Week #17 (review) – Finding the missing pieces

Puzzle with missing pieces

(What am I pretending not to know?  What in the world does that mean?  What’s the context?  What am I pretending not to know about WHAT?)

It was one of those perfect moments.

I’d had a blog post all prepared, but was hanging onto it for some reason instead of publishing – didn’t know why.  Then Jerry and I were out running errands and stopped at the local Chinese buffet for lunch.

Jerry likes Chinese.  I can take it (no pun intended) or leave it.  The food tastes good, but there are a lot of dishes that have onions (which I’m allergic to) so my selection is usually pretty limited.  S’okay, though; I’m rather fond of sweet and sour chicken.  This place in town is a nice one; small, friendly atmosphere, cheerful waitstaff no matter who’s on duty.  Today there were some folks chatting when we arrived.  It was pretty obvious that these two groups had only just met; they were talking about “getting to know you” stuff – profession, families, where they live, the price of farmland, that sort of thing.

Now, I’m generally very… courteous, I suppose would be the word.  If people are having a conversation in a restaurant, I assume their words are not for all and sundry and I turn a deaf ear.  Granted, a restaurant is a public place, and granted that for some folks their normal speaking volume really carries.  But that’s no reason to listen, and doubly no reason to remember what I hear.

(Reading obituaries?  Well, that’s a little macabre, isn’t it?  I suppose it might be an exercise in learning what others have done with their lives – how they’ve filled in the “dash” on their tombstone, whether or not they’ve made their own Hero’s Journey or spent their lives encased in the cement – but how can a published paragraph or two paid for by the word possibly give the true measure of a person?)

‬iPad download 2015-01-30 437This older gentleman, though, was talking about his kids – he has three, one of whom is a Master Sergeant in the Air Force permanently assigned to the National Guard Armory in Hastings.  The talk moved on to retirement and finances, and he said something to the effect of “We’ll never be rich, but we’re not poor, and we can do some of the things we always wanted to do.”  And I found myself wishing there were something I could do, some way to have a conversation where I could bring the talk around to offering him… something, anything, to change that accursed resigned acceptance of less than.

(Service, schmervice; chores, schmores.  Don’t care what word it’s called by, it’s still doing things I don’t want to do for other people who nine times out of ten either won’t say ‘thank you,’ or will use my generosity as an excuse to treat me as a doormat.  That’s always the way it happens, calling it a service doesn’t make it any less an imposition, and I resent being forced by Universal Law to sacrifice myself in such a fashion!)

The five of them were engaging in a Minnesota goodbye; saying farewell, mentioning they had to go, then starting a new conversation.

I might have mentioned a time or two that I come from a family with strong military ties.  Among other things, that facet of my life grants an almost automatic kinship with other military family members.  I wasn’t thinking of my Franklin Makeover virtue for the week – courage – or about that half-formed thought I’d sent into the universe, or even about the conundrum that revolves around the Law of Giving, the Law of Compensation and the principles in the Strangest Secret – specifically, “give more get more” yet we are to give without expectation of reciprocity even though just being conscious of the dynamic involved means we can expect to be given to as we give.  It’s a puzzle in logic that I play with (and yes, I do actually know what the answer is, it’s just more fun to toy with the question).

(Mmm, hero’s journey.  Every High Fantasy series ever written is the hero’s journey – the innocent hero, the wise mentor, the helpers along the way… and the Quest for the Magical Object – a person’s Authentic Self, in this case.  Don’t know that I like the fact there’s a built-in ‘get out of jail free’ card for the teachers, though – where’s the check and balance, if they can simply say that a person has failed to heed the herald’s offering of the quest and then ignore whatever the objection was that caused those folks to drop out?  It was a pretty interesting parallel to the Stages of Grief… though if Mark was talking the Kubler-Ross stages, he missed “Bargaining.”  Should probably listen to the webinar again.)

So I got out of my seat and went to tell him, “Thank you,” for his part in raising a Master Sergeant as he was waiting for his folks to finish their farewells.  He said he hadn’t done much, and mentioned he also had a daughter in the service (a Captain in the Air Force), and I mentioned my brother who was an E-6 before he was honorably discharged, and we got to chatting.

