Sunday, December 1, 2013

I remember that time I was taken hostage

I just came back from watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It's better than the first movie. Where as the books got worse and worse to the point that I could barely stand them, the movies started out pretty good and is only getting better.

And walking home from the Grove I walked around a little. Man is that place beautiful this time of year. I kept thinking how lucky I was to be living near there. And for some reason, it reminded me of the time that I was held hostage. I'm not sure why I thought about that for the first time in years, but I did. It's an interesting story.

When I was 25 I was living in Dallas, Texas. It was just before my move to Los Angeles and I was working at an AT&T telephone directory distribution headquarters. I was doing data entry, but my boss really like me so she kept giving me more work.

At one point she is complaining about how people are falling behind. I'm sitting outside her office and I heard her talking to her right hand woman about how she's withholding payment to certain people because they're behind. I don't think much about it until one day when she asked me to take a trip with her out to one of the distribution centers that was behind.

I'm in the minivan and as we're arriving she says to me, Cristian, I want you to do something for me. I need someone to seem intimidating, so I want you to stand quietly behind me. I'm going to introduce you as an efficiency expert that we brought down from California and I'm going to use your presence to get them back on schedule. She tells that I'm not to saying anything, just stand there looking unimpressed. I agree.

We get there and I play my role and they seem a little intimidated. But at one point, they leave me alone in their office as the two women I was with went off to chat with someone. Alone in the office, the distribution center's assistance tells me that what we're doing is right. I ask her what she means. She tells me that they haven't been paid in 4 weeks and that her trailer is about to be repossessed. I don't say anything. Someone else tells me how they are months behind on their mortgage because of how slow AT&T is paying and the bank is calling them threatening to foreclose on their home.

I'm listening to this and I'm a little shocked because I overheard my boss talking about how the money is sitting in their account but she is withholding payment. I start to understand that I am on the wrong side of this battle. I begin to understand that my boss is the bad guy.

I leave the office thinking about what I was told. My heart completely went out to those people and I come up with a plan. I call aside the manager of the facility. I say to him, "I want you to do something, and I promise you you will get the money to pay your people. But you have to do exactly as I say." He agrees.

I tell him to take his van and block our van in. After that he is to come back to us and tell my boss that he blocked our van in and that he won't let us out until she takes him to the bank and gets the money that they're owed. I told him to tell my boss that they would be keeping me there until they came back, and afterwards they would let me go. I asked him if he under stood me and I could practically see his heart stop. I asked him again and he shakes his head. We both walk back to the group separately and I could see his hands shaking as he lights up a cigarette and walks away.

About 10 minutes later he walks back up. The poor man is practically crying. His hands still shaking he delivers his message and my boss is just shocked. She yells for a second and he doesn't budge. I could see her mind swimming because she had just dragged me, her temp, to this place and now I was being taken hostage. She began to think about how I could potentially sue AT&T over this. So very quickly she relents. She asks me if I'm ok waiting there and do my best to reassure her that I am.

The group leaves for about 20 minutes while I chat with the workers in the office. It's all pleasant and when my boss gets back, they collect me and we all leave. My boss apologized profusely for that and later on bumped my pay. She said it was for my hard work, and I certainly was working hard, but it probably also had something to do with being held hostage.

I'm not sure, but I think that was the thing that I've done which I'm the most proud of. I don't think that I'm that good of a person anymore. It seems that as the years go on, I get more and more jaded and self-centered. I really used to be a good person, but ever since I decided to see what it would be like to live my life if there wasn't a god, I've never quite been the same. Certainly I've taken more of an ownership of what happened to me, but I think that I've also been a little more protective of what I have and have been less willing to be generous of spirit.

As I think about it, it was probably the theme of self-sacrifice in the Hunger Games books that made me think of that. Self-sacrifice that doesn't count as martyrdom isn't easy and doesn't happen very often. I guess that I used to be a better person than I am. And I guess the truth is that the longer I live, the worse of a person that I'll become. Luckily, I probably won't notice the difference. And since the majority of the people I know only know this current version of me, they won't notice much of a change either.

Hmm... I guess I'm just grateful that there was a time that I was a better person.

But, you know what? I was thinking the other day that it's possible that my journey of spiritual evolution didn't stop when I stopped meditating and believing in god. Some of the most profound psychic experiences that I've had have been since I've "lost my spiritual way".

What I was thinking the other day was that maybe spiritually has nothing to do with meditating and acting moral. Maybe spirituality has solely to do with a person's ability to connect with the secret workings of the universe.

I have long believed that the "spiritual path" that religions speak of and that connects to the god that they speak of, is actually more about connecting with the flow of the universe. I've always believed that we are all swept up within current of the universe and like an insect floating on top of it, we could choose to fight the current, swim to the edge of the cosmic river or let go and go where the universe takes us.

Granted, if we let go, we are still going to get sick and hurt and die. There's no preventing that. But if we are flowing at the same pace of the universe, from where we float everything would seem to stand still and there's wonder to be found in those seemingly still moments. I've always believed that knowledge becomes more easily accessible in that seeming stillness. And the universe seems much more open with that knowledge if we just stop fighting the flow.

So, having said all of that, I'm starting to believe that it's possible that even though I no longer meditate and I no longer go looking for things that i can do to change people's lives for the better, maybe all of the things that I do now have put me in better contact with the universe than I have ever been.

That's a tall order though, because at my peek, knowledge seemed to flow to me like a tidal wave. I was talking to the dead and simple meditation made me feel like I was high every day. I don't feel like that now. But I seem to have a much more open channel, not to the dead people I spoke to, but to the secrets hidden in the natural folds of it's spaces. At least that's what I'm starting to think.

Certainly meditation has various physiological changes on your body that can't be overlooked. But my ability to learn things that only an outside observer could see about what's going on in the lives of others, has increased dramatically. At least it seems that way. But perhaps it only seems like that because I've forgotten the details of my life, much how I had forgotten about the time I was a hostage.

Hmm... That's a tough one. One day I have to re-read 'The First Day After Life'. Something tells me that I will remember a number of things about my life that I had forgotten. I wonder if it would be an interesting read or if it would just make me cringe. Well, maybe one day I'll find out.

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