The author is a little old man who lives with editor Sharon and cat Kitzhaber in Lake Oswego Oregon USA. He was an actuary and math teacher and now he volunteers, hikes, collects music and writes https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/. He buried a squirrel today.
You picked up this book because you are curious. Are those that ask “Are we here yet”, known as HereticsTM (pronounced here – ticks) crazy? Is their leader and the author of the book you are holding crazy? Is it true that he and his movement have helped millions to lead more serene and productive lives? Whom should you believe; the critics or those that are living “Heresy™” (pronounced here-see). I hope that you decide to get answers to those questions and the many others discussed in the following sections. You should be warned – you will need to buy the book to get all you need to know. You won’t be able to get through all of the text while standing around the book store.
Some more of what you will find herein:
The relationship of Heresy™ to religions and pop psych phenoms such as Venus – Mars, Inner Child, Codependency, Infinite Immersion, Explosive Love and Twelve Step Fever.
What about the leader, counselor, genius who discovered Heresy™?
What the movement will and will not do for you.
How to make the most of the movement.
Where are the nearest meetings?
Is this thing a cult or what? Will it take all of my money?
If I’m a HereticTM do I ignore the past and the future?
Does Heresy™ mean the same thing as “being in the moment” or “getting there is all the fun”?
Is it true that the biggest names in sports, politics, and entertainment are HereticsTM or at least sympathetic?
Will you be embarrassed in ten years to admit you were a Heretic, as you are now to admit you were a Moonie or a Scientologist?
What are those other self-help guys really like – see Battle of the Gurus.
Could I get more from a book by a bad poet who drums?
If you’re not careful this book will change your life in a good way. Read on brothers and sisters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Please note – the following is partially linear with sidebars about romance and such wonders.
I can’t brag about my sordid past as most of the best selling self help ripoff artists can. If you are to believe those charlatans you must have completely screwed up your life with multiple addictions, serial and parallel psychotic relationships and family “issues” up to and including incest and fratricide before you can become a self-help leader. Sorry to break the news, but it is possible to know how to improve your life and that of others without making every mistake in the book first. You can find, or better yet ignore, your inner child without years of debilitating alcohol ingestion. You can find out the home planet of the various genders without having a sex change. The list of self acquired handicaps by the experts is endless and disgusting.
Suffice ir to say that I have sampled legal and illegal drugs. They have never ruled my life and I have always been able to leave them alone. Maybe some controversial substances have helped me though some tough times, but free sex and piles of money would have helped more. Think about it. My family life was nearer to the Nelsons than the Mansons. That is not to say that we are all warm and fuzzy, but there is no member of my family that I can’t be civil with for up to an hour and thirty six minutes at a time. Would being hated by my sister or having shot at my father make me a wiser person? I think not.
What of my advanced degrees? Well, yes in REAL science, specifically biology, not in karmaic / chakratic / shrinkaroo /chromaromatics mumbo-jumbo. If you really want to blow your money and your life, drop this book and pick up “Codependency Rules for Siblings” by Dorothy Margaret Hambleton, Ph. D. in Relationship Dynamics. If you are not convinced that phony degrees are worse than useless, there is no help for you, not even this book based on lectures and seminars that have helped millions.
Now you know who I am not.
I was born Beauregard Douglas Holley several years ago in a state or territory of the US. The details are not relevant, but I was too young for Viet Nam and too old for Desert Storm. If you insist on learning more, there are various websites which will give you there version of the truth. Most of them are completely bogus, but to try to correct them would be a waste of time and psychic energy. The name I now use is a simplification of my birth name.
It is relevant that I got a degree in biostatistics and went to work for a drug company. I acknowledge that my early choice was made on a basis of economics as much as altruism, but I did want to help with the physical ills of society.
Then as now, I was not a “Company Man”. I couldn’t salute my boss who stole ideas and cheated on her husband. My great success, which kept me employed and even got me a raise, was developing a patch which erased hickeys in 30 minutes. Advertising the device was tricky because we (at that time) could not say what it really did. We had to euphemistically claim to eliminate “Surface Accumulated Blood” (we called it SAB). I think the public finally deciphered our message. Makers of vibrators and tissues that are easy on the rectum initially faced the same problems. For better or worse, the product should have been called Hickeygone, but we went with Saberace™.
I didn’t feel too bad about my work with hickeys. I must say, that it’s a small but real problem for some people. My success, however, got me pigeonholed as someone who could hit singles and doubles but had no prospects for homeruns. That may be unfair. At our small shop, we did not have the capital to go after cancer or any other major disease. The best we could hope for was to shorten your cold or reduce the phlegm you produced while having an allergic reaction.
I worked for another five years at the company (again, the name is irrelevant – if you must know, look at some website) without even getting to the level of Saberace™. I wasn’t getting rich and women with large breasts and small waists did not want to initiate kinky sex with me. The best years of my life seemed to have come and gone even faster than a point guard in the NBA. As a result, I entered a fugue state. I may have been clinically depressed. An aside – if you have any of warning signs of depression see a competent professional if such a thing exists and he can be found. I am not licensed to help you and you are probably no fun at all. Suicide was at that point a rational choice for me.
I considered various alternatives to suicide. My observation was that followers of toxic parents, inner child, and other popular movements, were making the proponents rich, but the readers and practitioners of the various movements were generally really obnoxious and no more useful than they had been before hooking up with their bogus favorites. Pop psych is 50% obvious, 50% dumb and 10% useful (figures do not add to 100% because of overlap).
My family had been Episcopalian. The rituals were OK, but the core beliefs were, ironically, unbelievable. As with all the Christian branches one had to accept an eternal God which changed over a few hundred years from a God of anger and war to a God of love. Can you accept a God that can’t make up its mind? Not I. After checking out a few of the major non-Western religions, I could not find anything better, but I do have warm thoughts about Zoastrianism. What’s not to like about a religion featuring Ahura Mazda? I have no use for reincarnation – who can handle more than one life anyway? Why bother with nontheistic religions? You may as well make up your own belief as the terminal boredom of Unitarianism. Don’t get me started on Buddhism.
Popular secular “religions”? Save lives in the third world so they can die of AIDS or malnutrition later? Gun control? Save the southern winkfish? Nuke aborted gay whales? No thank you. The only important movement to help humanity as a whole is population reduction. If we don’t want nature to do it for us in some mass extinction from disease, or to do it for ourselves by war, we should lower the human population of the earth. I’ve done my part. By my own volition and by popular request I have no issue that admits to it. Soapbox temporarily vacated.
Because I was young and self-centered at the time I was only concerned with saving myself. Helping a huge segment of humanity did not occur to me until I found my calling.
After abandoning any hope for help from pop-psych or religion, I decided to think about a hobby. Cars I worked on would not run. There were always parts left over. The desk I built was massively inferior and more expensive than a store bought one. Yoga, tai-chi and karate were OK, but I never got past the moves. My first brush with celebrity started with a fan letter to Frank Spenser, the inventor of Stretchomatic™ (a machine for increasing flexibility), and later the president of the U.S.A. He responded, and over the years we had a very useful exchange of ideas. To learn more about Spenser read the excellent biography by Doug Hawley. Despite the physical benefits and short term high, there was no enlightenment from exercise.
