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Greetings! As always, we are overjoyed to communicate with you. Our topic Now is one that we recognize will be difficult for many of you, but it is necessary to cover and a condition that is endemic to the embodied experience: shame. Please know as we share this with you, we wrap you in the Love and Light of Source. For we see you as you Are, and not as you see yourselves.
Vibrationally, shame is the heaviest energy weighing down Masters-in-Training. It is dense, heavy, sticky, and black like energetic tar. It moves sluggishly and sticks to everything it touches, and its presence, depending on how much you carry with you, either slows you down significantly or completely keeps you from moving forward spiritually.
In fact, shame is largely responsible for keeping embodied souls in a lower vibration because it feels so uncomfortable to confront, that instead of allowing yourself to feel its energy and move through it, you bury it in the deepest parts of yourself where it is extremely difficult to access, experience, release, and allow the Light to flow into the places where it once occupied.
As with everything else that is not pure Light and pure Love, shame is an illusion. It is a heavy and painful illusion, but it is an illusion nonetheless. And like every illusion of embodiment caused by the small I of ego + conditioning, shame is something you must release in order to Ascend.
Where shame exists within you, it displaces Light, which is why it weighs you down vibrationally. You accumulate this shame throughout lifetimes, and it arises from incorrect and unloving beliefs about yourself because you have forgotten Who You Are.
Your shame and your shadows are often one and the same. And it is human nature that you fear your shadows largely because you have allowed your shame to puddle there, and the thought of wading through those sticky pools of vibrational tar feels frightening.
Yet shame is also the thing lurking in your shadows that causes so much of your unconscious behavior. Your ego uses shame to control you and others. And in the same way, others have used shame to control you throughout not just this lifetime, but many. Thus, you carry with you the residue of shame from not just this lifetime, but from many.
We encourage you to uncover your shame and expose it to the Light of Love, for once you release the shame, you free up space so Light can enter. When you do this, you immediately feel Lighter, freer, more Loving, and more connected to the All. Processing shame releases some of the hold the small I has over you so you can begin to re-member Who You Really Are.
There are many safe ways to uncover and release your shame, but first you must know it is there. Therefore, you first must pay attention and be Present, noticing when you react to something, when you seek to control another, when you notice another seeking to control you, when you engage in negative dialog about yourself or others, when you step into judgment and criticism about self and others, when you think self-defeating thoughts, when you think in terms of "should" or "should not", or when you engage in any of myriad shame-driven behaviors.
Attention is essential here, and when you notice that feeling, which may start as a minor discomfort that quickly grows into darkness and pain, then you must immediately move into a place where you are safe and protected so you can process this feeling instead of burying it again. How you create that safe space is up to you; for many, it may need to be in some form of talk therapy with a qualified helper. For others, it may be with a trusted and beloved friend. Others may need to sit with a spiritual advisor. Others may process it themselves in meditation, prayer, writing, art, nature, or other presence activities. Choose a way that feels safe to you to sit with the shame and allow yourself to process it fully.
How do you process it? By Being with it. Recognize it. Acknowledge it. Don't run from it. Sit with it in presence. Notice the shame as a physical sensation. Notice where it sits in your body. Sit with the sensation, noticing it with curiosity and without judgment. As thoughts arise, acknowledge them without judgment and release them, returning to presence as soon as you are able. As emotions arise, sit with them, noticing them with curiosity and without judgment. As physical sensations arise, sit with them, noticing them with curiosity and without judgment.
If you need more than just sitting, then treat yourself as you would a beloved child or friend. What would you say to them? How would you treat them? Would you judge them as harshly as you judge yourself, or would you recognize that in the moment for which they felt so much shame, they did the best they could given the skills, tools, information, and state of spiritual development they currently held?
Do this for as long as it takes - or for as long as you are able - and you will notice that as you sit with the sensations, they begin to lessen in intensity. As you recognize them for the illusion they are, they will begin to dissolve. Continue to sit with all sensation that arises in this way, noticing it without attaching to it, and allowing it to flow through you as it will. Know that as you do this, We in the All That Is are surrounding you with Love and working with you to process and dissolve the shame.
If it helps, visualize the shame as black smoke, rising up and out of you and either flowing into the ground underneath you or into the atmosphere around you where it is immediately surrounded by Light and released. Do this for as long as it takes until not even a wisp of smoke flows from you anymore.
