Monday, October 17th, 2011
You know those sweet, toothless, double-wide dwelling hillbillies you see on newsmagazine reports who’ve gotten scammed out of their life savings?
As an extraordinarily compassionate human being, I used to cluck my tongue at these tragic situations and think, how sad that these idiots are foolish enough to hand their money over to some grifter. How ironic that they’re too clueless to see through the ludicrous promises of extravagant returns. How pathetic that they’re reckless enough to trust someone they barely know.
And as a benevolent and empathetic soul, my heart would break for these boobs.
And then I met Lloyd Belsmack (named changed to protect the guilty).
Lloyd is a commercial real estate developer who my sister – in her kind and trusting naiveté – got us involved with. Together with a couple other investors, we bought a piece of commercial property with the intent of building office condos.
Six years later, we’re nearing a trial date against Lloyd – and his posse of degenerate cohorts – for a scam that has cost us in the neighborhood of a half million dollars. And I’ve come to realize that: a) not everyone who gets swindled is a cousin-humping mouth-breather; b) they are, and I might as well buy a home with a steering wheel in the living room, knock out some molars and start humming the Deliverance theme, because I’m one of them; or c) even reasonably savvy folk can lose their shirt in a con.
Oprah’s Lifeclass topic the other night was on the power of forgiveness. Which was particularly ironic given that I’d written the latest $5,000 check to our attorney that day. Although I no longer spend countless hours envisioning Lloyd dying in a fiery – and highly entertaining – car crash, having to constantly deal with the court case, and having our (albeit wonderful) attorney attach an industrial vacuum to my savings causes the issue of forgiveness to continually to rear its ugly head.
Oprah says that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. In other words, it’s the process of accepting that something happened exactly as it did.
But here’s the thing: when I first met Lloyd, my intuition – what I like to refer to as God whispering in my ear, although, since I’m deaf in one ear, I always hope he remembers to whisper into the right one – was screaming at me that there was something fishy about this guy. But, I didn’t listen.
So I guess I’ve had a little trouble accepting that things happened the way they did, because I’m mad that I didn’t listen to myself. If I could just get Doc to fire up the DeLorean and take me back to the future of 2005, I could save my sister and I a world of pain.
I’m really not angry at Lloyd anymore. I view him simply as the messenger of the lesson of forgiveness. (Don’t get me wrong, we still hope to have him living in a Kenmore box by the time we’re done, so that he doesn’t do this to anyone else.)
The thing that’s weird is that, apparently, it’s not really even Lloyd that I ever had to forgive…it’s myself. And that’s one bastard that REALLY doesn’t deserve it.
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Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
I’ve always wanted to be a better person.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I consider myself unkind, or selfish, or hateful. In fact, I pride myself on hardly ever wishing that selfish drivers or old ladies with coupons were dead.
I would just like to be REALLY good, since emanating pure and utter virtuousness would not only feel incredibly fulfilling, it would allow me to rub my moral superiority in other people’s faces.
Perhaps this is what led me to last night’s premiere of Oprah’s Lifeclass, which was – coincidentally, I’m sure – on the subject of ego.
This nightly one-hour show on the OWN network, featuring the return of America’s Spiritual Leader (and I say that with no irony – she really is, people, get with the program) is an intimate, docu-style show where Reverend Oprah offers one life lesson each episode.
“How does your ego get in your way?” was the question posed last night. Naturally, my immediate answer was, “Oh, it doesn’t, thanks for asking. My goal is to be nothing more than a deeply spiritual, highly evolved human being whose only purpose is to love and be loved…all while driving a nice car, becoming a famous author, and (courtesy of friends who buy the tickets) attending celebrity-filled benefits for good causes, the names of which I sometimes even know before I see it on the gift bags.”
As the hour progressed, and Oprah began to illustrate how insidious the ego is (by using her famous “fat wagon” episode as an example – where she lost a ton of weight and lived to regret it after she trucked it out on a Radio Flyer for the world to gag over), it began to dawn on me that perhaps my goal could use just the tiniest bit of tweaking. Perhaps my desire to be a spiritual master comes with caveats – albeit minor, insignificant-in-the-scheme-of-things caveats.
Sure, I suppose I have a small attachment to driving around in a Lexus. But come on, I spend at least 90 minutes a day in my car, and I drive the cheapest Lexus they make (essentially a Prius with a little lipstick slapped on it). If I were attached to the image a luxury car provided, I’d be driving the $80,000 convertible. Right? (Sure, I can’t even remotely afford it, but still.)
And maybe I find some sort of personal aggrandizement from having my first book in development as a TV series. But come on – we all know how difficult it is to get a series on the air, and then have it be a hit. In Los Angeles, having a TV series in development is like saying you’re “taking meetings about your screenplay”. Right?
And I guess some would say that the idea that giving to others involves drinking signature cocktails at charity events – instead of just donating money or doing any actual work – is not necessarily the most evolved form of philanthropy. But hey, I work 60 hours a week and write books on the weekends. How am I supposed to dish up food at the LA Mission – right?
Oh, and I suppose I have a minor, insignificant obsession with appearing to be a spiritual master in the first place. Apparently, real spiritual masters don’t announce this as their goal – as if anyone would know that’s what they were aiming for, otherwise. (I mean, come on, in LA, sandals and a Tibetan gong just means you’re headed to your Yoga class in the Palisades.) But isn’t wanting to appear spiritually evolved better than wanting to appear to be ball-busting, or slutty, or Republican?
Apparently, Oprah doesn’t think so. Apparently, Oprah thinks my ego is getting in my way. And I have just one thing to say about that:
See you in Lifeclass at 8:00.
I sure hope tonight’s lesson isn’t on giving up potato chips. I mean, even Gandhi had limits.
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