Newsletter 10: Are You A Spiritual Zombie?

Are You a Spiritual Zombie?

I was recently chatting with my son about a “spiritual awakening” he seemed to be experiencing. During theconversation, he was describing what had been going on in his life for quite some time prior to this event. As he shared his emotional, psychological and physical conditions that had been so dominate beforehand, it struck me that he was describing something that sounded like a zombie, and I said “you were a spiritual zombie”!! His immediate response was “yes, that’s it, I was a zombie!”

Afterwords, as I was contemplating that conversation, it became obvious to me that many people exhibit at least some of these same “symptoms”, and I began to wonder how it could be “diagnosed”, and if it was possible to create a “cure”.

Signs and Symptoms

As I pondered these questions, a list of signs and symptoms of this “dis-ease” began to formulate in my mind…here are some questions you might ask yourself if you suspect that you’ve been “infected”:

  • Does life seem empty and meaningless to you?

  • Do you feel lonely, even when in a crowd?

  • Do you often feel overwhelmed by “negative emotions”?

  • Do you have a constant “gnawing feeling” in your gut that can’t be satisfied?

  • Do you spend a lot of your time and effort trying to find the “answer”?

  • Do you feel like life is out of your control and just “happening to you”?

  • Do you often feel anxious and fearful about the future?

  • Do you feel you’ve committed some unforgivable “sin” in the past?

  • Do you spend a lot of time vacillating between being a “victim” and a “victimizer”?

  • Do you feel you need to plan every detail of your life so as to avoid the next “disaster”?

  • Do you often feel “possessed”, as if someone or something else is controlling you?

  • Do you believe you are “unworthy” or “defective”?

  • Do you spend a lot of your time wishing you were someone else?

  • Do you have persistent addictions or other compulsive behaviors?

  • Do you have physical pains and ailments that seem to defy all “treatments”?

  • Do you sometimes feel like you are going crazy?

  • Have you accepted “littleness” because it’s easier to play “small” than it is to change?

Of course, this is not a complete list of the “symptoms”, but if you answered “yes” to at least one of these questions, you might want to consider the possibility that you’ve been “infected”. Fortunately, unlike a “real zombie”, there is a “cure”, and you are not doomed to spending the rest of your life in this condition.

OMG, I am a Zombie! Now what?

At this point, you may feel a deep desire to be rid of this “dis-ease”, or you might even feel more depressedbecause you can’t see a way out of this. The first step in freeing yourself from this “dis-ease” is to recognize and accept fully the fact that you “infected” yourself. I know it may seem that you somehow “caught it” from some pervasive, mysterious, and unavoidable “source”, but I can assure you that you are totally responsible for your current “condition”. Please do not read this as blame or an indictment of your “defectiveness”… as children, we were all “exposed” to this “dis-ease”, and because we were never “inoculated” against it, almost every one of us became a “host” to this insidious “virus”. Through no fault of our own, we all allowed it to “infect” us, and we’ve become so accustomed to living with the “symptoms” that we’ve forgotten how it would feel to be “well” and “normal”.

Where’s the Doctor?

We’ve all grown up with the belief that in order to be “cured” of any “ailment”, all we need to do is “take a pill”, and we will be magically healed of any “dis-ease”. I think it is quite apparent that no such “magical pill” , nor a “doctor” to “prescribe” it, exists for this “infection”. If you’ve taken the first step, as outlined above, then you’ve already initiated the healing process by taking back your power to choose, and the rest is quite simply an expansion on that theme. There are many resources available that can assist you in your return to sanity, and I would highly recommend that you find one that “resonates” with you and make the commitment to work it the best way you’re able to… this “dis-ease” has been with you most of your life, and it will take some time and effort to be rid of it. You’re ultimate healing is the best gift you could ever give yourself or the world. I hold a vision of you as already perfect, whole and healed, and my deepest wish is that you find the true happiness and fulfillment that you so richly deserve. NAMASTE!

===== This, That and The Other Thing ====

Teleseminars/Archives info: Up until September 4, 2014 (GGY 29) Greg and I were hosting a one hour, totally free teleseminar every Thursday evening at 8 PM EST. We’ve decided to temporarily discontinue them as we explore other possibilities in the future. We have thoroughly enjoyed these sessions, but feel we’ve covered just about all the important points and it’s time to move on… stay tuned for future developments.

You can find the archives of all the past teleseminars on my website, here. Greg also has a link to these archives on his blog site, plus a ton of other info, including a schedule of his upcoming live events and a list of his great books.

