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Dismissive and lukewarm

Jerry-Lewis-Max-RoseI’m repeatedly amazed when I read lukewarmly dismissive reviews of movies or books or recordings that moved me in some way.

I finally saw Max Rose, which was Jerry Lewis’s last movie, a drama about an aging jazz pianist whose wife has just died, and who has discovered a memento of hers that suggests that she had an ongoing affair during their 65-year marriage. I didn’t think it was a “classic” but I thought it was beautifully and sensitively done. I thought Jerry Lewis’s take on the aging widower was just PERFECT, and it resonated with what I loved most about the movie: a sensitive depiction of old age. Unless there’s a film subgenre I’ve been missing, this is a rare thing in popular entertainment. 

And yet… I read a few capsule reviews of the movie that just seemed to miss this altogether.

“A soggy, fragile feature… mawkish, leaden drama… a maudlin, inconsequential waste… a truly unfortunate encore (for Lewis)…”

These are the lead lines in some of the negative reviews I scanned online.

And, as so often happens when I read such reviews, my reaction was: “Did this reviewer even watch the movie?”

This was no two-star tossoff. 

max-rose-590x332
Jerry Lewis with co-star Kerry Bishe in MAX ROSE.

This is telling: Max Rose is an hour and twenty minutes long. Not two hours, not three hours, not even ninety minutes. Barely 80 minutes. The filmmakers told the story and got out of there. Compactness in a movie is a rare thing lately. 

Beautiful, sensitive, understated, concise, emotional. 

If that’s not GREAT, it’s at least admirable, and certainly not deserving of the lukewarm and dismissive reviews I read.

I’m glad I finally got to see it, and Lewis must have been proud of it, and I’m glad he got to see it screened for appreciative audiences before his death.

And, yet again, I’m reminded that I should never read or put stock in reviews before I see a film. Had I seen those reviews of Max Rose, I may have never given it a chance.

And it deserves much more than “a chance.”

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“What you have assumed that you are, you will become…”

Meme - Neville - You have already become what you are

From Neville Goddard’s lecture What Is Man?

We are living in a world that really is a psychological world. All things take place in the imagination of man… all things. And so, because they do take place there, let them take place there first before we expect to see them on the outside. So assume that you are the man that you would like to be. Believe that you are. Try to catch all the feeling that would be yours if it were true. Give it all the tones and the feeling of reality. And then sleep. Go sound asleep in that assumption that you are already the one that you want to be. Try that, and I assure you, from my own experience, what you have assumed that you are, you will become. You have already become what you are because you once assumed that you are it. Everything in the world is just like that. It’s all imagination.

“‘And all that you behold, though it appears without, really it is within, in your own wonderful human imagination, of which this world of mortality is but a shadow.’

“You bring the whole thing into this world. So you lose it? You can repeat it, for the reality never disappears. This is the shadow world. So how do you bring it back? By contemplating the state, and bringing it back once again,and feeling that you are now what you want to be. And bring it right back into your world. Man thinks it’s done and gone for good– no. The eternal forms are forever. They never disappear.

“One day you’re going to have this experience. You will see man differently. You will see everything differently. And when you see it, and you are in control of your own being, you’re going to see the whole vast world is dead. Actually dead. And you are the living reality of the world.”

Click here to listen to or download a recording of the lecture “What Is Man?” 

For more Neville Goddard resources, click here.


Neville From My Notebook

and

More Neville From My Notebook

Cover 2Cover

Two collections of quotes, passages and lectures from the mystical teachings of Neville Goddard, available now as e-books.

Click here for more information and to order!

 

“Chicken soup that somebody peed in…”

 

This excerpt from my novel You Don’t Think She Is (chapter 37) was also published, with some slight modification, as a stand-alone story entitled “Planet Of The Brians,” first in the Vermont newspaper Green Mountain Trading Post, and then in my short story collection What’s With Her? For more info on those books, click the titles… or… scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Setting: Summer 1972; Quaker Valley, Adams County, PA (“Like Gettysburg, except nothing happened here.” ~ Margo LeDoux)

I got back too late on Saturday to see Margo, and unfortunately, two weeks at church camp did not earn me a free pass, so on Sunday morning at 10 am, there I was, sitting in a pew, dressed in a “light cotton” blazer, white shirt, and clip-on tie (perfect outfit for 90 degree weather), sitting tight between my parents, sweat rolling down between my shoulder blades and from my armpits down the insides of my arms.

“Wish they’d crack open a stained-glass window…” Dad whispered to me midway through the sermon.

Still, for as hot and as humid as it was, I didn’t take a shower when I got home. I’d already taken one before church. From this point on, the day was about doing something that would make me need another one… even though, judging from Margo’s note, we were probably going to do Something Cool.

So: no shower.

When I went over to meet Margo after Sunday lunch so we could go to the movie, she looked a little different to me. Not a lot different; just a little… nothing I could really put a finger on… maybe it was just the tan. In the summer, Margo’s skin got dark tanned and her hair light, almost platinum like Christy’s. Plus a detail I suddenly remembered when she opened her back door: “Up at the lake,” she told me a few summers before, “we skinnydip! So no tanlines!”

Skinnydipping… didn’t really want to think about that… so of course when I saw how dark her skin was, what was the first thing I thought of?

(Did they even have topless native girls in Canada?)

Margo brushed her hair out of her face. “Hey, Bri… wait… wait just a sec,” and she ducked back inside. “Dad?” she yelled. “My allowance…” and a few seconds later she was coming back out the door, five dollars in her tanned hand. “Late again,” she said. “I’m supposed to get it on Saturday after Mom and me clean. He always makes me ask for it.” And she zipped open her purse (!) and then caught my eye. “What?” she tittered.

I felt like Margo could see herself and the bevy of Topless Native Girls frolicking on my mental movie screen… but, fortunately, I had an out:

“When did you start carrying a purse?” I said.

Margo stuffed her money down into the neat red leather pouch. “Since Grandma got it for me in Kingston. Tres chic, huh?” and she pulled out a pack of Juicy Fruit. “Gum?” I took a stick and she unwrapped one for herself, and we walked downtown to the theater for the matinee.

battle for the planet of the apes - cinema quad movie poster (1)
Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

I told Margo about Jean (“So you asked her to dance? Yay! Good work, Bri!”) and Ginny (“Awwww… she wanted you to ask her. Well, what can you do about that?”) and she told me about Canada (“No skinny dippin’ anymore. Aside from Jompaw, there is now a family from New York in the cottage next door. Who stare like Steve Kelly.”), and by 1:45 we were buying our tickets, the only two people in line. “Don’t people know this might be the last one?” I said as I held the door open for Margo.

