Thursday, September 16, 2010
5:20 AM. I am feeling very blessed by friends these days. My brother volunteers to search my files for specific information, to pull it together. Bob volunteers to make an index of material month by month, Gary comes by specifically to have a chance to chat, buys me dinner, buys the new Clarke books and the new version of Sphere And Hologram, Michel sends information on ways to combat asthma, Neil sends inhalers. And this hardly exhausts the list of support provided, it’s just a few recent examples. Nancy’s contributions, for instance, extending over nearly 3 years, could hardly be even comprehended in full, let alone listed.
Your wagon train analogy.
Yes – and I hear Joseph adding, “without the dust!” It is a powerful metaphor, the wagon train. And as I was making the coffee, the thought came to me, perhaps we are in the process of creating a new way to work together, a new form of cooperative tool. The key may be not charging for anything, but offering freely.
Yes, and we are going to expand upon that – and expound upon it, too – because it is timely.
You know, yourself, that you have often been attracted to this or that, and shied off because you got the huckster scent in your nostrils, and that said to you, “beware a phony.” In some cases – as you also know – that probably wasn’t true, or wasn’t true exclusively. Still, the whiff of insincerity attached to someone setting out to make money off you naturally set your radar vibrating.
This is another of those mornings when your metaphor machine needs adjusting.
Perhaps. But you know what we are saying.
Oh yes. Of course it has two sides, like everything else. On the old Voyager Mailing List, I got involved in an argument with people who said that because Monroe’s work was for spiritual advancement, it should be free. Working from my background in publishing, I sent out a brief outline of the costs of producing materials, and suggested that somebody had to pay the costs! Obvious, after all – and people do find the money to buy what is most important to them. But I could not convince them, mostly because they did not want to be convinced. It was “spiritual” – it should be free!
Nonetheless, I too have been on that side of it, weighing the offerings (especially at New Age trade shows while working the show for Hampton Roads!), trying to determine what is real, what is real but overpriced, what is almost real but overwhelmed by the hype and the packaging, what is mere conscious or unconscious (or, perhaps, deliberately unconscious) fraud.
It is as Thoreau said. Though you traffic in messages from heaven, the curse of trade attaches to the whole business.
And he should know – he helped run the family business. And so –?
Well, after all is your thought.
Oh yeah! I do believe I have learned to see through that one. However, I am willing to say that I am willing to attach to the thought, even if I now know better than to think it originated with me.
Then let us look at it briefly. Your friend Michael ran a magazine, you and your friend Bob ran a publishing company. In both cases you were confronted, on a continuing basis, with the tension between mission and environment, or between idealism and practicality, or between the focus on the material and the focus on what would keep the organization in being. Three ways of saying the same thing. The A.R.E., the Monroe Institute, face the same continuing struggle, of course: It is in the nature of things.
Yet the unnoticed – or, anyway, frequently unnoticed – aspect of things is how often things done out of an “impractical” or altruistic motive turned out to have unanticipated practical consequences. One example: When you as Hampton Roads borrowed money from customers you not only paid interest but provided them automatically with copies of new books as they were published. You thought you were being generous out of gratitude. It took years before you realized that this took their investment out of the realm of finance – even finance designed to help a firm whose work they believed in – and put it into the form of a continuing cooperative relationship. Also, every time another free book arrived, it warmed the relationship. The motive was good on both sides; the little extra you provided brought benefits you weren’t counting on, and provided you with capital at a rate and in an amount that you couldn’t have gotten elsewhere – and a few years later you needed that money!
In general we would say, generosity, like honesty, is the best policy. And what do we mean by that, and how does it apply to what we’re doing? (For, of course, everyone who reads this, whenever they do, will apply it to their own lives.)
Let us return to the wagon train analogy and stretch it out of shape for the purpose of illustration. Your wagon train is a group of people who join together for a specific limited definite purpose. They live together – join their fortunes for mutual support for the duration of the endeavor – and go their separate ways thereafter (although there is no reason why any subset of them may not choose to form their own community on the other end. Whether they do so or not, it is no longer part of the wagon train experience).
People were willing to contribute to their common cause. They might not have been willing to contribute just for the sake of the companionship! We mean, who ever crossed the plains for the sake of crossing the plains? They crossed in order to relocate. Yes, we hear you say, Joseph [Smallwood] did. But he was a lone traveler, not part of the wagon train.
Your analogy is still a little vague. I have used it to describe a common voyage such as a Monroe residential program.
Well, we did say we’re going to deform it a bit.
Can we just drop it and get to the point?
The point is, you are experiencing help because you offer these conversations freely. They don’t cost you money to produce, so you feel free to offer them to those who want them. They in turn feel that they have received something of value and would like to contribute, but don’t know what to contribute. As they see opportunities to be of service to the joint cause, they offer, but they don’t necessarily see what they are, that is what the opportunities are.
We use this as illustration, not as object. It isn’t about how to get the Papa material to a larger audience. That will come in its own way, in its own time. It is, instead, about how to help you all to recognize that you can create a new form of cooperative endeavor – like the wagon train – that will be its own reward as you go along. TMI’s Explorer list, and the previous Voyager list, is an example of that, except open-ended rather than process-oriented.
This is a little abstract for me.
People divide enterprises between for-profit and non-profit, but they don’t so often think to divide them between results-oriented and process-oriented. Process-oriented projects are precisely what people are hungry for, especially as they become disillusioned with results-oriented endeavors.
I’m having so hard a time getting the inner idea of where you’re going with this. It’s unusual.
This is new material that cuts against the grain of your accustomed ways of seeing things, so you’re having to work slowly because the words can’t just swinging into a marching step (to use a military metaphor) but have to pick their way across a plowed field.
Your metaphor machine has been oiled, clearly.
Some jobs are approached for the sake of getting them finished, and they are thus meaningless except as a step toward something meaningful. Other jobs are approached as meaningful, rewarding, step-by-step – like learning and practicing pottery – with the end-result not necessarily defining the success or failure of the process.
Well, what are you doing but teaching? The fact that you are learning as you go is your reward for it (beyond the fun of knowing and imparting). Do you have any reason to think that your readers don’t enjoy teaching, in turn?
Keep going, then.
Some of them already pass your material on to their friends.
I got it! I got it. They could construct their own e-mail list, just as I have my Papa list, and forward them on as they receive them from me.
Exactly, and look what you begin to create. You receive from us. We charge you nothing but the labor of being in contact and transcribing and transmitting, and you well know that the enjoyment is as great as the labor. They receive from you, and you charge them nothing. How do they then continue the circuit? By constructing their own lists and passing it on. Their recipients in turn can do the same if so moved. No infrastructure, no profit motive, no expenses. Instead, each a share in the enterprise.
Yes, and no hidden commercials or products – if you don’t count the books I produce!
Books, tapes, whenever spinoff products that may develop are side effects; they are ancillary. No one will need to buy a book or study guide or autographed photo of you with or without a turban. What they can get out of the material is theirs for them to get, day by day.
Books, we remind you, or merely convenient ways to aggregate information and disseminate it. The Internet at least supplements that function, if it does not replace it.
So – encourage people to automatically pass these billet-doux onto others in an organized routinized fashion. I can see that, provided that they caution others not to change anything. I don’t care if they put their own editorial comments before or after the sessions if they want, but I wouldn’t want the material changed so that some people got what they thought was you and me talking and instead was somebody’s garbled version.
That’s right. We’ll do our own garbling!
This has been a strange entry. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with where you were heading previously.
“Patience, lieutenant. Patience.”
I remind you, that quote from Galaxy Quest was spoken by the villain.
We’re willing to be abused.
Funny. Okay, till next time.