My life improved when I began to hike on weekends with a local group, the Norville Knees. Each hike would get about 30 hikers for rambles of five to ten miles. The fellow hikers were all interesting people with different approaches to life. There were Hindu Indians from the computer industry, an Islamic storekeeper, a few Jewish professionals from various disciplines and many Latinos and various Asians along with white bread Americans. All of them had different ideas about religion and philosophy from “take care of number one” to worship of various Hindu deities to the love of our savior. Unconsciously, I was forming a Western based synthesis which incorporated bits of all of their thinking.
Hiking women were without much physical or psychic camouflage making hiking a much better place for meeting them.
On a Sunday hike one spring we were walking through canyons and up hills. I was getting one of my rare hiking highs. Many of our party were complaining about how long it was taking to get to our lunch spot. We knew that we would have lunch where a waterfall fell into a pond from which a crossover falls emerged. Double Falls was famous in three states for its beauty, but the trail to it is very difficult. A standard whine of hikers is “Are we there yet?” At 1PM there had been five cries of “Are we there yet?” The simmering fragments of Hinduism, Buddhism and the monotheisms came to me. “You are all asking the wrong question – ‘Are we Here yet’?” I pointed out that MY question got a much more positive answer than theirs. We are always HERE and there is nothing wrong with that.
“Are we here yet” became a big joke and my newest catch phrase. I was known for my bad and frequently home grown jokes – “Did you hear about the gardening gambler who was so desperate that he bet his hedges?” Stuff like that.
After the hike I thought about my catchphrase. Was there any there here or here there? The semantics gave me a slight headache. I could see some similarities to New Age froth such as –
Be in the moment (duh – what other moment would we be in)
It is the journey not the destination (give that a definite maybe)
All who wander are not lost (for those that are lost we send out search teams and find out that they are yahoos without a lick of sense visiting Idaho from Ohio)
Are we all saying the same thing and if so are we all correct or all wrong or neither?
It immediately occurred to me that Westerners could not fully realize the philosophy of someone who lived on rice in Nepal and had never read a Dashiell Hammett novel or watched a Star Trek (any of the series or movies). Further New Age meant Old Superstition (and not in the good Rocking Stevie Wonder sense).
The puzzle I solved is how to start with a similar idea to Eastern philosophies and religions, the completely obvious, some Western science and my own experience to derive a complete framework for improving lives. Even though I realize that the West will never completely appreciate or understand some of the nuances of Eastern thought, I have been amazed at the number of HereticsTM there in are Eastern Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Apparently some of the Asian adherents feel some comfort with the Asian influences on Heresy™ while appreciating practical Western adaptations. As befits a mostly Western discipline my riddles are more likely to derive from pop culture than mysticism. Rather than “The sound of one hand clapping” I would use “WWHSD” (What would Homer Simpson Do). WWHSD is usually a negative lesson.
We will look at the details of Heresy™ in later chapters, but excuse me while I talk about myself a little longer. It is hard to find a good leader without a healthy ego.
As I absorbed my lessons, my outlook became better, I drank less and I quit smoking. A member of our hiking club, Jody Kramer noticed the difference and asked what had come over me. Thus I got my first grasshopper. I called them grasshoppers from the old TV series Kung Fu until I got the slicker and used the more original term Heretic. Jody continued to smoke, but not around his family and avoided a bitter divorce based on my lessons - which leads to my personal romance digression / sidebar.
Up until this point in my life I had paired with women who were either weird or disinterested in me. As I came to know, it wasn’t that I had low esteem that doomed my life, it was that I had low value. Only women with strange taste in men or those that felt the need for loser guys would get close to me. I was usually complicit in them messing with my head. The women who were serene and good did little more than pity me. There was no point in reforming me. Women want to reform men who will become handsome reformed men, not ape-like reformed men.
The flings before my Heresy™ epiphany that lasted more than one night that I can remember were at least instructive. They reinforced the dictum “Never sleep with anyone crazier than you”. That wisdom is incomplete in that it assumes a linear scale of craziness. My honeys and I were crazy in different ways.
Jane crocheted sweaters for her husband while I drank Pernod cocktails. She opened worlds of culture, sex and debauchery with no hope for a future. We were so obviously bad for each other that I only called her for six months after she went back to her husband. Perhaps it is fortunate that I did not get fired while my mind was wrapped around her. Lesson learned slowly – don’t blame your partner for your idiocy.
Hope hoped for marriage. At that time in my life she found a sympathetic partner. I had floundered towards the idea of picket fences, pitter-patter of little feet and such being the key to happiness. We got along fairly well, had similar interests in hiking and sci-fi movies (or so I thought – there was a little dishonesty going on). This looked to be such a good deal that I was willing to eat broccoli and overlook her lack of passion and a subtle mean streak. She unknowingly did me a favor by showing her bad side. After the fifth time that she insulted the same waitress, I noticed that she lorded it over anyone when she could get away with it. She did not do it to me or to her boss. In private conversation she talked about ignorant blacks and Latinos. Even though I had wanted to make it an acceptable romance, her treatment of others was too much to handle. Since I was not a saint then nor now, I drove her away by making demands on her that I thought she wouldn’t accept. I was surprised that she would submit, at least the first five times. Not the finest moments for either of us. If you are reading this, Hope, if you are reading this, thoroughly documented truth is a valid defense against defamation suits.
Then there was Emily, the Christian Scientist, who went out with me on pity dates in hopes that she could convert me without me getting too close to her. Between my attraction to her and antipathy to her religion we were at total cross purposes. Finally, she would only see me in a Church to which I would not go.
Mixed between major relationships were pickups in bars and blind dates. Arranged marriages might have looked good by comparison. As I codified Heresy™, I stopped pursuing women in part because I wasn’t successful and in part because I needed to learn the implications of my enlightenment before proceeding.
At this time Helga, a Swedish librarian joined the hiking group. A part of my improved consciousness included an important element of what would later be described as an element of the “Tao of Steve” in a film of the same name (the title refers to the coolness of various Steves, most importantly Steve McQueen). A man attracts women in proportion to his lack of apparent interest. As a corollary, my previous neediness had put off quality women and only attracted those who wanted losers. Another rule is that reality based confidence (not braggadocio) is admired. We will look at real strength versus delusions of adequacy or grandeur later.
I digress within a digression. Helga and I had both reached a point in our lives where we were open to, but not in need of, a relationship based on equality rather than dominance or submission.
During the third after–the-hike beer drinking session, we decided to go to the movie adjoining the bar and have more beer and pizza. After that, our extra-curricular pursuits extended to skiing, tennis, trips to the mountains and the coast and various forms of aerobic exercise.
Helga had been raised a Mormon in Utah and lapsed into Jack Mormon-hood before she came West. She had been a religion and pop psych investigator for more years than I had – she was five years older. After a few glasses, we would debate the whole philosophical spectrum. We quickly agreed on some of the basics – personal responsibility, good works, relationship of body to mind, science is better than New Age (chi, ESP whatever) but not as important as ethics. Our views on a supreme being were different, but perhaps mostly over semantics. Helga frequently pointed out parts of Heresy™ that were parts of other beliefs. I was partly pleased to see that I was independently arriving at “wisdom of the ancients” and partly peeved that I couldn’t come up with anything new, but at least I pointed towards a new synthesis. We are fortunate that she shot down my idea of HereticsTM wearing purple and orange. Generally, she played a big part in shaping the movement as it is today. Working at the library afforded her a lot of opportunity for research.