“It’s like mom says, Bri,” Margo said. “People don’t care about art.”

As soon as we stepped inside, I knew we’d made the right choice. After the moist church service, and the sticky walk downtown, the dark, air-conditioned theater felt like a walk-in freezer… better than the pool. We followed my Seat Selection Formula (middle of the theater, width of the screen back) and we picked our seats, but as Margo reached for her purse so she could give me money toward popcorn (I always bought the tickets; she always bought the snacks), she got a sick look on her face.

“Yeesh…” she said.

“What?”

“What’s that smell?” She screwed her nose up funny as she checked the air.

“What smell?”

Margo zipped open her purse. “Come on… you smell it. You don’t smell that?” I shook my head no. “It’s gamey… like a zoo.” She handed me two dollars. “What, do they pump monkey odor into the theater to make the movie more real?” Margo always called the apes in the Planet of the Apes movies “monkeys.”

I took her money. “I don’t smell anything,” I said.

“Well, you must be… smell-blind,” she said as she zipped her purse shut, and then she slouched down in her seat, knees up on the seatback in front of her.

I walked back to the lobby to get us our cokes and corn (making sure they buttered and salted Margo’s popcorn halfway up, then buttered and salted it again when it was all the way full), and when I got back (“Did they butter and salt it halfway up and then butter and salt it again when it was all the way full?”), she was settled in her seat.

“Can’t believe you don’t smell that,” she said as the lights went down and the movie started, but all I could smell was the sweet buttered popcorn in my lap.

As the previews rolled, I could hear Margo munching away next to me, and just as I was about to say “Jeez, it sounds like a zoo,” she leaned over, right up against me, and sniffed.

“Ewwww…” she said as she sat back.

“Ewwwww what?” I said.

“It’s you.” She shrunk back into the far corner of her seat.

“What do you mean, ‘it’s me?’”

“I mean‑‑” and Margo pinched her nostrils shut with her fingers and sang “BEEEEEEEEE-OHHHHHHHHH!”

I laughed. “Shut up.”

“Brian, I’m serious… you smell!” She shriveled back into her corner. “Battle… for the Planet… of the Brians!”

I laughed. “It is not me…”

The movie started, and as I leaned forward to pick my coke off the floor, I caught a whiff of something that smelled like someone had peed into a cup of chicken broth.

I sat back… very subtly bent my head down… lifted my left arm… inhaled… and…

Margo, God bless her, didn’t say another word about it the whole rest of the movie. I was braced for insults, questions, wisecracks ‑‑maybe even a lecture‑‑ but she was silent all the way through the closing credits, right up until we started out of the theater.

“No, Bri,” she said as we started walking into the breeze. “Me in front.”

We walked up Dartmouth Street toward home, but she detoured across the street to Holbert’s Apothecary. “Wait here,” she said as she opened the front door, and I sat on the stoop in the heat, sweat dripping down my face, my back… every part of me sticky and damp.

O.K…. so maybe I shouldn’t have skipped the shower.

Less than two minutes later, Margo came back out, a small brown paper bag in her hand. “Did you even take a shower today?” she said as she removed a wax pack of baseball cards and some Juicy Fruit from the bag.

“I thought we were gonna go swim…”

“‑‑Pff! ‘Swim.’ O.K.” She handed the bag to me. “Here. Use this.”

I was kind of afraid to open the bag. What if it was Snakes In A Can (“BOY-YOY-YOY-YOY-YOING!”)?

Don-Rickles-Right-Guard-Commercial-1974-493x400Nope… no springloaded snakes… just a wax pack of baseball cards… and… an opened-front cardboard package with a bottle in it.

Right Guard. Extra Dry Roll-on.

I looked up at Margo. “You really think I need this?”

Margo tsked. “Brian, seriously… you smell like… chicken soup that somebody peed in.”

I laughed. “I do not‑‑”

“‑‑Brian!” Margo put her hand on my wrist and looked me in the eye, and I noticed she was wearing eye shadow: lightly applied turquoise powder that flashed when she blinked.

“Use it,” she said softly. “Trust me.”

I nodded. “O.K.”

She let go of my wrist. “Now let’s go home so I can hose you off…”


 YDTSI booksYou Don’t Think She Is by Max Harrick Shenk…


“…You Don’t Think She Is
by Max Harrick Shenk reveals a brilliantly composed coming of age novel… The short chapters speak volumes about the notion of first love, the workings of puberty, and the understanding of a blossoming sexuality …(and) give the reader a keen insight into each of the character’s youthful thoughts and ideas… Shenk’s book will take any reader back in time to their emotions and explorations during middle school. It is reminder of the innocence of youth and the burgeoning feelings of desire.  –Kathy Buckert, author and English instructor

Available in print and Kindle editions. Click here to order.

 

Holy men and diets…

Meme - Neville - Holy manFrom Neville Goddard’s lecture “Faith Is Loyalty to Unseen Reality”:

I am not here to set up some little ‘ism.” I’m not here to speculate and try to set up some little philosophical setup. No. I want no church, no ‘ism.’ Just to tell you who you are, and you will tell it to others, and others will tell it because in the end you’re going to prove it to be true. You can’t rub it out, because it is true. All that I have told you is true. I’m not speculating. I am not theorizing. I stood in the presence of the infinite being in his infinite love, and he embraced me, and he sent me AFTER he embraced me. Therefore LOVE embraced me; therefore guided by love. He became one body. As we are told in scripture, “He who is united with the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” So in the end there’s only one body, one spirit, one Lord, one God and father of all, who is above all, through all, and in all. So don’t go looking for him in any so-called ‘holy place’ in the world.

People are misled morning, noon and night by so-called ‘holy men’– forget it! If a man comes to you telling you he’s a holy person, turn around and start running. All these holy fellows. They just simply meet you and meet another crowd and next thing they do, they run to the bank with what was in your pocket. Just picked up one fellow here, he was flying off to Switzerland–he was in Spain, after having collected a fortune. They found three-hundred thousand dollars on him. And he was with the Maharishi that came up through this country. It wasn’t the Maharishi; it was his secretary, running off to Switzerland, where you would put it into your Swiss bank.

And all the people fall for it morning, noon, and night, and so IF you’re taken over, you hate to hear it, because people hate to know that others know they were beguiled.
And so those who gave their fortunes to him– five hundred dollars to teach them how to meditate– of all the nonsense in the world! TEACH you how to meditate? This is a simple, simple thing. You don’t meditate on your navel… you don’t meditate on any of those things whatsoever.  

You know what you want? What would the feeling be like if it were true? What would it be like? Assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled– well, anyone can do that! A child can do that! What would it be like if it were true? That’s meditating. Now yield completely, and the being within you will take that and externalize it for you.

