Still Here - A Tribute to Charles Jefferson

"Don't look at me..."

I think towards the man sitting next to me, as we soar some 25-30,000 feet up in the air. Tears overwhelm my eyes.

"It’s not fair."

Those are the only words that cross my mind.

“It’s just not fair,” I whisper to myself as I finally give in to reality.

Charles is never coming back, and I have to accept that.

I look out the window, watch the clouds pass slowly by, and tears fall uncontrollably.

Seattle, one day earlier

I’m on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. It takes about 30 minutes to cross, and the ride is usually relaxing.

When the sun is out, the Sound is breathtaking in a subtle way. If you’re not paying attention, you miss it.

Ferry Ride - the Sound

I’m on my way to see Charles and Cyndy, two people who have been influential in my life and work. Two people that are family to me.

In times past, I’d head over to talk about big ideas and how we could make the world a better place to live.

But not this time. This time is different.

EHAS

I first met Charles and Cyndy at Cleveland High School back in 1998. I just started working in social services with homeless youth, and my boss asked me if I could attend a meeting there.

Cleveland staff were looking for alternative ways to reach “difficult” students. There were five of us in the room. I don’t remember what was discussed, but Charles and Cyndy approached me and told me about EHAS (pronounced ē-häs), their alternative program for students with challenges. I made an appointment to stop by and see their facilities.

EHAS was located down in the basement of the Madrona Church. I walked in and right away I noticed how comforting, really welcoming this place was.

The entire space was divided into sections. There was a classroom, a music studio, musical instruments, books, and various prints adorning the walls. It was a wide open space, and Charles welcomed me with a smile and asked if I was ready for the “dime tour”.

We all sat down, and Charles explained how EHAS worked.

Students would get suspended or expelled and be referred to EHAS. If students “cooperated” with the program, they would be reinstated back into public school.

What does “cooperation” mean?

I witnessed engaging dialogue about life, discussions about the nature of reality, politics, corruption, racism, self-empowerment, finances, building a professional network, and the power of the mind.

Charles talked about how music is the gateway, a universal language for the mind. After classroom discussions, there were some exercises, and eventually, youth would enter the studio and express what they learned through music.

Their teaching style brought the shy student out of her shell. Low self-esteem would dissipate over time and confidence would emerge in some who had given up. Some of the transformations were just flat out amazing.

At the end of every program, there would be a completion ceremony celebrating the students and their journey. Charles and Cyndy would explain the program to onlookers, pass out the music CD they produced in class, accompanied by a professional portfolio of their work.

Parents would marvel and share their perspective of their child’s journey and a Seattle Public School’s representative would speak. Some youth had probation officers who added their testimony, usually perplexed at the positive results themselves.

Through music, Charles and Cyndy reached hardened youth, and saw many of their students re-enter the public school system. But more powerful than that, their students left with a renewed sense of purpose.

Every person has a song

I remember Charles explaining what EHAS means, and it immediately stuck.

Everyone
Has
A
Song

In Native tradition, the elders say that every person has a song. Everyone has a purpose. Everyone has a voice inside, waiting to be expressed in a way only they can do it.

Charles and Cyndy found unique ways to help youth find it within themselves.

I was convinced. I soon joined their board, and not too long after, contributed my time for spontaneous, pop-in workshops for students and curriculum development.

Charles-isms

Charles happily played the game with youth. He had a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. He also stuttered and would proudly declare it in front of students who suffered the same affliction to make them feel at ease.

Despite all the changes and new faces that came through those doors over the years, Charles always had his script down pat and adapted on the fly. As a jazz musician, Charles was used to improvisation, and it found its way into the classroom effortlessly.

He would start sentences with, "Once again," as if someone had violated a sacred principle and he had to retell the lesson. He also affirmed it when something was proven "once again."

However, there’s one phrase that will always be etched in my mind:

“We’re still here.”

He said it after Seattle Public Schools turned EHAS down for more funding.

He said it after getting low-balled on contracts despite the results they consistently achieved.

He said it while struggling financially after both he and Cyndy poured their heart and soul into EHAS over 18 years.

