldn’t control herself. So many questions and so few answers. 161
As they pushed the raft into the water and climbed inside, the sun’s rays were only partially visible, due to the narrow river bordered by the magnificent height of the canyon walls. The curving, V-shaped concrete dam towered behind them as it faithfully held back hundreds of millions of gallons of water from crashing down on top of them. The river was gentle but flowed briskly enough that the paddles the Stewart family held in their hands were used for guiding the raft instead of propelling it. They all looked upward, except for Brinlee who was fascinated by the flowing water, each studying the different formations in the reddish rock and the occasional hearty tree or vegetation inexplicably growing out of it. When they encountered the first mild section of white water, Brinlee fearlessly giggled with delight as the raft bobbed up and down and molded itself to the small boulders underneath the water. A few hundred yards ahead where the river widened and made its first bend, Brock guided the raft out of the current and jumping waist deep into the water, pulled it onto a small sandy area. For about an hour, Brock and Cindee relaxed in the shade while Dustin explored the river and its shoreline. Brinlee played with her toys, alternating between the wet and the dry sand. At their second stop, the water deepened directly below a series of small cliffs that could be accessed by climbing up steep trails. Cindee watched and smiled as Brock and Dustin dared each other to jump from one higher ledge after another. When Brock did a laid out back flip off the highest ledge, Dustin and Cindee stared in mesmerized amazement before asking him to do it again. He obliged. With the raft returned, lunch finished, and the air conditioner working to cool off the passengers in the car, Brinlee promptly fell asleep. Brock asked Dustin, “Do you have any thoughts from our discussion this morning?” Dustin wouldn’t have been able to explain it but for some reason he felt like talking. “Yeah.” When nothing followed, Brock probed, “And?” While he felt like talking, he couldn’t find the voice needed to express the words, until finally he disclosed, “Being free is important to me.” “Do you understand the relationship between truth and freedom?” 162
“Not really. Truth is a word that’s hard to explain.” Brock looked at Cindee. She accurately interpreted the cue and began to explain to Dustin the basic nature of truth using phrases and concepts from the lenses. Periodically, she would ask him if he could think of examples that illustrated the concepts, and his quick, insightful responses surprised her. Then suddenly, as if some unrelated comment had found a related tangent, Dustin began to freely share with his parents the goals and ambitions he had for his life. It was a strange experience for him to feel like someone really cared about what he thought. When he couldn’t think of anything else to say, and both of his parents had expressed their appreciation for sharing, he closed his eyes and happily dozed off into unconsciousness for the remainder of the drive home.
They were twenty minutes from home, and neither Dustin nor Brinlee heard Brock’s phone announce that a new text had arrived. Being a safe driver, Brock handed the phone to Cindee and asked if she would read it to him. “It’s from 4257878 and says, ‘Do you want to take the girls out to dinner tonight?’” Cindee’s heart froze. Her mind immediately ran wild as she stared at the phone in her hand. Who is this from? Girls? What girls? I really don’t know who Brock is with or what he does when he’s away from home. Is this from some pimp? Has Brock been lying to me? Has he been pretending to be interested in the truth but really has been philandering with girls for years? Just this morning we bonded physically for the first time ever in an indescribable, almost spiritual way. Was that a lie? How could he fake that? What do I say? What do I do? This honeymoon for the last 48 hours has all been a fraud? I wish it had never happened because the nightmare is now worse than it was before we read that stupid book. I need to scream. I need to cry. I need to get out of this car. “Well, do you want to?” Brock obliviously asked. The sound of his voice seemed to come from miles away, and as the words slowly registered in her mind, she tried to transition from this sudden nightmare to the possibility that it really wasn’t. She needed to reassure herself. “Who is this from?” The tone was accusatory, and suddenly confused, Brock responded somewhat uncertain, “Travis?” Cindee relaxed a little. All she knew about Travis was that Brock had discussed the book with him yesterday morning. “What girls?” 164
Brock immediately understood what had just happened. “Did you jump to a confusion?” he gently asked. The turmoil inside of Cindee dissipated as she began to reconcile what had happened. How did I so quickly imagine the worst possible interpretation? It must have been fear. But what if it was true? Fear still wouldn’t have resolved it. I’d have to deal with the truth, just like Rachel is dealing with the truth. Fear can so quickly and easily create distortion. “Yes,” she confirmed with a resolute sigh of relief. They both quietly started laughing at the same time.
seemed to be the result of different and unusual perspectives of familiar reality. “In answer to your question,” Brock explained, “if it was Gavin, girls would have meant what you thought it was. Coming from Travis, it would usually mean the guys at work, but now you know it was you and Sabrina.” “Sabrina?” “She’s Travis’ wife. I’ve never met her, but my guess is they have a pretty good relationship. Anyway, Travis suggested yesterday that taking our wives out might be a good idea. I agreed and figured we’d do it in a few weeks. What do you think about tonight?” “Let’s do it. We might as well add another first to our rapidly growing list.” Brock opened his eyes. He glanced over at the clock and calculated that he had slept for only eighteen minutes. The house was quiet. Brinlee was probably still sleeping or playing in her crib. Cindee was lying next to him, and her soft breathing confirmed that she was asleep. It was mid afternoon and they wouldn’t be going out with Travis and Sabrina for a few more hours. He couldn’t stop thinking about Dustin. He carefully rolled off the bed and left the room to find out what Dustin was up to. His room was empty and the office was empty. He headed downstairs and found him in the family room playing a video game. Brock sat down and watched for a few minutes before asking, “Can we talk?” “I’m almost done with this level.” Brock raised the foot rest on his recliner, and eventually Dustin set the game controller down and sprawled out on the couch with his head on the 165
armrest. Brock wasn’t sure how to start, and the consequential silence felt awkward for both of them. Dustin began. “What did you want to talk about?” “I think about enslavement.” “What about it?” Dustin wasn’t going to reveal, but it felt good having his dad actually take some interest in him by wanting to talk to him. Telling his parents he wanted to be left alone and didn’t want to talk to them was usually a distortion of the truth: a lie he rarely recognized and wouldn’t acknowledge verbally. Maybe somebody does care? Maybe Mom might start caring? I wonder if the changes I’ve seen in her the last couple of days are leading towards that. I just hope this ‘talk’ doesn’t turn into a lecture about something. “Do you know what causes enslavement?” “No…well…parents?” Brock laughed. “That wasn’t exactly what I was thinking of, but you’re probably right; parents do distort the truth, only since they’ve lived longer hopefully they distort it less than their teenagers.” “You and Mom keep talking about distorting the truth. What’s the big deal?” “That’s what creates enslavement.” “How?” “It happens in two ways. If someone else distorts the truth, they can enslave you. Or, if you distort the truth, you end up enslaving yourself. The first type of enslavement you can’t control, but the second one you can. Unfortunately you have to deal with it one way or the other, but at least you can control how much you enslave yourself.” Dustin began thinking about the magazines and wondered if they applied to what Brock had just explained. He didn’t want to think about that. “It doesn’t seem fair that other people can do things to enslave other people.” “No it doesn’t,” Brock agreed. “And it definitely happens a lot.” Dustin didn’t reply. Brock continued. “This may be hard for you to accept, but what really matters most is what you have control over. Do you know what truths you distort that end up enslaving you?” Dustin didn’t want to answer. I don’t trust him. He probably can’t deal with my issues anyway. And if I tell him, he’ll start lecturing me on stupid stuff I already 166