Meditating on your kundalini fire and all this nonsense! Hasn’t a thing to do with it! And going into so-called diets! Diets will not commit you or commend you to God. He gave you a palate, didn’t he? Well, then, exercise the palate too. And so I’m going to go on a certain diet. A friend of mine went on the diet of things that you should only feed parrots! Well, she isn’t a parrot. Eating pumpkin seeds, eating all these things… if you really ENJOY them, but don’t tell me that you really ENJOY them — you could of course acquire a taste for anything… I don’t know, but exercise that God-given gift… it’s a palate. And simply enjoy it.

Click here to download or listen to the complete lecture “Faith Is Loyalty to Unseen Reality”

For more Neville Goddard resources, click here.


Neville From My Notebook

and

More Neville From My Notebook

Cover 2Cover

Two collections of quotes, passages and lectures from the mystical teachings of Neville Goddard, available now as e-books.

Click here for more information and to order!

 

“My publisher, falsely so called…”

thoreauThis is one of my favorites of Henry David Thoreau’s journal entries for many reasons: it’s darkly funny, first of all. I think most writers can relate to the mixed feelings of pride and frustration he must have felt at having “a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself.” If anyone doubts that Thoreau never found the audience he wished for his work, those doubts should be dispelled by this passage.

Another thing I keep in mind: if I ever luck into a first edition of A Week On The Concord and Merrimack Rivers, there is a 70.6% chance that it is one of the ones he had on his shelves in his Concord room.

This journal entry was written almost 164 years ago to the date I’m writing this blog post: October 28, 1853.

Rain in the night and this morning, preparing for winter.

For a year or two past, my publisher, falsely so called, has been writing from time to time to ask what disposition should be made of the copies of “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” still on hand, and at last suggesting that he had use for the room they occupied in his cellar. So I had them all sent to me here, and they have arrived to-day by express, filling the man’s wagon, — 706 copies out of an edition of 1000 which I bought of Munroe four years ago and have been ever since paying for, and have not quite paid for yet. The wares are sent to me at last, and I have an opportunity to examine my purchase. They are something more substantial than fame, as my back knows, which has borne them up two flights of stairs to a place similar to that to which they trace their origin. Of the remaining two hundred and ninety and odd, seventy-five were given away, the rest sold. I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself. Is it not well that the author should behold the fruits of his labor? My works are piled up on one side of my chamber half as high as my head, my opera omnia [complete works]. This is authorship; these are the work of my brain. There was just one piece of good luck in the venture. The unbound were tied up by the printer four years ago in stout paper wrappers, and inscribed, —

H.D. Thoreau’s
Concord River
50 cops.

So Munroe had only to cross out “River” and write “Mass.” and deliver them to the expressman at once. I can see now what I write for, the result of my labors.

Nevertheless, in spite of this result, sitting beside the inert mass of my works, I take up my pen to-night to record what thought or experience I may have had, with as much satisfaction as ever. Indeed, I believe that this result is more inspiring and better for me than if a thousand had bought my wares. It affects my privacy less and leaves me freer.


Cover“A Basket of a Delicate Weave:” Thoreau and Walden

I’ve published my Goddard College MFA long critical paper about Henry David Thoreau’s Walden as a Kindle short, entitled A Basket of a Delicate Weave: Thoreau and Walden. It’s available for download now from the Amazon Kindle store for 99 cents.

The image that many have of Henry David Thoreau, based largely on Walden, is that he was a nature-loving misanthrope who built his cabin in the woods to escape a society with which he felt at odds, who eschewed contact with his fellow man, and who wanted nothing but to be left alone in the woods. While Walden is, on its surface, a record of that sojourn, it is, as Thoreau scholar Walter Harding wrote, “a book that impels its reader to action.”

In this paper, I argue that Walden is, in many ways, a book about action: not just an account of Thoreau’s own action against a society he felt at odds with, but a call for his neighbors to wake up and do something themselves.

A Basket of a Delicate Weave will give students and  lovers of Thoreau’s work new insights into the book, its author, and its still-relevant message.

Click here to download the book from the Kindle Store.

Catch the mood

Meme - Neville - Catch the mood

From Neville Goddard’s lecture “I AM The Reality Called Imagination”:

So I tell you, I know from my own experience that these moods– you catch a mood… I could tell, from the mood that possessed me through the day, that I would meet a certain character… and I met that character. He may be someone I knew or some total stranger, but I could tell, from the very mood that possessed me, I am drawing into my world an affinity with that mood. You can catch that mood and create a world that is in harmony with that mood. Anyone can do it– in fact, you’re doing it morning, noon and night anyway.

Click here to download or listen to a free recording of this lecture.


Neville From My Notebook

and

More Neville From My Notebook

Cover 2Cover

Two collections of quotes, passages and lectures from the mystical teachings of Neville Goddard, available now as e-books.

Click here for more information and to order!

 

 

“When you feel something deeply…”

Meme - Neville - Feel DeeplyFrom Neville Goddard’s lecture “Feel Deeply”:

What you feel deeply is far more important than what you are thinking. You may think about doing something for a long time and never do it, but when you feel something deeply you are spurred to act– and God acts! He who is the cause of all life acts through the sense of feeling. You can think of a thousand things, yet not be moved to act upon one of them. A deep conviction– felt– is far more important than anything you could ever think.

To read or download a free transcript of this lecture, click here.


Neville From My Notebook

and

More Neville From My Notebook

Cover 2Cover

Two collections of quotes, passages and lectures from the mystical teachings of Neville Goddard, available now as e-books.

Click here for more information and to order!

 

“The Pearl of Great Price” (Neville Goddard lecture transcript)

Meme - Neville - PearlThe recording of “The Pearl of Great Price” is one of Neville Goddard’s best-known and best-loved audio lectures, but, oddly enough, there’s not an easy-to-find transcript of it online.

A transcript is made available as part of Twenty Twenty’s “Manifesting Mastery” program, in which a week’s modules are devoted to the lecture, but that rough transcript (actually six different transcripts, each representing about 10 minutes of audio) was made so that a listener could follow along with the recording, not for reading as a standalone text.

With that in mind, I joined the six shorter transcripts and then edited for print, correcting a few minor typos and, mainly, adding paragraph breaks and italicizing words that Neville emphasized in his delivery, so that a reader who was not listening could HEAR Neville.

So: it’s important to emphasize that I did a LOT less work with this transcript than with previous Neville audios I’ve transcribed; and, in fact, this transcript would not have been so easy to produce if I hadn’t had Twenty Twenty’s raw material to work with, so thank you again, Twenty.