For tax reasons and legitimacy of children and (I must admit) for better acceptance of our relationship, she became my current wife, I her current husband. The term current in this case is not meant to imply previous or future spouses, but more to keep on our toes.
We decided that our work on Heresy™ was the most important thing that we could do with our lives, but that in the meantime we should continue to eat, so we kept our jobs while I worked part time in unauthorized counseling and working on The Manual.
While I was working on The Manual, Jody Kramer introduced me to Joey Kellog (a more superstition man might have made something of the identical initials). Joey Kellog had gotten a great deal of press over his induced mutilation to achieve superlative weight lifting results. He was a figure of great national controversy over means versus ends. Jody had played baseball with Joey years before and had contacted him when Joey made his big news splash. He suggested that I could help Joey though his problems.
Joey learned his lessons well, became of all things a successful cartoonist after counseling. His change in his work life did not completely erase his interest in sports. He is now a coach of various youth teams enters various races from 5k to marathons and still is a good, but non-competitive weight lifter. He also has a delightful wife and two children who he is allowing to form their own lives, unlike how he was raised.
Most HereticsTM don’t broadcast their membership, but we know there are many Manuals in the locker rooms of professional sports and in the desks of US senators and representatives.
The Manual, a slim pamphlet with celebrity endorsers Joey Kramer and Frank Spenser, was sought after by national publishers and became a best seller, partly because it only cost $2.50. The original manual is the section after next. The rest is transformation history.
Enough about me, how are you doing?
WHO SHOULD AVOID THIS BOOK – IS HERESY™ RIGHT FOR YOU
Logically, this section should have come first, but then many who will see that this book won’t help them wouldn’t have read about me, and may not have wanted to buy the book. The preceding sentence may be an attempt at humor.
A number of people can’t or won’t be helped by this book.
Jack M. was failing in his business. He was recommended to me by someone that I had helped a lot with a similar problem. Because of the evangelical nature of his religion, he spent most of our time together trying to convert me to his beliefs and rejected anything that I would tell him which he felt did not fit his ideology. When I told him that having a new child every year limited his financial success, he quit me. If you already know all the answers, you won’t listen to anyone else, including me.
Numerous people have approached me with personality disorders. My aunt Clair, a licensed therapist, explains to me that mental disorders are generally of two kinds – personality disorders, and mental disease. The cause of personality disorders is unknown, as is the cure. As the joke goes, you have to want to be changed. Heresy™ does not help you to crush your business rivals, or to diminish your spouse. This is not “Looking out for Number One”. On the contrary, our belief is that ethical behavior is more important than personal happiness (but hey, two out of two is better than one). I have no interest in increasing one’s sociopathology or paranoia. Look elsewhere. If you are open to more fulfilling relationships, check here.
Those with mental diseases or mental deficiency should not look here. You will need competent help, if such a thing exists. There is a great deal of controversy about talk versus pills for mental disease. You’re lucky if you can find either to do you any good. In particular, if that voice in your head says “Kill your therapist”, see someone else.
Similarly, this is not primarily about making you rich. You will probably have greater monetary success if you follow the Manual, but the main point is an enriched life. Heresy™ can’t cure addictions. It might help, but you (again) have to want to change enough. Alkies please apply elsewhere.
Jane C. came to an initial session, but left in a huff when I suggested to her that she was acting like the world owed her. She was taking money from her parents and her boyfriend. She “borrowed” her uncle’s car and returned it out of gas and with a dent in the rear bumper. Why didn’t her health coverage pay for her herbal teas? Mexican restaurants should never charge for chips and salsa. How could her boss complain when she consistently came in half an hour late and spent an hour a day on personal calls? She accused me of being judgmental and hurting her self-esteem. Of course I am judgmental. We all should be. Her self-esteem was undeserved and should be deflated. You must get beyond psychobabble to accept Heresy™.
Helmond S. wanted to find answers that he had not found in his Lutheran background. I felt that we were making progress after a couple of weeks, but then he announced that Buddhism was the answer and that would take up all his time. I later learned that he had moved to Islam. Religion shopping and Heresy™ don’t mix well.
An amazing number of potential clients have found Heresy™ to be too cheap and easy to be credible. If you feel that you want to talk to a therapist once a week for years and run up bills in the tens of thousands, talk to the guy down the street.
The people (I hope that at least a few are left) still reading this book – open your minds.
THE ORIGINAL MANUAL
This is the original manual because I want to show the way we started. If you want to see the latest edition with pictures, artwork, testimonials, case studies and improvements we have made over the years go to your local bookstore or order online.
The manual begins here.
ARE WE HERE YET? We have to break that question down, even though the simple answer is yes.
ARE – This indicates that we are dealing with the present. In common with most of self help thought, one should emphasize the present. As you will see, the present is not our total concern, but it is the most important. Don’t worry unnecessarily about the past, which you can’t change or obsess about the future which is uncertain.
WE – Many methods of improvement only look at the individual. You are primarily responsible for yourself; this is neither a victimization philosophy, nor is it a “looking out for number one” point of view. If we = me, you have a problem. If you stick with Heresy™, your outlook will be broadened. If you are incapable of looking beyond yourself, get a book such as “Hitler is my Life Coach” or “You Are the Universe”, or better yet, get your own island.
Your “we” could be family, immediate or extended, city, state, country, occupation or hobby. Maybe your “we” is New York oculists. We will return to this concept.
Analyze “we” by putting yourself in the middle of the picture. After that, who is most important to you? Draw a diagram (the ever-popular Venn) of your “we”s. If you answer this honestly, it will lead you to see your strengths and weaknesses. If your liquor seller or drug dealer is closest to you, it seems obvious that some changes are in order. If you are not in this category, you might be surprised how many people it applies to. Before going any further with Heresy™, it is necessary to break any addictions.
Not quite as bad are narrow interest buddies. If you only hang out with scrabble players, quail hunters, libertarian politicians or other such, both you and your buddies will not be very useful to yourselves and close to completely useless to the outside world. Todd Q. spent a lot of time moving to Heresy™ because of resistance to cutting down on gardening. He had spent just about every spare hour in his garden. He thought that because he brought home a big paycheck and didn’t abuse his family that he was a good man, but he could sense something was missing. Rather than giving up gardening, he broadened his interests (note – if this were a “get rich book” he would have “leveraged”) to include community gardens and began to work with the nutritional needs of school children. Now both he and the community think a lot of him and he still gardens, but it is not an obsession with him.
It should be obvious that friends and family should be your most important “we”s. Other, but markedly less important good ones would be:
Political party or philosophy
Local community or state
Here is the tough part – to love and support each of your “we”s without hating or destroying the “they”s. If you feel that Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists or Baptists are going to hell that is no reason to wish them ill. On the contrary, while I can’t accept the popular version of hell, even if I could, it would be no reason to look down on those who would go there. As a minimum, we should ease the burden of those who are living this physical life. Good advice – love the sinner, hate the sin. Some Republicans are evil and greedy. Some Iraqis hate all Americans. Some (OK most) white people can’t dance or jump. In every large group there is good and bad. There is a town in Arizona where all the merchants overcharge you, but that is a small group. Don’t ever go to Everstone, AZ.
