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    Archive for July, 2007

    Rearranging furniture in imaginary houses

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    When I was 8 years old, my parents discovered that I had $42 in my piggy bank.

    “An eight year old shouldn’t have forty-two dollars!” they said, as if I had somehow come into possession of a stolen painting.

    And with that proclamation, they took my $42.

    Over the next 30 years, I attended all manner of workshops, saw all sorts of therapists and healers, and performed countless methods for resolving the issue that had been born in that moment, the issue that “I can’t have what I want.”

    No matter how much I hyperventilated until I saw visions, had astral entities removed from the 3rd level of my aura, or cried at… well, the injustice of it all… I still had the thought that I couldn’t have what I really wanted.
    Sometime past my 38th birthday, I retired. I was making more money per month doing nothing than I had made in my first year or two out of college. And, at some point, I started to recount — as I had done thousands of times in the past — the story of my issue.
    Except this time, it was clear that reality — I had much more than I had wanted — was putting up a good fight with my issue. I still believed I couldn’t have what I wanted, but reality was hinting that I was, oh, full of crap.

    It was in that moment that it occurred to me to ask a question that I had never asked myself. A question that had never been posed to me during the countless hours of healing work I had done about this issue, by any of the brilliant aids I had employed (don’t even get me started about the fact that I could have retired years earlier had I only taken all the money I spent to resolve the issue and put it in an average mutual fund).

    I asked myself, “Hey, what did my parents do with the money?”

    And as if I had said “Open Sesame,” the memory instantly appeared:

    They put it in my bank account

    By 8, I was well aware of my personal bank account. And I vividly remembered the savings account passbook and seeing the balance increase by $42 after my parents “TOOK” my money.

    No wonder none of the therapy worked to resolve the “issue.” The issue wasn’t real because the event NEVER HAPPENED!

    How did nobody ever think to ask the simple and obvious question?

    I had a client who, during one session said, “I’ve worked with other people who are good compassionate listeners. They validate me and what I’m saying and are very accepting of whatever I’m going through. You… don’t do that.”

    “Well…” I replied, “I’m not interested in helping you redecorate an imaginary house.”

    Now, look, I’m not saying that if you have “an issue,” it’s all a lie and your own history never happened (though maybe what happened isn’t quite what you think)… but it’s certainly worth pondering that the idea “I have problems now because of something that happened when I was a child (or fetus, or blastocyst, or gleam in my parents’ eyes),” is just an idea that was most famously popularized by a goatee-wearing coke-head in Vienna about 120 years ago.

    Abraham Maslow did yoga?

    Saturday, July 7th, 2007

    I don’t know what it is about breakfast, but when I’m making eggs is when I get hit with a lot of interesting ideas.

    This morning’s was, “Abraham Maslow is upside-down! Stand his ideas on their heads and it’s more accurate.”

    Any questions?


    Okay, let me elaborate.

    Maslow is famous for his Hierarchy of Needs (which became practically synonymous with the personal development movement).
    One of his ideas is that until you get your “lower needs” met — physiological (water, air, food, etc.), safety, love & belonging, and so on — you don’t have enough energy available to use for getting your “higher needs” met (esteem and self-actualization).

    Another way to think of it is that our natural way of being is HIGHER, unless we have to spend energy on the basic survival issues.

    What I noticed as I was chopping up peppers and garlic shoots for my Mexican scramble is that all the “needs” are really manifestations of the same idea. That is, it’s as if we have this fundamental urge/movement toward keeping “I” alive.

    Well, once we have that taken care of at the basic level and we have something to eat (did I mention the chipotle salsa I use?) and somewhere to sleep and someone to sleep and eat with, that same urge/idea/thought/movement is still active and just looks for something else to do.

    So, it looks for another way to do the same thing — gets a job, protects the family, builds a McMansion.

    Once that’s basically taken care of, that same fundamental thing just looks for another activity — maintains a personal identity, supports that identity, tries to get others to like that identity.

    And so on, and so, on and so on.

    There’s no hierarchy. There’s no evolving or growing. There’s just the same urge/idea/thought/movement going on with us acting on it in different ways. In fact, when I look at it this way, it seems quite un-evolved and non-growing. Without recognizing that we’re still just reacting to the same fundamental concept, no matter where on the ladder we think we are, it can look like growth. But seeing that it’s all just the same urge playing out, then the “top” of the hierarchy — self-transcendence — is really no different than the “bottom.”

    Really, we’re not doing anything different than any other living thing on the planet. It just seems more complicated.

    To mis-quote John Merrick, the “Elephant Man,” “I am an animal!”

    (Oh, when I went on to having a banana and some cherries from the tree in our backyard, I had some fun thoughts about “free will.” But I’m saving those for later… or they’ll just happen when they do, without conscious intervention on my part 😉 )





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