(And if you have not checked out Mr. Twenty Twenty’s website, www.freeneville.com, do so. It’s really one of the best Neville Goddard resources on the web. Twenty and his wife Victoria are students of Neville’s work, and they go beyond merely presenting the raw lectures and transcripts, offering interpretive material, daily Facebook live videos and other multimedia content… and the best part is, most of it is free. It has been endlessly valuable to me as I’ve studied Neville and his teachings.)

Anyway, here is the transcript of “The Pearl of Great Price.”

If you wish to hear or download a free recording of the audio, click here.

 


 

Tonight’s subject is the Pearl of Great Price.

This is taken from the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, 45th and 46th verses.

It’s all about the Kingdom of Heaven.

And first of all, let us say that the Kingdom of Heaven is simply that state into which man rises, where everything is completely subject to his imaginative power. He is destined to be an heir, one with his Father, who is God, where everything is put under his power.

Now here is the quote from this 13th of Matthew:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

It is my hope that I can bring you to that pearl tonight. You may not value it to the point where you’re willing to sell all that you have to buy it.

But I will tell you of this pearl. Very few are willing to sell all and buy the pearl.

But let me now quote from another passage of the Gospels. The 11th chapter of the Book of Luke, the 21st through the 23rd:

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes from him the armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil.

The very next line, as though it’s an afterthought, throws all the light in the world upon that statement:

He who is not with me is against me.

There is no benevolent neutrality. None whatsoever.

He who is not with me is my enemy. He is against me.

So we find the one who is completely in control of this Kingdom of Heaven.

And I tell you that being is called, in scripture, Christ.

But Christ is defined as “the power and the wisdom of God.”

In the first chapter of the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians:

Christ is the power and the wisdom of God.

Don’t look for a man! A man is only the instrument through which this power and this wisdom is exercised.

But Christ himself is the power and the wisdom of God. You and I are the instruments through which this power and this wisdom is exercised.

So Paul makes the statement:

From now on we’ll regard no one from the human point of view. Even though we once regarded Christ from this human point of view, we regard him so no longer.

(If you’re taking notes, that’s his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, the 5th chapter, the 16th verse. From now on we regard no one from the human point of view. Even though we once regarded Christ from the human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.)

And then he, the author of that statement, defines Christ for us:

Christ is the power and the wisdom of God.

Now we are told:

By him all things were made, and without him was not anything made that was made.

But nothing.

And so we invite you now to test Christ in you.

Again, from the letters of Paul, the 13th chapter, the 5th verse… in fact, read it through to the 7th verse, but I’ll quote you the 5th:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in thee? Unless of course you fail to meet the test. I hope you will discover that we have not failed.

And then he gives us a warning– for now he’s speaking only of power… power and wisdom personified in the form of one called Christ Jesus.

And now he warns us:

I hope and I pray to God that you do not use it in the wrong way.

Even if you think– he’s implying now that I have not used it to the full of my knowledge, I’d rather that you hear and feel that I have made a mistake or I have failed than that you use it evilly, implying– stating quite openly– you can misuse power.

Everyone in the world is using this only power, but they don’t know it. So he’s trying to bring us to the knowledge of this power and the wise use of it. It’s called– as we first quoted it– it’s called “The Pearl of Great Price.”

So great is this pearl, so valuable, it takes everything that you own to buy it.

Now you don’t go and liquidate your stocks and bonds… you don’t sell your homes; you don’t sell anything in the world of Caesar.

But it takes everything that you now believe in other than it to pay for it.

You believe in astrology? You’ve got to sell it.

You believe in numerology, in teacup leaves, in numerology and all these things? No matter what you believe in as a power to control you, you’ve got to sell it.

It takes the belief– all these beliefs– and you’ve got to sell them. No one will buy them from you! But you give them up as value-less! Therefore, there’s no price attached, no value whatsoever. But you can’t hold on to one thing you now believe in as a power that controls your life and still hope to buy the pearl of great price.

Everything you now believe in, whether it be even the drugs that you take, even the things–the diets, if you’re a vegetarian and you think that’s the way to God… if you’re a meat eater and you think that’s the way to God… if you’re a nonsmoker, nondrinker, and that’s the way to God… or if you are a smoker and a drinker and that’s the way to God. There is no way to God but Christ.

I AM the way.

There is no other way.

Way to what?

To everything in this world, but especially to the Father.

No one comes unto the Father but by me.

And here he defines it, that he is the only way in the world to everything in this world that you and I seek. And it takes everything that we own– as to beliefs that we think are powers to guide our life– to pay for that pearl of great price.

If you think for one moment you can hold on to one little thing in the event this doesn’t work, you can’t buy the pearl. And so when I buy the pearl, I go all out and live by it. And there is no other being in this world… just the pearl, and I live by it.

And this pearl is your own wonderful human Imagination. That’s Christ.

Now I see her in the audience tonight. Last Friday night, this sweet lady told me this story.

She went into the baker to buy the usual things that we buy when we go to a bakery. And the lady who waited on her didn’t look well.

And she, without asking the reasons for her present appearance, in her own mind’s eye, when she got home, she talked to her as though she stood before her physically.

She didn’t sit down… she didn’t relax… didn’t go into a trance… just brought her before her mind’s eye and heard her say that she felt so well, and she complimented her on the way she looked. She looked so well. And this was a communion between two souls… how she looked so well.

And she believed in the reality of her imaginal act.

One week later, she goes back into the same bakery, and here is this lady, same lady but radiant. So radiant it prompted a response from this one, and she said, “But you look so well. What has happened?”

“Well,” she said, “this past week I inherited some money. I paid all of my bills. I paid everything that I owed in this world, and so I have no debts, and I have money.”

Now this lady is totally unaware of the gift she received from the lady who is present here tonight. Totally unaware of it.

Now listen to these words, and try to put any other interpretation upon them in the world, and then tell me if you can.

This is from the 25th chapter of the Book of Matthew:

In as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me.

You don’t need the consent of any being in this world to hear good news for them.

You don’t have to say, “Do you want me to hear it? Do you want praise?”

If you ask them in advance, “Should I hear good news for you?” you are only asking in the event that it works, they’ll praise you or in some way give you something.

You don’t ask anyone for their permission to hear good news.

For “in as much as you have heard it, as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me. And when you did not do it, you did not do it unto me.”

And so every moment of time, there’s the opportunity to do it unto Christ Jesus, Christ Jesus being your own wonderful human Imagination. And to see man in need and not act in your own wonderful imagination, like she did, is to keep the wounds open, and to bear more and more stripes upon the body of Christ Jesus, for the only Christ Jesus is in you, as your only wonderful human imagination.

Christ in you is the hope of glory. Come test yourself and see.

