Dying To Graduate.
I hated school. Nearly every day of 9th grade was spent sleeping in class or skipping class to play handball by the cafeteria. Across the street from my school was a raunchy motel, where I would pay eight dollars a couple of times a week to have sex with my girlfriend during lunch break. I also played guitar in a band, of which some of the members later became known as the Stray Cats.
Later that year, my dad retired from his grocery store manager job on Long Island, and we moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. The town was mockingly referred to as, “Tampon Strings, Home of the newly wed and nearly dead.”
The move was shocking. As we drove through the southern path to our new existence, crosses burned on front lawns. Redneck trucking shows replaced trips to New York playhouses and museums. My witty East coast friends were replaced by thrill-seeking drunkards, content to toil their lives away as laborers.
I didn’t actually graduate the ninth grade at that point since we moved before the end of the school year. The high school counselor thought it appropriate to boost me to the eleventh grade since I was from the East. It made no difference to me since I had no intention of attending any classes.
The principal did not find me until the last week of school. I spent each day in the Jazz band class, playing all day long. The big fat red-faced principal tossed me off the campus, shouting, “Don’t come back!”
I started working various labor jobs, washing dishes, carpentry, and masonry to pay for my hundred square-foot chicken shack of a room. Every weekend the same routine unfolded: driving to bars and dancing with the local rednecks. On one of those nights, I raced another car down a dark road. It was New Year’s Eve.
I recall being so drunk that it was such a relief to get in the car because I couldn’t walk. It was a rainy night, and at 140 MPH, it looked like I was driving through a tunnel of water. I did not see the end of the road coming, and I slammed into a large pile of boulders at full speed. Fortunately, there was no pain. I do recall my entire life rolling past my eyes like a quick movie.
My parents told me years later that when the hospital contacted them, the doctor said there was little chance of me being alive when they arrived. I recall regaining consciousness in the emergency room. A nice young girl, who looked like a nurse in training, was holding my right hand. I could see the thread of life in front of me. It was so thin, a fly could bend it. I knew if she let go of my hand, I would die. I insisted on her letting me hold her hand, and she never let go.
I later discovered that it would have been impossible for anyone to be holding my right hand since most of my right arm was torn off in the accident. That night I found my self inside my head. I knew my life was almost over. As a carpenter, I began to rebuild my self. I worked night and day until the job was done. After a few weeks, I woke up in traction and began my new existence.
I was told I would not be able to walk without assistance because of my pelvic fractures and spine fractures, and the use of my right arm would be very limited due to the multiple fractures in both my arm and shoulder. My face broke the steering wheel, while most of the car ended up a block away from the accident.
Needless to say, I had quite a bit of recovery time ahead of me. I was an avid reader, so I started to attack my mom’s bookshelf. I read Out On A Limb by Shirley Maclaine, and I instantly got hooked on self-help books. Next, I read The Power of Positive Thinking, Psycho-Cybernetics, Passages and then I couldn’t get enough.
I ordered a GED study guide. After two weeks of study, I took the test. A month or so later, I received my High school diploma. I then signed up for the local community college and studied math, English, and psychology. I was interested in school now. I was also scared to death that my subconscious mind was a contributing factor in my near death experience. I wanted to reprogram my life immediately.
I was skeptical that the advice in the self-help books would really work, but I applied the concepts, hoping for the best. I chose my new purpose in life. I wanted to work as a writer, a musician, a surgeon and graduate at the top of my class. I repeated auto suggestions and visualizations daily.
At first, the homework was very challenging. The books were very complicated. Studying mathematics took hours and hours to master. I sat at the front of the class and asked questions. I stayed after class to talk more with the teachers, and I sought help from tutors often. The inspiration that drove me was incredible. I also tapped into my subconscious to help recover my body physically.
A few years later, I earned an associates degree and decided to join the Navy. I failed the physical. However, I was granted an exception. I found my self doing push-ups and running around like a kid again in boot camp. Whenever the recruits were disciplined, we had to hold ourselves in a push up position for several minutes. This was extremely painful for my right arm. However, toward the end of the training, all the pain went away. My arm was now completely functional. After taps, I visualized the damage of my pelvis and hip becoming brand new. That pain also disappeared, and now there was nothing that could stop me.