And when you get to this place and feel lighter and calmer, this is when the Light flows in to fill the spaces the shame once occupied. This will happen naturally, for the universe has been waiting for you to acknowledge and release this energy so Light and Love can enter in its place. However, if it helps, you can visualize Source Light flowing into you on your breath, through your skin, and from above, below, and all around. See the Light flowing with every breath and every heartbeat into all of the spaces the density of the shame once occupied. And sit with that, noticing your lighter self.
We wish we could tell you this would be something you only need to do once, but uncovering and releasing shame is often a gradual process because you have stored so much and buried it so deeply. It is something every Master-in-Training must do, but you possess a powerful tool. Love is the solvent for shame. It dissolves, cleans, purifies, and replaces what was sticky, dense, and slow moving with the Lightness of Source Love, which is your true nature.
We know you fear experiencing your shame. It is why you bury it so deeply and why it sticks so powerfully. We have deep compassion for your discomfort, and we are here to remind you shame is an illusion, albeit a powerful and painful one. Once you recognize it, acknowledge it, sit with it, and release it, however, your Light Body will fill in the spaces once occupied by your Pain Body. Then, you will move ahead in your embodied state with your small I in less control and your True Self, which is Presence, drawing you ever closer to Awareness, Ascension, and Mastery.
As always, we Love and support you in this endeavor. We are in awe of the work you do as Masters-in-Training. The All That Is not only supports you, but carries you and fills you with Light and Love as you do this work.
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Who Is the George Collective?
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Greetings! It is our great honor and joy to speak with you Now and continue this dialogue with you, for whom we have deep, abiding, and unconditional love.
And this is, indeed, a dialogue, because we are answering what you ask. You do ask, even if you don't realize that is what you are doing. In the quietness of your hearts, in your moments of curiosity, in those times just before you drift off to sleep when you feel a thought bubble up in your mind, you are asking. In your times of difficulty and drama, in your prayers and meditations, and in the casual thoughts you have as you go about your days, you are asking.
We know those of you who read this. We know those who will read it Now or Later (even though Later is Now), and we sit with you in the Eternal Moment of Now, ready to share the answers with you when you ask.
And while we are honored that you read our communication and feel the truth it contains and recognize the answers to questions you don't even know you have asked, we wish to remind you that your answers aren't just here: they are everywhere. So whether you ask a question with awareness and intention or ask without realizing you have done so, the answers are there for you every Moment of Now.
What do you have to do to find them? Pay attention. Be watchful and curious. Live within your senses and as much as you can, dwell within the experience of Now. For the answers are all around you on butterflies and breezes, in smiles and gestures, in books and movies, in the words of others and the songs of birds, in the sunlight and moonlight, on billboards and license plates, and in the magnificence of nature that surrounds you courtesy of the consciousness that is Gaia, which supports and nurtures you throughout your embodiments when you experience yourselves as Humans, Being. It is in all of these places that you will find your Inner Voice, which is the voice of Wisdom and the place of answers.
You find your answers through living, and you live an embodied life through experience. Thus, we have given you this formula before: Intention + Attention = Experience. Where you place your intention and what you give your attention becomes your experience. It isn't magic, although it may seem like it to a Master-in-Training who walks through the embodied realm in space-time.
It's also not a trick, although it may seem like that to some, as well. Instead, Intention + Attention = Experience is a natural law. It happens 100% of the time in the realm of the embodied.
We know this is difficult to understand, especially when the experience is one you perceive as negative. After all, why would you ever give yourself an experience that didn't feel good if you could control it with intention and attention? The answer is that your ego + conditioning + karma often direct your intention and attention in ways of which you are unaware. Much of your embodied experience comes from the unconscious creation of the small I, which is ego-identification. Each day, the aspects of the small I affect you in thousands of unconscious or subconscious ways, whether it's a belief you have about yourself buried in your shadows, a fleeting thought generated by ego that you aren't even aware you give your attention to, or an aspect of your karma you are still working with.
This is why the call to presence is so important for any Master-in-Training. Because the path to Ascension is scattered with the seeds of ego, conditioning, and karma that can quickly grow into drama when you water them with your attention.
One of the challenges of embodiment is that it is hard for you to know where to place your attention, because it is difficult to differentiate between the seeds of the small I and the seeds of Re-membrance of All That Is. To an untrained eye, these seeds look the same, and thus sometimes you water the ego seeds instead of the All That Is seeds, and suddenly a giant plant with thorns springs up in front of you, and you're in the midst of a full-blown, ego-driven drama.