ECAP Tip of the Month: Take an action step each day that will bring you a little bit closer to your goal/desire. Try not to use your “brain” or logic for this action… just set an intention that you will take advantage of an opportunity that will present itself during the upcoming day. When you notice anything in your outer world that “feels” in alignment with your intention, go for it! Then, express your appreciation and gratitude for the “gift” that the Universe has sent you.

Contact Info: If you want to contact me, set up a free intro session, subscribe to my newsletter, or view an archive of past newsletters, you can visit my website at: BeyondBeliefCoaching.com. If you would like to read or comment on this, or past newsletters, or if you want to peruse my other brilliant offerings, you can visit my blog at Frankly Speaking.

Miscellaneous: One project I’m working on is to present a live video online workshop to explore and explain how to use the ECAP, and the material from Greg’s books, to get the results you are looking for. This will be a free webinar, and will be archived on YouTube as a resource for anyone who wants to know more about playing the game of “Grow A Greater You”… further details will be included in future editions of this newsletter and on Greg’s site.

Quote of the Week: “When we are lost in personality, it is not surprising that we often feel powerless, confused, and unsafe because we are basing our identity on an artificial construct.” (Understanding the Enneagram, 364)

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Quantum Life Coaching (Part 4)

Sorry for the absence… I’ve been so busy exploring and learning that I just have not had any time to sit down and write a new blog entry. Finally, today, I have the time and motivation to create my next mind-blowing dissertation. So, let’s get to it!!

WHERE I’M AT…

As of the end of March, I’ve completed 6 months of my Quantum Coach Training, which is halfway through the year-long certification program. It has been challenging, enlightening, frustrating and tremendously rewarding and, although I’ve had several bouts with self-doubt and mild “depression”, overall I’m glad I chose this path. If nothing else, I’m getting a good look at my personal and spiritual life and I’m being forced to deeply question my motivations and underlying, unconscious beliefs and values. That alone is worth the price of the tuition!

As for the course itself, we’ve just completed the Business Building module and I’m joyfully overwhelmed with all the possibilities that have been presented… I’ve discovered that there is an endless supply of ways to create abundance in my life and I’m now dealing with the task of becoming more clear about which direction to focus on. I feel like a child in a candy store !

Reconciling different philosophies

Over the years, I’ve studied many different “spiritual philosophies” (you can find some of what I mean by perusing the “About Me” link) but I’ve recently narrowed my focus down to 3 main “categories”: A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle (Present in the Now) and, of course, The Law of Attraction (as presented by Ester Hicks/Abraham). If you are unfamiliar with any of these, or you would like to explore them further, just do a Google search and you’ll find tons of info. For me to embrace any form of coaching modality, I had to reconcile these seemingly divergent spiritual paths because I felt that my coaching sessions  needed to be congruent with my spiritual ideals… I couldn’t use what I didn’t believe in!

English: Cover of ACIM Third Edition

The whole story on how I was able to see the “common thread” within these different philosophies is quite lengthy and I’ll probably write a separate post (or maybe a book!) about it, but for now I’ll just give a short synopsis. A  Course in Miracles (ACIM) basically proposes that we are all part of the Mind of God, and, although we have actually never left our Home, we are “asleep” and “dreaming” the reality we call “this life”. The process of returning to the awareness of our True Self is both highly personalized and yet universal: we realize what we “see” is not real, we become willing to let it go and we ask (the Holy Spirit, Jesus, whatever works for you) to heal our mind by removing the blocks we’ve made to keep God’s Love out of our awareness.

A New Earth

Eckhart Tolle, while not being opposed to what ACIM asserts, has a different technique for getting “there”: by meditating and non-judgmentally noticing what is going on inside, both as internal chatter and physical sensation, and just letting go of it, we can attain a state of PRESENCE. This Presence is our True Self, the Awareness that is conscious of who we think we are. That Awareness has become trapped into believing that the body, and all it’s experiences, is itself. Our path to true Freedom and Joy then becomes the task of realizing that all this “stuff” is just a distraction, and as we allow ourselves to move inward, we will discover what has always been there… our True Self as Pure Awareness. We then take that mind-set into our daily lives and begin to experience our world as a place endless beauty, peace, abundance and joy. Sounds simple enough, right? LOL

Now, for the tricky part. These first two ideologies were fairly easy to “mash together”, but the Law of Attraction proved to be more daunting. When I signed up for this coaching training, I did so because I expected some new leading-edge mind-blowing  life-altering “techniques” that would allow me to make a huge impact in my client’s life. I was quite shocked and disappointed when I realized that much of the material was actually stuff I had studied 20-30 years ago and had “moved past”. Although I almost withdrew from the course, I decided to stick with it and see where it took me… and, I’m glad I did!  The main techniques used in the course are based on the material channeled by Ester Hicks from a non-physical being named Abraham. It is loosely called the Law of Attraction (that which we hold in our “vibration” will manifest in our reality), but includes a number of other “laws”, the other central tenets being the Law of Deliberate Creation (we can choose what we get by deliberately changing our thoughts and emotions) and the Law of Allowing (we don’t need to struggle to get what we want… we just need to let the Universe bring it to us).