know and don’t care about. “I don’t know.” That’s the best way to change the subject. Just change the subject. Don’t start lecturing me. “Can you come up with just one?” He didn’t take the hint. I’ll try it again. “I don’t know,” Dustin replied more emphatically. “I know it’s not easy to do,” Brock empathized. Why won’t he leave it alone? “I’ll tell you what,” Brock continued, “I’ll tell you one of mine.” This is interesting. “Okay.” “You know that during the week I stay out late with the guys from work.” “It’s pretty obvious.” “Do you know what I do?” “Not really.” Dustin knew. “I drink.” “So how’s that a distortion of the truth? Most adults drink, don’t they?” “It’s not so much that I drink, it’s how much I drink. I drink 9 to 10 cans of beer a day.” As the words came out of Brock’s mouth he felt a strange feeling. At first he couldn’t understand it, until he finally identified it as relief. I’ve hidden this reality from both Dustin and Cindee for years. I didn’t realize how much negative pressure existed from this lie I’ve been living. “How is that a distortion?” “It’s a truth, a reality I’ve kept hidden from you and Mom.” This is really weird. Why is dad confessing to me? I’m not some priest or something like that. I mean, that is a lot of beer, and he’s probably pretty lucky not to have been caught driving drunk and thrown in jail. “I don’t understand why you’re telling me this. I mean, that is a lot, and it sounds like something you need to fix, but now that you’ve told me, what if you keep doing it?” “That’s the point, Dustin; I’m ready to start dealing with this truth, this reality. I’m not going to hide it or distort it anymore. Trust me, I would have kept hiding it, and I wouldn’t have told you, if I wasn’t ready to deal with it.” “You really think you can?” “If I didn’t, then I’d be lying to myself by saying ‘I’m going to fix this,’ which would be another lie. By telling you, I’m demonstrating my commitment to the truth.” 167
“So how are you going to fix it?” “By being honest with myself, with you…and with Mom. Look how much progress I’ve already made: I’ve been so busy the last two days discovering truth, I haven’t had a single beer since I came home and played chess with you.” Dustin didn’t respond. Brock waited a moment so that his transition question would have maximum potential for success. “So how about one of your distortions?” Dustin hit the pause button. “Can I think about it for a while?” “Sure.” ----The lights were dim without the dining room feeling dark, the background music was soft, and the mood at the table was inquisitive. Up until the main dish had been served their four-way discussion had centered on family, or to be more specific, the unique differences and characteristics of each of their children. After enjoying a few bites of food, Brock and Travis dove headfirst into the exploration of political water, while Sabrina and Cindee quietly listened. When it was clear that the men had completely isolated themselves in their discussion, Cindee asked Sabrina, “Do you ever discuss politics with Travis?” “Sometimes. We both spend time on it, just not always together.” Sabrina seemed glad to be able to begin a “private” dialogue with Cindee. “Brock and I never talk about it, but I am really interested in it. I listen to a lot of commentary on the TV and radio. I probably shouldn’t though, it’s all so depressing.” “It can be.” Sabrina had her own way of dealing with it but she wasn’t going to impose her solution on Cindee; she didn’t know her. Cindee continued. “I’m not very educated, and I really don’t know much about government, but it just seems out of control and hopeless. Who can you trust? I never know who to vote for. It doesn’t seem to matter who it is; everybody is out for themselves, and they criticize and point the finger of blame at someone else. It’s like saying, ‘Do you want this bad option or this 168
other bad option?’ And then someone comes along that sounds different, and they sound really good, and you vote for them because you think you can trust them, and eventually you find out they’re even more arrogant, self-centered and corrupt than the person they replaced.” “I understand how you feel.” “So what do you do about it?” Sabrina hesitated. Cindee sounded sincere, like she wasn’t just making conversation. “Honestly, I think most of the news and commentary is distortion designed to feed on emotion and sell viewership. I skim through it quickly and instead spend most of the time I do have educating myself with knowledge of real value.” “Like what?” Cindee was very curious. “Real history. It helps me see more clearly what’s happening today. And the better I learn from the past, the greater the wisdom I’ll have in the future.” “But doesn’t everything that’s happening get you down?” “Not really. There’s a big difference between understanding what’s going on and being consumed by what’s going on. The news commentary becomes negatively consuming. By not getting sucked into it, I can stay productive and positive.” “What can you do that’s productive?” “Understand the issues, write letters, share what I learn with other people.” Cindee tried to process what Sabrina was saying. It sounded so simple and uncomplicated the way she expressed it. But there had to be more, something that could really make a positive difference. “That makes so much sense, but I guess I don’t see how that can really change anything.” Sabrina concluded that she was safe sharing real substance with Cindee. “It changes me. What this country needs more than anything else is people who can explain principles of freedom to those who don’t understand freedom but want to. I want to be one of those people who can explain it. And someday, if enough people want freedom, what I can share may have greater influence than any self-serving politician in power. My hope is that more people will see it like I see it, because if enough of us do, we will experience greater freedom in this country than ever before. And if not, I’m still a 169
changed person for the better. It’s time well spent, and it keeps me productive instead of feeling mad all the time and like it’s hopeless.” “So do you vote or pay attention to new laws that are being made?” “Of course. But how long does it really take to decide on a candidate and then go to the ballot box when it's time? And once you understand the basic principles of freedom, how long does it take to evaluate a new bill in Congress and email your opinion to your representatives? People waste a lot of intellectual potential listening to all the pundits argue and debate, and then they get riled up as they talk to other people about all the banter. Imagine what could happen in this country if we spent just a fraction of that time engaging in the discovery process instead of the distortion process.” Sabrina ended this last sentence with a facial expression that said, “You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?” “You read the book?” “Thanks for sharing it.” Cindee grinned. “Well I guess I did sort of pass it along.” “I heard Travis and Brock had quite the conversation yesterday morning.” “I’d completely forgotten about that. I’m going to have to get all the details from Brock.” “You should. I was surprised at how much Travis hasn’t told me about the ramblings going on inside of his head.” Cindee smiled. She really liked Sabrina, and hoped they were beginning a long and meaningful friendship.