‬iPad download 2015-01-30 115Then he asked what it was I did for work, and I told him I was a writer.  It came out smoothly, automatically.  And mind you, this is one of those questions that I’ve had trouble answering in the past; it’s true in my head, but it’s also not how I earn my living… yet.  So as a part of my mind was wondering why in the world I just said what I’d said, he said, “Really?  I’ve got this great idea for a story…”

(And all around the MKMMA, other writers are cringing.  Ideas are a dime a dozen; so many times people offer their ideas for us to write up and then believe it’s a 50-50 proposition and the profits should be split evenly.)

Well, we both laughed about that, but turns out he has a brilliant idea for a niche website.  See, retired military and the immediate families of active duty members can rent rooms on bases around the country, rooms that would ordinarily go empty.  It’s a win-win; families and retirees get basically hotel service in a secure area, and the base gets the funds for what would have been wasted space.  Prices have gone up over the years – used to be $20 a night, Steve was telling me – but now it’s comparable to or maybe a bit more expensive than a Motel Six.  Well, some years back he and a friend thought that it would be nice to have one place where a person could go for information on the base housing – prices, locations, and the quality of the place.  Because apparently bases vary wildly in those categories; some, he says, are finer than 5-star hotels; others are real dives; and still others are clean and amenable but constructed along institutional lines – ‘institutional’ as in a mental hospital.  But he’d convinced himself that nobody would be interested knowing things like that, and honestly where would you publish those kind of articles anyway?  So the idea remained dormant.

And I said, “I would be more than happy to help you out with that.”  Because writing, after all, is what I do.  And while I resent ‘being of service,’ I LOVE ‘doing favors.’  And I have some small experience with passive-income niche websites – which I suspect Steve doesn’t know anything about.  And there’s no denying that knowing what style and quality of base housing is available would be valuable to military families who want to visit loved ones, or just take advantage of some of the travel perks.  And I can think of so much that could be added to the reviews of the bases!  What’s nearby, for example, both for dining and activities.  The best travel routes – not everyone has a GPS.  Base events that visiting families could attend.  I mean, seriously, I’ve already started to organize the website in my head.

There are details to work out, for sure.  We exchanged contact information and I’m to call him in a month.  The tentative idea is for him to provide access to the bases, and I’ll write the articles and take the pictures – and more than likely transcribe some of his stories…

And once the website has a solid followership, gift that passive income stream to him so that his own travel and experience then become self-sustaining.

How cool is that?

iPhone import 2015-01-30 387

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Week #17 – The Nature of Truth

IMG_7190-1

Don’t really have much of anything to say this week – sometimes that kind of worries me, as the weeks progress.  If I were really taking these lessons to heart, internalizing, believing and implementing, I shouldn’t run out of things to say, should I?  It isn’t as if finding three hundred words is particularly difficult…

Ah, but three hundred words plus that actually mean something – that’s something else.

Decisiveness is my word this week.  I was a little concerned when Mark said during the intro video last webinar that each week we should be finding more examples of our word than we had of the word the week before… there were so many examples of kindness in week two of the Franklin Makeover that I lost track of my count!  And I was in the world outside my home more, which helps.  This week, I’ve kept going back to the beginning of the MKMMA, reminding myself that indecisiveness is the worst kind of controlling personality – even when the indecision is directed at yourself.

Been contemplating symbols an awful lot this week, too.  The symbols of power, the symbols of prosperity – I’ve experienced that moment, you know, that Haanel talks about, where you have what you thought you wanted in your grasp only to have it turn to ashes in your hand, leaving you even emptier than you were before.  And this week I’ve wondered:  What is abundance?  Seriously, really, truly.  I know what it feels like.  I know how the word is defined.  But words are of themselves only symbols, sounds that give shape and definition to thought.  And I’m reminded of a Buddhist saying, “A path that you can identify as a path is not THE path; a truth that can be put into words is not true enough.”

And that in turn reminded me of a conversation I had with my Dad a few years back.

(I’ve always been a seeker.  Of knowledge, of wisdom, of experience.  Not really looking for anything so much; the whole point was the journey of seeking.  Like I’ve said before, I research what interests me.  And research has gotten so much easier over the years!  Of all the things I’m grateful for, I love having information literally at my fingertips so long as I’ve got an internet connection and device to connect with!)

