I have been enjoying life more lately, and especially my social relationships. Several people, maybe more than ten, have actually told me that I’m nicer now than when they met me a few years ago. That is strange because during high school, college, USAF, and my fifty years in Berkeley, the most common comment about my personality was that I was sarcastic and arrogant. I often wondered why people felt that way, because in many ways I was always quite helpful, and if anyone asked me for help, say in moving furniture to a new place, I was always there, and willing to help. All the same when my long-time friend Kevin Langdon, of The Four Sigma Intelligence Test renown, created a popularity test in 1966, which he gave to our group named Channing Club, I rated dead last in popularity. I was a bit shocked because in some ways I was well-respected and always had what everyone acknowledged was the most wonderful girlfriend. That is similar to the current favorite Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who has his pick of women from the Miss Universe contestants. It seems that male arrogance attracts beautiful women. That sounds horribly sexist, and probably disgusts everyone who reads that line, including me, but you’ve got to admit Donald has had beautiful wives and children.
Another example of a poor personality rating happened in the Air Force when I scored top of my class at pilot training school in everything except my instructors’ personality rating of me, where of course I rated dead last. That rating totally screwed up my flying career. When I got out of the Air Force I spent the next decade researching the subject of war, among many other activities, and published Tao and War by Lao-tzu and Sun-tzu in 1977. That book was the touchstone quote for Pamela McCorduck’s best-selling book The Fifth Generation: Artificial Intelligence & Japan’s Computer Challenge to the World, about machines who think. She was the lead celebrity in last year’s Edge.org‘s Question of the year given to scientists. It was wonderful to see her with the lead essay ahead of many scientists whose names you probably know.
That is a background of how people generally thought of me – arrogant, sarcastic and interesting, so it seems strange that here at eighty years old people are suddenly declaring me to be humble and loving. Why the difference? It’s not the Unitarian Universalist church, where I do all sorts of chores whenever there is an opportunity, such as welcoming over a hundred people at the door, and my collecting the offerings, and collecting stones from people for the labyrinth. It’s not the Socrates Cafe club, which is a philosophical conversation group where we attempt to analyze interesting questions, but that doesn’t change one’s personality. It isn’t the Atheists of Central Oregon, which has several sub-groups, all of which I attend. They are very enjoyable to me, and the closest to my old Berkeley key group, the Sunday night Channing Club and its daily Med Cafe coffee sub-group.
What has changed me is a group I would have avoided almost all my life because I would have thought of it as anti-intellectual and unscientific – The Spiritual Awareness Community (SAC). What I like about this group is that they really do experiments every Sunday afternoon. The experiments are various kinds of emotional explorations into a person’s inner being. A lot of it is spooky, but at the core there is always some strange twist on reality that would make perfect sense to the most careful scientific experiment. The experiments look at true reality, but from a different perspective, and I sit through a lot of mental fog feeling into the unknown unknowns for real meanings, and finding stuff. I write about these findings here in this blog.
Another group I attend has some of the same people as SAC, and it is called The Human Development group. It usually has about fifteen attendees at the weekly meetings, and is made up of older psychiatrists, nurses, teachers, ministers and shamans … and me. We all agree, and each of us has said so many times, this is the greatest group we have ever attended. We get really deep into important psychological issues, problems, and reasons for being, and go away floating on uplifting spiritual air. After a weekly exposure to this situation we have all become nicer people, including me.
We have all fallen in love with each other, with our Earth and Universe!