“We’re still here.”

It was a statement of defiance. You know that cockroach? The one that just can’t be killed, no matter how much you try? That cockroach would use this phrase.

“We’re still here.”

It was always “we” to Charles. He and Cyndy were a formidable team. They were complimentary in almost every way. Charles trumpet, Cyndy french horn. Together, they were a complete symphony.

“We’re still here.”

I always felt a sense of hope after he said it. I don’t know why, but it was the way he said it. It was a rallying cry. It made me want to fight even harder.

“We’re still here.”

No matter what the struggle was, “still here” was a sign of optimism, yet full of rebellion.

Dementia

I guess we all saw the signs. Charles would forget little things here and there. Cyndy talked about how his new prescription glasses never seemed just right.

“Oh, I guess they got the prescription wrong again,” Charles would sigh.

Things would slowly compound. I’d arrive for our discussions and he would greet me with a blank stare. Those stares got longer and longer over time.

Cyndy talked about times when they would drive to the store, and when she came back out, Charles would be sitting in the passenger seat -- of someone else’s car.

This was only the beginning of a difficult, trying Job-like ordeal for Cyndy and their family.

There’s no need to go into the details here. If anyone has ever experienced a loved one going through Alzheimer’s or Dementia, then you know how devastating it can be.

It wasn’t an easy takedown. Charles is stubborn and full of pride. He fought and fought, until he couldn’t fight anymore.

Soon, he was trapped behind blank eyes that came to life from time to time. His body soon followed, and now needs to be supported by a wheelchair permanently.

https://youtu.be/QxLVFZmhNsE

Can you imagine not being able to walk again?

Can you imagine your mind disconnected from your body?

Can you imagine not being able to do what you love? A jazz musician without his trumpet?

Deserve’s got nothing to do with it

Charles and Cyndy gave everything they had to others. All I could think on my plane ride home is:

They don’t deserve this.

Stories like theirs don’t end this way.

But that’s a fallacy. And that's tough to swallow.

In reality, the world is full of tragedy. People die in terrible ways everyday. Corrupt politicians and financiers exploit the masses with no consequence. Kids are forced to do things that are incomprehensible. Selfishness is the norm. And people who serve others, but barely scrape by themselves, die poor.

Life is NOT fair, nor is it meant to be. If societies can be set up to benefit certain people (and they are), and not others, there’s nothing fair in that. The truth is, Seattle Public Schools didn’t value the youth who slipped through the cracks as much as other students who had more "promise". The truth is, the "last" in class are the least valued as EHAS and other fledgling programs around the world continue to fight for those students.

“No child left behind” is a societal and political lie. For people who really believe in this concept, for the teachers and educators everywhere that tackle that responsibility, they are often overwhelmed with a tremendous burden with minimal resources and support.

The burden Charles and Cyndy hauled wasn’t fair to them, especially considering their compensation all those years. Especially considering the time and effort they put in. Especially considering the personal cost and sacrifice they made.

They bled for Seattle and its children. All their partners and funders, from the City of Seattle to the Paul G. Allen Foundation, have no idea what they gave of themselves. Sure, they could've dropped EHAS much earlier and fended for themselves, but they chose not to.

In the end, they couldn’t let go of all the troubled youth, even for their own benefit. They fought and fought until everything finally broke down. Until they broke down. And when EHAS closed its doors, it was without fanfare, celebration, or even a little dap of love.

They left quietly. Things fell silent. And all the lives they touched became a distant memory.

Not long after EHAS faded away, Charles’ reality began to unravel.

Still here

I’m visiting with Charles and Cyndy at the nursing home. Charles is present, as Cyndy and I catch up. Sometimes Cyndy interacts with other residents. She’s familiar to everybody.

I take out my phone and cue up my jazz playlist. We start with Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I place my phone on Charles’ wheelchair. “So what” permeates the room and Charles comes alive.

He has intermittent bursts of laughter, smiling, and toe-tapping.

Charles contorts his lips like he’s about to blow. I can hear his music teacher from long ago:

Don’t smile, pull back, pucker in the lips.

Keep your shoulders relaxed; not raised.