Faith or Doubt
As they were getting ready for bed that night, Brock solemnly stated to Cindee, “Dustin’s addicted to pornography.” The words created shock, then disbelief, then increased disbelief, before making Cindee feel sick to her stomach. “How do you know?” “While you were sleeping this afternoon, we talked for a while. It took him some time before he felt comfortable putting it on the table, but he did.” “How long has it been going on?” “About three weeks.” “How can he possibly be addicted then?” “I’ve heard it doesn’t take much exposure, and it is already negatively controlling his thoughts and decision-making abilities.” “What are we going to do?” “I have a few ideas, but let’s get to bed and discuss it in the morning.” Cindee was very relieved at his proposal. She didn’t want to talk about it right now. In fact, she didn’t want to talk about it in the morning, or ever. “Are we still going to church tomorrow?” “Absolutely. What time does it start?” “Ten o’clock.” “That’ll be good. We shouldn’t be in too much of a rush in the morning.” Brock woke up first. While he patiently waited for Cindee to open her eyes, he tried to figure out how to deal with Dustin’s reality. There’s got to be a perspective, an understanding that can help him have the motivation to control his thoughts. For me, realizing that beer is a wedge between me and this family, a family that now I want to be a full-time member of, is my motivation to deal with the truth. But Dustin’s only twelve and family probably means nothing to him. If anything, his 171
strongest motivation is what his friends think, and it’s his friend that introduced him to the addiction. When Cindee finally woke up and saw Brock looking at her, the first thing she said was “I can’t deal with it,” followed by, “I know I should, but I just can’t.” “Don’t worry about it,” Brock reassured her. “Let’s first see if I can help him make some progress.” “Thanks…. Can I change the subject?” “Sure.” “Why are you going to church?” “Because now I can see the value.” Cindee was surprised at how quickly he responded. “What’s the value?” “You don’t know why church has value?” Brock playfully evaded her probing. Cindee smiled. Brock accommodated her interest in understanding this mystery and shifted to a serious tone as he explained, “When I was a teenager I concluded that science is the best way to know what is real and what isn’t. To me, it’s always been tangible, something logical, something I could wrap my mind around. On the other hand, I concluded that religion was entirely based on intangible and wishful ideas that couldn’t be proven. And besides, all the emotion was a turn off. As I read the lenses I realized for the first time that religious beliefs can be logical, and they can be proven. It’s just a different approach to understanding life, a different pair of glasses. Both science and religion have the same objective; to try to discover truth, and one without the other limits the discovery process. I think that by using both pairs of glasses together I’ll find and understand more truth.” Cindee moved over and snuggled into Brock’s arms. “I’m excited to go to church together.” ----The church building appeared deserted, that is if the cars in the parking lot were not associated as belonging to the people inside. For over an hour, to 172
the observer on the street, no one could be seen inside or outside. The doors and windows were all closed. The coverings on the windows were all drawn. Any sound that might have been heard on the inside of the exterior walls could not be heard on the outside. A main door opened. A few people walked out of the building. Then a few more. For several minutes the line of people exiting was constant. The people seemed happy. Brock and Cindee exited the church holding hands as Brock carried Brinlee in the other arm. Dustin was walking next to his dad and, uncharacteristically, was not staring at the ground. Cindee and Brinlee were wearing dresses and Brock and Dustin were wearing ties. The Stewart family seemed content as they leisurely walked to their car. As soon as the car doors closed and Brock was starting the engine, Cindee anxiously asked, “So what did you think?” “A lot,” Brock replied, “but I think the more relevant question is, what did I feel?” “Why?” “You know how the last lens talks about our sixth sense?” “Yes.” “I think you have to have that sense finely tuned in order to identify the truth.” Dustin wasn’t exactly sure he understood what they were talking about, but he was intensely listening from the back seat. “How finely tuned was yours?” “It was alright. There were times when what I heard made sense: It felt good, and it seemed true. There were other times when it seemed like there was some distortion.” “Really? Like when?” “When the emotions became too extreme and uncontrolled.” “But that’s the spirit.” “I know, but I think the spirit of truth speaks and is understood best when the feeling is calm and quiet.” “It was okay then?” “Yeah. You don’t need to worry, we’re going again,” Brock reassured her with a smile. 173
Cindee and Brock had together prepared a meal that everyone was enjoying. The conversation at the table was trivial and comfortable. When they were almost done eating, Brock proposed that later in the afternoon they take a drive to the mountains. “There’s a summit where the view is awesome and we might even catch a nice sunset.” Cindee and Dustin liked the idea. Brinlee didn’t have a choice. “In the meantime Dustin, you and I should probably talk some more.” “And while you boys do that,” Cindee added, “Brinlee and I are going to read some stories.” Dustin had mixed emotions. It had felt right yesterday to disclose to his dad his feelings of guilt regarding the magazines, but now he was wishing he had kept quiet. I really think I can deal with this myself. The guilt is kind of stupid anyway. That’s what I need to control, and if I do, then I won’t have any conflict. “Do you understand what sex is?” Brock’s question startled Dustin’s consciousness. “Yes.” “Are you sure?” “I think so.” “Have you ever experienced it?” “No.” “Let me tell you about it.” Dustin was feeling awkward and uncomfortable, but his dad seemed so matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Brock’s dialogue mirrored the new truths he had discovered while discussing them with Cindee the day before. He spoke slowly, chose his words carefully, and did not concern himself with time. This was significantly important in order to establish a foundation, a base of understanding, which would be needed if he had any hope of helping his son. He had a few specific ideas of how to build on the foundation, but mostly he knew they needed to engage in the discovery process together. Dustin could tell the explanation was coming to an end when Brock said, “What I’m trying to say is that unless you understand the importance and significance of sex, you’re going to wander around through life no more intelligent than a male dog chasing after female dogs in heat.” 174
Dustin was quiet for a while, a long while. He hadn’t imagined the talk being like this. His eyes had been opened to a perspective that made sense, even if it was very different from the world he lived in, where a completely opposite reality was taught. Which is better: sex the way I hear it and see it every day . . . or the way dad described it? With dad’s description I have to wait and control myself. What’s the big deal? Why not experience it as soon as I can? He says it will be better later, but what if it isn’t? What if I miss out on opportunities and he’s wrong? Brock interrupted Dustin’s thoughts. “Do you know what a false reality is?” “Not really.” “It’s like an illusion, a make believe reality. It looks and seems like reality but it really isn’t.” “So what are you saying?” “Here’s an example: all of the women you saw in those magazines, what are they communicating to you?” Dustin took some time to respond. “I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about it.” “Do you think they’re saying ‘women are intelligent and should be respected’?” “No, that’s stupid.” “What are they communicating then?” Dustin knew the answer but he didn’t want to say it. Brock waited. “Do you know?” “Yeah.” “Go ahead and say it then. It’s important.” “They’re saying ‘come have sex with me.’” “Is that real?” “What do you mean?” “Let’s say there were ten thousand men who saw one of those pictures. If the woman in the picture, in real life looked at all those men looking at her, would she really want to have sex with all of them?” “No.” “Probably very few.” “Then why did she take her clothes off?” 175
“What do you think?” “I have no clue.” “I don’t think she was thinking. She wasn’t using her intelligence. She was just acting on animalistic instincts.” “What do you mean, animalistic instincts?” “Remember the dog in heat?” “Yeah.” “A female dog in heat attracts a large following of male dogs that all want to have sex with her, and the average female dog will let any one of the males mount her. But superior intelligence is what separates humans from animals. Even the woman who acts on her animalistic instincts by posing naked in front of a camera, would not let any male looking at her in real life have sex with her. For humans, that’s called rape.” “Those pictures are stupid.” “I have to agree.” “But why are they so…” Dustin couldn’t think of the word. “Enticing?” Brock inserted. “I guess.” “If it wasn’t so enticing, none of us would be born.” Dustin quietly pondered on the thought. After a long minute, Brock interrupted the silence. “Dustin, here’s the bottom line: It’s your choice. You can choose to never find real satisfaction and be one of those male dogs having no control and always chasing female dogs, or you can choose to use your human intelligence to control the enticement, and discover and enjoy freedom by increasing your intelligence. My recommendation is that you seriously consider trusting what I’m saying; intelligent human sex is so much better, it can’t even be compared to animal sex.” It was a forty-five minute drive to the viewpoint on the summit that Brock had in mind. As they drove, Brock and Cindee casually engaged in the discovery process, and Dustin listened intently in the back seat. His parents didn’t consciously realize the positive impact their conversation was having in developing his intelligence. The topics they discussed seemed to move seamlessly from one to another, even if they weren’t necessarily related.