What you are living is the evidence of what yo...

The main reason I had discarded the LOA  as a meaningful spiritual path 20 years ago was because it seemed to be so “egocentric”, meaning that they were always saying “what do you want?” and the workshops were filled with discussions about how to be happy by getting all the things that would satisfy you. Anyone who has been on a spiritual quest for any amount of time quickly realizes that true happiness can’t possibly come from manipulating the external situation and that the pursuit of material gain only leads to more pain and suffering. I have to note here that the release of the DVD “The Secret” just further confirmed to me that this path was not for me. However, as I studied the recent books, CDs, meditations and other “Abe stuff”, I began to notice a shift in what was being taught: the emphasis was now on connecting to SOURCE to discover what your desires and wants are. Again, I’m not going to go into all the ways this is being promoted, but I feel this is a significant point. In fact, it now seems that all three of these philosophies are pointing to the same reference point for living a truly happy and fulfilling life while playing fully in the physical universe: a connection to your True Self, Source, Awareness, Higher Self, Truth, God, or whatever else you want to call IT… it’s all good!

IN CONCLUSION…

The Meaning Of Life Is To Be Happy

I’d like to end this with a little discussion about TRUTH… in this world, truth is a relative thing… everyone believes they have the “answer” and feels they know the “truth”, but, in actuality, all we can ever have is an opinion based on our beliefs. Almost all the pain and suffering in this world is brought on by people who confuse beliefs with TRUTH. It is a function of the brain (not the MIND) to organize your life so you feel somewhat safe in the chaos that surrounds us. It does this by drawing conclusions and making judgements about everything it experiences… from this it forms a world-view that determines each individual’s way of dealing with life situations… and then it goes out and finds evidence that reinforces its point-of-view and tries to prove it is “right” (and you are “wrong”, of course). I don’t care how many “facts” nor how much knowledge you can accumulate about any subject, you will never find true safety, peace or happiness from that endeavor. Being happy and feeling fulfilled is a conscious choice we can make every moment of the day… it doesn’t depend on external circumstances or the condition of the body… it is totally self-contained and is experienced by choosing to be conscious of who you really are… Pure Awareness. I can’t explain or prove it to you… the only way to KNOW it is to experience IT, and that is something I can help you with. I’m still offering several hours of free coaching sessions to anyone who is interested, although my time-slots are filling pretty fast. Obviously, this is not for everyone, but if you feel connected in any way to what I’ve said here, please contact me on FB, twitter, email (hover over my picture on the right side of the home page) or post a comment below.

Best wishes and many blessings… Live long and Prosper!!

It’s 2013! Welcome to the New Year!!

Hi, All…

I’d like to start off by apologizing to my many followers… I’ve been quite remiss in posting here on a regular basis, but I promise to do better in the future, starting right now!

My last post was about my new coaching classes, so I’ll give a short update on that. It is going very well and has been very challenging and enlightening on many levels. I have much to share about the many trials, tribulations and breakthroughs I’ve experienced along the way, but I’ll leave that for my next entry. Right now, I’d like to focus on something that seems to be on everybody’s minds at this time of year: New Years resolutions.

I’ve spent much time over the last few weeks examining my life and contemplating what changes I need to make that will really make 2013 a smashing success. In the process, I’ve been faced with  the troubling reality of my past attempts: regardless of what goals I set, no matter how hard I’ve tried, and in spite of my best intentions, I’ve never been able to adhere to any of my previous lists. I had finally given up and decided to just leave things as they were and continue on as usual. But then, at 3 AM this morning, I was hit by this powerful insight: keep it simple, stupid (otherwise know as KISS)!! As I sat up, wide awake, in my bed, I realized I had to get this brilliant idea down on paper (or, rather, entered into my text editor) to prepare it for world-wide dispersal. Below, you will find the results of my efforts… enjoy, comment and share:

My 2013 resolutions:

1. I will close my eyes and sleep when I’m tired; I will open my eyes and get out of bed when I’m fully rested.
If I’m asleep when most people are awake, I’ll call it meditation; if I’m awake when most people are asleep, I’ll call it inspiration.

2. When my eyes are open, I’ll see only what I want to see; when my eyes are closed, I’ll be sleeping or meditating.

3. I’ll speak only when my mouth is open; I’ll only chew when it isn’t.
I’ll never say or write anything I don’t want to hear. I’ll never chew anything I don’t want to swallow.