In the Navy, I worked as an Operating Room Technician, where I assisted the surgeons. I supported several surgeries from brain surgery to heart surgery to delivering babies. As the years passed, I found my self losing interest in the medical field and decided to change my focus in life to writing. I submitted articles to the Public Affairs Office and made it my intention to work as a writer. A bi-weekly paper hired me as a restaurant reviewer. After a year, I was writing six columns for the paper.
One night, while I was working late in the sterile processing section of the hospital, the Deputy Public Affairs Officer contacted me and told me he just got reassigned to Washington. He noticed my article submissions over the past few months, and he wanted me to take his position.
A position in Public Affairs was normally reserved for officers. At that time my rank was E-5. A bachelors in Health Care Management and a Masters degree in Business Administration helped me qualify. I was also certified as a Seven Habits teacher. My transfer request was denied by everyone in my chain of command. However, the executive officer’s signature was the only signature needed for the final approval.
I designed the most elaborate newsletter that the hospital ever saw. I was published throughout the world. One article I recall was from interviewing Felix de Weldon, the sculptor of the Iwo Jima monument. I couldn’t believe I was receiving a regular salary to write every day; it was very satisfying. I was a horrible writer, by the way. Though I’ve been published more times than I can count, I always made sure to have lots of people check my work. I learned a great deal from my editors. This writing is not edited, but I don’t care. I am enjoying typing every word, and that is all that matters. You’re getting the point, and that’s all that really matters too.
After ten years in the Navy, I decided to change my direction again in life. Actually, I let my wife make the choice this time. I started teaching college classes after I left the Navy, but that was not exciting enough. My wife suggested I should go into banking. I had already made millions in simulation during my MBA studies, so I became a stockbroker.
I raised so much money and attracted so many clients in my first year, that my name was engraved on a plaque inside the World Trade Center. At one point, I was working with over one-hundred-million dollars in assets. I had the keys to the bank, I rented two limousines every few months to take all the staff out to party at the wineries, I had new cars, a new house, expensive suits, expensive wines, whatever I wanted. The only problem was that I started to hate my life.
I found myself going back to the basics of self-help books to see what I might be doing wrong. I decided to ask for an abundance of love and happiness instead of money. I was reading, You Can Have It All and a few other motivational books at that time, and I had been working for some time with Kundalini Yoga and meditation too.
I decided the best way to choose my path would be to talk directly to God. He would know, right? I made it my intention to meet God in a dream. Each night before going to bed, I made the affirmation that I would see God in my dream that night. One night, I found my self on top of a great skyscraper. The world was covered in water, and there were waves hundreds of feet above me. It was terrifying.
I changed my intention to asking God a question. Shortly after that, I found myself in a dream where I was given the opportunity. I was escorted to a place that looked like an ancient Greek theater. There was an audience listening intently to the questions God answered.
Caught off guard, I didn’t know what to ask. Quickly I came up with, “Why are people afraid to die?” From nowhere, a voice answered my question. He kind of sounded like Alan Watts. For all I know, it was Allan, and God had the day off on that occasion, just like the one time I attended the Johnny Carson Show! The voice said, “People are afraid to die when they are not on their true path. Return to your true path and the fear will be gone.”
That experience was helpful but it still was not enough for me. On my third attempt, I simply stated, “Thank you, God, for bringing so much harmony into my life.” Shortly after that, I had a dream that I was the conductor for Heaven’s orchestra. I conducted for eight straight hours. Heaven’s orchestra was huge. Instead of a baton, I simply used my will to guide the musicians. I summoned the percussion, and all of the heavens rumbled. I summoned the strings or horns, and the sounds filled eternity.
When I woke up, I concluded what the dream meant to me. We are all the conductors of our reality. Our purpose on Earth is to create our own purpose. We choose the notes of our own life’s songs. If your song is out of tune, fix it. Our purpose isn’t something we find or something that God has planned for us. Our free will allows us to create our purpose as we see fit. If the core of your purpose is happiness and harmony, then all the other aspects that you create will sound amazing.
Shortly after that dream, I quit the financial world and started a private music studio where I teach music. Over the years, however, I now see that the music is just an icebreaker, and my students are souls that seek transition. I continue to enjoy the journey.