So I was trying to explain to my Dad why it was I kept an open mind on virtually all subjects, and he was trying to explain to me why I was wrong to do so.  One of the things I said in an attempt to illustrate my point was that Truth is actually too all-encompassing for our minds to hold in its entirety; we can only catch little flashes of that greater whole, usually through intuition.  So the little truths that we believe to be immutable and complete are really nothing of the kind; those truths can be changed with a shift in perspective, with more experience, with better information.  And if it can be changed, how can it be said to be TRUTH?

The rest of the conversation didn’t go well.  Partly because in my Dad’s mind I was wrong before I even opened my mouth, but I reckon the bulk of my failure to convey what I meant was rooted in the fact that I was trying to use clumsy words to give voice to my assertions, those tidbits of knowledge and intuition that struck right to the core of me, picking me up and shaking my soul like a dog with a rag bone.

How can you explain TRUTH with mere symbols?

It’s an interesting question.  Almost circular, Rene Descartes-like.  Ripples on a pond, only heading inward instead of outward, always seeking the center

Week #16 – (Kindly) Ruminations

Lorikeets at Long Beach Aquarium

“I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.” – Og Mandino

 

When I first ran across the saying attributed to Anne Herbert – “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” I liked the concept so much I started practicing it.  I’d put carts into the cart corral; straighten labels and fill in holes on the shelves at the grocery store; entertain little kids whose parents were in the same line as I was by making absurd faces and getting them to giggle; straighten up coworkers’ work areas; scrape my own windshield clean of frost and snow and then go around and scrape the car windows of my coworkers who (apparently) didn’t have scrapers since they were either waiting for the car to warm up enough that the heater could do the job, or they were chipping away with a credit card or something.  Eventually that practice became a habit.  But somewhere along the way, my motivation shifted from “being kind” to “it’s a job that needs doing, so I’m doing it.”  And over time, I stopped.  Partly it was because I didn’t have a solid reason anymore to combat the embarrassment when my former best friend would make fun of me or deride me for “doing someone else’s job.”  Partly because I got lazy.  And partly because I was tired of being taken for granted.

One of our exercises this week is to practice random acts of kindness, and I admit, I breathed a sigh of resignation to myself on hearing that.  I’d ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ and didn’t have lasting pleasant associations with it.  But, it was a requirement, as was reporting about it.

I did have a problem with the “secret” portion of it.  I can hold my silence when the matter is an important one, but I’m an awful conspirator.  Surprise birthday parties, for example.  If I’m in the know about one of those, my only hope to avoid giving away the game is to avoid the subject entirely.  And the few times I’ve been involved in one of those “Secret Santa” things… let’s just say that nobody had any trouble figuring me out.

Still.  It was part of the MKMMA course, therefore I was going to do my best.

So I went back to being randomly kind.  And after the first day or two, I realized why it was I’d stopped in the first place.  Let me tell you, the act might have the same appearance, but the result completely differs depending on the motivations!

Being kind for the sake of being kind is fun.  And as soon as I restructured the reason I was doing what I had done in the normal course of things for years, I started seeing kindness everywhere.  From drivers who allow traffic to merge in front of them to the way people do their jobs – are they smiling?  Cheerful?  Do they offer a word or two of conversation as you interact with them?  Are they offering a step or two above the “average” level of service?  Because cashiers, doctors and nurses, gas station attendants, the folks who work at fast food places, they don’t have to be cheerful, y’know.  Or even helpful.  It’s possible to do the bare minimum out of a desire for a paycheck and still not annoy people enough that they complain about it.

I don’t know how many will remember this, but for a while in the late ’90s and early 2000s, there was a business philosophy that was all the rage.  It began at a Seattle fish market in the early ’90s (oh, and you might want to check out the Wikipedia entry for a key MasterKey concept that they employed) and became a national sensation.  FISH! Philosophy revolves around four simple steps:  Choose your Attitude; Play; Be present; Make their day.

I had the opportunity to listen to a recording of Carr Hagerman (otherwise known to Minnesota Rennaisance Festival patrons and performers as The Rat Catcher) speak about FISH! Philosophy.  What struck me the most was when he started talking about the step Make Their Day.  I can still hear his voice in my head; “We have become a nation of exceedingly poor customers.”  We expect, we want, we gripe and complain when we judge the service hasn’t been good enough, we blame…  We aren’t kind.  We don’t see what they do right.  We allow our opinion of them to become fact in our own minds (they’re lazy, overpaid, don’t understand the value of hard work or of a dollar, and if I was the manager here…) and then we behave based on that story we’ve gone and told ourselves.