Cindee’s topic was first. “How do we not let annoyances become wedges in our different relationships? The last couple of days I can’t really remember being annoyed, but I know I’m going to be.” Brock thought about the question before answering. “Until we understand and can deal with all truth, we’re going to be annoyed with each other. It’s just a reality of the distortion process.” “So it’s impossible to always be engaged in the discovery process?” “I don’t think it’s realistic.” “How do we deal with the annoyances then?” “Do our best to eliminate the distortion. The more we’re productively engaged in the discovery process, the less we’ll be annoyed.” “It sure makes a good argument for what we’ve been trying to do.” “Sure does.” The car was quiet for a moment before Brock took a turn. “Speaking of the discovery process, how does one discover which religion or church has the most truth?” “Nice. Give me the hardest questions,” Cindee teased. “That’s because you’re the best one to answer them,” Brock played along with sincerity. Cindee smiled. “This is a really tough one.” “Well, how did you decide on the church we went to today?” “Years ago, I had a friend invite me to come with her. I doubt you know who she is. She moved to a different state last year, but by then I felt very comfortable socially and so I had no reason to look anywhere else.” “So you’re saying social compatibility is most important?” “It’s important, but now that you mention it, I guess I never considered it on the basis of what is being taught. I do like what’s taught.” “Based on my experience today, I saw value. But what if some other religion or some other church teaches more truth?” “I guess without looking at other options there’s no way to know. I’m just comfortable where I’m at.” “Would you be willing to move outside of your comfort zone for awhile?” “How far?” “I’m thinking long term. Occasionally we attend somewhere else. Sometimes we study together the different religions throughout the world. If 177
someone wants to talk to us about their religion, we openly listen to them for a little while.” “You’re just talking about the discovery process?” “Yeah. If someone doesn’t have any more truth to share than what we already have, then we’ve done a good thing by listening and respecting their perspective. Arguing and debating only creates distortion.” “That’s interesting. I’ve been wondering how the best way is to deal with people who only want to distort the truth.” “What do you think?” “Not sure.” Silence. Cindee ventured first. “I think the key is probably to not try to convince them of anything. Listen to them first. If they’re giving you a new truth, it’s a good thing you listened. If you’re not learning anything new, wait and see if they’re interested in your perspective, and if they are, they may benefit from listening to you. Otherwise, respectfully move on to find someone more interested in the discovery process.” “I think you’re right. More truth will be discovered by searching for it with those interested in it, than by arguing and debating with those who aren’t. And you never know when a distorter may want to join in and become a discoverer.” “I’m glad we’re both discoverers.” “Me too,” Brock agreed. “Maybe someday we’ll…” “Brock!!” Cindee screamed. And then it was quiet.
The tears from Rachel’s eyes flowed uncontrolled down her cheeks, until they landed on the newspaper article she was trying to read:
All alone in her eleven thousand square foot home, Rachel’s hysteria was witnessed by no human eyes. How could this have happened? This didn’t happen. This did NOT happen. Cindee’s going to call me today. We’re going to get together. Brinlee, sweet Brinlee...is is going to come with her. We’re going to talk, and play. Rip up 179
this paper and throw it. There. Rip it some more. Smaller pieces. Throw the pieces. Who cares if I make a mess. My life is a disaster. My best friend is dead. Her daughter is dead. I can’t deal with this. I don’t want to live. I want to die. Scream. Nobody can hear you. Scream louder. They’re dead. Throw yourself on the floor. Hit the floor. Ouch. Harder. Hit it again. Scream at the floor. Scream at the ceiling. Scream at god. How can he do this? How can he be so mean and cruel? Hate him. Why did you do this? It’s your fault. You did this. Why didn’t you stop it? Why didn’t you protect her and her family? It’s so unfair. It’s not right. Cindee told me on Saturday about the miracles taking place in her life with Brock. I didn’t hear from her. I didn’t want to bug her until she called to tell me all the great truths she was learning. You knew she was dead. You knew she wouldn’t be calling. How can you deal with that? You don’t care. You never cared. You didn’t care when mom was pushed and slapped and hit. You didn’t care when she died because she couldn’t deal with it anymore. You didn’t care when Garth made me kill those babies inside of me. You don’t care that Cindee died. And what about Brinlee? She didn’t even get a chance to live. What did Mom do wrong? What did I do wrong? What did Cindee do wrong? What did Brinlee do wrong? This hurts too much. Pull my knees to my chest. Cry. Just let it all out. Stay in a ball. Stay like this forever. Pull my knees tighter. Pull tighter. Cry. Will the tears ever stop? Will I run out of tears? Close my eyes. I’m exhausted. I hurt. Everything hurts. Just keep my eyes closed. Stop thinking. I don’t want to think. I want to forget. Keep my eyes closed. No more thinking. No more thinking. No more... ----This floor is hard. I wonder how long I slept. Oh, I feel sick to my stomach. Okay. I need to move on. It’s time to leave this house, this prison. Get up. Owww. That hurts. I was planning on tomorrow but there’s no good reason to wait. Okay, how am I going to do this? I thought I had it all planned out but now that it’s time to act I’m not sure. Just follow the plan. One step in front of the other. **Author’s Note: Sorry to interrupt, but at this point in the story you may be angry or distracted with the death of the Stewarts. If you are reconciled with this sudden shift in the story, please read on below this note. Otherwise, rest assured that you are free to bring 180
them back to life, to join them on the summit as they watch a beautiful sunset, and then drive back down the mountain in their car to continue the discovery of truth as they face the challenges of life. Life for any of us can terminate at the end of Chapter 23 as unexpectedly and suddenly as it did for Brock, Cindee, Dustin, and Brinlee. This is a real reality each of us must face every day. The purpose in experiencing on these pages such a devastating tragedy is to impress upon our minds the significant value of every minute, of every hour, of every day.
Every distortion we consciously
embrace or casually entertain is a lost opportunity to discover the truth during the unknown window of time that we have here on earth.
We each have the choice to believe that the Stewarts
continue to exist, or that their remains will simply decompose in the ground until they are nothing but a forgotten memory. As you journey on with Rachel, remember who she is and what she means to our story. She did not end her own life after the third abortion when she was overwhelmed by distortion and darkness, but instead pressed on in search of meaning and purpose. She found a book that gave her new perspective, and after sharing it with Cindee became a light and an example of hope that helped Cindee to have the perspective and strength to walk through the bathroom doorway. Cindee then accidentally shared the book with Brock, who shared it with Dustin and Travis, who shared it with Sabrina, who….
I left. You told me to come see you once I did. I’m glad you’re glad. Yes, it was hard, but you didn’t doubt me, did you? How long will it take for the court to finalize the paperwork? A few weeks is all? No hearing because of the warrant for his arrest? He’s going to be arrested? That’s unbelievable news. Maybe I won’t have to be so afraid that he’s going to find me and hurt me. How did the police get enough
evidence? The abortion clinic? Eyewitnesses? People were paying attention? They put themselves at risk and spoke up for someone they didn’t even know? I wish I could thank them, whoever they were. Yes, I did get a new out-of-state cell phone. 181
Here, take this card I wrote the number on. You’re probably the only one that
will know this number for a very long time. Stop looking at me like you think I’m attractive. I have to trust you. You’re my attorney, and the last thing I want in my life is a man. Besides, aren’t you married? What’s my bill so far? That’s not too bad. How many more hours do you think you’ll have to bill in order to wrap
this up? What a relief. I hope it’s not more. I have to scrutinize every penny now. ----I hate this room. It’s so small and ugly, and the floor is cold and hard. At least you have more than one room. Wow, three whole rooms that could all fit inside half of my kitchen. It wasn’t your kitchen. I know. I guess I haven’t even earned these three little rooms yet. But I’m going to. This feels good. This feels right. It’s not going to be fun. Well then, it’s about time. I’ve spent my whole life trying to have fun and what have I ended up with? Nothing. At least nothing that feels good for more than a fleeting moment. I want a foundation: something I can build on and feel good about whenever I think about it. I’ve got to learn to be independent. I’m GOING to be independent, no matter what I have to do to achieve it. This bed feels like cardboard on cement. Can I justify buying some foam to soften it up a bit? I’m going to need my sleep, what little I’m going to get. Work, school and a little sleep. That’s my life now, or at least it will be once I find a job. I hope I can handle the schedule. Maybe I’m trying to bite off too much too soon? Just go for it. If you can’t handle it, you can always scale back a bit. It’s kind of weird: I’m totally isolated in a brand new city I’ve never been to before; I don’t know anybody, and all I have to do is think about myself and take care of myself, but I don’t feel selfish. Just the thought makes me want to help other people, think about them, maybe make their lives a little better. What am I going to do with myself tonight? What time is it? The numbers on this cell phone screen are too small. Eight fifty or eight fifty-eight? What’s the difference? I’m so glad I don’t have a TV. It’s such a mind-numbing waste of time. I don’t think I’m going to miss it. I always got sucked into it and never got anything good out of it. It would be nice to have a computer, but someday I’ll earn that and learn to use it wisely. But what am I going to do with my time instead? Like right now? I have nothing in this hole-in-the-wall. I need to get some good books. I wonder if Cindee finished writing in her book? No, don’t go there right now. I’m not going to think about it. Don’t think about it. I can get a lot 182
of good books for free at the library. You should get some scriptures. I’ve never read scripture. I wonder if I can get different religious books at the library. So I guess tonight I’m just going to lie here on this pathetic bed, if I can even call it a bed, alone, 100% totally and hopelessly alone. You’re safe, and you have the future in front of you. That’s both exciting and scary. Don’t be afraid. Bad things might happen in the future, just like the past, but you can control your own destiny, even if good things don’t come until the next reality…where Cindee is. This feels right. I can do this. I can do this. ----I don’t want to wake up. Did I even sleep last night? Open your eyes. Why? I want to go back to sleep. You’ve already tried. Fine. Which day is it? I don’t feel my journal. Roll over and look. Where is it? Lean over. There it is. I must have kicked it under the bed. Day twenty-three. I don’t know why I write in this. Who am I writing to? Myself? It helps you communicate, organize your thoughts and feelings, express yourself, and maybe someday someone will be able to appreciate and benefit from what you wrote. Maybe. It does feel good to try to express myself instead of keeping all these thoughts bottled up in my head. Where’s my pen?
