By Geoffrey Wallace Brown, Ph.D.
Today is Thanksgiving.
I mean today is Thanksgiving!
I went to Glasgow, yesterday.
I was so god damn happy that the drivers coming toward me kept waving.
I couldn't stop it.
As I was whistling along in my baby blue Mazda Pickup it became virtually impossible to control that smile that kept breaking out on my face.
Underneath my Cowboy Hat.
This great big oaf, driving along in his little dinky pretend pickup, with little dinky baby mud flaps, that say "Big Sky Country," all by himself smiling like a big fat pig in his own mud hole.
I couldn't help it.
I have never, ever, been so happy in my entire life.
I am doubly so, because I have overcome one of the great fears: I thoroughly and completely enjoy being alone.
That is an accomplishment.
A reward that, in itself, makes everything I have been through far and away worth it.
The feeling of self-completeness, of wholeness, of self-satisfaction (in the highest and best and only real sense of the word) is what happens when you have, alone, triumphed over the evil in your life that would destroy you.
(There is a world of difference between this and self-satisfaction in the sense of smugness, conceit, or self-righteousness.)
It is a satisfaction of knowing that nothing can ever again injure, or defeat, or harm you in any way.
This knowledge, this understanding, that one achieves as he plants his own little flag on his own mountaintop is something that one is compelled to share with those who are still struggling with the climb, still struggling with the metaphor of whether or not it really is a mountain top.
Or a pit.
Be of good cheer, I can only reply. I cannot make your climb for you; I can, however, reassure you, with all the conviction and knowledge and understanding that my years have given me, that the darker your agony, the closer you are to the top.
The only thing you are letting go of is a personal sense of self.
That is the "evil one." That Jesus referred to.
The personal sense of self (as opposed to the individual knowledge of Self) is the only real cause of whatever "misfortunes" you may have.
That is all that is being let go of, destroyed, or hurt in what looks like your struggles with life.
As soon as you recognize this, the journey up the mountain becomes relaxed, and free, and a thorough joy.
I'm going to Glasgow again today. It's getting cold enough to where the Antelope may be down eating the shrubs in people's backyards.
By the way, if you ever get in this country be sure and look up a friend of mine in Glasgow: Calvin Bunk.
He owns the Phillips 66 Station on the Main Street through town.
You can't miss it.
Calvin is probably the most honest man I have ever known.
Most honest businessman.
I think Bud Ward is more honest.
I spent a lot of time with Bud and his family last summer.
They live in Missoula.
I went there to escape the Old Man.
Bud lays sheet metal with his dad, Frank.
He lays Carpet at night.
He loves his family.
Bud is known for a ringingly honest turn of phrase. For example, at the dinner table, when asked about the quality of the cuisine before him, he will reply, "It'll make a turd."
Bud is the kind of man I feel comfortable around.
And his wife, Sam, is the most selfless mother I have ever laid eyes on.
She literally does not know what day of the week it is.
More often than not.
Bud is beginning to acquire the deep honest lines in his face, that come from only one thing: deep hard honest work.
He hasn't much personal sense of himself; but he has a very clear concept of his identity.
You can tell this, by his moral response to what any situation may require of him.
He is immediate and direct in his loyalty.
To what he sees as good.
I suppose I am prouder of our friendship than any other friendship I have.
I got a call yesterday, from my Old Man.
We talked about three minutes.
At the end of which time, he had to go "take a crap," as he put it.
The healing sound of my voice had evidently stirred his bowels.
I didn't hear from Marko, down in Malibu Beach.
He went down to Mexico for Thanksgiving. With his new girl.
Mom, apparently, has moved from Del Mar, because her phone was disconnected.
Our family was not always split up like this, though.
We had a tough, hard, fast-thinking, fast-moving family, when we were growing up together.
Or, as my Dad used to put it, we were four, tough, independent, people.
And that was the way we liked it.
And still do. Apparently.
I can remember, for example, that I used to stick my hunting knife, in everything.
And nobody ever said a word to me about it.
And it wasn't because it wasn't noticed.
We had Maple Trees along the street where I lived.
It was a nice old street, with names imbedded in the sidewalks, showing both the name of the Street, and the name of the Contractor.
My mother would pull up to the curb, next to our house, usually facing the wrong way in her 1951 Studebaker; and there to greet her, in the early Spring, when the Sap came up the Trees, would be knife holes.