Play with confidence.

You must drive all fear out of your system.

Hit it hard and wish it well.

Cyndy reaches for his trumpet and hands it to Charles. Even in this state, Charles is giving his all to blow one last time.

I'm riveted.

Charles trying to blow one last time

We wait for trumpet sounds, but they don't come. Despite that, the mood livens up in the room for a few moments, and Cyndy smiles.

We both feel his presence.

Charles Jefferson is still here.

Cyndy

I saved the best for last. The love Cyndy has for Charles through all of this... there are no words.

The pain, the struggle, the confusion, all the sleepless nights, through thick and jungle thick... there are just no words to explain this kind of love. None.

Through all of it, Cyndy's still here, too.

I'm just in awe.

Cyndy+Charles

Epilogue

I wrote some of this post listening to 500 Drums, a piece Charles did back in the day. Charles had reverence for Native American culture (he had a bit in him, too).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJDaTPW3VBc

He always had a way to make everyone feel included and welcome. He was quiet and to himself when he wasn't with Cyndy, but still had a presence about him.

I hope to see him again, soon.

Update

It's been awhile since I posted something. In May, I made the switch from the nonprofit world to a tech startup based in Barcelona.

I write for Typeform, and it's been a great ride so far, and I look forward to more.

So I'll be back and forth between Spain and the States.

Until next time.

Paul


Love Improv #1

I love you.

No you don't.

Yes I do.

No, you don't.

Why? Why do you say that??

Because...

Because, WHY?

Because you don't.

How would you know? Do you know what it's like to be loved?

Yes, and you don't love me.

Explain.

Well, if you REALLY loved me, wouldn't you love yourself FIRST?

What does THAT mean?

It's simple: Do you love yourself?

How am I supposed to answer that question?

Just answer.

Well, yeah. I love me some ME.

Sure.

Wait! Now you're saying that I don't love myself? How the hell would you know?

Simple. Just watch yourself.

Meaning?

Here's what I see. You never go for what you want. For example, you could've asked for a raise or almost anything from work, and you don't. Why?

...I don't know. Doesn't feel like it's time.

Time?

Yeah. The timing isn't right.

When will it be right?

When it feels right?

Don't you think you deserve more? Don't you think you need to grow as a person? Do you think you're growing professionally?

What does this have to do with me loving YOU?

Everything.

How?

Because. If you're unwilling to fight and be courageous for you, then to what extent are you willing to fight and be courageous for me?

Don't you see? However you treat yourself is how you'll treat me - maybe not NOW, but someday. You say you care about other people, but you don't pay enough attention to your own needs.

You say you want ME to be my best physically, but YOU don't even care for your own body. You eat just about anything and exercise a few times a month. Your health suffers, then you complain about how you FEEL lousy all the time.

You say you want me to learn and grow, but here you are playing video games after you get home from work. And when you're NOT doing THAT, you're too busy watching TV.

You say you'd love me to make more money where I work, but you won't ask for what you deserve at your own job.

You say you'd love to live in a better place, but you spend all your money on clothes. How do you expect to move up in life if you can't save ANYTHING?

The other day, that waitress dropped a few dishes on the floor and you laughed. Anybody who's half aware could see she was embarrassed. How can you love me when you can't feel empathy for others?

So, what are you saying? What do you want me to do?

It's simple. Stop asking me what I want. What do YOU want?

Say what?

Look. The most important question you can ask in a relationship is, "What do I want?"

That seems backwards. But...wait a minute.

Just think about it. I'm going to head home. Can we meet tomorrow for dinner?

Wait a second. I want you to stay. That's what I want. Soooo....what do you want?

I want to stay, too, but I have some work that I want to get finished.

Gotcha. It's nice to know where we stand. This has me thinking about our conversation earlier about love.

Dinner tomorrow?

I'd love that.


Cheaters, greed, and stacking the deck

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ill Belichick is coach of the New England Patriots. He is considered one of the best coaches in the HISTORY of the league and his teams over the years have won 3 Superbowls, and they're on the verge of earning another. Belichick is also known for bending the rules in his team's favor, and has been caught cheating on one occasion. He's currently under investigation for deflating balls in the AFC Championship game this past Sunday, although it's a moot point. The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7.