Day 23. I hope when I write Day 123 I have a better report. I can’t find a job I want. I’m not going to be a receptionist or secretary who gets hired for looks and put on display. School started a week ago, and I had to drop out yesterday. Well, I guess I didn’t have to, but I decided to. Before I came here, they told me that because of my situation I wouldn’t have to wait the normal waiting period to be considered a resident so my tuition would be covered. The day before yesterday I received a notice that 183
my tuition was due, and I ended up talking to five different people on campus. Apparently, the person that gave me that verbal verification over the phone was wrong and didn’t have the authority to approve the waiver. I ended up going as high as the executive vice president, and he basically said, “Too bad, so sad.” There wasn’t a single person I talked to that could have cared. I asked if there was any way to appeal the decision and, even though there is, it was obvious it would be a waste of time. All they kept saying was go get some government-backed student loans or apply for some grants. I looked into the grant process and it made my head spin. Besides, free money for being poor? No thanks. I’ve done the “get something for nothing route” and I’ve ended up with nothing. And I’m not going to go into debt by getting student loans, even for education. I know education is a good thing, and it will help me advance my career, but I don’t want to owe anybody anything. I’ll save my money and pay as I go. Maybe when I do have the money for school, I can do most of it online. Besides, I forgot how much some professors like to hear themselves talk. I have enough cash to live for 5 more months. I don’t want to spend any of it though. I hoped I could start with a job better than fast food, but everything I’ve pursued has been a door slammed in my face. Tomorrow I’m 184
starting two greasy fast food jobs. My skin’s going to look awful. I’ve run the numbers and working at least 80 hours a week between the two jobs I can save a little over half of my income every month. One of the benefits is that each job gives me one free meal a day, and fortunately they do have some healthy choices. There’s not much to choose from so I think I’m going to be sick of the food. At least I can eat inexpensively. Anyway, this means my “cushion” will increase by one month every month. I’m starting at the bottom and I think I’ve figured out a way to make the most of it. Last night I read an interesting concept that I think applies. “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I don’t totally understand what it means but I’m going to figure it out. And now for the really bad news. Yesterday afternoon, as I was riding the bus home from campus, discouraged and frustrated with another door slammed in my face, Rich called. He said the authorities haven’t been able to find Garth and that it’s like he’s fallen off of the grid. I wonder if someone tipped him off before he got back to town. Honestly, I’m frightened. It would be just like him to waste his time trying to find me because he wants revenge. Revenge for what? What did I do to him? He’s a monster and wouldn’t be able to understand the truth if he heard it 185
like the roll of thunder after lightning. Why doesn’t he just face the truth and deal with it? But then again, that’s how he makes so much money, using the law to twist and manipulate reality to benefit himself. For politicians and lawyers like Garth, the law almost always supersedes the truth. Well it’s not benefiting him. His life is one big convoluted lie that he’ll never unravel. If he found me I think he would kill me in his rage. I’ve taken all the precautions to cover my tracks, but now I can’t help wondering what’s behind me, what’s on the other side of the wall, or what’s around the corner. Will I ever be free from him? He haunts me. I don’t want to be afraid, but I am.
Oh yeah, the hot water heater went out yesterday. I hope I never have to take another cold shower in my life. I told the landlord about it. Hopefully it’s fixed today. -----
I’m so embarrassed wearing this uniform. This is definitely a different world from exotic cars and dresses that cost as much as a week’s worth of pay. Talk about feeling humble. It’s strange though, it kind of feels good. There’s a freedom to this feeling I didn’t expect. No problem, I’ll just wait in the dining room until Sharon’s ready. Where should I sit? No thanks, I’m not really thirsty right now. My life was spent worrying about what other people thought about my image, people I didn’t even 186
know and who could probably care less about me. Talk about a false reality, living almost entirely for other people’s opinions about my image? What could be less meaningful or less important? When it comes to other people’s opinions, the only perspective that really matters is whether or not they know that they are genuinely important to me. This uniform isn’t embarrassing; it’s a symbol and a reminder of my commitment to independence and the truth. And someday, when I’ve established my own independent economic foundation, I’m never going to forget how good it felt to wear this uniform. I hope I can always be humble…it feels so good, so real. But I still wish I could have had a shower this morning; that water is just too cold and I don’t feel very clean. Maybe tomorrow… There’s Sharon. I wonder how long she’s been working fast food? I hope this works out for both of us. Hi, I’m Michelle. -----
Day 29. I’m tired. I hope I can get better used to this schedule. At least today I only had one shift to work. I’ve learned something really important while working the drive-thru. The training you get is very absolute about how friendly you’re supposed to be when communicating with customers. It goes so far as making you memorize certain phrases, and you never know when a supervisor is eaves dropping or looking to see if you’re handing the food out the window with a smile on your face. For the first few days this was torture. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was smile and say friendly things. Inside I was feeling trapped and unhappy again. I doubted my decision to walk away from all the money and conveniences of life that are so easy to take for 187
granted. I felt like a slave in a greasy kitchen being threatened by my bosses to act happy. I wanted to keep my two jobs and so I did the minimum fake smiling and saying the right words with just enough of the right tones so that my job wasnâ€™t in jeopardy. Every smile and every word was a lie. I was living a lie, and just like Garth, it was haunting me. Then something happened. I donâ€™t know where the thought came from, but the idea was to try to smile and say the words like I really meant it, like I really felt friendly and happy. At first it might have still come across as artificial and fake, but gradually my perspective started to change. I began looking at each person sitting in their car handing me money and taking their food as important to me, and I had an opportunity to share a genuine smile and a friendly word that might help them to feel good or better about themselves and about their day. I think people can easily detect the difference between fake friendliness and genuine friendliness. I began to be genuine, and as I did I felt genuine, and as I felt genuine and real, I began to feel happy and content inside. Then my perspective on my situation came better into focus and I stopped feeling like a slave. I started feeling like a person of value who could share a small light of hope and happiness with others who might be feeling dark and depressed, even those driving an expensive car like I did or that acted crabby or rude. Maybe itâ€™s 188
silly, but I really started feeling that each person stopping their car at my window was important, and no matter who they were, what they were experiencing in their life, and whether or not it meant anything to them, they deserved to know that for a few seconds during their day somebody genuinely cared about them. Some people may not feel any different when they drive away, but I sure feel good about myself. I read something that I think applies. â€œI am the light of this world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.â€? I want to be a light.