What a wonderful invitation. Test yourself. How would I test myself? Well, this is how you test yourself. I tell you that if you imagine, as this lady did, that someone stands before you in bodily form, though they cannot be seen with your mortal eye, but actually you imagine they are standing before you, and you carry on a conversation with them from the premise of your fulfilled desire for them, and then you feel them as you would feel them were they now solidly present, and you believe in the reality of that imaginal act, it’s done.

And how it happens, you need not be concerned. It has its own manner of externalizing itself within their world. All you need do is do it. As told us in the first chapter of the Book of James, when He said, “Receive with meekness the implanted word.” And the Word is called Christ Jesus, the power and the wisdom of God.

But be ye doers of the word, and not merely hearers, deceiving yourselves.

So when he tells me to be the doer of the word, the world thinks it means to go out and make some physical effort.

No.

James is not telling me substitute works for faith. Works are the evidence as to whether the faith that I profess is alive or dead.

Is it alive? If it’s alive, I will act upon it.

If it’s not alive… well, then, I won’t act upon it. I haven’t yet bought the pearl of great price.

When I buy the pearl of great price, there is no other pearl like it. I sell all in this world to buy it. I sell all beliefs in powers other than my own wonderful human imagination. And everyone, because he has imagination and everyone can imagine and everyone can believe in the reality of his imaginal act, is free. It sets a man free.

For we are told:

If you believe my word and abide in my word, then you know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Well, how does he define the truth? He said, “I AM the truth.” He said, “If you know my word, you know the truth” and “I am the truth.”

If you abide in this, then you’ll be set free.

You mean that if I simply imagine that I am the man that I would love to be, that’s all that I need do? Just try it. Imagine that you are already the man that you would like to be, the woman you’d like to be, your friends are and total strangers are as you would like them to be. Just imagine it. Try it.

Test yourself and see.

As you test yourself and it happens… well, then, can you turn back to the belief in any power outside of Christ Jesus?

It’s finding who He is, and I tell you Christ Jesus is your own wonderful human imagination. Christ in you must resurrect. And so you start to exercise Him, believing in Him. Believe in the law of Christ Jesus and be saved.

And so I begin to believe in him, put all my trust in Him. It doesn’t matter where I start in life. Behind the eight ball? Makes no difference. I start believing in Him and only in Christ Jesus. Then I take off from there, giving my entire life to Him, just as though there were no others, just Christ Jesus, and I have found Him. He’s my own wonderful human Imagination.

When I believe in Him to that extent, things happen.

Now she tells me, the same lady– that’s why I named this tonight, “The Pearl of Great Price” –she had a dream. And here is all mud– nothing but mud, whirling mud. And as it whirled and whirled and whirled before her mind’s eye in her dream, she noticed a small, perfectly beautiful, perfect pearl. And she picked it up and held this perfect pearl– wasn’t big but it was a perfect pearl– in her hand. And then she woke.

Now, this pearl she found in the series of experiences that she conducted. For a boy came east, came from the east to the west, with instructions that if he couldn’t find a job in the immediate present, he had to return to the east. And so she simply, on a Friday night, saw him– not physically but in her mind’s eye, as though he stood before her physically– and congratulated him on the job, just as though it were a true physical contact.

On Monday, the boy got the job and therefore did not have to return to the east coast.

Now, here is a young lady– I call her a young lady… she can’t be more than her early twenties. If I looked at her through my eyes, all things being relative… she has three little babies, but I wouldn’t think she’s more than her early twenties. I’d be surprised if she’s past beyond the middle twenties, looking at her– born in Italy, of a Catholic family, Catholic faith, brought to this meeting of ours by her mother-in-law, and adopted this concept of Christ Jesus. Her family despairs because they think, unless you have their concept of Christ Jesus, there is no entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven as they understand it. But I tell her she is well into it. She’s exercising the only Christ Jesus in the world.

He calls upon us to test him every moment of time. But you can’t buy him unless you pay the price, and the price, it takes everything that you have to buy it.

Listen to the words:

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, finding one pearl of great value, went and sold everything that he had and bought it.

Everything, not a few things.

The average person would say, “Well, after all, I know that’s all well and good, but Sanka [decaf coffee] does keep me in a state of sleep when normal coffee keeps me awake. And I know that an extra martini does so and so to me, and I’ll take none. Or maybe, I should take vodka because it’s good for my breath and not the martini.” And a thousand things in the world people have concerning what they should do.

Every belief in a power outside of Christ Jesus, you give up, and you give it up and hold onto him and only to him. Then you’ve bought the pearl.

And then you exercise it, the greatest value in the world, and that’s Christ Jesus.

So here, she has tonight– I think she has– the pearl of great price.

I hope you, tonight, will accept it.

You know, not everyone who finds Christ Jesus sought him, you know.

They’re brought to him by one who found him.

In the gospel, Philip found him, and then he brought his friend Nathaniel. Nathaniel wasn’t seeking him. Nathaniel was waiting for things to happen, for he knew the scripture backwards. For when Nathaniel heard that the Messiah had appeared, he said, “What? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

And Jesus said of him, “An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.”

He knew his scripture.

Peter wasn’t seeking him. His brother Andrew found him. Andrew went and called his brother Peter and said, “We have found him of whom Moses and the law spoke and all the prophets spoke.” So they were not looking for him, but they found him because someone found him and was so interested in what they found they wanted to share him with those that they loved. For if he is all that we claim that he is, we can’t keep him to ourselves; we have to share it.

And so maybe this night a total stranger may be here who is really not overly eager to change their concept of Christ Jesus. They aren’t seeking another concept of him at all. And maybe you will be interested enough to test what I’m talking about and see if this is not Christ Jesus, for listen to it,

By him all things  are made and without him there was not anything made that was made.

Well now, here, a lady brought into being something that she had imagined without devising the means by which it would happen. She simply imagined it.

Didn’t she make it? She certainly made it, without the consent of the one for whom she made it.

Well, if she made it and all things are made by him, she didn’t say to herself, “Well, how can I make it? I only imagined it.” Therefore, he must be Imagination. And this being in action must be imagining. And there it is. So she found him.

She tried it again and it worked. And someone tried it a third time, a twelfth time, a hundredth time, and it works.

But if I say this to someone in the world and they won’t even try it… well, you know, in science, to demand proof before you are willing to make the experiment is nonsense. It’s only through the experiment and its working out in performance that proof can be received by us. So to demand proof before I make the experiment is stupid.

So, I say to the world, if there is evidence for a thing, then what the world thinks about it or even wishes for it, it is nothing to the point. Makes no difference whatsoever what the world thinks about this if I can prove it in performance.