If you go beyond surface reports, and look a little deeper, it becomes easy to speculate that others may be involved in more subtle ways, including Patriots' owner Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell. During Spygate, Goodell reviewed and notoriously destroyed the tapes Belichick illegally made of other teams prior to games, prompting criticism from Senator Arlen Specter. Why would you do that, Commish?

In the end, who knows who's involved. Whether cheating is only happening on the coaching level or in NFL front offices, visiting teams that enter the Patriots' home stadium will be using extra precautions. Is that red light a camera? Are there microphones in this room? It's enough to drive a coach crazy, but many coaches are paranoid anyway.

Ok, enough about the Patriots, what's the point??

The point is, why cheat when you have more than one Lombardi trophy in the trophy case? Why cheat when you're three championships ahead of most teams? Why cheat when you're wildly successful, year in and year out?

The answer is simple. Greed, a lust for more and more power. And power has a funny way of going to somebody's head. Take a look...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vvl46PmCfE

Where's the empathy?

Unfortunately, greed plays out with much greater consequences in everyday life. In politics, government bureaucrats have the opportunity to make policy decisions that impact millions of people's lives. Do you really think that the senator of Kansas can have empathy for somebody he's never even met? How about somebody whom he can't even culturally relate to?

It's hard for anybody to relate to strangers and unknown cultures, but what about people who have been misunderstood and misrepresented? Not exactly a recipe for empathy, either.

Is it any wonder that politics and policy is driven by the wealthy among us? How can the poor have a voice if they cannot be heard? If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to allow unlimited amounts of corporate spending in political campaigns, we have witnessed the wealthiest among us, the teams with the most trophies in their closet, cheat their way out of costly company decisions. With government and big corporations feeding into each other, it's no wonder that the wealth inequality gap increases day by day.

Here's an excerpt from an article from the New York Review of Books, titled:

The Supreme Court’s Billion-Dollar Mistake

According to the Brennan Center report super PACs have spent more than one billion dollars on federal election campaigns. And because these organizations are free of any limits, they have proved to be magnets for those who have the resources to spend lavishly to further their interests. About 60 percent of that billion dollars has come from just 195 people. Those 195 individuals have only one vote each, but does anyone believe that their combined expenditure of over $600 million does not give them disproportionate influence on the politicians they have supported? The average contributions of those who give more than $200 to such super PACs are in the five- and six-figure range. The average donation over $200 to the ironically named Ending Spending, a conservative PAC, was $502,188. This is a game played by, and for, the wealthy.

How can you come to any other conclusion other than, elections are bought? And if you think politicians decisions only affect the rich and the poor, don't forget that skin color plays a major factor, too. How many wealthy Native American billionaires do you know of? Conversely, how is the average Native family living, day to day?

Politics infiltrates prisons and jails taking campaign dollars from privatized prison companies. A 2012 Associated Press review found that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), The GEO Group, and a third privately-held company Management and Training Corp. spent at least $45 million in combined lobbying and campaign contributions at the federal and state levels in the previous decade.

People of color have been disproportionately imprisoned for much longer terms than their white counterparts for similar crimes. Policies here in California have led to an over-crowding in prisons, which leads to more privatized companies negotiating contracts with the state. How out-of-control is our prison system? According to a case study (found here) titled:

PRIVATE PRISONS AND INCARCERATION

The Problem and Its Impact on People of Color

The United States puts more people in prisons and jails than any other country in the world. The number of people incarcerated here has increased by 500 percent over the past three decades to 2.2 million.157 This striking change has not been a reaction to increasing crime. In fact, the current rate of serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault is at its lowest level since 1963.158 Instead, the rise in incarceration is due to policy changes in the criminal justice system, including dramatic increases in the length of sentences for similar crimes caused by mandatory sentencing and three-strikes policies as well as the “war on drugs.”159 The incarceration rate of people sentenced to more than a year of prison has more than tripled over the past 30 years—from 139 to 502 people per 100,000 in the general population.160

Private prisons are HUGE business, and as long as policy drives "human resources" through the door, a corporation can pay labor .10 cents an hour and get away with it. Why outsource to China when you can get cheaper labor right in your hometown?