(Knowing what I know now of the Universe and how it works, I suspect very strongly that FISH! Philosophy is yet another iteration of the MasterKeys in disguise.)

I still have trouble with the incognito aspect of our kindness exercise.

Oh, I understand the rationale behind it well enough.  Like in Og, we should not “indulge, anymore, in self-praise for deeds which in reality are too small to even acknowledge.”  Doing a kindness ostentatiously is self-defeating, since the whole point of that variety of kindness is for other people to see and praise what that person is doing.  Diane Duane says it well (and poetically) through her character Rhiow in To Visit The Queen; “Silently shall I strive to go my way… doing my work unseen; the Light needs no reminding by me of good deeds done by night.”

But.

I suppose I view being asked to act incognito as touching on my integrity.  What reason is there for concealment, when I am not ashamed of what I’m doing and the things I choose to do are an outgrowth of my character and committment to leave the world a better place than how I found it?  Likewise, what reason is there for me to go out of my way to be noticed, either, when I do these things because it is right to do them?

Oddly enough, I’d feel the same way if I’d been asked to commit random acts of kindness as openly as possible.  And my reaction has that “deep-seated” feel to it that suggests it’s somehow fundamental to my nature.  Kind of like it says in the Oath of the Firstborn of the Kindred, “I walk my own Way/accepting no demands save those of my conscience/rejecting all law save that which I create for myself through wisdom and love.”  (It’s from a book I wrote… though it might be better phrased to say the book wrote itself through me.)

Still in all, it’s been a good week.  A fun week.  A week filled with open eyes looking through the lens of kindness.

I like that lens.

Ivan taking a picture

Week #15 – Glimpsing the Great Machine

Inner workings of a plane

So it’s Week 15, and I find myself staring at a blank screen.  What should I say this week?  What’s important for me to say, this week?  (Don’t worry – I promise my ruminations today will be shorter than those of week 14.)

Thoughts swirled around through my head as I started a couple different drafts, thoughts too fleeting for me to properly catch hold and examine.

Nummy tuna juice!So I went for a walk around the house, pacing the hallway, round the kitchen, back down the hallway to the bedroom that serves as my office, down the hallway and ’round the kitchen…  Sometimes I can just think better when I’m moving.  (Law of Relaxation, anyone?)  I parceled out some canned food for the cats (nothing makes them gather faster than a little bit of a treat – usually tuna juice.  I pop the can and they all come running, then mill around my feet meowing in various tones of complaint at their characteristic volumes, telling me I’m not moving fast enough.)

Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Jim Butcher.  One of my favorite authors, he writes the Dresden File series (yes, they were books before there was a TV show).  One of my favorite quotes is from the book Grave Peril.  “One night when I couldn’t sleep, I mentioned to Michael that I was worried about the reprecussions of my workings, the harmful magic I had dished out.  I worried that it was going to come back to haunt me.

“‘I’m not a philosopher, Harry,’ he said.  ‘But here’s something for you to think about, at least.  What goes around, comes around.  And sometimes you get what’s coming around.’  He paused for a moment, frowning faintly, pursing his lips.  ‘And sometimes you are what’s coming around.  You see what I mean?'”

In the book, the sentence takes on the tone of retribution – but it can apply to virtually any situation when the Universe uses us to get someone else what it is they’ve attracted to themselves.

I had a moment like that this week.

I’m not in the best shape, physically speaking.  (Round is a shape!  Pear is a shape!)  Staying trim and athletic is really more work than I feel like putting in just now.  I do like to walk, though.  Once ‘around the block’ out where I live is 2.8 miles on county and country roads.  I’ve never actually seen the point of gym memberships, not when I have a road to walk.  So I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to accept a one-month trial membership at a local Anytime Fitness; I’m doubly not sure what prompted me to sign up.

At least, I wasn’t until yesterday.