But when you water the seeds from the All That Is, they flower into a beautiful, lush, fragrant tree that you can sit peacefully under as you soak in the Love of Source.
That's not to say that there's not value in those thorny plants containing the dramas of the small I; as with anything else, it's what you do with them that determines how they affect you. Every experience has value, even the wildly dramatic ones. In fact, it's the wildly dramatic experiences that have the greatest potential to further you on the path to mastery if you allow them to. You'll eventually get to the same place on the path, regardless of which seeds you water; it's just that your embodied experience will be quite different depending on which you choose.
Which leads to the question we have come to answer Now. How do I tell the seeds apart?
You can tell because each type of seed has a signature energy that you experience as a feeling, knowing, sensation, or emotion when you encounter it. The seeds of the small I often make you feel small, frightened, or angry. You may notice a sense of wrongness: beliefs that harm you, misdirected anger at self or others, loss of self-esteem, or even just a sense of discomfort that may arise in your body, mind, or spirit. And as you begin to water them with your attention, you experience more negativity in some form, whether it's drama, angst, pain, hatred, fear, disdain, judgment, symptoms, illness, discord, nightmares, or any other of a host of negative emotions and experiences. And the more attention you pay to these things (that is, the more water you give the seeds), the deeper you dive into the drama.
The seeds of the All That Is, however, make you feel expansive. There is a sense of peace and rightness to them when you hold your attention on them. You may feel peace, joy, love, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, well-being, or a whole host of other positive experiences.
And so, before you water the seeds you encounter, step into Presence for a moment and ask yourself this as you consider the seed: How does this make me feel? Be with that. If the seed feels positive, then shower it with your attention so it will grow to full flower. If it feels negative in any way, then allow that feeling to pass through you, and turn your attention elsewhere.
What do you do if you watered the "wrong" seed? First, let us tell you, it is impossible to water the "wrong" seed because there is no "wrong" seed. As we said before, watering any seed along your path will eventually get you where you're going regardless. But, if you are unhappy with the experiences you are having as a result of where you have placed your attention and you wish to have a different experience, then you must first allow resolution of the experience you have created with your attention.
Start by removing your attachment to that experience. Do this by sitting with the feelings and observing them. Don't own them. Don't claim them. Don't fear them. Simply meet them with curiosity and observe as they flow through you. Ask yourself, "Is this true? How can I know it's true?" Then sit with it without attachment, remaining open to the answers. Inquiring in this way can help you recognize the untruths that the small I tells you.
Notice how your feelings and thoughts about the experience feel in your body, mind, and spirit. Observe without attachment and simply allow them to float away. Do this for as long as it takes until you are no longer attached to the untrue thoughts and experiences. Then, when the attachment is removed and the feelings are resolved, turn your attention elsewhere. Water a different seed...one that feels peaceful, joyful, compassionate, or provides you with a sense of expansiveness and Love.
What seems simple from the place of All That Is feels very complex to the embodied soul, and we understand this. It is why we speak to you as your Inner Voice. It is why we wrap you in Love, walk beside you, and carry you when the path grows steep and the thorny plants grow all around you. Take to the quietness of nature during these times, and you will know that we are there. Sit directly on Gaia with your back against a Tree Being. Tune out the thoughts. Focus on what you can see, feel, smell, hear, and touch, and in these experiences you will find us. For while we walk with you through the noise, it is in Nature where you will hear us the best as the voice that whispers on a breeze through the tops of the Tree Beings. We are Here. We are with you. We walk beside you. And we Love you through all of your intention and attention as you navigate the path of the embodied Soul.
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Who Is The George Collective
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Greetings! We are overjoyed to speak with you today. You do us honor with your attention to our communication. Our love for you fills the entire universe, for the work you do in embodiment serves the All That Is, Was, or Ever Will Be, which is All That Is since, as we have communicated, the Ever Was and Ever Will Be are merely projections of the All That Is and as such, illusions.
Our subject Now is karma. It is a concept that has been misunderstood throughout all groups of the Embodied Is who, by the nature of embodiment, live within the realm of the small I, which is ego and conditioning. We have told you before that ego is merely a tool for the embodied. Think of it as a filter if you wish. Or a container. Ego is the lens through which you perceive embodiment and the container that allows you to notice yourself as the small I.