So what, Paul??

Not enough people know the game is rigged, but thanks to the internet, some researchers who give a f***, and a few courageous souls, we can watch the tyrants a little more closely. But it's about more than watching and understanding HOW they cheat, it's about what YOU and I are ultimately going to do about it.

Washington is a lost cause as long as local politics is a lost cause. We can only change Washington D.C. on a local level. The Washington machine is made to serve the wealthy elite, break families apart, miseducate children, and build more wealth for the obscenely wealthy. Most politicians are bought, the question is, by whom? This isn't about Democrats or Republicans. Corruption is corruption.

The key is awareness. The key is understanding how a decision or policy is affecting your bank account, your family's health, your economic mobility, and your happiness.

Happiness. How about that?

Listen. I'm not saying that the "powers that be" are controlling your life, how you see the world, or whether you believe in yourself enough or not. But to deny their everyday influence through schooling, media, and other "cultural" managers is utter ignorance.

We have to regain control over the one thing that gives us a fighting chance. An opportunity to really change things, and hopefully, one day, experience true transformation.

Our body. Our mind. Our spirit. The power lies within us all. Don't let that go. Ever.

True power is WITH, not OVER people.

Paul

People-feel-like-the-system


INFP

"You're a loner."

I was standing in the cold on campus at the University of Washington (UW), talking to my dad on a pay phone.

I was silent after his last statement. He began again.

"It's not like you CAN'T make friends. You just don't want to. Nothing wrong with that."

I got off the phone and his statement stuck to me. I'm a loner.

I thought about it some more. Yup, I have no problem with that.

Introvert

I've known for awhile that I'm an introvert. I didn't really care for social settings when I was younger, although I'm much better now.

I remember visits to our relatives and sometimes I would just sit in the car. "You coming in?", my dad would ask, probably already knowing what my answer was.

No. I'll be fine right here.

And I would sit in the car until it was time to leave. If someone came outside, I would hide so they wouldn't come over and talk to me.

I remember times during high school when girls would say hello to me, and I'd just stare or be non-responsive while they carried a conversation for the both of us. Tragic.

Parties were pointless. I didn't do anything but bob my head and listen to the music, if I even went at all.

You think this changed as I got older?

I remember women asking me out for coffee and I'd respond with, "Oh, I don't really drink coffee."

She's asking you out, stupid! Of course, she wouldn't know what to say after that, just give me a smile and probably wonder wtf is wrong with me. I was kind of oblivious. Probably still am.

I missed some key opportunities in my life because I was clueless in social situations. I'm sure it's cost me, but to what degree, who can say?

A simple test

When I started working for a social services agency, I participated in a workshop facilitated by an expert in Myers-Briggs personality profiling.

The facilitator was contracted by the UW and I proceeded to go over 350+ statements to assess whether I agree a little, a lot, or disagree a little or a lot. At the end of the test, they tabulated the results and 4 letters were presented to me:

I N F P

I = Introvert

N = iNtuitive

F = Feeling

P = Perceiving

(To learn what an INFP is, you can go here. To learn what each letter means, go here. To take the test to find out what your type is, go here.)

The report also showed the degree to which I was an "I", "N", "F", and "P". I saw my "I" was practically off the charts. Sure, I knew I was introverted, but this much?? Can't say I was surprised, then I remembered my dad's words.

You're a loner.

He didn't mean anything by that statement, he was simply stating a fact. He probably had a little concern when he said it because I was young, and starting over in a new place. He just wanted me to be mindful of it.

Before we got off the phone, he said to me, "If you want to change, you can. It's up to you."

Acceptance & Practice

Over time I would learn to embrace who I was. I also learned how to improve myself in social arenas.

This led me to the understanding that if something can be improved upon, it's a skill. I would just need some more practice.

Some psychologists believe that your personality type is innate. Some think it's nurtured over time. Some think it's fixed, and some believe you can change it.

