|Chapter One from 3rd Compass, the book;|
Copyright © 2009-2012. Tyrone Alexander. All Rights Reserved. Click here for full copyright.
[Read the book's foreword | Skip to Chapter 2]
Anyone who needs to know where they are going must have a good sense of direction. What kind of people would we be without it? Adventurers who always get lost, navigators who lead their captains to the wrong ports, and yes, drivers who always tell their passengers, "I'm not lost. I just like taking 'short cuts!'" Some of us have a better sense of direction than others, but it is certain that anyone who is blindfolded and placed in the middle of an unknown landscape will need help to get their bearings and proceed in the right direction.
Getting those bearings is why we have our first group of compasses - instruments that tell us what direction to go, such as a Boy Scout's trusty pocket compass, which points in geographic north, or a seaman's sextant, which measures latitude and longitude by using the stars. These instruments give us a better sense of our bearings, clues to our location relative to the environment, so that we have a good sense of which direction to proceed.
These compasses help us find our way when we are lost or uncertain of our location. In the same way, there are compasses which help us proceed in the right direction through a different kind of landscape - that of our lives. I will call this landscape your life map because it contains not just your location in the world but your decisions and circumstances. Because of this, your map is boundless in area but bounded in time. This means that your life has infinite possibilities but the paths in it always move forward in time so that you cannot move backwards along the path you have taken.
Oh, how so many of us have wished we could go backward in time - a few minutes, hours or even years to correct a bad decision. Some of us have been plagued by bad decisions and missteps on our life map, but among all the possible circumstances and outcomes on our map, there is also an ideal path - the one that leads to our ultimate happiness, sense of right, or contentment. Some people call this their destiny, but whether you believe in destiny is not important here. What is important is that there is always a way to move onto that ideal path.
How can we do this on a life map, though? Navigating most maps is a straight forward task. You simply follow the roads, landmarks, and signs that lead you to your destination. Our life maps also have roads, landmarks, and signs to guide us. The routes through our life map, though, have roads we pave ourselves through the decisions we make.
The landmarks are there as well - the significant events in our lives like the first time we fell in love, our high school graduation, or getting our first "real" job after college. These landmarks can be used for navigation, but they are generally not specific enough to make further decisions by. What we need are signs, which are more specific in pointing us in the right direction.
Wouldn't it be grand if we had signs, like road signs, that materialized in the real world and told us the right steps to take and decisions to make? Ask that person out to lunch, study this in school, take that job, or move to this place.
Unfortunately, those literal signs don't exist in the real world. What we have is more subtle and the origins can be mysterious, but the goal of this book is to unveil the cloud that shrouds these mysteries, and ultimately, to help you see those signs and navigate your life map with clarity.
One step at a time, though. We are speaking of signs at this moment and another definition of signs besides the literal board on a post is that of things which represent something else. It can be any thing or grouping of things that hint to a greater meaning - clues to something more, for example the symbol consisting of an exclamation point inside a triangle is a sign for a warning or hazard. Signs are more varied than symbols, though. They can also be unlikely coincidences or series of coincidences, events, feelings or "nudgings" that seem to be linked for a purpose. This purpose may be to help you in some way or to act as a guide. These are the road signs we want for navigating our life map.
This sounds mysterious, like divining your future from sticks thrown in the air, but what I speak of is not some silly arbitrary ritual nor is it about getting meaning out of meaningless things - connecting dots that should not be connected, like choosing to go to Collins Crew College because it rhymes with blue, your favorite color.
What I speak of is listening. Listening harder and paying closer attention to the things around you, and then taking notice of what stands out and "speaks" to you. I know, this still sounds mysterious. You may ask, just what are we listening to? But the right question is, who are we listening to?
This is where you more science-minded readers may start to balk, but bear with me. This book is aimed at unveiling the clouds that obscure supposedly "irrational" things with solid reasoning and understandable logic. Things are only irrational if you do not understand their causes, but once you understand, the fog is lifted and objects of obscurity can come into focus.
To help illustrate an example of "listening," here is a story based on true events and real people, though names have been changed. John and Linda were engaged to be married. They were in a photographer's studio to look over his work and see if he was a good fit for the wedding photos.