All up and down the Maple Tree closest to her car.
Bleeding knife holes.
That looked like some poor bastard had been hung, by his arms, from the limbs, and tortured.
I want to get these images in here just right, so you Freudians can go over in the corner and Jack Off when I am done.
I am fully sensitive to the implications of what I am saying, from a psychoanalytic viewpoint, when I give you these little portraits of my childhood.
I spent 50 days in a Psychiatric Ward, and three years in what was close to analysis, with a top flight Psychiatrist, named Kirkland Fritz, who did his work at the University of Chicago.
Fritz terminated our therapy.
And, he allowed me to stop taking Lithium Carbonate, which is what they give Manic Depressives to keep them from going Bonkers.
I have a B.A. in Psychology; and I did my entire Dissertation on the Philosophy of Psychology, specifically, the Philosophy behind the concept of Psychological Abnormality.
My Dissertation has 14 pages of references to people, researchers, working on the concept of Psychological Abnormality.
When I was in the loony bin I was treated, in part, by Joseph Becker, who at that time was recognized as one of the world authorities on Manic Depressive Psychosis.
In addition to him, I was treated by Pat Jarvis, who ran our Ward at the University of Washington Hospital.
He was one of the inner circle of people who developed Transactional Psychoanalysis.
And is mentioned in the Acknowledgments to What Do You Say After You Say Hello?
Which is the central statement of T.A. today.
I give them to you to try to show you that, although Freud's was the most brilliant, and penetrating, and definitive analysis of the human personality--like Marx, and Darwin, and Einstein, and all those other explosively creative thinkers that cropped up at about the same time as Christian Science--what he was discovering was the error, i.e., the statement of the physical or third-dimensional illusion, that was to be replaced by the Spiritual reality.
Now you have it.
I suppose those of you who have been with me from the beginning of this course probably wonder what I think of my family. After all.
Since I have said so many seemingly contradictory things about them.
Well, I feel that the contradictions most accurately express my true feelings.
Furthermore, I think that contradictions most accurately reflect how you, and people generally, feel about their folks.
But, if you want a true perception, of how I really feel, in my heart of hearts, I will have to tell you that I feel I am the most privileged man alive.
Let me tell you why.
When I was very young, my Dad used to read Winnie-The-Pooh stories to me all the time.
I can tell you pretty much whatever you want to know about all four of A.A. Milne's Books: Winnie-The-Pooh; The House At Pooh Corner; Now We Are Six; and When We Were Very Young.
I tell you that because I have never met anyone else in my life who could make that claim.
When I was going through my troubles at Whitman, during the academic year of 1973-74, I received for Christmas that year, no fewer than three Eeyore dolls!
From my friends, family, and students.
Eeyore is a character, a real life character, to those of us who know him, created by Milne to get a certain point across.
An eternal idea.
In that Mind that is God.
Eeyore is always feeling sorry for himself.
He is truly a "man of sorrows."
And yet, whether he knows it or not, at the time, he is the luckiest, happiest, most fortunate character among all the little animals that Milne has personified.
The story line seems to be about Pooh.
But, most experienced readers of Winnie-The-Pooh would agree: it is really about Eeyore.
Everybody loves him.
Everybody is always doing things for him.
He has the whole patch of characters regularly running around trying to help him solve his problems.
Not out of a response to his self-pity.
But, because there is a genuine (human) need, that Eeyore represents, that everyone "instinctively" responds to.
And an attitude, or a response, to the woes of life, that everyone can sympathize with.
And seek to comfort.
That is what the stories mean to me.
That is how they were read to me.
By my daddy.
When I was very young.
Yet it was my mother who assumed most of the normal responsibilities when it came to the raising of us kids. Me and Marko.
She did a perfectly spectacular job.
As far as I am concerned.
If you don't mind my saying so.
Let me illustrate.
When we were growing up there was a family of Jews living a couple of blocks away from us.
And his tribe.
"Mom," as she was known until puberty, taught me about anti-Semitism.
From the inside.
The Fiedlers were our friends.
The rest of the town was hostile to them.
Because they were Jewish.
I didn't know what a Jew was.
Until I went away to college.
And Graduate School.
And why people were hostile to them.
But not then.
I knew the Fiedlers.
They were part of my extended family.
Their boy Eric was my best friend for many years.
