“Time–A formidable and powerful enemy, when the battleground is the mind.” JSM
(I’m altering the release schedule slightly, after receiving some personal messages to shoot out more material. Thank you thus far for all the kind words. It means the world to me)
Time can be your greatest friend. It can also be your worst nightmare. We all perceive time on different levels and sitting at the table with my new buddy Bill, each second for me seemed an eternity.
I knew, HE knew, he had me in a snare.
Most will remember the iconic scene in Pulp Fiction when Vincent (John Travolta’s character) opens the brief case on the kitchen island in the apartment. It was filmed a certain way so no one but Vincent would know what’s inside; shining that brilliant golden glow around his face. All we see as the audience is Vincent’s reaction. His eyes. The way he snaps the cigarette away from his mouth. The look of amazement and awe at the contents within. Sam Jackson yelling his name to snap him out of the trance.
We as the audience will always speculate on what’s inside that briefcase.
Gold bars? Pirate doubloons? An Aztec mask or alien technology ensconced in golden shielding? It could be anything!
I wanted nothing more than to see something like that emerge from Bill’s little black leather briefcase.
Unfortunately, he had nothing that seemed to be of any material value that I could see but still I had no idea what to expect. Bill could have a number of things in there. For all I knew, he was about to rob the place. When he withdrew a clipboard, a small stack of paper and two pens, I considered that I may have made a huge mistake and was now forced into an uncomfortable situation.
Have you ever rolled your eyes in disgust without moving your eyes? More like… desperately wanting to roll your eyes, but forced to maintain eye contact with that person?
It was one of those moments. I sat there and kept whispering in my mind, Just get through the conversation. Be polite, jump through the hoops, let him down easy and get home.
Like a switch had been flipped, Bill dropped the smile, “Caught you off guard, didn’t I? Sorry about that.”
“Yeah, ya kinda did.” At this point I attempted to relax, feeling the heat of embarrassment ebbing from my face.
He snaps the sheets from the clipboard and taps them together, “Now that you’ve thought about it, what’s your reply to something like that? Say the first thing that comes to mind.” He scrunched up his brow and leaned forward.
I try my best to think before speaking, especially now more than ever. Some lessons are learned in the hardest of ways and my honesty has gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion. Today, I’m what you may consider an “obvious thinker” where my eyes dart around in certain ways, accessing areas of my mind while I put together my reply and gather my thoughts; seeking logical responses. Asking me for the first thing that comes to mind, isn’t ever an option.
“Well, you’d have to provide something that completely changes my current way of life for the better. If that’s possible… I want proof.”
“What would it take to change your life, Jeremy? What could that proof be? ”His papers now spread out in neat little stacks across the table and his hands clasped together on the surface.
I held up my left hand and pointed to each finger on it, “All my debt wiped out. Guaranteed college fund for my kiddo. The new car paid off. All college expenses taken care of. A bottomless wallet. A house with a piece of land…”
“So, money.” Was his simple reply, cutting me off in the middle of my list. “Lots of money.”
My eyes darted to the edge of the table as he grabbed a sheet of paper and scrawled a notation on it.
Feeling my face heat up again I replied, “in order to make my current situation an ideal one, this is it. Those things are what I need to better our life and change it. A little extreme? Sure. But a house on some land will get us out of where we are. Car owned–no more payments. Zero debt. College degrees for whatever we ch…”
The man had a knack for interruption, “You think a college education and owning a house will make the cost of living go down? Let me show you something.” He snagged random papers from their spots and collated them together. Bill tapped them into a pile, flipped it around and gently placed it on the table under my nose. It was time to talk shop.
Sorted together before me he arranged a series of charts, statistics, bar graphs and data about what future estimations will be in the next five years, and a projected thirty percent increase hike in this and that, and data from this place and a quote from an advisor who calculated this from this city and this snippet of info from a scientist specializing in blah, blah, blah and on and on and on.
I pretended to follow all of it, but I was bored out of my mind. I sat there in quiet patience nodding my agreement at a flow chart and saying things like, “uh huh. Oh yeah… I see that. Yup yup. No, no that makes sense. I see where you’re coming from. Wow that IS interesting.”
He smiled at each of my positive responses, nodding and smiling at all the happy replies. I too can play games when needed.
Unfortunately, he was winning the game and as time wore on into an hour, I wanted to get to the point of our meeting.
“Jeremy, I’m part of an online company that works with x-y-z. Here’s a pamphlet and a little more information, for browsing at home or wherever. As you can see here, the system works in this fashion and in order to do this, and get to this point you have to accomplish that, and the more you do and the more this and that, the higher up the tiers of success you climb.”
(Thank you for bearing with me through all that. I want to describe the company, the name, products and details… but don’t feel like I should. Let’s just call it, BizarroTech)
“At BizarroTech we can guarantee and supplement, replace and safeguard, ensure and distribute and all you need to do, and purchase, is X. You will start here, and attempt… no… succeed with my help and mentorship, and eventually be among the elite and have a status level and do this and that, and so on.”