You now know your “we”s. Now, how can you improve them? There is one primary “do” and one primary “don’t”. Do improve yourself. Don’t give unqualified support to whatever your “we” wants.
We will get back to the “you” part of “we”.
It is so easy to find examples of the “don’ts”. Every large group with many positions is frequently wrong. Loyalty should not imply or include wrongs done in the name of some group.
Let us say that your family has always voted democratic. You consider yourself a hard core Democrat. The majority of your party wants to raise pensions for government unions. The rational is that government workers are underpaid and need higher pensions in order to compensate. In fact, you know that government workers are not consistently underpaid and the higher pensions would in fact increase their total compensation to a much higher level than private workers. The proposed increase is in fact a bribe to ensure that all government workers will vote for the Democratic ticket. In this case it is more important for you to see your higher role as a citizen to oppose by vote, comments to the media and your party and personal persuasion to defeat increased government pensions.
If you are a public accountant, accurate statements are more important than getting business by telling your clients what they want to hear. It may even be a way of staying out of jail and in your profession.
Let’s look at behavior first, because we are primarily what we do. You may be one of the famous Kennedys. That should cut you no slack, but apparently it does for millions of mindless voters. You may be blessed with a wonderful family and a fortune, or a penniless orphan. Forget all that for at least a moment.
You are what you do (repetition for emphasis, not bad editing)
HERE – The literal meaning is present location. Your answer could be Dodge, Kansas; Anytown, USA; Somewhere in Burkina Faso 200 miles from Timbuktu. This aspect of your answer is important, but not the most important aspect to your answer. Certainly, your life is different in North Dakota than Yemen.
A more important component to your answer is the metaphorical “here”. You can analyze your present status in several ways. Behavior, Emotions, Health, and Finances are among the most important aspects. You may notice that the acronym is BEHF. It doesn’t mean anything because Heresy™ isn’t about facile mnemonics.
From the perspective of humanity, Buddhist Nirvana is a bad ideal. The death of ego or desire is not only unnatural but counterproductive. Without the confidence and passion of great scientists we would not have accomplished the wonders that we have. OK, we could gladly do without graphic interfaces and cell phones, it hasn’t all been good. How many would like to live without motorized transportation and Gortex? Of course big egos by themselves (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) without good actions will can be horrible.
What to make of all this? Have enough confidence and passion for doing good, but realize that it is not all about you. It is about us. This is a very difficult concept for the young, and it may take several years to progress towards appropriate behavior for some.
I believe that in daily life in most cases good, or at least non-bad, behavior is easy for non-weasels. You probably don’t need years of religious instruction. Those who have been raised to be weasels may need deprogramming. Most of us won’t have to decide whether to kill Hitler or some other tyrant for the common good. If you must make that choice, I can’t help. If you are a masochist, the Golden Rule probably should not apply. I don’t have any formula, and I doubt that anyone does. A couple of simple things are to be polite according to your culture and obey most laws (the latter may not make much sense in some countries and driving 72 in a 65 is OK with me, but you get the idea).
If someone is not trying to hurt you in any way, a soft response is appropriate. If you have religious objections to coffee, all you need to say is “No thanks”. If someone is trying to hurt you an equivalent response is called for. If someone tries to sell you magazines and ignores your “No Solicitors” sign you can say “get off my porch”. If someone tries to knife you, you get to shoot him or her.
Some common sense “do”s:
Use “thank you” and “you’re welcome” where you can.
Park within your parking space, not over any lines. Use your turn signal appropriately. Follow at a safe distance.
Drive a vehicle appropriate to your needs, not your status.
Dress for the weather.
Cut your toenails before long walks or runs.
When a friend or relative needs help or sympathy do something that he or she finds helpful.
Volunteer your time for something that you enjoy and that contributes to the general good.
Have a few good stories and jokes and use them sparingly.
Be prepared and several of the other Boy Scout admonitions. Learning first aid and what to do during the several categories of catastrophes is advisable. Complete your will.
Be fair. Even though you really want to win at tennis, if your opponent’s shot is in, call it right.
Live up to your obligations both implied and expressed. Live up to marriage vows. Support your aged parent. Give your employer an honest day’s work. Keep your dog company or don’t have one.
Be clean and smell good.
Use your property in such a way as not to unfairly offend close neighbors. If you have the only house on the block, go ahead and paint it purple and orange. I would.
Exercise your body and mind. Pick up some skills.
Praise people who deserve it.
Have a few original thoughts.
If you were wondering about giving up all your material goods, being totally loyal, or achieving greatness, that is not only difficult, but perhaps counterproductive. Consider –
James Q. sold his business to support Krishna Consciousness. Better he should have kept his business and continued to build plastic bags and employed 120 people.
Shandra refused to testify against her husband. He killed and raped 12 women before he was caught. She could have saved ten of them.
Rolondra F. contributed to advances in AIDS treatment, but abused her girlfriend physically and mentally. Greatness only permits you to be obnoxious and eccentric, not mean or evil.
The “don’t” list is so easy. I’ll have to cut out a couple of hundred for purposes of brevity.
Swear where not appreciated nor expected.
Have bad hair – anything involving lots of money, different lengths, spray, unnatural colors. No to bad clothes also– visible underwear, that sort of thing.
Using a cell phone where I can hear it or it could cause you to run over me. Excuse me; I forgot that it is not all about me. Replace “me” with “anyone else”.
Use “hopefully” except as an adverb.
Use “impact” except when talking or writing of meteors or asteroids.
Insult anyone who has not earned your wrath legitimately.
Tell offensive jokes. This can be a tough one.
Have more children than you can provide for. With our technology oversized families are inexcusable. This applies equally to men and women.
Ingest drugs which cause you to lose control.
Always take a penny, never give a penny, or more generally take more than you give.
Drive dangerously / drive impaired / ignore the turn signal but wear out the horn.
Ruin your health, or that of someone close to you. Smoking and overfeeding may be the worst offenders.
Wear or indiscriminately spread harsh or toxic chemicals. This includes what some clueless men put on in the locker room. Such chemical warfare should be forbidden by a Geneva Convention.
Injure, except in defense.
Seek revenge. Retribution may be good sometimes, but more generally no revenge is living well.
Go on Spengler or Ofir, or other talk show, sue someone over something that happened ten years ago, or write a book about your rotten parents. Don’t even watch Spengler or Ofir.
Steal or cheat at work or work at a place which requires you to do bad things as a condition of employment. Clearly all tobacco workers and telemarketers should quit immediately. There are many slightly less bad professions – most beauty product makers, makers of high heels and men’s ties, the list is long.
In general, make your problem someone else’s. When your paramour leaves, don’t use it to mess up the lives of friends and family. Don’t multiply misery.
There is nothing in here about political correctness as such. There appear to be two components to what is called political correctness. The good component is old fashioned correctness or manners. If someone would like to be referred to “African American” a well mannered person would comply. The bad component is clearly political and assumes anything pertaining to white male American is automatically bad. Writing or saying anything involving use the phrase “people of color” probably falls into that category.
Use this short lesson in behavior to evaluate where you are in the B part of where you are.
