17. since

Several days have gone by busily but bloglessly. Life has to be attended to unless you are some madman who writes first and lives later, if at all. I’m not that passionate or committed. I have many minor commitments that I fulfill as they come up on the calendar. My last commitment was teaching a workshop on communication. It’s a lot trickier than most folks think it is. The communication model I presented  was speaking live and in person, the fullest kind of communication. It’s complicated even at its simplest. I gave a rough treatment that included about fifty steps for one successful message transfer. The result is “unication” where both parties, the sender and receiver, are unified in what the message sent actually meant. It only took me an hour to skate over the model. In the process I had to  unify with the 35 people in front of me, mostly older females…yes, church ladies!!! since the setting was my church conference for lay ministers, folks who help out but are not ordained. It was a play within a play, if you will.

The message was communication’s complexity. I had to use the very thing I was describing to deliver the message. I communicated about communication. In the process I was  involved in another communication loop. And I am still amazed that anything more complicated than simple facts can be successfully transferred from one human being to another. There are dozens of intersections where the message can be lost or hijacked or murdered. Okay, I’m being dramatic.

Meanwhile I was aware of a guy who had just picked his psychotic brother up from prison after serving nine years in the state pen rather than comply with the judge’s order to take his anti-psychotic meds. He and a friend went cautiously to the prison, and they kept me apprised of what was going on via phone. Once they met up with the crazy brother, they knew they were in way over their heads in the shark tank at Sea World. The crazy bro began a rant about “the spell,” a worldwide conspiracy that resulted in  him being imprisoned and forced to take meds. But he outfoxed all the players in this cosmic battle by refusing to  take his meds. These good samaritans had a madman in the car with no destination. He was full of rage and looking for a place to explode.

He wanted to go home. Home did not want him. They tried the ER, but crazy bro would have to voluntarily admit himself. No deal. They tried a cop friend, but crazy bro would not overtly threaten or assault anyone in front of the peace officer. They tried the homeless shelter, but they said crazy bro was too crazy for them. When I talked to the exhausted friend after I finished my workshop, I asked him how it was going. He said, “Ever have a 2×4 shoved up your rectum?” I thought about it for a second and said, “No”. The friend filled me in on the crazy train journey where time seemed to disappear as the crazy bro fought hard to impose an insane imaginary world onto the previously sane reality that had existed until crazy bro got in the car. I was a mile away and thankfull that I was not on scene with crazy bro.  The good sams were stuck on a treadmill on the back of an elephant that had escaped from a circus after nine years of harsh treatment. It was not going to end well.

This second scenario is one of miscommunication. The receiver of the message realizes that the message and messenger are insane. The meta-message then becomes DANGER: OUT OF CONTROL MADMAN!!!! On the crazy bro side of the equation he is perceiving that these good samaritans are sheep in wolves’ clothing, as Josh once misspoke in Sunday school. (Josh is deserving of his own post one day. For now, he’s a good hearted, retired bull rider, retired German Baptist in search of a good woman.) Come to think of it, Josh probably could have come out of retirement and ridden the crazy eyed, crazy bro into a proper placement.

I’ve gotta look into this further.

On the other side of this action I went to a men’s retreat at a mountain camp about an hour north of my home. It was time well spent Friday night. We ate together, talked, sang, learned, even did a dance with men from Malawi, which is in Africa.  I played chess with a couple of guys. It was all good until bedtime in the cabin. 11 guys in bunk beds with 1″ foam mattresses cannot end well. I forgot my pillow and brought a blanket rather than a sleeping bag. That was not the problem. Getting on the top bunk at 1:00 a.m. was not the problem. The problem was 7 or 8 guys snoring, farting, shifting, shuffling, going to the bathroom…and then it was dawn. I did not sleep. I couldn’t. It was a cross between a pond full of bullfrogs on a summer night and a chainsaw sales demonstration with various sized chainsaws. Saturday was long and slow and painful. My context had changed so much that the messages I sent and received began to hobble and stumble and slush. My head hurt. Hell, my entire nervous system seemed to atrophy.

And I wondered about crazy bro…can you imagine being in a psychological/spiritual prison inside a physical/legal prison for a decade? You would need an intergalactic conspiracy theory to mediate the pain and horror of it all. To be totally alone in the midst of your biological family in your hometown, and the only hope of returning to earth is a handful of pharmaceuticals…the devil’s breath mints. And then….

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