4. I’ll eat when I’m hungry; I’ll stop when I’m full. I’ll only eat what is on my plate.

5. I’ll exercise whenever I’m moving; I’ll do yoga the rest of the time.

6. I’ll use my ears to listen, my nose to smell and my tongue to taste.

7. I’ll inhale when I need air; I’ll exhale soon after that.

8. I’ll use my brain to think and my mind to dream.

9. I’ll be happy when I choose to be; otherwise, I’ll be OK where I am.

10. I’ll use all my other body parts for the function they’re intended, as needed at the appropriate times.

I’ll modify, edit and re-do this list as I find new and better things that I can easily accomplish 100% of the time. Although I’m totally open to suggestions, in the end, I’ll only do what feels best for me. Feel free to apply this list to your life… I guarantee you will be successful and content with the results. Please do not ask me to explain or teach these revolutionary ideas… I’m too busy enjoying my new life to waste my time trying to get people to do what they already do.

So, there you have it… can’t get much simpler (or easier) than that. In conclusion, I’d like to wish each of you the best in the coming year and leave you with another deep, thought-provoking quote: “if you keep heading the direction you’re going, you’ll eventually get there”, or something like that. Anyway, enjoy yourself as best you can… there’s no guarantee you’ll get another chance!

See ya’ on the flip side…..

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I wrote this on another blog a few days after the Tuscon Tragedy..

From a philosophical point of view, I find that almost everyone will see and hear what they want to (see and hear). Many claim that they are being objective, but, from my unbiased observation (HA!). they are actually filtering everything through a pre-disposed reference point. In other words, if 100 people were to observe any event, each would come away with their own interpretation about what they experienced. In reading the highly passionate and often aggressive postings here and on other sites over the last few days, it has become crystal clear to me that my assertion has been repeatedly proven.

I’d like to think of myself as a slightly left-leaning centrist and, from that POV, I can usually be fairly objective and am able to empathize with both sides of any conversation. That being said, it is laughable to me how far some people are willing to go to rationalize their perspective. And, judging from their level of writing style and their mastery of the English language, I’d have to guess that they are pretty intelligent people (and, I imagined that that intelligence would translate to a higher level of tolerance and common sense) It never ceases to amaze me how someone can spend so much time and energy defending an obviously untenable position. Of course, this may be more a product of my own unconscious biases than any real illogical assertions by the “other” poster.

So, what does all this mean? To me, it just seems insanely counter-productive for us to keep hammering away at each other just to prove we are “right” over every little seeming infraction perpetrated by the “other side”. I haven’t seen anyone budge an iota from their position, no matter how much “proof” is endlessly spouted at them. Other than hearing (and seeing) their own self-righteous spewings on a thread, does this blattering serve any real, positive end? The “other side” is obviously not going to suddenly have an epiphany and wholeheartedly embrace their assertions.Can we, as a species, afford the luxury of pointless, unending, non-productive, self-promoting posturing?

Am I the only one who sees that Rome is burning while we are fiddling??

ADDENDUM

After re-reading this, I’d like to add this: It is perfectly OK (and unavoidable) that each of us have our own opinions and beliefs. What seems to be causing all the problems is that many of us have forgotten (or choose to overlook) the obviously debilitating and impossibly polarizing effect of confusing those opinions and beliefs with “facts” and “truth”. Can’t we just drop our overwhelming need to be “right” and just sit down as intelligent human beings and have a conversation that works toward finding some common ground? Our very existence may depend on it!!

For What It’s Worth…

With all the conversations going on about the recent tragedy in Tuscon, I feel compelled to  add my thoughts:

GUNS

The biggest problem with guns is that they exist, and in great numbers. There is literally nothing that can be done about it. I don’t care how many laws are passed, they will surely continue to be available to anyone who really wants one (or two, three, or a hundred!). It would be impossible to collect them all and even if you stopped manufacturing them here, they would come from somewhere else. And, it is equally impossible to regulate them. Again, there are too many illegitimate ways to obtain a gun and any laws or regulations would be easily circumvented by anyone who was sufficiently motivated  to get one.