Happy, sad, moody, jealous, angry, what are you?
Most people who investigate Heresy™ come to us because of negative emotions. Different schools of psychology explain emotions in different ways. Is your present situation explained by the amount of breast feeding that you had or because your brother would not share his toys? Or are archetypes and mythologies at the root? Who the hell knows or cares? What a load.
Whatever the cause (I’m in favor of the prenatal womb enzyme theory), it is more important to get to where you want to be than to know where you have been. Only wienies blame past lives or parents for their failures. The HeresyTM mantra or catchphrase is “The past is the past only now will last”. It’s not much, but it is the best that we could do.
Anger, jealousy, envy and other negative emotions are usually completely useless and holdovers from our primitive ancestors. Lack of control or the need for control can cause these feelings. In order to escape the tyranny of bad emotions:
Understand that we don’t own or control people or cats. They are at least as free as we are.
Some people are more fortunate than we are either because they deserve it or they don’t. We are more fortunate than some people either because we deserve it or we don’t. Rather than bring others down to our level, try to improve yourself. Johnny Q. was jealous of another employee Janice M. at work who made more money than Johnny but always left early when the boss wasn’t there. There are various things that Johnny could do to make more money, many of them legal. Aside from that, Johnny had a lovely family. Once he recognized his non-monetary riches, he found that Janice did not bother him anymore.
Repetition for emphasis – it’s not all about you.
If you feel that your mental state could be depression or other disease, see a competent medical person (good luck with that).
Here’s one you’ve heard before – if you are busy enough, you will forget about your troubles. Volunteer at a hospice or hospital. Clean up a street or a park. Find an author that you like and read all of his or her books. I suggest P. D. James or Stephen King, but your taste is probably different from mine.
Realize that you CAN run away from some problems. The trick is knowing which they are. You may have to learn to deal with a spouse. A job or a boss may be difficult to change. You can probably leave a city or car that you don’t like. Many troublesome people can be avoided. If you are the problem, you can’t run away from that. You may have to change, but that can be good. Addictions, personality disorders and such should be faced and corrected. Heresy™ can help with some, but not all of those categories.
The world will not change for you. At least not much. You can paint your house if your neighborhood does not have rules to prevent your choice of color. Your best course may be to ignore the world or change yourself.
“At least I / you have my / your health” goes the expression indicating how important being in good physical condition is. There are two good things we can do about our health:
Take good care of it.
Make the best of it.
Taking care of your health is the subject of millions of lines of technical and popular writings, much of it contradictory. Makes you wonder if there is anything simple that you can do that is good for you. Good luck – the answer is yes.
Exercise is good and more is better until you overwork or injure yourself. Most forms of exercise do you some good. Riding on a golf cart is not exercise. Swimming, running or walking, handball, mountain climbing, tennis, soft/base/basket/football, and to a lesser extent bowling are all exercise. Depending upon age and condition do these things up to but not beyond the point where your body rebels, you lose sleep or show other signs of overdoing it. Here is where we always say consult your physician (if you can afford one). Personal aside – I am average in general conditioning, but have excelled at the Annual Backwards Marathon in Ogden, Utah. The vast majority can find a form of exercise which they can do reasonably well and enjoy.
Most of us can use some form of Eastern yoga / meditation / whatever. Whether you profit from the mental, intellectual, cardiovascular or strengthening aspects, you should examine the possibilities. Chakras and auras don’t float my boat, but I’m open minded.
Diet is much more confusing than exercise. With exercise, within reason, it is all good. With food, we have big problems. I’m not an expert, and in any case the “experts” all seem to believe something different. Given those caveats, I have a few bulletproof suggestions:
Unless you are trying to gain weight, eat small portions, or share your meals with someone. Doggy bags work for our inner canine.
Limit added sugar and salt and processed food.
Eat some of everything, particularly fruit, vegetables and nuts, with due respect to vegetarian or religious restrictions.
If you are vegetarian, make certain that you get adequate and varied protein.
When in doubt, take a multivitamin.
Avoid expensive or limited or cult diets. It is very doubtful that they will make you healthier than a good tasting variety of food available to you, and it is likely they would cost more and taste worse.
It is better to be a little overweight than obsess over food and become anorexic or bulimic.
YET – We want to be “in the moment”, but we must acknowledge the passage of time. We are always here “yet”, but how does the passage of time effect our location?
Getting beyond a simple “yes” answer to our question, “Are we Here Yet?” should involve at least two weeks of analysis to completely answer the question. The analysis can be done with or without counseling, but I recommend counseling. Direct personal counseling can be arranged if you need to augment the help in this manual.
LOST IN THE WOODS – A PARABLE
Imagine yourself in the woods off trail and feeling lost. To get out you will need to know which way to go first and then the way out. If you have followed the HERE part of our manual, you will have your metaphorical location. After knowing where you are, how do you get out? Let’s say that part of your “HERE” is swearing too much. To get out, you must move. Keep track day by day, of how many times that you swear. When you are down to zero, you are out of the woods.
That was an easy one. Let’s try something harder. Say your spouse says that you belittle him or her, but you don’t believe it. Ask said spouse to tell you every time he / she thinks you have belittled him / her. Analyze the incidents. If any truly don’t qualify, don’t count them. Again, you want to get to zero. That is how you get out of the woods.
This may not work for some unwanted behaviors, such as addictions to cigarettes or alcohol. Suicide is recommended for serial killers or child rapists.
Thus ends the original manual. I found out what the other self-help people were like on a TV program that we were on.
BATTLE OF THE GURUS – OR WHAT’S UP WITH THE OTHER GUYS
A few years ABC decided to make a “special” based on the old “Battle of the Network Stars” series in which celebrities mostly from TV shows would engage in more or less athletic events. The underlying theme was to show stars in a different setting. You could get Bob Newhart not only making a joke, but missing a putt.
Most of the self help people who were not on TV were mostly exposed through their books. Some lame execs thought that we might have some appeal on the box. Given that our show was one of the lower rated that year, it appears that they thought wrong. Part of the blame may be laid to their recruiting of the gurus that were available cheapest:
Deana Epstein – We called her the dominatrix. Her gimmick was always advising her readers and listeners to make the hard choices. She never chose to pass up a free drink. If there weren’t enough free ones, she would pay.
Leon Capaldi – His theme was love. He eyed young boys, but as nearly as we could tell his interest was never returned without the exchange of money.
Harvey Rosewall – The snake had a PBS show and five books about “Reptile Regression”. His analysis explained our actions based on our (perhaps) more primitive reptile brain, stripping away our rationalizations and showing that we were really run by the lizard inside us. You might think this is silly, but we had at least one crazier competitor.
Rosa Reinhard – She wrote the Gender Divide and hence was known as the GD woman. From the radical notion that men and women are different she produced movies, videos, books, cartoons, lectures and five marriages. A few years after the show was run she became the governor of a small state that no one cared about. OK, that last was unfair, uncalled for and perhaps even untrue.
Bo D. Holley – Your humble adviser.
We all were there for self promotion. Other than that our motivations and personalities were completely different. I was the new kid fresh from the success of my manual glimpsing a whole new world. Deana was just a little more experienced than me. Rosa and Harvey were at their peak and thought that show could keep them at the top of the charts a little while longer. Poor Leon was a never was and he just kept gong downhill. Shortly after the show aired he killed himself.