Various beings in the many spaces of embodiment throughout the universe have different levels of ego, and even within a single space of embodiment, you all experience differences with how much or how little you identify with ego. This is an ever-changing challenge of the Embodied Is and your constant opportunity - to work with ego as a tool for expansion instead of allowing yourself to become an expression of the small I.
The ego understands karma as a system of punishment and reward, and that belief suits the small I because it supports the ego's drive and conditioning to measure worthiness and unworthiness. This belief in karma as a system of reward and punishment is the primary way ego sorts things into dualities of this and that. Those who are more worthy receive greater reward, and those who are less worthy receive greater punishment, or this is the story that the small I tells you. The more you identify with the small I and its conditioning in your embodied state, the more likely you are to have this karmic experience.
And so we would ask you to set aside the illusions of ego for a moment to step into the truth of karma. In ultimate reality, karma is the same thing everything else in Source is; it is Love. In the embodied state, however, karma, which is in truth Love, may appear to be something else altogether. But understand this: the you in the All That Is, which is Source, God, and Love, gives the small I karma as a gift. The All That Is you gifts the embodied you with karma so you can explore and understand more deeply every experience in duality.
Karma is not a balancing of the scales as so many incarnated on Gaia and in other places of duality perceive and believe. Rather, it is a set of circumstances you as Source choose before each new embodied adventure. It is true that in your adventures in embodiment you will have every experience of duality across lifetimes: you will be this and that, hot and cold, big and small, rich and poor, strong and weak, powerful and disempowered, perpetrator and victim, parent and child and every other opportunity duality presents, and ego often interprets this as a balancing of the scales.
After all, a Master-in-Training only becomes an Ascended Master after thoroughly exploring the duality of embodied existence; duality is your training ground that allows you to Ascend to your rightful place in the All That Is.
Karma is the set of circumstances you gift yourself with for each lifetime. These circumstances are your opportunities for experience. They are your triggers for growth. And they are never punishment or reward because none of you in the embodied state is any more or less worthy than any other of you, and none of you is any more or less worthy than any energy of the All That Is.
Therefore, karma is your gift and your opportunity. It is laced through every embodied experience you have because you choose it before you emerge into each new body. You'll find karma in your astrology, your numerology, your name, your family, where and when you are born, how you grow up, the opportunities you experience as an embodied soul, your physical and mental challenges, the gifts and talents you bring into each life, and more. All of these are facets of the opportunity of karma, and they are all gifts you eagerly planned for yourself before your birth.
But know this: even in your embodied state, you can step outside of your karma any time you choose. That's part of the challenge and adventure - working within your karma to allow its best expression in each embodied lifetime so that you can Ascend to Mastery. Karma is merely a set of circumstances and traits you provide for your experience in each lifetime, and all it takes is a choice to ascend past that karma to enter a whole new realm of experience.
We leave you for now with a gentle reminder: you are so much more than your karma, ego, and conditioning suggests you are. Karma, ego, and conditioning set the stage for your embodied experience so you can fully explore duality, but you get to choose whether you use them as tools for the Greatest Good and Ascension, or you allow them to cause you to experience yourself as only the small I they define. You have this choice every moment, as each moment of Now is a new opportunity to create.
We love you. We love your adventures in embodiment, and we walk beside each Master-in-Training throughout every lifetime in every realm. If you need us, reach out and we will answer. Our love for you is infinite, for you are us, we are you, and we all dwell as One in the All That Is.
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Who Is The George Collective
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Greetings beloved! We are honored and overjoyed to speak to you today.
We told you in our last channeling that we would channel tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Yet we are here Now. Why? Because tomorrow is a concept your ego holds dear, but like so much else in the embodied state, it is illusion. It is impossible for us to communicate with you tomorrow because there is only Now. When you read these words it is Now. You will be reading them Now even if you read them tomorrow, which of course you won't be because you can't, since tomorrow is a concept with no truth. It's a way of indicating a set period within the space-time of ego and embodiment.
And so we ask you this: why spend so much time and energy on tomorrow when you have never arrived in this mythical space-time in all of your embodied lifetimes? Tomorrow is a place-holder. It allows ego to mark a space in which nothing has yet been created. It is the opportunity for everything to be born anew, and for you to either re-create what you already perceive as existing; that is, to maintain the status quo, or for you to come up with some entirely new experience should that be where your powerful creative self chooses to focus.