So, guns exist and are not going to go away, and, by themselves, are totally harmless. What makes anything into a weapon is, of course, how it is used. Which brings me to the my next point…

PEOPLE

Again, they exist and will for the foreseeable future (although it’s debatable how long that may be) AND they are beyond control due to an infinite number of variable inherent characteristics. No matter how many laws, rules or regulations are enacted, some will obey and some won’t, no matter what kind of punishment is threatened. They are the most unpredictable and, therefore, dangerous component of the whole equation. This point has been indisputably proven throughout history and you don’t need a PHD to see the truth of it. Which, again, brings me to my next point:

TARGETS

So, now we have guns and people, and the obvious need for targets. I mean, no one owns a gun simply to show them off or “collect” them… they are for aiming and shooting and, certainly, the intention is that a bullet will strike some predetermined target. Whether or not the bullet actually hits the intended target is of little importance in the final analysis for once the trigger is pulled, anything or anyone can be the “receptor”… collateral damage is inherent in the act of shooting. Once the projectile is on its way, no amount of second-thinking or regret will alter its course… the deed is done and the results are final. Although there were many opportunities to avoid this outcome, the choice has been made and is irreversible. Unlike an insult, a slap or a punch, a gunshot usually causes permanent damage, if not death. Yet, it seems many are able to perform this act with as little thought as it would take to order a Happy Meal at McDonald’s…. WHY?

DESENTIZATION

From my personal observation, I think, as a society (mankind as a whole) has become completely disconnected at the individual level. The “how” and “why” of it would require a separate lengthy discourse and I’m not going to go into it, here. I will say that I think technology (cell phones, computers, violent games, etc), the decentralized, mobile family unit and ego-centric “me” thinking has all contributed to this phenomenon. “You, your feelings and your life mean nothing to me” seems to be the mantra of  today’s society. People become nothing more than disembodied avatars in a surrealistic computer game and can be unemotionally blown away if they seem to be preventing anyone from winning their “game”. Yes, this is a generalization, and, as such, is not 100% accurate but I think it describes the situation fairly well.

CONCLUSION

This may seem to some to be dark and dreary “doom and gloom” synopsis… and, well, it is. To me, this shooting in Tuscon (and the vitriolic rhetoric that preceded it) are all just symptoms of a dysfunctional society. The larger problem, I’m afraid, is much more pervasive and dangerous. We, as a species, are on the brink of extinction and we can no longer afford the luxury of irresponsibly promoting our individual, self-centered agendas. We desperately need to engage in a new conversation that overlooks nationality, politics, money, religion and any other belief system that generates polarization rather than co-operation. And, there is no time left to waste in initiating it… the Gaea-clock is winding down and the “human experiment” is precariously close to ending. Isn’t it time for a change? Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution?

I thank anyone who has taken the time and effort to read this post, and I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough or eloquent enough to get my point fully across. In spite of my short-comings, I think that anyone who has the openness and willingness to understand it will be able to see what I’ve tried to communicate. Hopefully, it makes a difference in your life, and, either way, I’d love you to leave a comment and/or pass this on to others. PEACE!

Family Values

As the Xmas holiday season approaches, my thoughts turn to a theme that is often on my mind: family values in today’s society. It seems to me that there has been a shift in recent times that is both troubling and possibly disastrous  to the quality of life we may have in the future. I was brought up with the idea that there was nothing more important than the family and that it was imperative to take the time and effort needed to keep those relationships alive.  Of course, one of the big problems today is that the families have become so “decentralized”; when I grew up, practically everyone that was related to me lived nearby and it was easy (and “normal”) to get together quite often. I thoroughly enjoyed these family gatherings and their significance changed as I got older. As a child, I could enjoy a carefree day playing with all my cousins (the best of times!) and, as an adult, I spent my time freely talking with all my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles , etc.(I have to admit here that during my teen years, I drifted slightly away from this but came to value it more as I became an adult and a parent). We openly discussed what was happening in our lives and celebrated our victories and empathized about our hardships. There were very few secrets and  everyone knew what was going on in everyone else’s lives. Today, most families are scattered all over the country (and some outside the US) and it is difficult to physically gather for any casual social event. Of course, we now have the internet, email and Facebook to keep us informed and “in touch” but that hardly takes the place of actually spending some quality time with relatives.

The real issue for me is the lack of emphasis that this generation puts on honoring these family relationships. I know this a generalization and that there are still a few who find it important to stay connected, but mostly I don’t see all that much effort. The area that really bothers me the most is in regards to how grandparents are relegated to the “back burner”. My wife, Helga, and I, feel tremendously fortunate (and thankful) to have been raised in the same physical house as our grandparents. We’ve often talked about how great it was to be able to visit with them and to feel safe and unconditionally loved while in their presence. For me, it was a haven that I could visit anytime I wanted; a refuge that I could escape to no matter how badly things were going in my “other world”. There were always kind words of encouragement, a warm hug and loving smiles, a feeling of total acceptance and safety. My tears would be wiped away and all my troubles would disappear. And, maybe more importantly, I learned a tremendous amount about life from them. Not so much in their words but by their example and their way of “being”. The elderly are an irreplaceable source of knowledge and wisdom that has been gathered through the trials and tribulations of a long and often tumultuous life journey.