According to our status, Rosa and Harvey got better pay and more assistants, but I was clappy as a ham with the room, free spa services and the complimentary food and drink. Deana complained about the liquor brands, but she would and did drink whatever was available. The second night we were there she was found halfway in her room and halfway out in the hall. Leon was more of a quiet, morose drunk. Rosa usually got the help drunk enough to get them into bed. You can find out about my excesses in what the other gurus have written about the show. If you think that I’m working on a little payback after what the others have said about me, I won’t argue. I will confess to under tipping.
We had five events for each of five days. The dinner before kicking off the event had everyone on his or her best behavior. Deana did correct our grammar at times, usually about gender / number errors. Harvey did most of the shop talk. His discussion of the brain parts and how different behaviors were related to the various levels of our brain was fascinating if doubtful. Leon mostly talked to the busboys. Rosa spent a lot of time on her cell talking about a movie based on her book. Most of us pointedly ignored her, but Deana openly insulted her behavior. She pointed out (correctly in my view) loudly enough for the producer on the other end of the line to hear “Rosa, this is not a phone booth.” None of this made any impression on Rosa. I mostly listened and learned.
The first day’s event, golf, was my worst. I had always looked at the game, sport (or whatever it is) as a good walk ruined, something for those who couldn’t play tennis, a sign of membership in the overpaid and underworked, or for those who favored really ugly clothes. I foolishly took a few lessons before the competition. That proved that whatever else could be said about golf, it was way too difficult for me to learn in a few lessons. If you want to get the hole by hole results, buy the video. If Leon had not passed out on the second hole, I would have been dead last. Little did I know that self help gurus like golf as much as doctors do? At this point, something of a pecking order revealed itself. Rosa, based on her media empire was on top. Deana and Harvey were jockeying for next. I was next to last, based on my low personal and public profile at that time. You would be surprised at supposed self help people wounding my self esteem with such comments as “Do you want to know which end of the club to hold” or “Until he learns which hole he is shooting for, I’m covering my ass”. As you can tell, the popularity ranking would be a lot different today. Leon was a complete non-entity. As close as anyone came to talking to him was the mumbled “Dead man walking” when he was in sight. Although he was a bore and a scam artist, I am not proud of my lack of conversation with him. When I did talk to him, he trotted out a bunch of clichés about love. I gave up listening quickly. Life, particularly his, is short.
Final golf results –
Softball on the second day was more my speed. I quickly found out that there is very little overlap between softball and golf. If you are experienced and good at one, you are probably not at the other. I was the only one who had played the game in the last twenty years, and I had regularly been on a coed team since high school. With only five of us, there was no way to play a real game, so we had tests of pitching, running, hitting and catching. Pitching was a test of speed and accuracy. I thought I was slow at 40 mph, but everyone was much slower. I thought I was inaccurate, but everyone was much less so. Harvey went first on the running test, a timed sprint around the bases. He might have done well, but he tripped over first and didn’t get up for five minutes. After that, he yelled at everyone else that he or she had missed second. After the silent pitching contest, we had much needed chatter. Deana might have won had she not tried to run straight between the bases. She apparently did not understand the “rounding” the bases concept. As it turned out, I eked out a win here also. For hitting the network had a pitcher serve us up watermelons (that is, pitches made to be hit) and we were judged on distance and percentage of fair hits. This sub-segment of the competition was one of the real surprises. Leon dominated. Most of his hits would have been for extra bases. He really used his bulk to good advantage. Since Deana, Harvey and Rosa rarely made contact, my consistent singles got me second place. For one of the few times in the competition, Leon got respect. As he told us later “I spent five hours in a batting cage before the show started”. Leon was a surprise at catch as well. He caught most of the flies hit his way and came in second to me. Rosa slightly sprained a wrist, Deana was hit on her right thigh and Harvey was knocked unconscious for 3 minutes (we could check by watching the film). Of the second tier catchers, Deana was clearly the best. She had one that would have impressed Willie Mays. Even the crew clapped at the rerun taken from several angles. Final results:
The round robin tennis results were much less surprising. Deana’s time at the country club paid off. She was all aces and no double faults and had great mobility in all directions. Harvey played very good “old man” tennis. He had great placement and knew exactly where to be, but he didn’t have much movement. I can see why he rode the golf cart during our golf game. I could win a few games against those two with my public parks game, but no sets. Rosa had not played in fifteen years and dropped her racquet a lot. Leon apparently did not have time to practice tennis before the “Battle of the Gurus”. More true to form than in softball, he fell down before he could drop his racquet. When he ran towards the net, rather than trying to stop, he used it as a drag racer uses his parachute.
To up the entertainment value we were encouraged to trash talk. This was something of a challenge since “trash talk” and “tennis” are not a natural match. I would yell “Get her a martini” on the rare occasions when Deana missed a shot. Harvey was referred to as “no leg” Rosewall, even though Ken might have seemed more likely. When I missed many lobs I was encouraged to get a ladder and told I had white man’s disease (can’t jump). Harvey and Deana attempted to duct tape Rosa’s racquet to her hand. During shots of Leon, Rosa and Harvey were shown falling down laughing. All of this spontaneity was thoroughly rehearsed.
The penultimate (it took me two years to learn what that meant and now I use it whenever I can) event was the Tinman. Tinman is to Ironman as the strength of tin is to iron. The network wanted something like an Ironman, but didn’t want to kill anyone. As a result, we swam a hundred meters, biked a mile and ran a quarter mile. Deana had spent a lot of time at her very expensive pool in her very expensive club and it showed. She was the best swimmer, this time surprisingly followed by Rosa. Apparently her size is good for buoyancy. My greater density held me to third. Neither Leon nor Harvey finished the swim.
I did a little better at biking and moved ahead of Rosa for second. In this contest, both Harvey and Leon completed the course, in that order. Leon fell off once and his skinned knee called for a close up.
I was fortunate that the quarter mile (actually 400 meters) was my best distance. Deana was 32 meters back, followed by Harvey, Rosa and Leon in that order. Leon only completed about half the race when I crossed the finish.
Based on 5 points for first, 4 for second and so, the final Tinman results were:
The final event was weightlifting, specifically the benchpress. We had been told before hand that we would be judged on the percent of our body weight lifted. That of course favored the lighter gurus, Deana, Harvey and to a lesser extent, me. At this point, Deana was so far ahead and Leon so far behind, they changed the rules to absolute weight lifted to even out the competition some. Deana blew sky high. Her control freak nature was never hidden, but this got her swearing like not just any sailor, but one who has had an anchor and or a mast fall on him. On the subject of metaphors, she screamed like a banshee. She let all of the male producers know that their male parts would not survive the day. She told the female staff that they would be afflicted pre, post and during menstrual distress. Even scarier, she mentioned lawyers. The rest of the gurus either stood in awe or hid. The only thing that kept her going though the final event was the producer’s threat to shut down production if she didn’t go along with the change. After checking the scores from previous events and deciding she would probably still win, she agreed to continue with the rule change.
It is my good fortune that country clubs don’t do much weightlifting and Leon and Rosa didn’t have enough time build muscle before the event. The final results for absolute weight lifted:
Deana insisted on calculating the results based on the original rules. Then she was second, followed by Harvey, Leon and Rosa.