And I loved them.
The other thing that Mom did was to see to it that we had a good, healthy dose of being "little boys."
The "Little Brown Boys," they called us around the neighborhood.
Our wonderful neighbors.
Whom we terrorized.
All the time.
Those poor bastards.
No wonder I love to live out in the country.
I shudder to think of what it might be like being exposed to kids like we were.
But they (the neighbors) were very kind. And thoughtful. And understanding.
Very much so.
And mother covered for us when they weren't.
She had an extremely good friend, by the name of Jean Wilcox, who lived a couple of doors down from us.
Jean's husband, Pat, was a very nice man: he was the kind of guy who had a four-wheel drive Jeep, Second World War Vintage, with a contraption for shoveling snow that he pulled along in back.
Pat cleaned the walks of everyone on his block, and across the street, with that thing.
Every time it snowed.
Which was a lot of snow.
They had a son, "Stubby," as he was (and still is) called.
I looked up to Stubby.
He had learned honesty, and integrity, and fairness from his Dad.
Stubby protected me, when the bullies were after me.
He also kept me honest.
When I wanted to be the bully.
Mother did everything she could to have me profit from my exposure to him.
And I did.
I learned from him what is good about the Boy Scouts.
There is a lot that is bad.
Stubby showed me what is good.
And mother took us to my uncle Wellington Rankin’s ranch every summer.
While Dad spent lonely, miserable summers down in Berkeley, California, trying to finish up his Ph.D. dissertation.
In an apartment.
Away from his family.
While Marko and I had fun at The Ranch.
I mean fun.
We would lock the dog in the hen house.
Catch baskets full--big gunnysacks full--of fish.
Native Cut Throat, Rainbows, and Brookies.
We regularly did what we weren't supposed to on horseback.
Wellington had all these really good horses.
Whose only reason for being was cutting cattle.
So they were smart. And well-trained.
These were not dude horses.
Wellington lost a lot of cattle, every year, because he ran a shoestring operation. So he could acquire more land.
So it was crucial that he have excellent horses; because they had to do the work of many men.
Marko got his face kicked in so badly on one--he had fallen off, and his foot got caught in the stirrup--that he had to be flown to Chicago, immediately, for surgery.
I was less ambitious.
There was a beautiful Indian Princess, who was the daughter of the Cook--(believe it or not)--and she asked me to go riding.
The horse saw a rattlesnake; reared up; and I fell off.
My mind was on other things than riding. Apparently.
I broke both bones in my right forearm.
It later turned out on X-ray.
But the girl, for fear of what they would do to her horse, since it was Cardinal that a horse not injure a man, begged me not to tell.
So I didn't.
Well, on my way to Glascow last Weekend I had to pass the stop sign that was down....the one that had been down for the past few weeks.
The one on the main intersection in town.
The one somebody had just run over.
And everyone else had just let lie there.
It reminded me of "Truckie."
"Truckie" was one of Oliver's dogs. Last Winter.
A car hit him.
And he died.
And Truckie and I had been friends.
And I had watched a drop of blood from his mouth, as he died, and almost drip down to the ground. Before it froze. It was so cold.
And then I watched him lie there, on the side of the road, on the way to the Post Office.
For two weeks.
Now he is in the Root Cellar behind Oliver's house.
Where Oliver threw him.
When he got tired of looking at him.
About halfway to Glasgow, there were some boys sledding at Nashua, a town about 15 miles down the road.
They reminded me of a picture I have, cut out of a Newsweek, hanging on the wall of my kitchen.
It is a picture of a group of Manchurian young people.
About a hundred of them.
All in a nice, tight little group.
Eagerly getting their picture taken.
They look just like one of my Grade School pictures on the steps of Paxson School.
I can even see me.
A dumb shit little kid with the strap underneath his hat unbuttoned. Kind of scratching his head, wondering what the fuck is going on, but whatever is going on, he is going to be right in the front line ready to receive it.
Nice little kid.
I like him, anyway.
They are all nice little kids.
You can tell that.
Anybody can tell that.
Just from looking at their picture.
Underneath the picture is the caption: "A friendly crowd of young people in Manchuria: ‘Do they make cars in the United States?’"
I tell this to you because the central thing my folks taught me was to look out for the guy standing on the outside.
That is the meaning of this picture hanging in my kitchen.