I was panting hard. The cold had not yet reached my legs because I had just stopped running, but it wouldn’t be long. There was a lot of noise but none of it was discernible because I was watching three young boys play-fighting on the grass. One of the boys feigned injury and his friend stopped dead in his tracks to ask if he was ok. Being an ex play-fighting champion I could see that he was being duped, and sure enough the compassionate lad was soon on his back getting the play-fight booted out of him. A smile widened on my face as I appreciated the brief show of compassion from the boy.
“I am going to meet my God forsaken mother.”
Noises were now transforming into words because there was something I wanted to hear. It was a child, no older than 11-years of age, and he was talking to his friend about his Mum. As each child emerged from the door I could see that they were each looking much older than I remembered. As each one breezed into the life-light I couldn’t help but wonder how each parent would influence their upbringing. Which children felt abandoned, unloved, unwanted, different, special, strange, spoiled or starved. I was seeing people very differently today, and children more differently than adults. I had just finished my Landmark Forum and now everything – and everyone -looked different to me.
Four days previously I had taken my seat next to a young woman. I chose a young woman deliberately because I knew it was going to be four days where I would tell my most intimate secrets to people I had never met. I find it much easier to remove my mask in front of a woman. At least I know if it is a woman they will listen to what I have to say. For the next four days I went through a gamut of emotions. At times I felt like I was being forced to watch the Bridges of Madison County on a loop. Clint Eastwood was stood in the pouring rain, Meryl Streep with her sweaty hand on the car door handle…go on Meryl…push down…run…run…run…set yourself free…you only have one life….go Meryl….go. She never did push down on that handle and I never did stop crying.
The Landmark Forum is a place where even the secretive of people can be free. People who would never dream of talking to one stranger, suddenly finding an outstretched arm reaching for the stars, desperate for the coach to pick them so they could tell their most intimate tales to 200 complete strangers. Old men, young men, gay men, old women, young woman, gay women, 25-Slovaks and 15-Russians. The Landmark Forum had people of all sorts, and the plan was to transform every single one of them in just three days.
So what did I learn from the Landmark Forum? The Landmark Forum promised that anything I wanted for myself, or my life, would be available out of my participation. My purpose is to use my experience, passion and drive to teach and inspire others to excel in their work and family lives. I want to touch millions of people. I am at my happiest when I am making other people happy. What I learned is that the human race make it extremely difficult for me to achieve my life purpose. I believe that the Landmark Forum have transformed me but I still have a lot more to learn. I struggle to reach into a person’s soul and give their heart a much-needed rub. I get frustrated and the frustration reverts me to type. I am like the Incredible Hulk except I am yellow, not green and the only muscle I have sometimes resides in my head.
You are making me revert to type, you wouldn’t like me when I revert to type
I have a manipulative, charming and persuasive personality. These strong suits are why I have been so successful in my life, but they also leave a trail of destruction behind me. I have tried to control, dominate and win every argument I have ever had and every relationship I have been involved with. All of this behaviour emanates from a moment when I was 8-years old. Landmark got me to see that. People were calling me names and saying that I was Chinese. My young brain couldn’t compute this abuse because as I looked around my family, everyone one of them had round eyes. I asked my Mum if we had any relatives who were Chinese? I did not want to be different and I wanted the one person in the world, who knew how to manage my heart, to tell me what I wanted to hear. My Mum asked me to sit down and started to recite a stream of words that she had no doubt dreaded for 8-years. She told me that my biological Dad was Chinese and he had left her while I was still floating around in amniotic fluid.
I didn’t want to be Chinese. Being Chinese confirmed that I was different. The one person in the world who is supposed to tell me everything will be ok didn’t do her job. She should have told me I was perfect just like everybody else. Why did she tell me I was different? Life is absurd. Life is lysergic acid diethylamide. An incident that occurred when I was 8-years old transformed me into a manipulative, charming and persuasive personality. I did this so I could fit in. I did this so I could be the same as everyone else. I wanted to belong. I needed to belong.
As my son finally emerged from the shadows of the corridor, his smile mirrored mine as he saw me waiting for him. I hugged him, kissed him, put my arm around his shoulder and walked off with him beside me, all the time thinking how my divorce was going to help shape his strong suits and be the bedrock of his life, and it scared the shit out of me.
Do you remember the first time in your life when you thought, “something is wrong?”