For those who’ve read my Week #4 post, Jerry’s hip replacement surgery had been scheduled for the 5th of February; at his request, Mayo put us on a waiting list to move up the date if possible.  Well, the surgery date was advanced to the 14th of January.  (Tomorrow we get to spend all day at Mayo doing all the preparatory work.)  Now, yesterday when all the shuffling was in the works yet Jerry accompanied me to Anytime and hung around as I took my walk.  I introduced him to Corey, the guy who owns and runs the location, and we three got to chatting.  Jerry said he’s been wanting to get back into shape, and was especially eager to start work after his surgery, but wanted to be under the guidance of someone who knew and understood medical limitations.  Turns out one of the personal trainers is studying to be a Physical Therapist; basically perfect for Jerry and his situation, as well as giving her the opportunity to work with someone who has a genetic condition that’s somewhat rare.

Bald eagle outside office window

I see you seeing me

It’s not the first time the Universe has used me in that fashion.  It is the first time I’ve been aware of the fact.  (Though looking back I can detect others, such as the time fifteen years ago when I told an acquaintance who was complaining that her life was stuck on “repeat” that we all face the same situation, the same question, over and over again under different specific circumstances until we get the answer ‘right’ – in other words, learn what it was that situation existed for in order to teach us.  See MK15:7)  Even those of us who march to our own drum still move in time with the Universe.

I’ve also had the opening lines from Fullmetal Alchemist running through my head this week – any other anime fans among the MKMMA?  “Humankind cannot gain without first giving something in exchange.  To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.  This is Alchemy’s first Law of Equivalent Exchange.”  Who’d’ve thought that a ‘cartoon’ would have stumbled on a Universal Truth?  (Well, okay, me, but most people aren’t looking for wisdom in an animated show.)

So what’s the point?  Just that we’re writing our own story – we design it, we create it, we live it – but at the same time we’re being incorporated into the stories of the people around us, something not everyone is aware of.  In the study of the Qabalah it’s referred to as the Vision of the Machinery of the Universe, the experience of Yesod, the ninth sphere.  And once we receive that vision, courtesy of the Universe, we can never be unaware of it again; we’ll see it everywhere.

And frankly, it’s a fascinating study.

Qabalistic tree

Week #14 – Twice-told Tales

Maps

I love maps.

Maps are some of my favorite things.  Every time I drive somewhere new, I add a state map to my collection.  Did you know that state-sponsored rest areas are now giving road maps away for free?  I damn near drooled at the thought when I first found out about it.  All I have to do for a complete collection is drive to each and every state… Hawaii might be difficult.  The bridge across the Pacific hasn’t been built yet.

Periodically I lay all my maps out on the pool table and highlight the routes I’ve used to get places.  (One of these years I’ll get new maps all of the same type, cut out the state along the border, and make a to-scale United States wall in the barn or something.  Haven’t yet worked out all the details of how I’m going to be able to add new routes while keeping the maps waterproof and protected from the elements, but as soon as I do I ‘m making my wall.)

Maps are awesome.  They show you where you’re going.  They show you where you’ve been.  And they show you all the possibilities that exist along the way.

My favorite ‘possibilities’ are museums.  Right now I’m planning a trip east and then south along the eastern seaboard.  This particular trip I’ve been planning for about ten years now – changing the route, changing the focus, adding new destinations – and I’ve decided that 2015 is the year.  We’re going to stop at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio; spend about a week, maybe more, at the Mall in DC, visiting the memorials, monuments, the Smithsonian(s) – oh, and the International Spy Museum, too, of course; then the Naval Air Museum, NASCAR and Richard Petty museums, tour Talladega track, spend some time at the Kennedy Space Center (did you know you can walk the length of the Saturn V rocket in the Rocket Garden?  It’s so darned tall they had to lay it lengthwise along the ground!), and we’ll come home by way of Space Center Houston and the National World War I Museum – plus whatever cool other places we can find along the way (Roadside America is one of the neatest apps there is!).

Because what I’m after when I travel are the stories.  Museums not only have their own stories, they house a treasure trove of them!  People’s interests, their triumphs, their hardships – little pieces of their hearts and souls, hearts and souls that we are all connected to through Universal Mind.

See, stories… stories are kind of like maps.  Every person, every event, every object, has a story.  Those stories tell us where we’ve been; they suggest where we might like to go; they show us what possible destinations there are along the way.  Stories are humanity, all curled up into a nutshell.  Our regrets.  Our mistakes.  Our victories.  Our achievements.  Our educations at the hands of the Universe.

And they don’t need to be tampered with in order to be good stories.