So I say to you, take a friend who is now unemployed and bring him before your mind’s eye, as the lady did, and see him now gainfully employed. He need not be physically present; in fact, he’s not physically present, but you treat him as though he were and put your mental hands upon him and give him the solidity that would be there were it true.

Then carry on a mental conversation with him from the premise that it is true, and let him tell you that he’s gainfully employed and that he loves what he is doing, there are such opportunities, such growth in what he is doing. And do nothing outside of that, for listen to the words of Paul concerning Christ:

Christ is the power and the wisdom of God.

It’s not only power, blind power, it’s wisdom, the wisdom of God.

If it’s the wisdom of God, it knows how to navigate the whole vast world and move it to bring this one into a gainfully-employed state. All you need to do is believe in Christ Jesus, and that is the pearl of great price.

No power in the world can stop it. All it needs is acceptance on the part of us.

So here:

When there is a strong man, and he’s fully armed, and he guards his own palace, his goods are in peace, but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes from him the armor in which he believed, and then disposes of the spoil, divides the spoil.

Now that wonderful statement:

He who is not with me is against me. He who does not gather with me scatters.

It’s so irrelevant to that scene that preceded it, and it throws all the light in the world upon that statement. Some power in the world comes into man’s mind; it’s Christ Jesus. And you don’t need a social standing, a financial background, intellectual background, any of these backgrounds to feel secure in the world.

You’ve found him.

And this is the one who can overcome all the powers of the world. And if you are not with him, then you are against him. You wouldn’t think that. In this world today, we have countries that are called neutralist countries: “benevolent neutralists.”

Not in scripture. You’re either with me or against me, and either you’re with me or you’re my enemy. Can you imagine that? I’m either for him or I am his enemy.

Can’t be neutral. I either believe in it, or I don’t believe in it.

And of the nine hundred million Christians in the world, how many really believe in the true Christ?

They believe in lighting a candle. They believe in genuflection… all the other things in the world, and I wouldn’t criticize any of them. Leave them, until they find the true Christ.

When they find the true Christ, then it doesn’t really matter whether you eat meat or don’t eat meat, whether you drink or don’t drink, whether you smoke or don’t smoke… whether you do any of these things. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the true Christ. For you do not give power to anything outside of Christ, and Christ is your own wonderful human Imagination. That’s Christ.

So when you go before anyone, don’t even take thought as to what you’re going to say. Just imagine the end, and having pronounced his judgment based upon the end you have predetermined.

Do that.

Live this way in the world, trusting one hundred percent in the pearl of great price.

May I tell you, it will not fail you.

But you can’t modify it. You can’t hold back one little reserve thing. I’m speaking from experience.

Not knowing that it was my own Imagination that predicted accurately, through the medium of the cards and the medium of the stars, I held back a little reserve note in my mind’s eye when I found Christ.

I would still have in my mind’s eye my old horoscope, and I could quickly arrange its progression and I would know the day and justify failure.

For the rule of my second house in conflict with the rule of my sixth? Can’t get the job. There’s no money to it. So it’s all there; it’s all in my mind’s eye. I had to completely give it up and so tear up my horoscope in my mind’s eye it doesn’t exist. I had to completely destroy it as a power that guided me.

But I held it because I successfully foretold events for unnumbered people in New York City. I had almost the entire Metropolitan crowd. The entire Metropolitan Opera… they came to me. And I so believed in what I did that I predicted with conviction. It worked. And they were so sold on it.

And then I had to have an experience one day to show me it was only my own intense belief in these little symbols that made them work.

I came into my friend’s home, and  I taught her how to read charts… how to set them up. Her name was Carpenter– Norma Carpenter– and I taught her. And then, having retired from a teaching profession in Scranton, Pennsylvania, she had a small pension from the railroad where her husband worked, plus a small pension from her former job, so she eked out a living. But now she could augment it in a nice way by telling and reading charts, and I taught her how to do it.

When I came to her place one day– she lived in a hotel– Norma was in tears.

I said, “What’s wrong, Norma?”

“Well,” she said, “a man called me up– he was recommended by a friend of mine– and he was very eager to see me right away. He had this fantastic deal on. So over the phone, before he arrived, he gave me his birthday, his hour, everything about it, and so I erected the chart. When he came, I told him, I’m so convinced of this good fortune falling his way today that I can close the book on it. He said to me, ‘Mrs. Carpenter, if you’re telling me the truth, I will give you a hundred dollars.'”

And she said so confidently, “Well, give it to me now, because it has to work today.”

And she gave me all the reasons– which I knew: I taught them to her– how it had to work today because of this transitive moon over these certain aspects of the chart.

He said, “No, if it works, you will get it today, but I’ll not give it to you now.”

I said, “What’s wrong with that?”

“Well,” she said, “I made up this chart from a bound volume of Ephemerides. I was sitting at the open window, it’s hot, and so I turned away– I was diverted– and when I went back, I didn’t realize the wind had blown over the pages, and I erected the chart of a man who was born ten years before this man. This man wasn’t even born. I progressed my chart from this horoscope, made up ten years before the birth of this man.”

I said, “Norma, did you believe it when you spoke to him?”

She said, “Certainly I did.”

I said, “Forget it. Just completely forget it. It’s done.”

I was in her room, her suite of rooms, that night, around eight, when a Western Union boy came upstairs and delivered a check, a Western Union check for one hundred dollars.

And the chart was drawn on a man who wasn’t born! He was born ten years after this chart of a man.

But Norma cannot sell that because she feels they all believed in me.

She cannot buy the pearl of great price because she feels her only security is to get her little, small check from the railroad in Pennsylvania and a small check from the schoolhouse in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and eke it out with this.

So she cannot give up and buy the pearl.

You’ve got to give up every belief in this world in a power outside of Christ to buy Christ. There is nothing but Jesus Christ. You either believe in him or you don’t believe in him.

And any reservation for a rainy day… it’ll rain.

So you hold back the belief in stars? Well, I’m confessing, having done it so successfully over the years, that I still carried in my mental furniture my chart. And so, you see, you could always justify failure. And as Blake said, “Self-justification is the voice of hell.”

I didn’t know it. In hell everyone is justifying himself. No matter what he does, if it’s a failure, he justifies it. He gives you all the reasons in the world. But hell is not a place outside of earth; it’s right here.

So we are in the hell justifying failure.

We say, “I couldn’t do it because look at my Venus.” And then as soon as Venus gets beyond the point where it interferes with me: “But I still have Mercury.” And so there I go. And when in spite of Venus and Mercury something happens: “Oh, why didn’t I see this? Well, there it was all along!”

A man goes back, and reflects and then again justifies.

No.

He went and sold all that he had and bought it.