I'm somewhere in the middle of all of that. I've been introverted for as long as I can remember, but I'm sure I've shifted a few degrees over to the extroverted side. Maybe I'll take the longer version of the test again to find out where I am again. Maybe I won't.

Finally, there are advantages to being introverted. I get to live within my wild imagination. I've become a decent teacher and facilitator. I'm developing my writing and public speaking skills. I'm able to generate fresh ideas and practical, but innovative solutions to everyday problems.

I'm still a loner, preferring my journal to a networking event, but I'm getting better, day by day.

How about you?

Paul


Forgive me?

What do you do when your intention gets misinterpreted?

What happens when you hurt another's feelings without realizing it?

What's the next course of action when both parties think they're right?

Miscommunication is a chance to tell the truth. It's an opportunity to go deeper with someone. Don't squander your opportunity to get to the heart of things. Yes, it may be easier to run from the problem, or the person in the moment, but do your best to stick it out. There's growth on the other side of conflict.

Forgive.

Learn.

Grow.

Heal while you can, there's no reason to prolong the inevitable.

To all the people who I have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally...

Please, forgive me.

Thank you.

Paul


We > I

[dropcap type="2"]W[/dropcap]eek 9 and 10 are over, 42 more to go. As you can tell, I missed a week, and that doesn't mean that this will be a long update. SCOREBOARD: [box type="blank" class="bg-blue rounded-10"] [columns width="1/2"]

Total Earnings

Driving: $158

[/columns] [columns width="1/2" last="true"]

Bank Account

$221.40

[/columns] [/box]

Bank Statement 10-10-12
Bank Statement 10-10-12

Update

It's been an eventful couple of weeks for me. I went on Craigslist applied to contract with a couple of places that I feel would fit my skill set AND still do something that I would enjoy. We'll see what comes up.

I've also decided to go all in on my next book, and plan to release it December 25, 2012. Merry Christmas. I've just released a teaser video for the book:

And as for the book title, it could still change, but I like the direction it's taking:

WTF Book Cover Design

I've also did a final redesign of the 8 Life Pillars. Soon I will be brainstorming courses, workshops, and app ideas around this concept. It's gone from butt-ugly to its current iteration. Check out the progression from 2005 until today:

Made these first two in MS Word. The only difference between the two was the changing the language of Career to Service and Education to Learning. Service is all encompassing, more inclusive. And Learning sounds like a more active process than education. Thanks to my friend Mark for that contribution.

Here's where I wanted to make it more graphical. Of course, I was just beginning to play with design apps, but this was my first effort. Of course, the Base of this particular iteration only had the mind as our primary source of everything. Of course, after thinking about it, I changed it.

The second is not so much different from the first. The changes to the Base were made to reflect my understanding of what's at our deepest core.

And now I'm just getting fancier using some shading effects and shadows. Don't know why I chose yellow, but I was just creating.

That last version had too much going on in the actual pillars. Now I'm sliding my design to a more minimal look. Just the icon, and the pillar name at the bottom. I liked where it was going, but I wan't even remotely satisfied.

Then I thought, why not use actual pillars? Of course, going off the last few iterations I decided to keep using color to differentiate each pillar. If you haven't guessed, I was using the chakra color scheme that I associated with each particular pillar.Then I got tired of the colors, and wanted to make the entire design more uniform. Let the icons speak for themselves. Still kept the pillars, but it just wasn't satisfying.

Then I just got sick of thinking about it, and outsourced a design from someone experienced in these matters. I saw his portfolio and thought he would do an excellent job. Too bad he didn't...

Finally, I got rid of using graphical looking pillars. It was so unnecessary. I did use a stone type image to maintain the feel of the pillars. I felt really good about this one.

Then I figured, why the big ol' fat pillars? Why not minimize the design completely, and place the emphasis on the key areas? Done.

And now the final conclusion. I changed the Organization and Learning icons to something I felt was more representative of each pillar.

8LP - Final VersionMoving on...

The Cost Of Independence

In order to reach my goal, as I've stated, I'm going to have to multiply myself and my work. That means books, ebooks, courses, workshops, etc.