The hot water heater still isnâ€™t fixed. Every day I complain to the landlord and nothing happens. For a few days I was really angry until I realized that my anger was like poison, poisoning me and causing me to poison other people. Instead of distorting reality by being mad at it, I decided to deal with reality. I stopped by the thrift store near one of my jobs and found a really large dented and ugly pot for a few dollars. Because my stove is gas I can heat a pot of water in about five minutes. I pour the hot water into a cheap plastic tub (I also bought at the thrift store) and add water from the faucet until the temperature is just right. Then I use a cup and a sponge and take a bath. In some ways I like it better than a shower, and it 189
certainly uses less water. I’ve learned that there are lots of different ways to tackle a problem, and even if nothing clever comes to mind, just changing my perspective can help me deal better with challenging and unpleasant situations.
I’m a little overwhelmed with the thought, but it’s time I started searching for a church to attend. I’ve only stepped inside of a church building three times in my life, and the last time was almost ten years ago. I used to think that a god probably exists, and then I read a book a little while ago and realized that there is no other logical conclusion - either a god exists, or I don’t really exist. The problem is I have no idea what he or she might be like. Finding a church might help me get closer to the truth. -----
Do you want to rinse or cut? I better be careful not to cut myself like I did two days ago. At least it wasn’t too bad. You went partying again last night? You might think it was fun but you have no idea how dangerous the fire is you’re playing with…you’re going to get burned. How did you get in, aren’t you underage? Go ahead and set it
over there. Maybe someday you’ll want to listen to my story and learn how beneficial nightclubs were to my life. Not. And you think it’s so cool that Marshall, is that what you said his name was, was able to sneak you in because you’re underage? There’s only one thing he cares about, and it’s not you. You spent your whole paycheck in one
night? Can’t you see how unintelligent it is? All those bodies hypnotically gyrating to distorted lights and sounds, and as if that’s not a good enough way to distort reality, inhaling and ingesting chemicals to make your perceptions even more bizarre . . . 190
and dangerous. You wasted the night with a ravenous pack of animals. But how can I fault you? I fell into the same trap. Maybe someday I can help you see the truth, to see it for what it really is. You still live at home? Do you realize how fortunate you are? Free room and board. Everything you earn could be saved for creating your future. Instead you’re constantly fighting with your mom…at least you have a mom…and wasting everything you earn, and complaining about how you don’t have enough? What’s enough? Don’t you realize how little you really need? You’re not going to appreciate anything unless you earn it for yourself and make sacrifices.… Me? I live
alone. Right now it’s a very good thing. Someday I may want companionship if I can find the right kind. Well, I work two full-time jobs, read books as long as I can keep my eyes open, and I think I might start spending a little bit of time looking for a church to go to. I figured that might shock you. You probably can’t relate to how happy and satisfied I am with my life right now. History, some philosophy, and scripture. It’s too bad so few kids read these days. I wish I had started reading earlier in life. The Koran, the Bible, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, and the Aqdas. I’ve sure come a long way from those romance novels Cindee and I wasted our time on. Yeah, if I heard all the names of those scriptures at your age, I’d probably change the subject real fast also. These jobs are a stepping
stone to my future. I just don’t want to squander today’s opportunity. Twentynine. The only difference between our ages is that you don’t have to lose the last ten years like I did. That’s a long story that I’d be happy to share with you. Do you want to get together sometime after work? Awesome. I hope I can be a good light. -----
Day 40. JULY 4th. My first real Independence Day! ! Today is a personal and private celebration, but it makes all the parades, barbeques, fireworks, and even a couple of speeches I’ve heard seem like a meaningless waste of time. For the first time ever I read the Declaration of Independence. I actually read it four times today, and then read some information about how 191
it came to be. What an amazing document!! Having sacrificed and made it this far during the last 40 days, I have come to really appreciate the ideas of independence and freedom. I’ve attended two churches and I can already tell this is going to be difficult. They were very different, but I heard some truth at both of them. I’m trying to listen carefully to my sixth sense. There are so many religions and churches in the world. How can you ever know which one is best, or if one is entirely true? Can a religion only teach universal absolute truth? Does God have a church here on earth? All churches must distort the truth to some degree or another. They all involve human beings with animalistic tendencies, and money is involved in every single one of them. Money and truth usually don’t mix very well. Maybe if God does have a church here on earth, the teachings are perfectly true but the organization is still imperfect because it’s made up of humans? I can’t trust anyone who tells me their religion or their church is the best. The only one I can absolutely trust is God but I don’t even know who he is, where he is, or how to communicate with him. I read another verse that I think has some excellent advice. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be 192
given him.” To me this basically says, “Talk to God and ask.” Some questions I’d really like to find answers to are: Where is he? How do I talk to him? Do I talk out loud? Do I talk in my head? How will he hear me? Will he talk back to me? How will I know if he says something to me? The next part of the verse helped a little. It says, “But ask in faith, nothing wavering.” I guess I just need to experiment and trust that he can hear me and that somehow he’ll respond. I wonder how I should do this. I probably should kneel here by the side of my bed. Ow, this old hardwood floor hurts my knees. Do I have anything soft? A towel. That works. Fold it over a couple of times. Ah, much better. Okay. Here goes. I can do this.
God, I don’t know where you are, but I know you must exist. I want to understand who you are, and I have a lot of questions. Can you hear me? Can you talk to me? This is really stupid. Do you think you’re going to hear some voice answer you? It’s a good thing nobody’s watching you right now because they’d be laughing their head off listening to you talk to yourself. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I am just being silly and stupid. Go to bed. Yeah, I’m tired anyway.