And so you wait for tomorrow, this mythical place in space-time rather than creating today. And today, you distract yourself with your worries, your fears, and your hopes for tomorrow instead of focusing on the only true thing that exists: Now. So here's the secret: you don't need to wait for the fabled tomorrow to create something new. In fact, you can wait forever and it won't happen. All you can do is create something new Now by choosing that which you wish to create.
It may seem that we are speaking in riddles, but we aren't. Many embodied souls place all their bread in the basket of tomorrow while starving in the Now when, if you simply looked up and paid attention to this moment, you would recognize that there's no need to put bread in your basket so you have something to eat tomorrow when you're starving today. You have everything you need Right Now. That bread is always there for you in the Now, and it can be any kind of bread you wish for it to be. so you have no need to go hungry.
We speak, of course, of spiritual "bread," although some Ascended Masters embodied in human form could and can create loves and fishes out of thin air to feed the masses. They could and can because they have learned to slip off the cloak of illusion that ego and conditioning place on incarnated souls and remain embodied in Duality with absolute recall of and connection to their Source energy.
For these Ascended Masters, creation is instantaneous. For those of you on the road to Ascended Mastery (because that is where you are all going), you are still slipping in and out of duality or even remaining firmly entrenched in it, so creating takes more time and effort, which is as it should be. Why? Imagine a child with a magic wand who could create anything instantaneously on a whim by waving that wand. If that wand flashed and created in the moment, the child might be trampled by a dinosaur. So if you give a child a magic wand, there are some fail-safes built in to keep unintended consequences from arising. A child is merely an embodied soul who hasn't had the experiences to become an adult has yet. And an embodied soul is merely a Master-in-Training who hasn't re-membered all that an Ascended Master has yet. Thus, there are some built-in fail-safes so you don't get figuratively (or literally) trampled by a dinosaur simply because you think it would be cool to have one as a pet.
This is the reason for the delay in creation that most embodied souls experience, but there's more to it. Now imagine that child with the wand again. As soon as it creates a dinosaur, should it survive the trampling, it feels fear and wants the dinosaur gone. And then the child's attention wanders, and it wants what it notices, and something else, and something else with each wandering of attention or emotion.
So it is with Masters-in-Training. If you held the thought of the thing you chose and didn't let other thoughts slip in to counteract those choices, the space between ideation and manifestation would be much quicker (although still not instantaneous for safety's sake), but since ego and conditioning continue to provide inner dialogues that pull your focus from those things you choose, it seems in your experience of space-time to take massive effort and a long time to create even something simple.
This is why you hoard - because you lack the faith in your ability to provide, and you lack the memory of self as All That Is, Was, and Ever Will Be which allows you to trust that your needs can always be met in the moment. And this fear that you can't meet your needs in the moment creates the very circumstances that you fear, which is lack. Ego and conditioning create the conditions of lack, and while it may not seem to be true in your embodied state, your Eternal Soul created the conditions into which you would enter this life, including the ego and conditioning that challenges you as you seek to re-awaken and re-member.
It's a unique quirk of the ego that you hoard things for tomorrow instead of appreciating what you have today. And in this hoarding and storing up of all of the things you think you will need tomorrow, you forget to look up, look around, and Be in this moment of Now, which is where all your riches truly lie. You are storing things away that you will never use and fearing you won't have things that you will never actually need because you will never arrive in the place in space-time where you are putting them (tomorrow).
And so we are here Now. For us in the All That Is, Was, and Ever Will Be, all of our communications come Now. And what is the Now? It is simply another expression for the ultimate reality of All That Is, Was, and Ever Will Be: Love. Now = Love. Tomorrow = Love Delayed. Yesterday = Love Postponed. Now = Love. This is the ultimate truth we want you to understand. No matter what you plan to do tomorrow, there is only Love. No matter what you believe you did yesterday, there is only Love. And therefore the only thing that matters is what you create now. You can set aside what you believe you created yesterday. You can stop worrying about what you fear you will or won't create tomorrow. And you can focus Here and Now, which is where the riches of Love lie should you be willing to set aside the pull of ego and the attitudes of conditioning to embrace it, even for a moment.
For the more you are able to find and dwell within the moments of Now, the more you are able to dwell within the space of Love where the truth of your being awaits you to re-member that you are All that Is, Was, or Ever Will Be and in this moment of Now, you have everything you need, which is Love.
