The Skies Fell Silent

Sixteen years ago on what was to become a world known date, I lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. Out for my morning run with my dog Nubble. At that time we’d run 10 miles on the foot path of the banks along the canal.

Halfway thru, another runner, a female quite upset, hollared across the water that a plane had crashed into a skyscraper in NYC. I even recall where I was on that canal and was headed south.

Another mile and a man echoed such an announcement but added the words “attacked” when he mentioned the other building.

I was in shock yet continued my run until it sank in. Then I turned to race home.

I thought of my daughter and her mother’s family. They had a cabin up north which I often did building and repairs. Pondered gathering them and heading to those mountains.

Once home, I was like most – attached to the TV in appalling disbelief. I remember I called a couple of my high school alumni and Omega Vector buddies that flew for the airlines to check on them.

The days unfolded like many others. I just recall how eerily empty the skies swiftly became silent.

Having celebrity and production connections, I began work on a PSA which would be celebs and authors encouraging returning to the sky. I feared for us giving in to fear to fly, fear to live.

I had commitments of brave celebs and authors – yet could not get any airline to fully commit.

But I remember the day I gave thanks with tears when I saw the first airline return to the blue sky.

Fire and Rain Prayer

So God – I know I do not chat with you enough, and often I fail to listen enough. Often you hear me at your door with some kind of problem but this time my knocking goes beyond my needs.

I have friends like Roland Dezentje, Randy Wayne White, and Patricia Frappier in the wake of water – and across our country, friends like Peter Sherayko, Rob Word, and Cindy Landon seated near searing smoke.

In failing to listen, perhaps these horrific threats are our doing. So I ask for greater consciousness that we take better care of our earth, and each other in these storms and fires.

And I pray for you to listen to us of all faiths and all fashions of prayer, meditation and visualisation – please smother the fires and quell the storms. Please keep faith — in us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Satsang to Hear Our Hearts Sing

Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.” Truth is what is real, what exists. So, all there is, is Truth. Whenever something increases our experience of the Truth, it opens our Heart and quiets our minds.

Conversely, whenever something such as a thought, fear, major change in life schedule, or judgment occurs – it has the potential to limit or narrow our experience of the Truth. The Heart contracts and the mind gets busier.

We are all equally endowed with this capacity to discriminate the Truth; as well as to quiet the mind. I think of Will Rogers who often wrote from movie locations, rodeos, and upon trains – never missing a deadline with over 4,000 newspaper columns; My beloved mentor Og Mandino who wrote the majority of his worldwide best-selling novels after hours following long days in sales; And my spiritual teacher George Addair was taught to meditate in a soup kitchen with pots clanging around him.

The need for silence, the need to hear God and the Universe, and the simple need to hear myself think is a “special need” for me. This in simple words is why I began meditating in late high school, and then properly studying meditation techniques almost three decades ago. For me, meditation also enhances my prayers.

The Satsang program I am attending in Arizona is produced by Omega Vector. It consists of 4 days of total silence by the students; no clocks, internet, TV, radio, computers, texts, or phones: combined meditations and silent readings and journaling; and general reflections. The past programs have proven some of the most important and energizing studies in which I have ever been involved in my life thus far.

May your lives always allow for Satsang.

What Does ‘Special Needs’ Mean?

I am still processing one of those magical moments in my life, today from in a Wendy’s. I decided to share the incident with my daughter – it is at her encouragement that I’ll attempt to share the story with you.

Picking up my tray of food, I saw that the room was somewhat divided. To one end were folks, just folks having their meals. Mixture of parents, salesmen, little kids. Just folks. And over by the window were about fifteen youth with their counselors. Also, just folks. As I began to select a seat unconsciously with the first group, consciousness stepped in as I grasped a reoccurring thought that led to opportunity – and I went over to the second group by the window. Spying a table in the center, I asked ‘no one in general’ if I could sit there.

Several giggled and in distorted voices, nodded that it was okay. All noticed the stranger in their midst. A toothy smile emerged on one boy as he turned to a counselor, and in broken yet excited words with a failed attempt to whisper exclaimed, “He wants to sit with us.”

Smiles were traded, some nervous laughs, and each along with the counselors glanced in my direction more than once. At one point, a young man they called Nathan stood to take his wrappers to the trash. Counselors guided him as he wandered unsuccessfully when I, perhaps broke the norm, and suggested, “Nathan, look for the big round holes.” As he succeeded throwing away his debris I added, “Way to go, slam dunk,” as some others clapped, “Basketball!”

Headed back to his table he paused and looked at me with the innocence of a new-born. “Are you handicapped?” The counselor went to interrupt.

“Like how?” I smiled, with a nod to the counselor that all was fine.

He made a sweeping though erratic wave with his lanky arm. “Like us, we’re in a special school for special needs.” He began to point to some classmates as they smiled and waved freely.

“Do you mean – do I have special needs? Sure I do. Everyone does,” I replied.

This is where one might say, the silence was deafening.