All that he had… not a few things. You can’t just buy it with a few of the things that you will dispose of. Yet you can use it, use it wisely and successfully, but you don’t really possess him, that pearl, unless you buy him. And you can only buy him when you’ve sold everything that you have. Well, then buy him.

And so that it’s all out or nothing, so he who is not with me is against me. And I know it’s the difficult thing, but is it worthwhile having when you consider, by having Christ Jesus you are rising into a world of an entirely new order, where everything is subject to your imaginative power? You’re not here at all. You’re moving from the world of death into the world of life when you find him and make him one with you.

So you take it. And then let me tonight, in a quick summary– it will take me no more than one minute to do it, two minutes at the most– you take this pattern, it’s going to happen to you.

Crucifixion is over, for all of us. You aren’t going to be crucified.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

That is Galatians, 2nd chapter, 20th verse.

The 6th of Romans:

If we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Listen to the tenses: “If we have been united with Christ in a death like his” –that’s past. Change of tense: “We shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” That’s to be.

Now we are told there are those who are misleading the people by teaching that the resurrection is over and past. The resurrection is not. It’s to be. It is taking place one after the other. So believe me: crucifixion came first. That’s over.

The second stage in the unfolding drama is resurrection. Second stage: when man awakes in a grave to find that he was all along dead, or he wouldn’t awake in a grave… you don’t put anyone in a tomb unless he’s dead. So you awake in the tomb of your skull to find that it wasn’t what you thought it was;  it was a tomb. And then, at that very moment that you discover, in the act of resurrecting, it now is converted from a tomb into a womb. And then comes the birth.

So it’s crucifixion, resurrection, birth from above. These are the three stages.

Then comes the fourth stage. The fourth stage is when the title of titles is conferred upon the one who is born from above. For conferred upon the risen Christ in the experience of man is the divine title “Father.”

And no one can utter the word “Father” but the Son.

So the Son, God’s only begotten Son, calls you “Father,” and then the title is conferred upon you and you are Father. One with God because he is God’s Son and he calls you “Father” and you know it.

And then comes the next stage, the final stage, when the temple, and its wonderful curtain that separated man from God, is torn from top to bottom. So that now you have direct access to the being that you were and are, the being that is God. No intermediary between yourself and God.

Go straight to the being that you really are, which being is God.

So these are the five perfect stages. And all the others told about him will happen in their own wonderful way, regardless of the order in which they happen. But this series, as I just gave it to you, this is the sequence.

We’re all already crucified and all will be eventually individually resurrected. And then after the resurrection will come a spiritual birth, where he is born into an entirely different sphere. And then on him is conferred, in that sphere, the divine title of Father. And it takes God’s only Son to confer the title, for the Son comes and calls you Adonai– my Lord, my Father– in fulfillment of scripture, in fulfillment of the 89th Psalm. And then comes the final one when the curtain of the temple is torn from top to bottom, and everything is split– all the rocks are split, and all the earth quakes– and then you rise, as you’re told you must rise, in this form that cannot be described. It’s called in the scripture the Elohim– a celestial being– and the closest they can come to describing the Elohim is a fiery serpent. That’s exactly what you are and feel and see when you rise. Human, yes… but for all the identity of personality, a radical discontinuity of form.

Then you rise and the whole world quakes. It’s all within you. The whole drama takes place in the individual. You do not rise from the body; you rise in the body. You do not awaken from the body; you awaken in the body. And the whole thing takes place within the individual.

But tonight, you believe me. And if you didn’t know this was the pearl of great price, and I brought it to you this night, I hope you’ll buy it. But like all the great things of scripture, you can’t buy wine, buy milk, without money, without price. The only price you pay for it. Not dollars and cents; you give up your belief in powers outside of Christ Jesus, and Christ Jesus is your own wonderful human Imagination.

Now are there any questions, please?

(Question inaudible, but dealing with the Hebrew alphabet and the Hebrew letters that constitute Jesus’s name)

Did I say that? No, my dear. No, no, no. (The Hebrew letter) Shin is made like you would a big W, and there is three points– there are three prongs. It’s like Neptune’s staff. You know that three prongs of Neptune? You make it that way. The symbol of a Shin is a tooth that consumes, that devours, and it’s also called a flame, a fire, a fire consumes. Well, a Shin is in the name of Jesus.

The first three letters of Jesus are the first three in the name of Jehovah, which is Yod He Vau. Then you put a Shin, and then you put an ayin. Because Jehovah: everything is. Nothing passes away. But to be a Savior one would have to be able to change. If you could not be changed from what you are, you could not be saved.

So the Savior, when Jehovah comes as Savior, a Shin is in his name. That he could transform the lady: she took the Shin and used it in her power when she saw a depressed lady. Could have been her feet were hurting, she didn’t know what was wrong. Could be standing on her feet all day long. But didn’t ask her what was wrong; she just saw a lady in need of help, and in her mind’s eye, she just saw her radiant and saw her happy.  One week later, she could confess in that interval she got some money, a gift out of the nowhere; she inherited it and paid off all bills. If she didn’t have the Shin in her name, then that woman forever would be as she is. But a Savior must have the Shin. So, it’s really a big W.

(inaudible followup question)

Well, no, that would not be significant in that sense. No, no. They’re thinking of the trinity, but this is all churchianity. When you see that of the Christ, this is all churchianity, for it’s not in the Bible.

But our churches through the ages have developed the most fantastic traditions, which they keep alive. They will die to protect their position. But that’s not scripture.

But a Shin is in the name of Jesus, as it is in the name of Yeshua, which is Joshua, which is the same thing as Jesus. Because the last one, Ayin, in the name is an eye, is that… the sixteenth letter of the alphabet, which has the value of eye and the numerical value of a seventy. So he sends seventy into the world to really do this work. Not seventy people, that’s eye, to see it seventy times seven. To see it so clearly that you see it and not a power in this world could move you from it.

I saw it, I am still seeing it, I will continue to see it until that which I have seen, and I am seeing and will continue to see, is externalized.

No wavering. I believe in the reality of the imaginal act, and the day will come you will see it as something objective to your mortal eye. It will be so vivid in your mind’s eye that you will objectify it.

But the Shin is a flame. It’s a tooth that consumes and consumes. And could I not consume in my own mind’s eye unlovely things I see in another, I couldn’t help them.

But my ability to completely forget all that I saw them to be and put in its place what I want them to be allows me to save them, to be a savior. And Jesus is Savior. And Jesus Christ is the one who actually has lifted up within himself the power and the wisdom of God, which is Christ.

And the day is coming that everyone will move into this world completely subject to our imaginative power. All of us will recognize each other, although the bodies will be trans– in fact, you can’t describe the bodies. You can’t. Completely above the organization of sex. There’s no need for sex as we understand sex, for we create without bodies of this nature.