The show weighed our results the same as for the Tinman. Strangely enough, only one result was clear – Harvey was number three. Deana and I tied for first and Rosa and Leon tied for last. Deana went wild again “I should have won, I should have won outright, what kind of excrement (not her actual word) is this”.
The producers had always had a gag tie breaker that they had not told us about. “Ok everybody but Harvey, how long can you stand on your head?” In what may have been a precursor to the “Reality Shows” at the boundary of the 20th and 21st centuries, we were to stand on our heads, not on comfortable pillows, but on concrete. This was the same sort of idiocy that showed up on “Survivor” many years later. For you non yogistes out there, if you weigh over 100 pounds, standing on your head on concrete HURTS.
Rosa attained a headstand and immediately toppled over. Leon could not stand on his head and thereby earned a well deserved last place.
Deana and I started together. Even though the pain in my head, neck and lower back was intense, I kept going. After five minutes and 32 seconds I came down. As it turned out Deana’s feet hit the floor so close to the same time that mine did, even the frame by frame coverage of event could not determine who lasted longer. We asked about a second overtime and found out that the producers were out of time and money and we would have to settle for a tie.
I asked Deana how we could have tied. “Bo, you can believe this or not. I know that I’ve been a complete and total bitch at times. Well, I tried to make a little bit of amends by tying you in the headstand. I am a very good yogal [sic]; I practice yoga two hours a day, including an hour headstand.” She seemed embarrassed by her honesty and walked away. Even though it seemed so out of character, I do believe her.
We had a last dinner together. Everybody seemed pleased that the contest was over. Harvey explained how our lower, reptile brain caused us to want to dominate. “Every crocodile, every little leaping lizard would like to be the biggest and toughest around.” Rosa talked about the stars she had lined up for the Hollywood version of “The Gender Zodiac”. She already had nonfiction videos on sale (in fact she pitched them to us – I continued to be amazed at how driven she was for fame and money). Apparently her movie would be something like Woody Allen’s treatment of “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask.” It would have comic versions of each of the signs. Deana amazed me again by inviting us out for drinks ON HER. Leon seemed glad it was all over and showed warmth we had not seen from him before. He told us to visit if we were ever in St. Louis.
What impression did I have of the cast of characters?
Deana is physically a total babe and a very good athlete. Her personality seemed to be borderline and she could turn on a dime. The free, quality drinks she bought for us and her willingness to tie for number one, when she should have won, is one side. Her inventiveness in tormenting Leon was another. She was very intolerant of his preference for young men and referred to him openly as the “fat fag.” I shouldn’t have, but liked her anyhow. After about five years at the top of her fame her firm (to be generous) approach to self help has fallen out of favor, but she still has her radio show and newspaper column. We talk every few months and try to convert each other, her for more rigidity, and me for more forgiveness. I don’t always admit it, but I agree with much of what she says about taking personal responsibility, but if I emphasized it I would be straying into her patented territory.
Professionally Harvey is a one trick pony. A lot of what he explains about our actions using the reptile part of our brain is both seductive and supported by science. The down side is that his approach tells you why you do things, but doesn’t give you a clue what you should do. Aggressive driving may be similar to crocodile territorial behavior, but it doesn’t tell you if aggressive driving is a good thing. I fear that a lot of people like his columns because it makes them feel that their behavior is legitimate. Fortunately he doesn’t spend too much time on cannibalism amongst our reptile relatives. His writing focus is so narrow, his readers don’t know that he is a woodworking genius with a home furnished with his tables, desks, chairs and cabinets, or that he does a spot on Jerry Lee Lewis imitation (for those under 50, ask your parents). Goodness Gracious Great Halls of Chairs. His parting shot “Think rattler, or if you are vegetarian, iguana.”
Rosa is a mixture of the mercenary and the strange. Forbes had her making 113 million the year before our Battle. She was on her cell phone with producers whenever she wasn’t eating, drinking or competing. As a result, none of us talked to her much. Apparently, she wasn’t too busy to work her foolproof relationship magic because she put moves on any male around. Even Leon. That was either comic or pathetic depending on how crude one’s humor is. Despite being none too attractive and a bit pudgy, her fame and fortune did get some results. As gossipy as I have been, I won’t provide the details, but some of the action by the swimming pool late at night was a little gross. OK, I didn’t have to watch for 2 hours and 22 minutes if I didn’t enjoy it. A few strange facts we did get about Rosa -
She has a body mass index of 38.
She has had 25 different hair colors.
All of her husbands have been younger than her.
Her original “Gender Zodiac” book has been translated into 25 languages. She has only mildly varied the theme through thirteen sequels.
In subsequent years she became a nostalgia act on the self help circuit. Last year her breast cancer got her enough publicity to shoot her back up the charts. All signs indicate that she will survive.
Leon, Leon, Leon. Such a sad case. Read and followed by millions at his peak, his advice could not help him at all. Even though he was the bottom of the totem pole at the “Battle”, I was never properly sympathetic or supportive of him. Shortly before his suicide he suggested a joint project and I just stalled him. Leon was right about showing a little more love. I am very sorry about how I treated him.
They were too big to be at the “Battle”, but I heard many stories about the two big guns of TV Talk, Jeff Spengler and Ofir Winston. For attribution, Spengler always claims that his show’s guests are ordinary people worthy of respect. Not for attribution he tells his friends that 90% of the guests should have been retroactively aborted. Winston is generally nice to everyone, but dumber than a shrub. Her assistants tell her what to say and do. She hasn’t read a single book that she has endorsed can’t and keep track of the days of the week.
The bad poet who quotes himself while drumming? What else do you need to know about him?
DOES HERESY CONFLICT WITH YOUR RELIGION OR POLITICS?
I have to give that a qualified “maybe.” If your religion suggests dropping a bomb on my street, the answer is definitely yes. For most religions most of the time, the answer is no.
Politics is matter of degree. Are you a Democrat in order to get more government provided subsidies for yourself or your group? Are you a Republican in order to get more sales for your munitions factory? In those cases there is a definite conflict. HereticsTM generally are more concerned about their own lives than what the government is doing.
HERESY A CULT?
Does any of this make Heresy a money grubbing cult? First, Helga has told me that I was not allowed to hang out with teenage Heretics. Anyone who has seen my five year old Ford knows that I am not getting rich. Heresy is oriented toward improving lives rather than mind control. Our counseling is affordable.
Did you think that I’d say yes?
THE END (YOURS)
You may be twenty years old and not thinking about mortality. You may be ninety years old and thinking about nothing else. The twenty year old could die in a car accident tomorrow, and the ninety year old could live several more years and become a surprise in the art world, or find the key to world peace.
Neither live with nor die with regrets.