I confess that I have had instances where some idle conversation or one of my stories may attract an audience of sorts, but never as the little group forming near my table. Two unable to physically join, turned their chairs.

Inquisitively if not suspiciously he asked, “Like what special needs do you got?”

I was winging it. “Everyone has special needs – just some folks won’t admit it. That’s sometimes why folks get in fights, because they have special needs and don’t know how to explain them. Any needs are special if they’re your needs. We all have a special need to eat. Most of us need food and water, hamburgers and French fries and maybe a milkshake at times.” They giggled.

“But I have my own special needs, some maybe that others share but some are just my own special needs. I need air conditioning and mine broke so I’m eating in this airconditioned place with you guys. And I don’t know how to repair an air conditioner so I had a special need for a special repairman that knew that stuff. And I need my dog Gibbs, he is really special. I need him for company and at night to lay on my bed so I feel safe and not alone. And being a dog, he has a special need and I have a special need to make sure he has a great vet.”

They asked where Gibbs was, so I said, “That’s a great question. He’s staying with my friends who have an air conditioner that works and a dog that is his buddy. Gibbs needs friends on two and four legs. And that’s a huge special need of mine. I need friends. So does Gibbs.”

I knew I was in a safe place and solid energy so I continued. “I am a writer so I need to write or I feel like something is missing. Sometimes I need to draw or color pictures. Those might not seem special to others but they are special needs for me. I need to exercise every day and pray for my days to go well, those are more of my special needs. And when I visited my daughter in Alaska way far away, they have a season where it never gets dark so my special need was to pull a stocking cap over my eyes so I could sleep.’” Good audience as they got the humor.

“A really special need I have is love. Gibbs and my friends give me love and I sure hope I give it back to them. I need to know I fit in with people. Need to know that at least some folks like me which may sound weak or silly but I admit that’s a special need to me. I need to know I am doing something useful or helpful. And a really, really special need I have is…. for hugs. I admit it,” I laughed. “There I said it. I need hugs.” Everyone laughed and a couple of the counselors and kids hugged.

Talk then went to questions about my dog, about what I write, about what I like to draw, about my daughter. One girl showed me something she was coloring before I thanked them for letting me share lunch with them. Now….is the part that is tripping up this wordsmith.

I was almost to the door when one of the counselors approached with Nathan, and she paid me one of the best and most humbling compliments that I have ever received in my life. “Do you know that show Highway to Heaven?” she asked. “We watch it at school.”

Those that know me understand why mention of that TV series of the 80’s made me grin. But I was way unprepared for the next couple of moments.

“The kids will be talking about meeting you back at school. You’re like that angel guy ‘Jonathan Smith’ on the TV show,” she said.

Before I could respond, or make my escape, Nathan gave me a huge hug – then gripped my hand to lead me back to hug each and every one of his classmates….and even the poor counselors explaining, “Pierre has special needs, he needs hugs.”

Once back in my car I gave up on controlling the tears in my eyes even though I was laughing. Then I sat in silence giving thanks for many things before calling my daughter. We shared how fortunate I am for the things that occur in my life though she regularly reminds me that I am often the catalyst that allows such things to fall into my lap. I simply observe and then sometimes interact.

But as I chatted with her, I realized how very many times when I find myself in a situation labeled good or bad, or am about to walk past an opportunity to make some teeny tiny difference – I often ask myself, “What would Jonathan do? What would the Angel do? What would Michael do?”

So, as I give thanks – I give thanks to Cindy Landon, to Jennifer Landon, to Sean Landon for sharing their husband and father Michael Landon with me and others.

And with Michael’s words echoing in my ears and hugging my heart, The one thing I need to leave behind is good memories.

Arranging Words

For a writer and an author, one who takes that on as their livelihood – the support I have been receiving since my commitment to consciously be blogging a few times per week has really hugged my soul and encouraged me in several manners. This is even more due to set-backs on book releases due to my work as Director of the Wallace and Ladmo Foundation.

Basically I take words that most of us use daily, and arrange them in a fashion which seems to be appreciated by folks. The average person commands 20 to 35,000 words. I guesstimate I may have a handle on about 22,000 words as I figure most are better equipped than me in vocabulary although I strive to learn – often much thanks to Bette Mandino and to Pat McMahon. It is not that I am slow, I just am blessed to surround myself with people I view as “above me,” that I look up to and humbly figure most are sharper than me.

Kids by the age of 5 have a vocabulary of approximately 4,000 words and by 8 years of age around 10,000. Readers of fiction normally test higher in vocabulary than those that only read non-fiction. For those knowing my love of dogs, they average 165 human words but can learn far greater.

So I am just a simple writer, one that strives to be open to observation more than many and hence it lends to the experiences that I share. Most of my experiences are available to anyone….I just choose to be aware of them, often things that lend to me being a teller of stories. I take the same words you have in your hands and simply arrange them in some sort of sequence to communicate that some readers seem to enjoy. And my thanks to those that appreciate my effort. My thanks to those especially these last couple of weeks for your comments with encouragement.

May your images in your dreams be arranged to please you and sooth you. G’night!