Sadly, in today’s society, we relegate this great resource to nursing homes and other “elderly care ” units, leaving them to rot in loneliness and despair. We are all too busy with our own tiny, shallow lives to take the time and effort to care for them (or even to visit or call them!). I have to admit I’m as guilty as anyone else in regards to this and I often fall short in meeting my own expectations. But, as I grow older and I personally feel more of the pain of isolation and neglect, I’m forced to reflect on the severity of the situation. Everyone is a loser in this scenario (if you don’t see how this is so, please go back and re-read what I’ve written above) and our world becomes a little less meaningful. a little less loving and a lot more inconsequential , jaded and empty.

In closing, I have to say I have no solution to this; it really is a matter of each person examining their own lives and looking objectively and deeply at how this affects them personally,  and how it touches the lives of those they love. As the holiday season approaches and you are wondering what gifts to give, maybe it’s time to contemplate how powerful it would be to give the easiest gift of all: Your Self!

Many blessings and a Joyous, Peaceful, Prosperous and Loving New Year to you all….

Hawaii ’68: Part 3

And, so, the story continues:

Small-water-pipe

Image via Wikipedia

Discovering Drugs

Before coming to Hawaii, I had absolutely no direct knowledge of the drug scene… coming from a small Northeastern town kept me isolated from that whole “culture”. Sure, I had heard of pot and LSD, but I knew no one who had used it and I personally had no contact with it. That being said, I did have a mild curiosity about it.

On weekend nights, we would head down to Honolulu to walk the tourist-crowded streets and absorb some of the local “color”. One of the places we frequented was a street-side “park” that had a number of small vendor booths and a mix of locals and tourists wandering around. I ended up befriending  a number of locals, a few of which were obviously “hippies”.  Eventually, one of them asked if we would be interested in getting high and I hesitantly agreed. Even though I tried a few “hits” on a couple of different occasions, I never really got much out of it and didn’t see what the hoopla was all about. One night, they asked if I wanted to buy some and I said I would take a “sample” to my friends so we could pool our money if we decided we liked it. They gave me a small bud and I took it home. We (Joe, Frank and I) found a pipe and filled it with the small sample. We smoked it until all that was left was seeds and none of us felt “high”.  We posited that maybe we hadn’t really got all of it and kept trying to burn the seeds… obviously, this didn’t help. We concluded that it was no big deal and put the whole drug thing on the back burner, so to speak.

One of the guys boarding at our “home” was from California and seemed to have a lot of experience with drugs (he proved to be quite a bullshitter and so we treated his assertions with much skepticism). He said he had some “acid” and would sell us a “hit” for $4, so I decided to give it a try, although everyone else declined. I’m not sure if I even got off since I felt an overwhelming need to “act” as if I was “tripped out” to prove it was such a great time. For all I know, the pill was just aspirin he had in his pocket… these experiences left me somewhat unexcited about the drug scene, but I was still willing to learn more.

When I had moved into my third residence (more on this later), one of the cottages in the neighborhood housed a bunch of Navy guys. They were often out to sea, but when they had shore leave, they would throw gigantic parties at their place. I was at one of these parties and we were sitting on the floor around a huge spool\table (low tables are an Oriental custom) and the table was covered with food, drinks and all sorts of drugs. We were passing a waterpipe loaded with Vietnamese pot (I think it was laced with opium), followed by an assortment of different bottles of whiskey, rum, vodka, etc. Some time during the evening, someone popped a pill in my mouth and said “enjoy the trip!”…  Dude, I got off!! I couldn’t believe that the world I experienced that night was the same place I had lived in for the past 19 yrs. After that, I never had a problem getting high on anything I sampled. This ultimately led to about 4 yrs of totally insane fun-time (but often irresponsible) behavior. More on this in another story.

Another bodyboarder at Waikiki Beach

Image by Trisha Weir via Flickr

Exploring the Island

We spent a considerable amount of time checking out the sites and beaches on the Island, One of our favorites was Waikiki because it was nearby and loaded with great looking tourist chicks. Joe and Frank decided to try surfing but, because of my poor swimming skills, I would stay on the beach while they went out and tried the “surf”. Waikiki is a very popular spot for beginner surfers because it is very shallow for quite a distance out and the waves are smaller and easy to navigate. One day, I got bored and decided to “visit” the guys who were sitting and waiting for a wave. I was wearing sneakers because the ocean floor has a lot of sharp coral there and, because the water is so clear, I was really enjoying the show as I walked out. As I was approaching the area where several surfers had gathered, one of the locals asked me: “what are you doing out here? don’t you know about the ‘cudas?”. “Cudas?” I said, with a little apprehension. He continues: “yeah, barracudas… dude, they hang out hidden in the coral and they are known to attack anything that moves!”. I can’t really express the panic I felt at that moment… I was “way out” and, as I turned toward the beach, it looked like it was thousand miles away… how was I going to get back?