After an hour of looking at scores of photos full of perfectly groomed and dressed people, flowers, dimple-cheeked children, frumpy puppies, and poofed-up cats with bows in their fur (many of which seemed to be scowling, by the way), the couple began to leave the studio in good spirits and with hope for their future.
As John and Linda walked arm in arm towards their car, they noticed a few people standing next to it - an older gentleman, a young man and a teenager. The young man noticed the couple and approached them and asked, "Do you own this car here?" He pointed to Linda's white sedan.
John and Linda acknowledged, "Yes," and the young man said, "I don't know how to break this to you, but these fellows," he looked towards the gentleman and teenager, "hit your car. I was walking along and saw it. Your car doesn't look drivable."
The witness gestured the couple to walk to the other side of the car facing the street where they saw the front side smashed in and the top of the front wheel bent inwards. John thought, "Yeah, obviously not drivable."
The witness continued, "We waited for you to come back for a while and those guys wanted to leave, but I made them stay. The kid was driving the car and he was making a right turn onto the street here, trying to get ahead of oncoming cars so he put on the gas, but then he just seemed to lose control and smashed into your car."
John and Linda thanked the witness for staying and offering his help. They took down everyone's information and called for a tow truck and family member to pick them up. While they waited, John's mind wandered and he thought it was extraordinarily bad luck this would happen, but accidents happen. Move on.
The following week, John and Linda were shopping for the wedding again and had bought a pair of crystal champagne flutes. They took them to an engraver and had their names and the date of the wedding engraved on the glasses. They were rimmed with gold, had elongated vertical, diamond shaped indents all around the sides that made them sparkle, and the flowing engraved text made them all the more beautiful to behold.
The flutes were wrapped up in bundles of tissue and paper and packaged securely in a box. When the couple got home, Linda wanted to show her mother how gorgeous the flutes were, so she took them out of the box and unwrapped them, but they saw that one of the flutes was broken. A whole side of it had cracked and broke away. Linda gasped, "Oh no! How could this happen? They were packaged so nicely."
John said, "That's awful!" and thought that's not good but glasses break. No big deal. "We'll get it replaced. It won't be a problem," he reassured her.
The broken flute was replaced, but the strange thing was that many more things about the wedding went awry. It is certainly a stressful and overwhelming time for many couples, but things that shouldn't go wrong, did. The caterer backed out at the last minute, dresses were torn inexplicably, and John was nearly an hour late to the ceremony because his ride was lost. It seemed that something was against John and Linda. Even though the wedding was not a smooth operation, the couple did get married and began a life together.
What John and Linda did not know was that their marriage was to fail three years later because they had constant arguments and disagreements about how to live life, spend money, and raise their child.
The real problem with the marriage was that the couple had passed the signs of trouble before the wedding and ignored them. They overlooked not just the unlucky, coincidental things, like the auto accident, broken glass and wedding problems, but also the problems in their relationship.
What they failed to realize was that the coincidental problems were actually signs to look closer at their decision to marry. John's thoughts that the auto accident and broken glass, both linked to getting married, were unlucky was not entirely off the mark. They were deliberate signs given to help guide them - to help them navigate their life maps - because the truth was that John and Linda had frequent arguments and disagreements before they were married.
The couple overlooked those things just like the coincidental signs because they thought all they really needed to be happy was love. They did have love in the beginning, but incompatibility and hostility erodes love, and for John and Linda their love for one another eroded until there was nothing left of their marriage to save.
The question remains, though. Who sent those coincidental signs? It wasn't some entity called Bad Luck or Destiny. The next story, also based on true events, will illuminate the Who better. It is a story about Bill Wilson or "Skip" who we will meet in greater detail with his amazing testimonials in Chapter Four.
Rigged to Live
Skip was working as a derrick hand on an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It was one of the first jack-up drilling rigs in use, which were like barges with three legs that could be lifted or lowered in and out of the water. The barge portion of the rig was the drilling platform where the majority of the drilling work was done.
