Last Wednesday was my day to reorient myself. I end up doing that from time to time, and I think it's essential, given the complexity and pressures of modern life… and very certainly so, given the complexities of a non-standard life.
Immediately I focused on the messes of the sanitarium and the "superfluous" people I had lent my time to. I don't regret it of course – it was the right thing to do and may end up keeping a few people from deep trouble – but it quickly became a double-scoop of drama, the kind of thing that can raise your blood pressure unhealthily.
But as soon as I descended toward gloom over these things, I remembered a wise old friend from many years ago. And I knew that if he were present, our conversation would go like this:
"These things you're worried about, do you need to do them for the money?"
"For your family?"
"Then either find a way to enjoy them or quit."
And while this advice is a bit simplistic – there are situations that deserve effort and risk even though they're neither fun nor profitable – my friend makes a good point.
"Then I'll make it fun," I said aloud.
And so that's what I'll be doing from now on. I've spent far too much of my life dour and scowling. I've worked hard to recognize the big picture, and if you can see the whole panorama over time, including the payoffs, things become fun again.
So, as I walked into our meeting at Jays on Thursday, I was feeling happy about what lay before us. Everyone else was a bit sullen. But as I recounted what I'd been thinking, they pulled out of their funk at least a little.
"The people of the sanitarium," I told them, "will fight their battles, split up, and then continue forward. Or not. Once the trauma is over, we'll help those who wish to continue."
They slowly nodded their heads.
"And what about Mike?" one of them asked.
"Mike made a conscious choice. He's doing what he feels is necessary, and whether he's right or wrong, he's acting upon his own mind and his own will. Just by itself that's a very positive thing. I do, however, think he'll be gone for a while. Have any of you heard from him?"
They had all heard from him, as it turned out.
"He's leaving the country," was the universal response, "within the next week."
"Remember," I said, "gone for a while is not the same as gone forever. Life is long and things do change."
They nodded their heads again, and then several of their faces brightened and they began discussing their businesses: what was working, what wasn't, and what they wanted to try next. I just listened.
But before I get lost in those details, I want to tell you about the old lawyer's response to Mike. Surprisingly, he copied the entire email to me. In it, he never answered any of Mike's questions. What he did, weirdly enough, was tell him a story about O.J. Simpson. Here's the core of that email:
Everybody knows that when O.J. Simpson was accused of murdering his wife, F. Lee Bailey and Johnnie Cochran and a host of other lawyers defended him. But what is forgotten is that for a few brief moments before he was arrested, he had another lawyer, famous in Hollywood: Howard Weitzman.
I believe that O.J. ran to Weitzman and told him what he'd done and asked for his help. Weitzman was perfectly capable of handling the defense team. But what he would have been unable to overcome was an admission of guilt. So, he told O.J. to never tell another soul, even his lawyers, that he did it. Then Weitzman passed him off to Johnny Cochran.
Cochran and Bailey are about the smartest lawyers going, and there is no way they didn't suspect the guilt of their client. But if O.J. had told them he was guilty, they could never have put him on the stand. Those are the rules. In the end they didn't, but it was not because they couldn't.
O.J. used a disposable lawyer to find out how to deal with another lawyer. I don't know where he got the idea, but I've seen other people do the same thing: Set up an appointment. Use a pen name. Pay cash for the consult. Ask every question they can think of. Suggest every "What if?" Always, it's their cousin who needs help. Ask for the exact laws the situation impacts on. Ask about penalties for getting caught. Ask about law enforcement tricks.
For better or worse, this is what saved O.J.
I found the whole thing immensely interesting… and clever.
As I've been recounting this, however, I've received three emails on the sanitarium. It looks like the split is nearly complete. I'll give you the details next time.
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A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:
I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I've read this book… I want everyone to read it.
Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people's conceptions.
There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.
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