Somehow, I managed to take the first steps toward shore, watching carefully as I stepped between the clumps of now-barracuda-infested coral. All I could imagine was some fish taking a chunk out of my leg or dragging me off to feed its young! It was one of the most terrifying times in my life, but, hey, I survived. That was one of the last times I actually went into the water while in Hawaii.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach, Waikiki, Hawaii

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Other trips

On another occasion, we traveled to Sunset Beach and spent the day splashing around and ogling the local fare. It was a great beach, but not much happened except, on the way home, I discovered my class ring was missing! We immediately turned around and tried to find it (HAHA!) but to no avail.

Another time we stopped at Waimea Bay where some of the worlds best pro surfing takes place. The waves were about 20-25 feet high that day and we were told they get much larger during the winter “storm surf”. I also learned that what made the waves so high and spectacular (and dangerous!) was the hard bottom comprised of mostly coral. When the big waves come in, they suck the water out and there is little left at the bottom for the surfer to fall into. Can you imagine falling from the crest of a 30 ft wave into a bunch of rocks and then getting crushed by tons of water!? Another reason not to pursue a career in surfing…

One of our friends (Dave Jensen) from NY got bored after we left and decided to move to Hawaii to join the party. He had a cycle, too, and so we took a ride around the island so I could show him some of the sites. They had no helmet law there and so we often rode without one (foolish) and, on that particular day, all I wore was shorts and sandals. While riding on the north side of the island, we came into a gravel strewn curve and my bike slid out from under me. I bounced and bumped along the rough pavement until my bike and I came to rest in a ditch. Needless to say, I lost a fair amount of skin all over my body, especially on my knees and elbows, but nothing was broken. We got directions to the local hospital and Dave gave me a ride on the back of his bike. The ER people kinda freaked when I hobbled in but managed to stop the bleeding, clean up the cuts and apply bandages. I hopped back on the bike and Dave drove me back to my bike. On inspection, it seemed drivable but a few things were messed up: one mirror was missing, the gas tank was badly dented, much of the chrome was scratched up and the shifter was bent. To top it all off, scabs had formed on my cuts and I was starting to stiffen up. But, we had no other way to get the bike home, so I gingerly hopped on my bike and we slowly made our way home.

Description: Surf at Waikiki Beach à Honolulu ...

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Moving On…

After 2 months in our first place, we moved to an unfurnished apartment closer to school. We had a few mattresses on the floor  for beds and a giant wire-spool end for a table. That was about it. During this time, we discovered the PX on the local naval base and were able to buy gallons of booze for a very cheap price…. big mistake! And, we were able to qualify for food stamps, so that helped. It was during this time that I realized I didn’t have enough money to make a full year in school so I decided to try finding a job. That’s when I learned about how it feels to be discriminated against. Hawaii is the only place in the US that a white person is in the minority and is treated like a second rate citizen. Sure, they love tourists who come in and spend their money but they hate mainlanders who try to come there to live. Needless to say, all my attempts met with total rejection.

I don’t remember exactly why, but we decided to split up at this point. I got a place sharing a cottage on a small side street. It was a very diverse neighborhood, and the residents were quite interesting. I already mentioned the Navy crew I often partied with; there was also a group of “he\shes” (gay hairdresser guys who dressed as women when “going out”) and a small biker gang. These two groups stuck in my mind because I spent a lot of time socializing with them. One of the favorite “games” the he\shes liked to play was to go down to one of the popular hang-outs for guys who were on shore leave. They would dress themselves in very “hot” outfits (believe me when I say you could hardly tell they were men) and they would flaunt their stuff until they gathered a bunch of unsuspecting swabees. They would invite them to their place for a party and when things got heated up (as in some of the guys were starting to grope and grab), they would pull open their clothes and yell, as one “sorry, we’re just men!”. As you might imagine, this didn’t go over very well with most of the participants and there were often threats of bodily harm by the now-inebriated crew. The he\shes were well prepared for this and would pull out pistols (that they had hidden beforehand) and convinced the “guests” that it was now time to leave as they escorted them out the door. I know this seems far-fetched but I can assure you it is all very true… I witnessed it for myself and it totally blew my mind. I think these “guys” liked me because I was pretty open-minded and held no judgments about who they were. They invited me and my friends (Joe and Frank) to a Xmas party they were throwing, and we accepted. On this occasion, for reasons I’m not too sure of, they dressed like regular guys and we all just hung out and partied. Then, it came time to open gifts: they sat in pairs (with their significant others), often on each others lap, and opened the gifts. There is something really strange about watching grown men hugging and kissing each other as they get all excited about the new bras and other “girly stuff” they received. Although I found it rather amusing, Joe and Frank really freaked and decided to leave… how rude!