So that means an inordinate amount of time developing, creating, refining, editing, testing, researching, practicing and rehearsing. I realize the level of effort and commitment it takes to make this all work.

Writing a book is no easy chore. It requires a lot of thought, organization, and consideration for the reader. Developing a course or teaching anything that promises results requires the same amount of attention and effort.

And this must all be done to a very high level in order to reach who I want to reach, and do the things I want to do.

But I also realize that I can't do it all myself. Brainstorming with friends, talking it over with colleagues who are working on similar projects, and bringing in outside expertise to help refine the message are ideas I MUST be receptive to.

If you don't know me, I am very independent, and rely mostly on myself. And this has hurt me. It has cost me so much. This will NOT get me to where I want to go, and I will never, ever be able to accomplish anything of great significance as long as this software is running my system.

So this means I've got to ask for more help. I've got to reach out to others. I've got to network with a purpose. When I think of networking, it means giving. Lots of giving.

I've never had a problem with giving. I'd give everything I have to others, and never ask for anything in return. And I'm sure I'll continue to do that. But at some point I have to monetize my value whether it's asking for favors or getting a key introduction.

I've got 42 weeks left, and time is flying.

Independence is an important step to take in everybody's life. But it's still not the highest level. Interdependence, working with others, building and co-creating with a team (even if it's three people), is how we reach our highest potential. It is the ONLY way.

Dependence ---> Independence ---> Interdependence

I hope we're all moving in that direction, but as for me, it's time to take that step.

What's Next

More writing, more reading and research, more designing, more hustle, and more video.

Video is my next step, and until I get comfortable in front of a camera, my reach will be limited. And that means my growth will be stunted. There's nothing else I need to do to prepare for it. I just have to practice and do it everyday.

Have a great week and stay tuned.

Paul "No -I- in TEAM" Campillo


The End...

[dropcap type="2"]I[/dropcap]magine this: you wake up one morning to discover a new power in your arsenal. Whenever you think of something you want, you can have it instantaneously.

You are able to manifest your every desire at will, with virtually no time lapse.

You want a car? It’s there? Traveling to Paris? You’re there. A million dollars? Got it. (Do you really need money with this power?)

There are no glitches or flaws to your power. So if you think of a car, it will appear on the street instead of your living room, for example. Everything is perfectly taken care of.

No challenge is too big. No obstacle is too much to handle. Whatever you want is at your command. Anything you want. Everything.

Can you imagine never struggling again? Like, ever?

No health problems. No relationship problems. No more thinking, “What school am I going to go to?”, or “What am I going to wear?”, or “What am I going to do tomorrow?”

No more working in boring, mundane jobs. No more long commutes.

No more sitting in uninteresting classes or waiting in lines. No more hunger, suffering, abuse, and poverty.

No more death.

Now imagine if everyone has this same power. What then?

Now you, along with everyone else on the planet, can have what they desire, just by imagining it to be. No time, no delay, no waiting.

Instant gratification. Instant love. Instant abundance. Instant relationships -- drama free.

Now think about this for a moment. What would this world be like after a day?

After a month?

How about a year?

Think about that for a moment...

What would happen??

Here’s what would REALLY happen. It would be the beginning of the end.

"The end of what?", you ask?

It would be the end of your story. It would be the end of my story. In fact, the end of ALL stories.

The regrettable, tragic death of story.

We are STORY

You may or may not realize this, but you are a walking, talking, animated, always changing (or not changing) story. Your very life, with everything you experience and everyone you interact with, is the unfolding of your story.

As a matter of fact, stories are as much a part of our lives as are eating and sleeping. And without them, we wouldn't have anywhere close to the rich life experience that we have available to us.

Stories permeate every facet of our lives, and are interwoven through every community, and every culture. No one can be without them.

One of humanity's greatest gifts is our ability to make meaning and perspective out of everything we experience. Every one of us has this gift and we use it every single waking breath of our lives, either consciously or unconsciously.

And without our ability to generate meaning and find patterns we would be simple creatures, acting on instinct, traveling to and fro with no self-awareness. We would be commonplace and mediocre in our existence, capable of nothing more than what's already programmed in.