This week we were to watch a movie of our choice from a list of four.  I’m planning on watching all four; Rudy and October Sky have been on my list for a while, and I’d never heard of Door to Door, but Cool Runnings was the one I decided to go with first.  I’ve also noticed in the blogs I follow that most of us watched that one for the exercise.  All the elements we’re learning about are there in the movie.  Derice Bannock has a burning desire to get to the Olympics, as his father did.  He believes it will be as a sprinter – just as his father did – but sees the dream snatched out of reach when he is tripped and falls with two other runners in the trials.  He goes to Mr. Coolidge and asks to have the race run over; he’s told the race can’t be rerun and advised to either work on his boxing or cycling – since those are the only other two sports in which Jamaica competes – or to prepare for four years later, when the Olympics will be held again.

Derice’s burning desire will not allow him to accept either of those choices.  He’s determined to be an Olympian that year; an Olympic gold is his destiny.  So he finds another sport in a picture of his father in Mr. Coolidge’s office; wondering about the other man pictured there wearing a gold medal.  Mr. Coolidge tells him that’s Irv Blitzer, a bobsledder living now on the island (“Unless he’s been shot or arrested.”) who had a wild theory about Jamaican sprinters making ideal bobsledders and wanted Derice’s father to change sports.

So Derice starts recruiting his mastermind – his best friend Sanka, and Irv Blitzer as coach.  They are joined soon after by Yul Brenner and Junior.  All desire to be in the Olympics, though for different reasons.  Coach Blitzer puts them to work: “Winning a bobsled race is about one thing: the push start.  Now, I know you dainty little track stars think you’re fast.  Well, heh, let’s see how fast you are when you push a 600-pound sled.  Now, a respectable start time is 5.7 seconds.  If you speed demons can’t whip off an even six-flat, you have a better chance of becoming a barbershop quartet.”  And there’s the plan of action.  And so they practice pushing a Volkswagon bug, and on hills with a rickety, makeshift sled until they achieve a pushstart of 5.9 seconds.  Then it comes time to go to Calgary.

Throughout the story, Derice holds fast to his purpose; his and Sanka’s positive attitude carry the team until Yul and Junior develop their own as the four plus coach become a cohesive team.  The story develops, they overcome adversity and though they don’t win a medal, they show themselves to be worthy competitors in a sport that is not the first one a person would think of when considering the tropical island of Jamaica.

(And just as a sideline; I detest book – and movie – reports.)

It’s a fun Disney movie with personal growth and a strong moral to the story, and I very much enjoy watching it, over and over again.  There are some phenomenal moments in there, such as when Junior explains to Sanka why Yul’s dream of living in a palace isn’t a foolish one.

Unfortunately, it’s wrong.

One of my personality quirks is that I research whatever interests me – I want the story.  That’s how I learned about the XB-70 Valkyrie and how the one in the Air Force Museum in Daytona is the only one left (there had been two, but one was lost during a publicity photo shoot for GE) and that the Valkyrie was eventually replaced by the Blackbird, which was in development at roughly the same time.  That’s how I learned that the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona (specifically, the number 88 test mule which is now on display at the Talledega Raceway Museum) was the first car ever to break the 200-mph speed barrier in March 24. 1970.  There’s a great story about how Buddy Baker, the driver, had been putting duct tape on the car throughout the day as adjustments were made to transmission, suspension and engine.  The last run of the day, after a 200.096 mph lap, the crew pulled off all the tape; on laps 33, 34 and 35 of that next run, the car clocked three consecutive times over 200 mph, one of which was a record-setting 200.448.  After the run, Buddy ceremoniously retrieved his roll of duct tape from the car and threw it in the trash.  And I’ve added other facts, tales, stories, remembrances to my collection whenever my interest is piqued.

The true story of the first Jamaican bobsled team is of a challenge by an American named George Fitch (portrayed in the film by John Candy’s Irv Blitzer, which is where the movie is worst wrong; Fitch was not nor had ever been a drunk disgraced Olympic bobsledder).  While stationed in Kingston, Jamaica, as the American embassy’s Commercial Attache, George developed a friendship with Ken Barnes, father of former Liverpool soccer star John Barnes.  Fitch was transferred to Paris, but returned to Kingston for a friend’s wedding; Barnes bragged then about how well Jamaica was going to do at the next summer’s Olympics in Seoul.  “But what about the Winter Olympics?” Fitch said.  “You got great athletes and a great athlete should be able to do any sport.”  Now, the pushcart derby did provide the inspiration for the new sport to be bobsledding, but Fitch couldn’t get any of the currently-training athletes interested, nor anyone in the sports clubs – they knew how dangerous bobsledding was and didn’t want to get injured.