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) underway off Southern ...

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The other people I got to know pretty well (mostly because they always had good pot) were the bikers. One of them had a job collecting garbage at Pearl Harbor and took me with him a few times to help out. He was supposed to pay me for that but never got around to it… in retrospect, it was worth the chance to get a tour of the facility that no tourist ever got. One thing I learned, by seeing the garbage that each ship “provided”, was that submariners ate better than anyone else in the Navy (lots of lobster and steak). I also got to see the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise up close in dry deck. It was there to be repaired after a fire that had caused heavy damage. As a fringe benefit, when it became time for me to fly back to Auburn, and I realized I had no winter wear for the trip (it was January), he got me a real Pea Coat off one of the ships.

Miscellaneous

As you may have gathered by now, I did end up dropping out of school… I was out of money, I had lost all enthusiasm for doing the work needed, and I was terribly homesick. I was able to salvage most of my classes by getting passing grades and I was later able to transfer them toward my degree work back in Auburn. One of the pleasant surprises I had was in my Italian class. A few days into the semester, my teacher asked me to stay after class and she asked me if I knew what part of Italy my grandparents were from. When I told her it was near Naples, she informed me that her maiden name was Colella and here family was also from that region and she had married a guy whose last name was Preston, who was from Cortland, NY. As we talked, I realized that he had lived on the same street as the Evangalistas, my cousins (the name of the street was Preston St, since his family had lived there for so many years). I think this played a part in my final grade: toward the end of the semester, she asked us to write a paper, stating what grade we thought we should get and why. I explained that, although I probably deserved a C, I really needed a B to help pull up my miserable GPA. And, that’s what I got! Thank you, Mrs. Preston!

Diamond Head cone seen from the coast off Waikīkī

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Oh, yeah, I did get a chance to go to a concert in Diamond Head. That’s right… IN Diamond Head! I don’t remember much about that day except going through a long tunnel and being surrounded by a sea of hippys. I know I got pretty fucked up and I can’t remember who played there, and years later, someone told me Hendrix had played there. Although sometimes I imagine I saw him that day, I have no clear memory of it.

Epilogue

I know I’ve missed some pretty significant “happenings”, and, as they come to mind in the future, I’ll be adding them. To the best of my knowledge, these stories are true and accurate. One major “shift” that this whole episode initiated was my introduction and absorption into the drug culture. Up to that point, I had a pretty “normal” view of life: you went to school, partied a little, got your diploma (I was working toward a degree in Electrical Engineering), got a job, found someone you “loved”, married her, raised a family and lived happily ever after. When I returned to Auburn right after the first of the year, I enrolled back at ACC but couldn’t get back into the school thing. I ended up dropping out and partying, non-stop, for the next 4+ yrs. During that time, I met Leslie, married her, and started my own electronic repair business (thanks to my father), had a couple of great kids and, later, returned to college to get an AAS degree.  I plan on writing more about some of the more significant events of that period, but for now, that is a pretty good summation.

In closing, I’d like to say that I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if this whole episode in my life had not happened, or, at least, had been significantly different. I find that this is a waste of time… in retrospect, I feel as if everything had to go the way it did. I’m very happy with who I am, NOW, and I can see clearly that my life path, although bumpy at times, was exactly perfect in the way it unfolded. My apologies to all those who were hurt or negatively affected by my choices during that period… I always did the best I could with what I knew at that time. Some choices were better than others… but, hey, that’s life!

Oh, yeah, a couple of other vignettes just came to mind. My family came to meet me at Hancock Airport… one of them was my Aunt Millie. The last they saw me, I had “normal” hair and had since let it go long. (I’ve seen pictures of myself from that time and, although I thought I looked pretty cool, I have to admit I looked like shit!) Well, everyone totally flipped when they saw me and she still reminds me of it to this very day.  The other memory I have is going to the pool hall the next day after my return and seeing a bunch of my old drinking buddies. I walked up to them, all excited about my new discoveries, wanting to be the first to introduce them to the whole pot smoking thing. Well, to my surprise, they had gone through almost the same thing, and had all dropped out of their respective schools. That was the beginning of the “lost summer of ’69”. As I said before. I’ll cover that, and more, later, but if you want to skip to the next big event, read Woodstock… revisited.