But we are more than that.

We are walking narratives that are made up of the painful and pleasurable experiences, the good and bad, the highs and lows, and everything in between.

We fall in love then promptly have our hearts broken.

Our health can be either vibrant or disease ridden.

Everyone has different relationships, to ideas, to people, and to nature -- than everyone else. A unique point of view in how we see the world.

There’s just so much to experience in life, and anytime we have any particular experience, we give it meaning, based on what we believe, our rules, our culture, our upbringing, and our unique perspectives.

And this is happening all the time. ALL the time.

It even happens in our dreams during sleep. After we wake, if we happen to remember our dreams, then perhaps we may analyze or interpret them.

But we are ALWAYS making meaning, generating the story of our lives as we live moment by moment.

And our ability to "make meaning" forms the tapestry of our story. It is woven together so seamlessly that it's hard to distinguish what's "real" and what's our "story".

Every living “story” (person) has memories. Each memory or unique experience we have is a sub-plot, or a short story. There are stories within stories within stories.

We may have a few hundred stories to share (if you’re young) or few thousand (if you’re mature). And they will be shared with others, either by telling your tale or by your sheer presence and relationship to someone.

Because they are interpreting your relationship into something meaningful to them.

And people absolutely love stories. It doesn't matter where or when you grew up. Remember growing up? We couldn’t wait for story time. And as adults we love movies and our television shows, while others may prefer to devour novels and attend the local theater and plays.

History = his story.

We are enthralled with the creators of the stories. We celebrate writers and authors, obsess over the actors/actresses who perform in them, and love the directors who share their unique interpretations with us.

We watch sports for the same reason. We follow a certain team, it’s players, it’s city and fans even, because each has a unique story motivating them. There's a his or her-story behind every person.

And why do we LOVE the stories that touch our lives everyday?

We love them because they are US. We ARE stories. The living, breathing personification of them.

No Pain, No Gain??

Now, let's return back to the scenario I described in the beginning. A world without struggle, pain, abuse, poverty, and everything else. No worries. No challenge.

And eventually, as in all great stories, characters do overcome, but only after so much struggle, pain, and tremendous challenge.

Instant everything. Manifest at-will. Everyone can do it. Everyone has the power.

What's the result of this newfound power? What happens when everybody can use it, anytime and anywhere?

Does it mean more boredom? More happiness and joy? A sustained experience of pleasure and gratification?

Nope. Not even close.

That particular scenario would initiate an ending. The end of story as we know it. The end of living. The end of our lives.

You see, every story has certain ingredients, including characters, perhaps a protagonist and antagonist.

There’s something for the character(s) to accomplish, achieve, resolve, and obtain. Some type of goal.

Then there’s a conflict or challenge to overcome, a struggle on the way to the goal. Obstacles must be overcome in every story. Nothing is easy.

If a story is to be memorable and great, then the characters involved must be put to the test, must be challenged in some way. And eventually, as in all great stories, characters do overcome, but only after so much struggle, pain, and tremendous challenge.

They may even die in the process of accomplishing their goal. But it sure makes a damn good story to tell.

The greater the challenge to overcome, the greater the story.

No challenge = no story. Period.

What's the point?

And what if there was nothing to overcome? Nothing to thwart our paths to success? What would be the point of our lives then?

What if you could have the perfect body now without working for it, just by snapping your fingers?

What if you could find that elusive magic pill that helps you lose 50 pounds overnight, as seen in marketing blitzes and ad campaigns?

What if you could have all the money in the world without earning it, such as the get rich quick schemes that attract new people everyday to its claims.

What if you could have that elusive record deal easily, sell millions over and over again, without putting in much, if any, work? Have a gazillion fans and endless fame? There are millions of people waiting to be "discovered" who believe this story.

What if you could live the greatest life EVER without overcoming any of your personal challenges or lack of competence in any area?

What if you never had to deal with low self-confidence ever again?

And what if you never had to face your deepest, darkest fears? Ever again.

What would be the point?

There would be no point.

Your life would be over. Our lives on this planet would be finished.

the end...