The story could have ended there.  It didn’t, because Fitch was determined, and went to Ken Barnes, who then didn’t dismiss the whole idea out of hand.  Ken went to Major George Henry of the Jamaican Defence Force, who selected two sprint champions and a helicopter pilot for the first Jamaican bobsled team – which, incidentally, was welcomed by the other teams in fine Olympic tradition.  If you’re interested, you can get more of the story from ESPN, Business Insider, or even on Wikipedia.

I honestly have no problem with the Disney version.  Like I said, it’s a fun movie, and I enjoy it every time I watch it.  But it’s mostly fiction.  And the original story as it stands is just as good.  It didn’t need to be tampered with.  The elements that go with inevitable success – DMP, PMA, POA, MMA – they were all there.

Likewise, it follows that if each of us is a story, then every story – yours, mine, everyone’s – is good enough.  It doesn’t need to be tampered with!

But like Hollywood, the world around us tampers with our stories anyway.  We get told, over and over, that our heart’s desire is silly.  Impossible.  Not practical.  Won’t put food on the table or a roof over our heads.  Won’t get us an education or a good job.  And so we get lost, separated from our real story, our own most personal map.  Details and distractions become diversions from the World Within to the World Without, which then causes us to apply Universal Mind and the Law of Attraction in a negative fashion – much like most everyone all of us know.

And, frankly, finding the MKMMA as a map back to me concerns me as much as it thrills me.  Because every week I read blog posts on how the MKMMA is the answer to all life’s problems and questions, and warning bells go off in my head.  See, that’s the mistake that religions, alternate belief systems, political parties and even governments keep making:  They assume that because their way works for them, it must therefore be the one and only way that there is – the “One True Way.”

Which means, by logical extension, that everyone who disagrees with them is wrong and must be shown the error of their ways.

Do I believe the Master Key system is the best way for me to get where I’m going?  Absolutely.  Do I believe it’s the fastest?  Again, yes.  And more than that, it’s a way that has been traveled before us, so we have sources of support and guidance through the rocky parts of the trail.  But the Master Key System is not the only way that exists.  I’m sure it would be difficult to find another system which packs as much wisdom into as few words as Haanel does; I’m equally sure that one exists.  And while I will certainly encourage my friends and other people I meet to participate, I am not going to tell them that it’s the only way that there is for them to learn how to live in harmony with Universal Mind and thus manifest their dharma.

See, because to other people, we and the MKMMA are part of their World Without.  And if we tell them that we and only we have the answer, how then are we different from any other fad belief out there?  Yes, okay, our content and the value of it, but if we phrase ourselves the same way self-help gurus do, we won’t be doing ourselves or anyone else any favors.

Which leads to another thought.  One of my favorite lines from Cool Runnings is when Derice is studying turns and Coach Blitzer sticks his head in the door to see if he wants to come grab something to eat with the rest of the team.  Derice asks him about why Blitzer cheated.  He replied that he had to win.  He’d made winning his whole life, and when you make winning your whole life then you have to win no matter what.  Derice doesn’t understand; Irv had had two gold medals, he’d had everything.  And Blitzer said, “A gold medal is a wonderful thing.  But if you aren’t enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”

And so I find myself thinking, Am I enough?  Do I really, truly, believe that I’m enough?  Because that concept applies even to the MKMMA, which is not the same thing as Universal Wisdom.  If the MKMMA were taken from me tomorrow, would I be enough – would each and every one of us be enough – without it?  Would I continue to apply the principles that I’ve learned?  Would I seek wisdom through my inward connection to Universal Mind, unfettered by my tendency to follow slavishly the people who I think hold the answers in the World Without?  Would I hold a thought and mix it with a chosen emotion to create a belief that propels me to action?

Probably.  After all, it would be very hard indeed to live my own story – which is a good story – if all I’ve been doing thse past fourteen weeks has been blindly following someone else’s.