I yawned at this point and shot my focus to the clock on the wall.
“Is your family expecting you at a certain time?”
“No. Just work gets me tired.”
“You like working in steel?”
“Not really. The money is tolerable and the benefits are some of the best that I know of. But no, it’s just a job.”
“Do you want to stay working in steel? Is this something you see yourself doing in five years?”
It was my turn to scrunch up a face, “I don’t know. I can’t say what’s happening tomorrow, or next week, let alone five years from now.”
“That’s the most common response.” Bill pointed at me and turned the Joker smile back on. “Before we go, and you decide to either give this some thought, or not and continue on and see what happens over the next five years, I want you to look at this.
“What you see is a list. Two columns of choices. This is my favorite exercise. Some of the options are obvious like sound mental health, or physical health overall, or being filthy rich with maids and servants, stuff like that, a yacht with a full crew for example, but you have a choice to circle anything you see, from either column, or both, or all of them, that you wish you could have. Anything you want or would someday like to own or have in your possession, because with this program and this company, any of them are possible. Take your time.”
Out of the eighteen (perhaps twenty) choices, only one caught my attention. I brought my head up and looked over the top of my glasses, “Can I only select one, if I want?”
Bill relaxed into his seat and chuckled, “Of course. Most I talk to choose multiple options, but only one’s fine. This is just a character exercise, Jeremy. There’s no grading system here. This is just a part of my closing routine.”
After his approval on my request, my eyes returned to the singular option in the right hand column, the second choice from the bottom of the list, and I snatched up the pen. The words seemed to stand out among the others and I circled it the moment my eyes reconnected with it. After glancing the rest of the options over, I nodded my final agreement and set the pen down.
“There,” I flipped the checklist around, “that’s my choice. Out of all of them, that’s the one I want the most.”
Bill half grinned, curious to my singular decision, and retrieved the paper from the table. He scanned down to the bottom and said, “Huh. I’ll be. (Brief chuckle and a slow shake of the head) This has never been selected before that I can remember… at least not as long as I’ve been involved. Very interesting.” He dropped the paper into his brief case and scooped up the rest of his clutter.
Once his business materials were closed up and locked down, he leaned in close across the table and lowered his voice. “I knew there was something about you I liked. You seem like a decent guy and I don’t usually say this to everyone I set these meetings up for, but I’m certain you’d do well at BizarroTech. You and me. I’m almost convinced of it. My wife would enjoy your company very much. Your customer service skills, how easy it is to chat with you, we could build something. Let me help you achieve this. Please, bring the family to our place this weekend. I’ll do a barbeque. I’ll show you around our place. You can meet my wife, “Linda” and see some of my projects. I know you’ll have a great time. Based on what I know from our time together already, I have some things on my property you may truly get a kick out of and appreciate. No pressure. No business unless you want to talk about it. Just having a nice time. All you need to do is bring yourselves and show up. What do ya say?”
It’s one of those fork in the road moments. I remember in my early twenties, standing on the edge of a quarry cliff, about fifty or sixty feet above the water’s surface and being dared to jump. Never being big on heights, I refused every time.
Seeing my friends plummeting and screaming and hearing the loud slap of flesh upon water echoing off the surrounding rock walls, always pulled me away from the edge. Yes, it may be a rush on the downward drop, but probably hurts like the dickens once connecting. I’m always contemplating whether the potential pain is worth the three seconds of rush time. A philosophy I hold dear even today.
On this fork of the road now before me: either saying yes, or refusing his generous offer for a day of fun in the country, I contemplated how the conversation would have transpired had I chosen anything else.
If I had circled “unlimited funds” or “vacations galore” or a thirty room mansion with a swimming pool in the mudroom and a personal helicopter, would things maybe be different, today?
Enough speculation. The past isn’t something that can be changed.
With a wide sincere smile, Bill shook my hand and offered me a ride back to my place the moment I agreed to his proposal. I choose my fork in the road, and decided to see it through.
On Saturday, we took a trip to his lavish home in the back country of Maine and I was introduced to a life that’s only seen in the movies.
They met us in the yard at the edge of the long driveway and the view of the surrounding landscape was nothing less than breathtaking. When Bill enthusiastically whisked me away to an outbuilding attached to his house, I was then convinced he had the ability to peer into my mind and physically manifest all around me the things I have interests in.
He smiled and reached to the doorknob, “You want to see the coolest thing ever?”
I nodded my reply and he slowly pushed open the door and snapped on the lights overhead. Bill folded his arms over his chest and chuckled when I crossed the threshold, eyes opened wide, and stammered over my words.
I had no idea what to say.
All I knew at that moment, was I couldn’t be happier.
Unfortunately, sometimes, all you get are moments.
“Blink open your eyes and begin the day anew. Just realize the moment you do, life is nothing more than a series of choices. Choose wisely.” JSM