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Thanks Pandora

Updated: Jul 8

Neither for better or for worse, after years of failed help from traditional Western clinicians, a series of people and unlikely events led me to an enlightening 10-day course or what some might have deemed a potential brain-washing operation. I was treading on alien territory, so I didn’t know which. At the time, illumination and even a light scrub of my noggin seemed in order. My level of hope was high, and so was my caution. Was I unknowingly submitting myself to the whims of a cult? And if so, I asked myself what the typically salad-tossed term means. After an effortless probe, I realized the Merriam-Webster dictionary uses a large and sweeping brush to define the word CULT: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book); as such, there is no denying that I have been a devotee of umpteen cults for umpteen years. I welcome you to consider all that the word entails and how it usually doesn’t elicit the thought of large organizations, e.g., educational institutions, corporations, governments, religions, and the activities they promote but instead, small assemblages of those who dare to seek paths that don’t conform to the rules and objectives of said promoters.

I posit that even someone cloistered in the outbacks, off the grid, would be hard-pressed not to identify with some form of a cult. Call them what you like: industries, organizations, institutions, or cults; this distinction attests to my involvement in many. By embracing the principle of their unique ideas and the work they required, my background and arena of careers have enjoyed a rainbow of professional and personal journeys as a film producer/director, handicraft importer, wire-grid shelving salesman, ladies’ shoe salesman, electrician, marketing representative for world-renowned celebrities and destinations, film composer, designer of theme park attractions, voice-over actor, recording engineer, employer, homeless person, husband, alter boy, artist, wannabe monk, and others. However, the seven years I spent as a communication/English instructor, beginning in 2017, awakened me to the mediocre degree to which definitions, verbal, para-verbal, non-verbal skills, etc., are understood, respected, and effectively put to use. Indeed, there are many motivations and a history of reasons behind every behavior. Nevertheless, should the degree of mental and physical conflicts around the globe be so stupefying after considering the ubiquitously uneven attention toward optimal communication processes, those that address global and individual struggles, such as in the case of my friend, Mark?

High up on Mont Soleil, these deliberations riddled me like a soldier’s live machine gun. For the first few days, instead of feeling soothed by the sublime environment outdoors, my uncontainable contemplations had me dog-paddling in puddles of doubt and suspicion. By simply questioning the word ‘cult’ and how I had been persuaded to perceive it, a Pandora’s Box flipped open from within me and released trunks of unsettled questions, regrets, and fears, allowing space and promise for my mind to thrive once more.

I yearned for a sense of self-empowerment, but that wasn’t all. After concluding the course, I needed to be able to apply whatever good I might have assimilated during the ten days of silent practice. Volumes of uncountable and unusable, not to mention misleading data, amassed from birth until then through the intravenous lines of media, education, and a panoply of other influencers, were mainly responsible for eroding the molecular form and clogging the energetic flow of my innate nature. Additionally, my mind had become a landfill housing regiments of resentful and remorseful ‘What If Rats.’

What if I had spent more compassionate time with my ailing mother before she died instead of dancing, drinking, and barfing my problems away while attending university? What if I could have exercised more understanding and patience, especially toward a few of my most faithful companions and business partners who knowingly suffered emotional and psychological barriers to expressiveness, decisiveness, and optimism? What if I had been able to manage my self-proclaimed liberties with more tact and not vocally and physically demonstrate confusion and frustration so impulsively and with such impunity? What if I could have accepted others’ inability to accept my evolution and that I was just as imperfect as they were? A stagnating line-up of foul ‘What If Rats’ got bigger by the day and often peeked out from behind the black curtain of unconsciousness.

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