Day 52. I made the most awesome discovery today. I suppose this should be obvious because it’s so real and personal, but it’s as if I’ve been unconscious to this reality my entire life. For lack of a better way to describe it, there are three voices in my head. One voice speaks the truth. 193
One voice is always distorting the truth. The third voice is my own. My voice is the one that draws conclusions and makes decisions based on what I hear the other two voices say. The problem is, the second voice does such a good job of distorting the truth that most of the time it can be very difficult to hear anything the first voice is saying. As I’ve realized how peaceful and good the truth makes me feel, I suddenly don’t want to let the second voice prevent me from hearing what the first voice might be trying to say. It’s taking some concentration and focus, but today I began to quickly identify thoughts and words that the second voice is saying, and purposefully push those thoughts and words aside. As I did, I began to better hear the first voice. The first voice has a lot to say if it’s not drowned out by distortion and noise. Then my voice, instead of sounding a lot like the second voice, began to sound more like the first voice. My awesome discovery was realizing that the first voice is God. Somehow He is with me all the time. The days are long and test my endurance. My feet hurt, my back hurts, and sometimes at work I just want to be able to lie down and sleep. After several weeks of watching the clock move slowly from one minute to another, I decided to start focusing on something else. I try to solve 194
problems in my head, think about what is true and what is not, ask questions of co-workers to learn more about what they think, or engage in simple short conversation with customers. Time becomes non-existent when I do this, and before I know it my shift has ended. With all my challenges and difficulties I’m learning so much. Above all else, I’m learning to be happy and content with my life no matter what my circumstances are. It feels good. Maybe it’s the result of the independence I’m realizing through my sacrifices? I think the sacrifices are worth it. I hope so. I am glad I’m still alive. If only I could get rid of my morbid fear of Garth suddenly reappearing in my life. I’m going to try this again. I better get that towel or the only thing I’ll be thinking is how much my knees hurt. There. Alright. This time is going to be different. Out loud is okay . . . . . . . . . . . Dear God . . . . . . thank you for helping me to discover
some truth today, about the voices in my head, especially your voice . . . . . . . . . I want to learn more about you . . . . . please help me as I look for the truth, as I learn about different churches, so that I will be able to find the greatest amount of truth possible . . . . . . . . . . . . . I’ll try to be open-minded . . . . . I’ll try to recognize distortion and push it aside so I can hear you better . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I believe you love me, and care about me . . . . . . I’m sorry for being mad at you for what happened to Cindee and Brinlee . . . . . I don’t understand why that happened, but I trust you and I trust that someday I’ll understand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I know you love them, like you 195
love everyone, like you love me . . . . . . . . . . . . wherever Cindee and Brinlee are, please take good care of them . . . . . . thank you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . This feeling!?! It’s so warm, so peaceful, so complete. How long can it last? How long will it last? Is this God’s love? It must be. Did He hear me? He must have heard me. Yes. I do hear you, and I am with you. Cindee and Brinlee are well. Keep searching for the truth . . . . . . . . . . I don’t want this feeling to end . . . . -----
Day 145. It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote in this journal. It wasn’t for lack of things to write about and hopefully I won’t skip again, so I don’t have to play catch up like I am right now. Maybe I skipped because so many good things were happening.
On Day 126 I found a job at a really nice restaurant as a waitress. This replaced one of my fast food jobs. I love serving the customers and the tips are really good. I don’t have to work as many hours and I’m making a lot more money than the job it replaced. The best part is there’s a doctor who regularly comes to dinner with his family. Anyway, his family always asks if I’m working and if I can be their waitress. About a week ago he asked if I had a daytime job, and I told him I did. He then asked if I might consider quitting it and coming to work for him at his office. He’s a pediatrician. My old boss was nice enough to let me leave early, so I started three days ago. I LOVE it. I get to see so many little children 196
during the day. And of course I’m making even more money. I will always have fond memories of those two greasy stepping-stones because of what they meant in helping me on my journey to earning my own independence. I’ve decided I want to become a nurse, and to be the BEST one the medical profession has ever seen. I’ve run the numbers, and in a little over six months I’ll have enough money saved that, between Dr. Lawson’s offer to cover half of my tuition, and the money I’ll be earning during the day, I can begin and finish my schooling to become an RN without any debt. I’ll go to school in the evenings instead of my waitressing job. I’m so excited. I’ve overcome my fear of Garth. God has helped me learn that fear is a distortion of the truth. Yes, bad things, really bad things, can and do happen in this life journey. But this current existence is only a part of a universal existence, and what may seem so terrible and devastating in this life is not as important as the decisions I make to use my time to discover truth. If I waste my time and spend it distorting truth, that is the real tragedy. Whether Garth shows up or not, I will do everything in my power to be free from him, especially if he doesn’t show up. I am NOT going to let him paralyze my mind and my ability to be universally free. 197
I understand now why God lets bad things happen. One reason is it’s how we learn and increase our intelligence. Another is because He equally preserves everyone’s inalienable right to choose, but I believe He will hold all of us accountable for how we use this right. Besides, if everyone was forced to make good choices so that nothing bad ever happened, we would all be slaves. The hardest part to understand is something like a premature death, or extreme pain and suffering by innocent victims. When you consider a universal existence, however, this lifetime is the snap of a finger, and therefore as a whole the experience is mostly relative. What makes this time we spend here on earth less relative is how much universal absolute truth we discover and apply to this existence. I know in my heart that somehow, someday every bad thing will be made right. I just need to stay committed to the discovery process. It just makes sense. I’ve gone on a few dates. I look at men so differently now. Instead of trying to attract them with my body, I want them attracted to my mind and my heart, first. With this focus it’s so much easier to figure out what their motive is for a relationship. I don’t think most men are as bad as women make them out to be...we just need to keep them focused on the intelligent,
important things in this life instead of constantly trying to attract them to our bodies. Religion continues to be a mystery to me. I think of the ancient Greeks and how they had so many different Gods. It doesn’t make sense. I believe, I feel inside of me that there is only one God. But if that is true, why would one God have so many religions and churches? If God gave us scripture in the past, why doesn’t he give us additional scripture today when we need it so much? I think most religions and most churches teach some truth, but how can they all be God’s church when they argue and disagree with each other? Or maybe it’s that His church doesn’t exist on this earth and so we just have to do the best we can with what we have to work with? Or maybe it does exist and there’s a lot of distortion to keep people from finding it? If it does exist, then I want to find it, and I keep praying that I will. In the meantime, I’ve found a nice church that I’m comfortable with and the other members help me to discover truth. ----Wake up. I don’t want to wake up. If I keep sleeping I won’t feel the pain. Everything is sore, everything hurts. Yes, but it’s worth it. Now that is the truth. It is so worth it!! Where is she? Open your eyes and ask to see her. Can I see her?
After a few minutes, the nurse returned and placed the newborn baby in her arms. Her eyes were closed, and the expression on her small face communicated serenity and peace. She was an angel. With tears in her eyes she looked over at Anthony who was sitting uncomfortably in the chair next to her bed, softly snoring. He’s a miracle in my life. “Tony,” she said gently trying not to startle him out of his sleep. “Tony,” she repeated. Anthony opened his eyes and gazed through the blur of an agonizing and sleepless night upon the pale face of his wife. Their eyes bonded in an infinite moment in time, which drew to their consciousness the love that they so deeply shared with each other. “How are you?” he asked with concern as he slowly sat up. “I couldn’t be better,” she replied happily as she looked down and marveled at the miracle sleeping in her arms. Anthony got out of the chair, sat down on the edge of the bed, looked at his three-hour-six-and-a-half-minute old daughter through two small tears that had begun to form in each eye, and then looking up gently kissed her mother on the lips. “I guess it’s time to finally decide on a name?” he asked. “Yes.” “We talked about so many possibilities. Which of our top three do you like best?” “I like them all about the same, but a new one came to me while I was sleeping.” “And?” he asked, eager to know what would probably be the name of their daughter. “Brinley Michelle,” Rachel replied. Anthony pondered on the name for a minute. “How would you spell Brinlee?” “B - r - i - n - l - e - y.” He contemplated for a minute longer before definitively concluding, “Considering the past, the present, and the future, it’s perfect.” With one arm around Rachel, he softly and slowly ran the fingers of his other hand across Brinley’s forehead and down her face until the backs of his fingers rested lightly on her soft cheek. 200
“Brinley Michelle,” he spoke to her with warmth and affection. “Welcome to our family.” ----Day 1135. Today Brinley Michelle was born. Having earned my independence, I am so looking forward to continuing my interdependent life with Tony, and now adding to it my interdependent life with my precious daughter…
Where can I turn? When will I find The place I can calm my troubled mind? Tossed by the waves of distortion and sin, Where is the peace I should feel within? Though I can’t find my way, feeling lost and afraid, I’ll remember the promise He made…. If I anchor in Him, all my fears will subside; He’s the One who brings peace to my life. It won’t be perfect, but through Him I’ll see The good in this world, and there’ll be hope inside me. Though the world all around me is so full of sin, There is a place I found peace within: At the right hand of God, ever worshiping Him, I’ve given my heart and let new life begin. So if you can’t find your way to be near Him each day, Just look deep inside you and say…. “If I anchor in Him, all my fears will subside; He’s the One, who brings peace to my life. It won’t be perfect, but through Him I’ll see The good in this world, and there’ll be hope inside me.” So I’ll anchor in Him, all my fears will subside; He’s the One who brings peace to my life. It won’t be perfect, but through Him I’ll see The good in this world, and there’ll be hope inside me. I’ll see the good in this world, and there’ll be hope inside me.