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Who Is The George Collective
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Greetings! We are honored to be among you and to be speaking to so many of you through this channel and through the many others throughout the world who are also sharing our messages with all who will listen. We communicate through other channels who call us other names. Each channel brings a small piece of their embodied spirit to the messages they share with you, which is why they call us different names.
Why are we telling you this? Because we want you to understand two important things: 1) If you hear a message from another that feels true in the depths of your soul, it is us. Please listen and share it. 2) If you receive a message that feels true in the depths of your soul, it is us. Please listen and share it.
For you, too, are connected to us, since we are the All That Is, Was, or Ever Will Be, which is Source, which you call God, Love, or the many other names we are known by throughout humanity embodied on Gaia and in all other spaces of embodiment and experience throughout the entire universe.
But what you may not yet realize is that you are us as well. You contain the same universe within you that we are the whole of, but because you have agreed to enter the realm of the small I, which is ego, you have forgotten the depth and extent of this connection. You have forgotten that there is no you and no us, there is only WE, and We are the Oneness of the All that Is, Was, or Ever Will Be.
This is your heritage and your birthright. And when you quiet the small I and slip into the realm of pure being through acts you call BEING IN THE MOMENT, then the part of you that always remembers can slip past the small I of ego identification to give you glimpses of the WE. It is here that you can hear our voice, which is your voice.
More of you are noticing as our voice bleeds through the noise of the small I of ego. When this happens - when you have those moments of stillness that overtake you, stop and pay attention, because it is here that you will find us and in doing so, you will find YOU, which is WE.
Our channel is surprised. She thought she would be channeling another message to you tonight. And that message is to come tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. But for NOW (which is, after all, All There Is, Was, or Ever Will Be), this is the message we wish to send.
Raise your voices when you hear our messages. Share them. Blend them with others. For this is the opportunity you have been waiting for. This is how the shift happens. It comes through each of you recognizing the WE and sharing the WE when you do. As more of you share the WE, others will hear, and something will spark inside of them. As if by magic, the truth of our messages will resonate deep within even those who have been unwilling or unable to hear until now, and slowly or quickly, their voices will join yours in the Song of the Comos, blending, speaking, singing, and blanketing Gaia and all other spaces of embodiment in the Universe.
This is happening now. You are part of it. And when you share that which you know is TRUTH because it resonates within you, you do the WE great honor.
We bow to your greatness. We love and support you. We delight in your moments of re-membrance of the WE, which is Who You Are Now, Who You Always Were, and Who You Always Will Be.
And so until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we wrap you in the energy of the WE, which is the Source, which is Love.
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Tomorrow would have been my brother-in-law Bob’s 50th Birthday. Instead, he died three days shy of it while in the hospital awaiting a triple bypass.
I think I can safely say I didn’t know Bob well, and yet I knew him as well as most people in his life did. Bob was a quiet man. While he was never officially diagnosed, Jim and I are certain he was on the spectrum. The reason we believe this to be true is because Navy doctors diagnosed Jim with what was then called Asperger’s Syndrome when he was in his 20s. Jim has many neurological differences apparent to those who know him well. Bob’s differences were even more profound and apparent.
I suspect to those in Bob’s inner circle, my post-humous, unofficial diagnosis might serve as an ah-ha moment of insight into the man that he was.
As I was processing the news of Bob’s death on Thursday afternoon, the first thought that unkindly came to my mind was, “What a shame…to die so young after living such a small life.” And then I really started to think about it.
Bob lived with his dad, and before his mom died, he lived with both parents. I’ve heard many jokingly say over the years that he “failed to launch,” and it could certainly seem like that if you didn’t consider or were unaware of Bob’s neurological differences.
Except for a brief stint living with Jim and his first wife, Bob never left his parents’ home. He worked the same job for more than three decades – cleaning hot tubs at a nearby hot tub and sauna owned by a family friend. He seldom missed work. He didn’t drive, so he didn’t go out much, but he did love to play laser tag. Jim says he was good at planting in one spot and was the king of the stealth attack because of that. Other players didn’t see Bob coming.
I attended many meals and gatherings with Bob over the years. He seldom spoke. He was profoundly shy. In fact, I’d been married to Jim for several years before Bob spoke directly to me. It was Christmas, and Bob came down for the day with his folks to attend our family gathering. I sat down at the piano after dinner and played Christmas carols, and Bob stood nearby with a half-smile on his face. When I switched from Christmas music to Debussy’s Clair de Lune, he closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them, leaned forward, and said to me, “That’s nice.”
