This is a blog (well, in more than one part, LOL) about how it felt for me to be in America during the time when Mary was having her brush with death.
Of all of the things I truly believe about our lives is that the single GREATEST obstacle to a wonderful, happy, fulfilling life is fear. To see the first time I came across this philosophy, one I embraced immediately but waited 10 years to live, go to your local video store (if you’re lucky) or Netflix and rent the movie “Defending Your Life” with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep. Oh, and also Rip Torn.
I have to divert for a moment to tell a quick story. A few years ago, I was at a place called the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, Connecticut watching football at the bar. I turned to the guy next to me and lo and behold, it was Rip Torn. We got to talking and later went to a mutual friend’s to shoot pool and hang out. Well, Rip felt he had a little too much to drink to play pool the way he wanted, so he asked me to shoot a couple of games in his place, and we just hung out and chatted all night just like a couple of old pals. At the end of the night I was saying goodbye, and as we shook hands he deposited a twenty dollar bill in my hand.
I said “what’s this for?”
I chuckled and told him “thanks, but you know, I’m really the one who should be thanking you! You were an actor in the movie that changed my whole philosophy on life.”
“Which one was that?”
“Defending Your Life. I really came to believe that fear is what gets in the way of so much life.”
He laughed. He said “I’ll tell you a story about that movie. James (Brooks, the lead actor and both writer and director) called me up and he said ‘I wrote a part specifically for you.’ So I told him to send me the script. I read it, I loved it, and I told him I would do it. He said ‘there’s one catch: you have to do the movie completely sober.’ Well I had a reputation of being a jackass on the set and I told him he could take that script and shove it where the sun don’t shine! Then that night I read it again and I called him back and told him, grudgingly, ‘okay, I’ll do it your way.’ So I caught my usual flight out to LA and the stewardess brought me my regular drink and I told her ‘nope, you’re just gonna have to take that away.’ And then I got to town and went out to my favorite restaurant and the waiter brought me my regular drink and I told him ‘nope, you’re just gonna have to take that away.’ And then I got to my trailer on the set, and a P.A. (production assistant) said ‘I stocked your liquor cabinet just the way you like it.’ And I told him ‘nope, you’re just going to have to take that away.’ And I did the whole movie completely sober. And to this day, it’s been the most rewarding movie I ever worked on.”
Go see it.
So then it was 10 years later that I went to The Option Institute (www.option.org ) and actually learned, finally, how to live my life without fear (almost every moment) and found how wonderful, happy, and enriched my life became. I know I’ve mentioned it before about how the panic attacks I’d had practically every day for 19 years went away and I’ve never had one since. How I’d never asked a woman out on a date before I went there (at age 42) and since then have asked out every one I’ve been interested in. (Ironically, the only relationship since then where I was NOT the initiator is the one with Mary.) Some of my story:
Flash forward to three weeks ago. I am the U.S.of A. and Mary is in Holland, sick and getting sicker. When we talk on Skype video, she has to pause every two or three words because that’s all the air she has for speaking. So I started telling her to go to the doctor. I am going to post some of our conversations on Skype so I can go through what I was FEELING during this time. Here’s a belief Mary held BEFORE she got sick:
[3/25/2010 11:05:52 AM] mary van der valk: First of all, that is the best decision you can make, to get up and MAKE yourself feel better by doing things. That cures for 70%
And my response to that:
[3/25/2010 11:07:14 AM] Brian Ellis: well SOMETIMES that’s a great decision, but, and i’m talking to you miss “i’ll just ignore it and keep working my ass off”, sometimes the best decision is to listen to your body and rest it….today my body says it’s okay to get up and do things….
So here’s the first exchange, later that same day, about what seems to be an unrelated issue, but I definitely got angry—will write a full blog later about my thoughts on Holland. I will probably be banned from every going back!
[3/25/2010 5:50:26 PM] Brian Ellis: okay, i will…
[3/25/2010 5:50:55 PM] mary van der valk: have had a message from the hospital for my stumach
[3/25/2010 5:51:25 PM] mary van der valk: believe it was for the 19th of April
[3/25/2010 5:51:46 PM] Brian Ellis: what??????? NO!!! they need to see you NOW
[3/25/2010 5:52:19 PM] mary van der valk: so want to snuggle with you right now…………missing your arms around me
[3/25/2010 5:52:43 PM] mary van der valk: but this isQUICK!!!!!
[3/25/2010 5:53:39 PM] Brian Ellis: well, then there should be plenty of openings, because in 3 months everyone will just die before they get to see a doctor—STUPID!!!!!
[3/25/2010 5:54:19 PM] Brian Ellis: if it gets worse, i will fly you here and take you to an emergency room myself–much faster than your stupid country!!!
[3/25/2010 5:54:24 PM] mary van der valk: hs holland sucks…..
[3/25/2010 5:55:01 PM] mary van der valk: we have waitinglists here
[3/25/2010 5:55:01 PM] Brian Ellis: in 3 months cancer goes from completely curable to incurable, what a stupid policy!!!!!!
[3/25/2010 5:55:40 PM] Brian Ellis: i’m not saying you have any of those, but that makes just no sense for severe pain to have to wait for a MONTH!
[3/25/2010 5:56:07 PM] mary van der valk: i know
[3/25/2010 5:56:18 PM] Brian Ellis: i’m VERY ANGRY right now! it’s not like me…
[3/25/2010 5:56:45 PM] mary van der valk: but i have had this more. and was never sent to a hospital
[3/25/2010 5:57:14 PM] mary van der valk: it probably is stress
[3/25/2010 5:57:35 PM] mary van der valk: cant eat much
[3/25/2010 5:58:25 PM] mary van der valk: will take some edication for it
[3/25/2010 5:58:35 PM] mary van der valk: medication
[3/25/2010 5:59:18 PM] mary van der valk: just so tired now and missing you……………..
[3/25/2010 6:00:29 PM] Brian Ellis: well there you can see how i can be in fear of losing you, for me to get that angry…doing a little better now, but i will feel much better when i can get you out of the land of the beaten people….
[3/25/2010 6:01:13 PM] mary van der valk: sweetie i am not planning to leave you EVER!!!!
[3/25/2010 6:01:33 PM] Brian Ellis: deeeeep breathhhhhhh…..bigggggg sighhhhhh…..
So there are two learnings you can take from this passage: 1) all anger is an INWARD FEAR turned outward. And all fear is fear of losing something you have or not getting something you feel you need. I felt angry. Why? I was afraid of losing Mary. 2) Did you see how fast I handled that? I got angry at 5:51 and was completely done with it by 6:01. Actually 10 minutes is a LONG time for me to be angry! And I solved it by using a simple internal Option Process Dialogue (for more on that you can look here: http://www.option.org/the-option-institute/what-we-teach/37 down towards the bottom of the page).
Part 2 tomorrow: Mary Gets Really Sick!