The story has ended. Or has it? The story is your story. You are writing it here on earth, and you will continue to write it after you die as your perpetual existence continues. Your story does not end. As much as you might think that other people and circumstances beyond your control steal your keyboard away from you as you type; you, are the only author of your never-ending story. To be perfectly clear, your real story is not what happens to you, it is what you make happen!! Your real story is the thoughts you have, the decisions you make, and how you respond to every distortion and lie you encounter. So why then write and read a small portion of Cindee’s story, or Brock’s story, or Rachel’s story? Hopefully they were interesting. Hopefully you understood better some of your own story that you’ve written in the past. Hopefully you’ve discovered better ways to write your story in the future. Beneath the surface, however, these fictitious characters were meant to be much more than merely objects of fascination; they were tour guides into the discovery of truth. Almost every word they spoke, every thought they processed, every decision they made, link directly to a deeper understanding of the process by which truth is discovered. To explore beneath the surface, reread the story without the distracting anticipation of “what happens next?” Live your life, and at times reference parts of the story that have direct application to some reality you’re trying to understand and deal with. Keep in mind, however, that the book is only intended to be a foundational introduction to the nature of truth. The discovery of truth begins inside of one person before expanding into relationships, a family, a business, a community, a nation, and the world. Universal absolute truth governs all the affairs of men, women, and children. Recognizing the organizational limitations of the story format, the following “stop sign” can be used not only to answer the question “What do I do now to find meaning and purpose in my life?,” it can assist in organizing all the concepts and ideas illustrated throughout the book. 203
Why a “stop” sign? This commonly recognized sign has eight connecting sides that frame the message, “Stop, before you go.” The next time you come to a stop sign, try not to roll through it. ☺
Side 1 - See the World as God Sees It What is the lens on the front cover of the book, the lens that gives total focus and clarity to the world? Simply stated, this lens is God; it is seeing and understanding the world as He sees it. He knows and understands all truth, and just as Rachel learned to identify and push aside the distortions that entered her mind, we will be able to hear the truth that God speaks to us as we do the same. The World’s Greatest Spectacle is our ability to hear His voice, our sixth sense, which inherently helps us to understand what is true and what is not. However, distortion overwhelms us: it darkens; it mystifies; it scratches, and even tries to break this entire lens into unusable pieces. Fortunately, the lens is durable, and at any moment when we decide to focus, identify, and set aside distortions, the lens can provide clarity.
Side 2 - “Is this Intelligent?” The frequent usage of one key word is more valuable than any other in helping us to understand what is true and what is not. The word is intelligence. Intelligence is not the same as IQ, or clever, or intellectual, or cunning, or astute. As Cindee defined it, “Intelligence is discovering truth and living according to it.” One does not need to possess a high IQ or acumen in order to be intelligent. The most important characteristic needed is the desire to make decisions that do not enslave yourself and others. If you don’t know the best decision to make, use your mind and your sixth sense as best you can, and then exercise faith to fill in the gap of what you don’t know. This is intelligent. Fortunately, we naturally want to be intelligent. Unfortunately, this God-like characteristic is countered by the natural, animalistic passions of our flesh, which have virtually no intelligence. Understanding 205
this conflict, we can ask ourselves the simple question every time we use our eyes and ears, “Is this intelligent?” A man stone drunk, a woman partially or entirely unclothed in public, a heated argument, many types of music, hate, a news article, anger, many video games, the insatiable pursuit of money, violence, many movies, profanity, many TV shows, graft, any addiction, ego, non-committal sex, selfishness. The question, “Is this intelligent?” quickly and effectively sheds light on the truth, and helps us to stay focused on not making unintelligent decisions.
Side 3 - Time is a Gift Because universal existence does not end, universal time cannot be measured. Inserted inside of this perpetual existence is the beginning and ending of our life on this earth. This we can measure. Inherent in the very fact that it can be measured suggests that “lifetime” is important, and should not be wasted. Whatever time we have to live on this earth, short or long, is a gift from God because He made it possible. It only makes sense that His desire is that we use this gift of time to increase our intelligence. Nothing else has real value or significance.
Side 4 – Discover the Discovery Process Brock and Cindee “discovered” the discovery process. They explored it in great detail. As their thoughts, dialogue, and actions illustrate, time spent in the discovery process is time well spent increasing our intelligence. In our social interactions, we can squander time talking about the weather, gossiping, complaining, arguing, or we can find meaningful discussion that ends with the conclusion, “That was time well spent.” In our family relationships, we can spend our time continually frustrated and annoyed, or we can discover bonds of love that heal and inspire the acquisition of greater intelligence as we 206
help and support each other to become more independent and free.
Side 5 - Control Yourself, Not Others God does not control us.
Instead, He positively encourages and
influences as He equally protects the right He gave us to choose for ourselves. As He watches the stupid, blasphemous, and even tyrannical choices we make, He must exercise perfect control over Himself in order to protect our right to choose. His intelligence, His perfect alignment with all truth, confirms that the only control we should try to exert is over ourselves, not others. The challenge is that we naturally see outward, which combined with our animalistic tendencies, causes us to want to control everything we see. We conquer this challenge during this “lifetime” if we look into a mirror in an empty room and try to control the one person we see. This is intelligent. Side 6 - Focus on the Positive When a light is turned on in a dark room, the darkness immediately leaves. The brightness of the light determines how much darkness will leave. We have the ability to realize the same powerful effect on darkness. Rachel decided she wanted to be a light, so she started to find and focus on the positive, the “good in this world.” We can to, and as we do, external darkness may not entirely go away, but we will always find peace and hope within, as our darkness disappears from the presence of the light we turned on inside. Side 7 - Deal with Distortion by Dealing with the Truth Distorted reality that is self-imposed and imposed upon us by others can be painful. This pain naturally entices us to run and hide from 207
unpleasant realities by creating additional distortion, instead of motivating us to use the discovery process to recognize distortion and thus deal with it productively. Animal intelligence cannot comprehend this ever-increasing cycle of enslavement. Human intelligence not only understands enslavement, it also has the potential to free an individual from it. God gave us this lifetime to increase our intelligence as we seek truth and freedom, with the understanding that we might choose to squander our potential by enslaving others and ourselves. We can use our intelligence to discover truth so that when applied consistently over time we will properly dispose of distortion. God will help us if we genuinely ask. Side 8 - Love Others, Not Self Love is the greatest power in this world. “But,” you might counter, “what about despotic dictators, or groups of people who only live, and sometimes die, to kill others, or the destructive power of a nuclear bomb? Love is more powerful than these?” YES!! Any power that is used to enslave or to destroy others is temporary. Because it is based on lies and distortion, it will eventually be revealed for what it really is: a false reality. True love, on the other hand, is the greatest universal absolute truth. It will always prevail. Its power will always exist, because without it, we wouldn’t exist. The simple truth is that the power of love is realized through giving, not taking, serving, not receiving. God lives to give. He is supremely intelligent; He controls Himself; He focuses on the positive; He deals with distortion, and He loves unconditionally. This love is the lens through which He sees the world. The only way we can discover real meaning and purpose in our lives is to “love others” so that we can “see the world as God sees it.” And as we do, always remember: 208
The best lies appear to be the light of truth. Animals donâ€™t care about the truth.