Yet we have a body. As Paul said, “But the body you sow or, what you sow is not the body which will be, but God gives it a body as he has chosen.”

And so the body will be as different from this as the butterfly is from the caterpillar. Something attuned to an entirely different realm and yet luminous.

I’ve seen it. I became one with it.

Someone said to me, “Neville, how can you dare say that infinite power, infinite wisdom, can be conceived as personal?”

Yet in the 8th chapter of Romans, are we not told:

The whole creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

God is this power, this infinite creative power, and yet he has sons. And are we not personal? If he’s waiting eagerly for a revealing of his sons, then is he not a person? But I don’t have to rationalize it; I’ve seen him, and God is a person.

And the infinite power, how could you personify it and call it a person?

I have seen it, and it is man.

Infinite power is man. Infinite wisdom is man. I’ve seen them. Stood in the presence of infinite love, and infinite love isn’t some intangible little thing… it’s man, and it’s infinite love.

Stood in the presence of infinite power, almightiness, and he talked to me, ordered me, commanded me, and sent me on my way. It was man. So they will say to me,they’ve asked me, “How are you speaking of God? We speak of the exalted God. How can he be this exalted God?”

They couldn’t see him as personal. Well, I tell you that he is.

And then one said to me, “Well, tell me, was your Christ once a man?”

What can you say to that when you have heard me this night?

But to say “was”? He is the heavenly man. I saw the power. It’s man. And Christ is the power and wisdom of God, and I saw infinite power and infinite wisdom as man. So Christ is the heavenly man. As we are told in the 15th of 1st Corinthians, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, so shall we bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Good night.

(applause)


Neville From My Notebook

and

More Neville From My Notebook

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Two collections of quotes, passages and lectures from the mystical teachings of Neville Goddard, available now as e-books.

Click here for more information and to order!

 

New e-book: “Roughly Six Hundred Words”

CoverHere’s a sample piece from my new ebook, Roughly Six Hundred Words, which is a collection of seven unpublished newspaper columns from 2013 and which you can get FREE as a PDF between now and October 16. (The collection will be published by Amazon Kindle on the 16th.)

A couple years ago, after reading a book called The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication, I got the idea that I’d self-syndicate a newspaper column. I’d e-submit a 600-or-so-word general interest column article weekly to a list of newspapers in the US, and, hopefully, get enough bites to sustain me as a writer while I worked on my fiction.

For a lot of different reasons, the idea didn’t work, and after writing and submitting fewer than ten articles to my list, I gave up on it.

But I recently rediscovered the pieces, and thought that they were too good to just gather dust on the cloud (now there’s a figure of speech that would have been meaningless ten years ago!).

I always felt like these pieces deserved readers, and now, with Roughly Six Hundred Words, they get a second chance.

A sample column from the book is below.

If you want to order the PDF ebook from my e-store at Selz.com, click here.

After October 16, “Roughly Six Hundred Words” will be priced at 99 cents, but the first weekend that this PDF ebook is available, I am pricing it as a FREE pay-what-you-want item. If you want to read it free, then just enter $0.00 as the price when you check out. If you want to pay more, it’s up to you. 


Being Vermonted

What does it mean to be “Vermonted”?

IMG_20171012_114409Right now, the trees here are “being Vermonted:” ablaze, as Garrison Keillor once said, with colors so bright that Crayola doesn’t make them for fear kids would color outside the lines.

When I first moved to Vermont, though, I discovered another definition of “being Vermonted.”

A couple years ago, my old Plymouth Reliant needed major repairs to pass inspection. I didn’t know any local mechanics, so I settled on a local Chrysler dealer. A dealer would know the car and get parts quickly and cheaply, right?

“I’m going to Pennsylvania for a week,” I said, “and I’d like to pick it up when I get back.”

O.K., they replied.

I rented a car and drove to Pennsylvania for a week. When I came back to Vermont, my inspection not only wasn’t done; it hadn’t even been started. It was another week of their excuses and my prodding before I had  my car.

When I told a friend about this, she said, “Congratulations! You’ve just been Vermonted.”

I’d never heard the term, but somehow, I knew exactly what she meant.

Vermont is a lot different than Flatland (any state south of Vermont). In Flatland, there’s a level of stress and anxiety that many people accept as a given. To me, the quintessential Flatland attitude was reflected in a road sign I once saw at the entrance to the Washington DC beltway:

BE PREPARED FOR SUDDEN AGGRAVATION!

Vermonters reject that stress level. Vermont has a reputation of being a little slower, a little more deliberate, and a lot of that has to do with the seasons. You can’t force many of the things that come with seasonal change, nor can you resist them. You do what needs done when the seasons dictate. When winter approaches, you put snow tires on the car. When the sap flows, it’s time for maple sugaring. When the leaves start to change, you welcome tourists.

That’s the Vermont attitude. Roll with the changes.

Some Vermonters, though, use this “roll with it” attitude as an excuse for negligence or irresponsibility. It’s not that delays and problems don’t happen; it’s that they pretend that they can blame those delays and problems on Vermont.

An example: a couple days ago, I took my usual 15-mile commute down an unpaved back road. It’s a lovely drive, but about halfway to work, I got stuck behind a road grader. The dumptruck had dumped loose rock and dirt on the roadbed, and it had to be smoothed down.

On my way to work, with no other route available, I was now driving 15 miles per hour.

Fortunately, from experience, I knew that I need to allot time for these things. In cases where there’s only one way to travel, I figure in a minute per two miles traveled for road work, tieups, accidents, and those times that you get stuck in a line of traffic behind a leafpeeper who needs to drive 32 in a 50 mph zone so they can keep an eye opened for moose.

Having allotted that extra time, I knew I’d make it to work early, and I did.

If I was the kind of Vermonter who “Vermonted,” I wouldn’t have allotted the time, and, when I showed up late for work, blamed the grader for getting in my way, and not myself for planning poorly.

Sometimes being Vermonted manifests itself in other ways. When I lived in Stowe, I had another vehicle that needed an inspection, and a coworker suggested a “mechanic” whose “garage” was on a back road about five miles out of town.

“Düde,” he said, “I took my Wagoneer there. I knew it needed some work to pass. I pulled it into his garage, got out. He walked around it once, got in the front seat, scraped the old sticker off the windshield with a paint scraper, stuck a new one on, and said ‘Thirty-five bucks.’

“I paid him, and as I started the engine, a state cop pulled into his driveway. The mechanic knocked on the window and said, ‘If he asks you any questions, tell him you had it here overnight!’”

Now THAT’S being Vermonted!