The legs were lowered into the water and sunk into the sea floor to anchor the rig, as well as raise or "jack-up" the drilling platform above the surface of the water so operations would not be disturbed by waves. When the rig needed to be moved, the legs were raised and the whole rig floated freely and was towed like a barge to a different location.
Skip's drilling rig was going to be moved in this way, and as a derrick hand, his duty was to be up on the central derrick or steel tower mast and remove sections of pipe from the drill as it was extracted from the ground.
Skip stepped on the ladder to take his station as he had done many times before, but today, about 10 feet up the ladder, he felt something touch his shoulders and rest on them until he ascended the full 100 feet. When he got off the ladder, the slight weight on his shoulders left.
"Strange," he wondered, but then thought nothing more of it.
The next day he climbed the derrick again to work his shift and once more at about 10 feet up the ladder a weight rested on his shoulders except it was heavier than the day before and like yesterday it stayed until he got to the top, and then it was gone.
The third day Skip started up the ladder and again the weight came upon his shoulders, but it was so heavy this time that he struggled to get to the top. "What's going on?" he thought, "Am I getting tired that fast? Can't be. I'm used to climbing this thing with no problems."
He pondered this throughout his day but could not understand it. Wind does not feel like that, and at all other times he felt physically fine and not fatigued or weighted down. It was only when climbing up the ladder that this unusual feeling came.
On the fourth day, Skip hesitated for a moment and looked up the ladder wondering what would happen today. He grabbed the rungs and started his way up. This time though, at ten feet he was stopped completely. He tried to push his body up, but it seemed to be blocked by an invisible force holding his shoulders down.
Confused, he waved an arm about to feel the air around him. There was nothing, yet he could not ascend any further up the ladder with all the strength he could muster.
"How can this be?" Skip thought and went back down the ladder. He stood there for a few minutes and pondered, "Four days in a row a weight is put on my shoulders and it gets heavier each time and now today I can't go up at all." Well, Skip was a stubborn young man, but certainly not stupid.
He thought, "Somebody is trying to tell me something." So he went to his supervisor, the driller, and said, "I'm not feeling well. Can someone else work derricks today?"
The driller replied, "Sure, Wilson, just grab that drill sub and put it on the rack." Skip acknowledged and got the drill sub. The floor was covered in oily mud and slick from drilling operations. Skip was used to working in these conditions, though, and was cautious, but he walked a few steps with the drill sub and his footing gave way.
Before he knew it, he slid down 30 feet and out a pipe door. He tried to get up, but a pain shot through his back so they called for an emergency airlift to take him to the hospital.
The next morning as he was recovering in the hospital bed, Skip saw on the television screen a news flash scrolling across the bottom, "An oil drilling rig has sunk in the gulf killing the crew. We are not releasing names pending notification of family." Skip's rig, the Ocean Express, had sunk and he was the only crewman not onboard - the only survivor.
The two stories above illustrate that there are roads signs to help us navigate our life maps, but they are not just static symbols or arrows that point in a direction. They can interact with us, as well as simply guide or nudge us, to take into account more information than we normally would consider. But the question remains, Who are They?
Do you believe in guardian angels? What about angels, period? You may scoff at the idea of intelligent, invisible agents helping us through life but recent scientific surveys of the American public have found that 55 to 68 percent believe in angels.
To be more precise, a Baylor University study of 1,500 people found that 55 percent of people polled believe in guardian angels, and a separate study done by the Pew Forum of 35,000 people found that 68 percent believe that angels and demons (the angelic opposites) are active in the world.
These studies included people from all types of social class, education, ethnicity and religious belief, so the skewing in favor of a particular group cannot be a factor. Still, the majority believes in angels, yet a minority ever speak of their beliefs. Why is that?
It is not hard to understand why few people mention angels. In our modern age of scientific reason it seems counter intuitive to believe in the supernatural. It is akin to believing that fairies exist at the bottom of a garden or that werewolves roam the streets during a full moon. Preposterous! Yet the majority believes in angels.
Perhaps it is because there is evidence. There are signs and there are interactions - by people like Skip and you and me - everyday people.
"Why haven't I noticed anything then?" you may cry. Well, that is a question we will also try to answer later in this book. The next chapter involves the evidence and where it leads.
[Continue to Chapter 2]