Do not fear the reaper, but be prepared. My hospice visits have proven that one of the keys to life is the ability to give it up gracefully and with a sense of satisfaction and completion. Mary C. considered herself a good Christian, wife, mother and grandmother. All her life she had lived in near poverty, during her childhood what might be called a shack and after her marriage to a janitor who cleaned up at local churches. They never traveled or had a new car. All of her children had hand me down clothes and went to public schools. After she was widowed at 50, she went to work as a cashier at a local grocery. She had some trouble working the cash register, but she got no complaints. As she told it “All of my customers are great. They forgive my little mistakes. They ask about my children. If I have the time, I show them pictures of the grandchildren.” Other cashiers complained about their feet and the short breaks. She hosted the family on the holidays, and bought books for the grandkids. One of the grandchildren, Jane, told me “Her gifts, such as the works of Plato, got me interested in an education for myself.” Jane is now in a talented and gifted program in high school. I visited Mary after she was sent to a hospice. She told me “It’s been a great life, I’m ready to go.” A few days later she slipped away with friends and family around her. A modest woman who had done nothing to compare with our leading saints and sinners, but one of her other grandchildren went on to perfect a method of producing vast amounts of hydrogen to fuel America’s coming fleet of fuel cell cars. I would say a very important life compared to the flavor of the moment celebrity getting massive press.
Harry K. called me from his deathbed. His inherited billions had not prevented him from failing health in his early 60’s. Throughout his life he had dabbled in this and that. When he was in his thirties he had been asked what he would do with the money he had just inherited, he replied “I will test the theory that money can’t buy happiness.” He didn’t end up disproving the theory, but he showed that it worked in at least one case. He built a mansion in Portland, Oregon which is bigger than Bill Gates’ on Mercer Island, and had several other homes on all of the continents which have ice free land. He latched onto world hunger for three months and turned his attention to global warming for a year and a half. He called me to his hospice bed and asked my advice. The conversation went something like this (because I am the only one alive who witnessed the conversation, no one can contradict me).
HK - I had all the money, thought I did the right things, and here I am dying with nothing but regrets.
BH - Let’s just see what we can do. First, are you being doped appropriately? Based on my experience, you should try fetanyl.
HK - What do you have to suggest besides powerful drugs. Not that I don’t want the drugs. I’ve enjoyed some good sh__ in my time.
BH - Is there anyone with whom you would like to make amends? You can’t change your whole life at this point, but you can get some resolution to some pain in your life. If you believe, as I do, that a major component of your existence is improving other people’s lives, you have a chance for that as well.
HK - I’m not sure that I want to improve anybody’s life but my own. I’ve been a selfish son of a bitch.
BH - That is the paradox. Making other’s lives better makes you feel better.
HK- You may be right. I don’t feel good about asking Jane (name withheld) to see me. She got an abortion because I abandoned her pregnant [sic]. Then there are my exes and my kids. I don’t know. I never knew if it was my money or me. I can’t bring back little Joey [he overdosed and died at sixteen – too much too soon – BH]. I don’t know if I can face them. Or my business partners.
BH - Can it be worse?
HK - No.
BK - See if they will visit you. If they won’t, call or write. If you have wronged them, ask for forgiveness with sincerity. If there is something concrete that you can correct, do it, whether it is monetary or emotional.
HK - Anything else?
BH – You tried, unsuccessfully, to make the world a better place. Ethanol didn’t turn out. Millions to aid Africa went to line the pockets of corrupt politicians. Maybe we can make the best of your remaining fortune. I’ve got a few ideas about how you can leverage your fortune at the greatest possible way.
For full disclosure, I have to admit that some of these charities are my pet projects. Some aren’t. The most obvious way to limit the damage that humans are doing is to limit their number. Zero Or Less goes beyond zero population growth and is shooting towards a soft landing population of five billion or less compared to the current earth population of seven billion. This organization combines sterilization, Plan B and condoms for population control and has had some successes. The elderly population of the world is growing immensely. Some groups of older people are doing something productive. Life of Pride gives old people purpose by finding ways to help both their peers and the younger generation. The goal of Life of Pride is to change the idea of years of dependency to years of productivity. There are many worthy local literacy projects. I particularly favor those that work with girls in countries where they are denied school.
HK – Anything else?
BH – That’s enough for the time that you have left, isn’t it.
HK – Yeah, I guess so.
I saw him a couple more times in the next few months before he died. He seemed more relaxed and a little more cheerful. His exes, children and various associates visited from time to time.
His first wife, Karen, was very comforting and did not blame him for the divorce. She had subsequently remarried to a doctor and was doing very well for herself. She didn’t ask for anything. His second wife Carmen was mostly concerned about what was in the will for her. She didn’t stick around. His son Charles wanted to guilt trip him about absentee fatherhood. The kid had screwed up a lot and wanted someone to blame. When Harry told him that victimhood wasn’t much of a career choice, Charles left quickly after stringing together several choice curses.
Harry wondered out loud if Charles should become a writer. Charles did write the best seller “Father Dearest” later, but wasted the money on Tequila. Daughter Julie, with whom Harry was close, told him of the good things that she had got from him, specifically her love of nature that she had gotten from their camping trips. Most of the associates who visited him spent the time uncomfortably. Joe H., though, was a lot of fun. I was fortunate enough to be there when he came to the hospice. Some of his lines:
JH – Remember the one legged Juanita in Ensenada? JH – Same Stuff Different Day.
JH – As he fell past the 10th floor “OK so far”.
JH – A piano player one foot tall.
JH – Reader’s Digest version – Grow old, fall apart and die.
Maybe you had to be there, but Harry and I were laughing our asses off.
The visitors gave Harry a sense of completion (note the avoidance of the closure cliché), if not complete happiness.
When I reported the numbers of poor and oppressed who would ultimately be helped by Harry’s money he noticeably cheered up. He had wanted to be a benefactor with his fortune and even if it was liberal guilt, his heart was good. Harry and I agree that population limitation is one of the few sure fire aids for the world.
I do believe that Harry was more content when he died because of my advice, and for good reason.
My uncle Simon is another example of a “good death”, albeit with no help from me. Simon was an anxious person. He worried when the Dow went down. He worried when the Lakers had a winning season. He worried when the dishwasher was not loaded at night. You get the idea. When he was 62 at his annual check- up, he found that he had blood cancer that would kill him in six months. He was told there was no cure and with proper medication he would not be debilitated or feel any pain until the last few days. Those of us that knew him worried that he would fall apart. His reaction surprised and pleased us.
His response was “Screw it”. He checked on his finances to see what he could spend in the next six months and still leave his family in good shape. He relaxed visibly. He bought medium priced single malt Scotch and good but not overpriced cigars. He got all of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “The Simpsons” on DVD and watched them for hours. He took walks and lingered over anyone or anything that caught his interest. He quit reading newspapers. Although he had never particularly been interested in politics or social movements, he joined various equal rights organizations and contributed small amounts to carefully chosen charities.
I asked him about his state of mind. “Well Bo, I’m living like I really want to, but I don’t regret my previous life all that much. Sure I was a little tight ass, maybe a bit grim, but without my earlier work ethic I might be a pauper now and not be able to enjoy the twilight. Yeah, but I would like another ten years instead of a couple of months. The real shame is that so many people don’t even get my 62 years. Another thing, I have a little time to reflect on all of the blessings that I’ve had.”
You have now learned a little bit about HeresyTM, but may want to know more. Go to our website HERESYBO.com and look for the closest chapter, or check out our video or phone counseling if you think that you want a better life in return for a very little money.
The author knows nothing at all about gurus and talk shows except that he once saw a man on “Springer” who wanted to marry his cow. This was originally published in the defunct AWS.