Holy crap! Bob just talked to me! I was so shocked, my fingers stumbled on the keys. I looked at him sheepishly and shrugged, and he winked. Or at least I think he did. Bob and I had shared a moment.
That was the year Bob won the lottery--$100K on a scratcher. With the money, he paid off his mom’s medical debt, gave his nieces and nephews each $200 gift cards for Christmas, bought himself a motorcycle, and took a trip to the Super Bowl.
I never really had a full conversation with Bob, and yet I knew him in the way that most people were able to. Over the years, he said small things here and there, but mostly he sat quietly and observed, seldom speaking. When he joined Facebook years ago, he started commenting on my various posts. And knowing Bob, I understand this: it was his way of having a relationship with me, and it was the best way he was able to do so. I always appreciated that he reached out to me in that way.
Jim and I were talking Thursday night as he processed the news of Bob’s death. “I feel like I should learn something from this,” he told me.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I’m not sure…something about living instead of being afraid to live.”
And I understand. I do. Because my first thought was about the apparent sadness of dying at 49 after a small life. And I thought of the many people who live apparently small lives, quiet lives, lives of solitude. Lives of neurological difference. For me to dismiss their lives as small or lacking in impact is both unkind and untrue. And I don’t think Bob was afraid to live. I suspect he had extreme social anxiety, and I think he lived as he needed to feel comfortable and safe. So, I thought a little more. I thought about Bob and the things I knew about him, and I know his life, no matter how small it might appear to others, mattered.
Bob’s life wasn’t small. It was, however, contained. He kept his circle small and his communications quiet. But these are the things I know to be true about my brother-in-law.
He was loving and loved. Bob lived with his mom and dad his entire life. And they loved him. His continued presence brought joy to his mom, a joy she was able to experience until the end of her life. And he loved her back. He loved her so much he dedicated his life to being with her and taking care of her. And, when his mom died, Bob provided companionship to his dad, who would have felt deeply alone in the wake of his wife’s death. He was important to both his parents, and he provided support, love, joy, companionship, and comfort to them for his entire life.
Bob was loyal. He worked at the same job for more than 30 years. He was loyal to his brothers, his nieces and nephews, his parents, his aunts and uncles, and all the various spouses. While he didn’t say much, he was present. When we gathered, he came.
He was responsible. Bob seldom missed work; when he did, it was for a good reason. In fact, after his heart attack last week, he went to work and insisted on staying the entire day. He also used his income to help his parents with the bills. He paid the few bills he had. He wasn’t frivolous.
Bob was generous. When he won the lottery, he paid off his mom’s medical bills. He gifted his nieces and nephews. He didn’t selfishly hoard his winnings or spend them on just himself. A man who didn’t have much by way of his own wealth shared his good fortune with the people he loved. I also observed him donating his limited funds to fundraisers on social media, so although he didn’t have much, he was not just content with what he had, but he shared it with others as well.
He was a dreamer. A guy who never got a driver’s license and was, in fact (at least according to his older brother) impossible to teach to drive bought himself a motorcycle when he won the lottery. I see that as an optimistic and hopeful act – a bold statement of a dream he held for himself that he set about trying to make a reality.
Bob cultivated joy. Maybe others wouldn't find the things Bob liked to do interesting, but nevertheless, Bob did things that made him happy. He played laser tag and was, by all accounts, extremely good at it…good to the point that he laser tagged in championships. He went to the Super Bowl because he loved football. When opportunities arose, Bob chose things that made him happy, and he didn’t hold back. He participated in those activities with 100% of his being.
He was unapologetically himself. Many people with neurological differences and social anxiety feel pressured to behave in ways that make them profoundly uncomfortable but make the rest of the world comfortable. Bob saw no reason to do that. Instead, he was always 100% exactly who he was, and he brought that into every aspect of his life.
Bob lived a contained life, but it wasn’t small, and it wasn’t wasted. Instead, he lived his life his way, making the most of who he was and the values he held. And while his circle was small, he made an impact. People loved him, and he loved them back. He was quiet. He was contained. He was an observer. But he made a difference, and it’s sad that so few people got to know him. He lived his life, his way. And in doing so, he had an impact on those he chose to know and those who chose to know him.