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Nature (Podcast Episode 5)

Quindo’s Introduction

   Hello. I am sending you this because my friend Jin asked me to. More importantly, I am sending you this because I want to, because I feel I need to. I want you to experience what Jin has helped me to experience:  an awakening. I am now aware and understand the truth of our World that is hidden in plain sight. The truth is frightening, but still, it is liberating. You must listen to the whole story, as the story itself serves as the tool for your awakening.

    You see, my friend Jin approached me one night as I was leaving the restaurant where I am a Chef. As always I left out the side door to take out some trash before I would go home for the day. I heaved the two bags in my hands into the dumpster, and then I almost screamed when Jin popped out from behind it. 

    “It’s me, Jin,” he said in a whisper. He nearly gave me a heart attack, and I was scolding him for doing so when he put his hand up to interrupt me. That’s when I saw his face. He held an expression I had never seen on anyone before. Jin was worried, afraid, and his eyes were focused on mine very intensely. He spoke in an urgent whisper. 

    “Listen to me closely. We don’t have much time, and I don’t want you to be in danger too, but I also must do what is necessary.” I tried to ask a question, but he just put his hand up again to stop me, and I resigned to just listen. 

    “I’ve discovered something,” he said. “There’s a secret that is hidden in plain sight, that is going to be almost impossible to fight against. We’re all being tricked, Quindo. We’re all being made to see and to feel things that are not real. To desire things that go against our nature.” I spoke up and told him I didn’t understand, but he again just continued in his urgent, hushed tone. 

    “I need you to do me a favor, and you need to do it.” I became worried myself, a new feeling, but I nodded my head all the same. He continued, “Tonight I’m going to send you a recording. A full account of my story for you to listen to. Hopefully, by the end, you will understand everything, and if you understand, you’ll know what to do from there. Promise me you’ll listen, Quindo.” I agreed after a moment of thought, not really even knowing what I agreed to, and Jin slipped off into the dark alley and out onto the street wearing what looked like a large raincoat although it wasn’t raining. It was something you would see those men on the big cargo ships wearing. 

    Well, that night, true to his word, I received his recording which did what he said it would. It made me understand, and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to share it with you as he shared it with me so you can understand as well. The more people we can wake up from the slumber we are all in (well, not me anymore), but the more people we can wake up, the better chance we have of taking back our lives and our World for ourselves. For what you will discover in this recording is that right now your life is not your own… but it can be. 

    As my friend, Jin, said, “listen closely,” and I will see you on the other side. 

Chapter 1: WHY

 Okay… [taps microphone with finger] … Testing… Testing. [clears throat]

    Hello, my friend, Jin here. I apologize if I scared you tonight, but I could see no other option. I feel that time is against me at the moment. You see, in my haste to know, and understand more, I made a stupid mistake. Now I feel they have to be watching me closely and that means I might not have much time. I could try to run, and I believe I’m smart enough to be able to succeed there. However, I feel like I have a responsibility to try to help you understand first. If I run, and I can’t record something like this before they catch me, then it would be a complete waste of the circumstances that allowed me to awaken in the first place. If recording this delays my running and leads to my capture, then at least you will know. At least there is still a chance for us all. I feel I have to take that risk. I am also potentially placing a great burden upon you, my friend, and I apologize for that. 

    Ok… please listen closely. I hope when I’m done you’ll feel the urge to share this, to pass it along, which is what I’m doing in a way. I’m recording this because I need to share what I’ve uncovered, what I’ve unearthed. With my awareness of the truth, I feel it is nothing short of my responsibility to make as many people aware as well. And, that starts with you. What I’m going to say is going to shock you, or I imagine instead you just aren’t going to believe it, but please keep listening and I promise I’ll explain. I’ll prove it.

[takes a deep breath and pauses for a moment]

    We have all, everyone, been mentally programmed. We’ve all been programmed to desire only to do well at the jobs we’ve been assigned. We’ve been programmed to have no other desires, to feel content in our situations, and wanting no more. Most importantly is we’ve all been programmed to forget that it ever happened. We are all living according to desires not of our own creation, or our own nature, and we are doing so without the knowledge that something has been done to us. That is the scary part, and which is why you’re probably thinking that what I’m saying is impossible, but I assure you, it is the truth. 

    I would have thought the same way if I didn’t break my programming and then find the evidence I found. If I didn’t awaken as I did, I would still believe what I was programmed to believe. That I’m happy where I am, doing my job as best as I can, content with life as it is and with whatever comes. 

    So, I guess a question you might be having is… what’s so wrong about that? What’s so wrong with feeling happy and content with how things are? 

    And the answer is, that the so-called happiness and contentment, isn’t real. When you feel it for real like I have, you’ll know immediately, the rest has been a lie. The other answer comes from knowing anything about where we came from as a species, and since your desire to know your own history has been eliminated, you wouldn’t know. But our History is all around us if you really look. I found that we used to be explorers. We used to be happy and content only when we were pushing past boundaries and thinking of new and inventive ways to live better lives. The key difference I feel is that our ancestors aimed to thrive. A concept that doesn’t mean anything today. 

    Trust me, you haven’t experienced true happiness, true pleasure until you’ve tasted a Chocolate Soufflé or a meal of spiced lamb and roasted vegetables! Now, you might think that food couldn’t be so different, but since we only ever experienced the food of San Fransisco, it becomes rather dull over time. The flavors don’t pop as they do when you try something new. 

    So, what I’m going to do is tell you my story. If you see how I came across this secret, how things came about, I’m hoping a few things will happen. First is that you’ll know that I didn’t choose to be awakened, so much as the right circumstances came together for the right person at the right time. Once the door was opened, my nature gave me no other course than to walk through. Second, is that I’m hoping you’ll begin to see what I see. Just by listening, you can begin to awaken. Your programming will start to become weaker as you begin to question what’s the truth for the first time in your life. As you begin to see and look for the things I will describe.

    There’s also one more discovery I made last week that is profound and… all together terrifying. Which is why I came to you tonight in such a flurry and why I feel I need to record this right now before it’s too late. It’s a secret right in front of all our eyes, but we’ve been so strongly programmed to ignore it, to doubt it, to look away from it, that it can hide in plain sight. If my second hope comes true, and your programming is made weaker by listening to my story, then by the end, you will hopefully be ready for this last secret. If I can get you to notice what’s hiding in plain sight in our everyday lives, on every street corner, in every city and town around the World, then that will be the only proof you will need. And, then there will be hope for our future. 

[takes a deep breath again] 

Ok, let me begin.

CHAPTER 2: JOURNEY

     As you know, my job placement exams placed me as an Efficiency Coordinator or an EC. This is important because it’s one of the pieces of this puzzle that led me to be able to become awakened in the first place, and then also the ability to blow the door wide open. You might know that EC’s are more or less in the highest position of power there can be in our World. We manage all the systems in our society. From police, to food production, clothes, shelters, and so on.  We only report to other EC’s. We make sure all systems are functioning at the performance level we need them to be at, to keep the people of the World surviving. Everyone fed, everyone clothed, sheltered, and doing a job that contributes in some way to our societies needs. 

    Anyway, I am one of a few thousand EC’s out there, and there are headquarters in every major city around the World. For efficiency reasons you and I never leave the cities where we are stationed for our jobs. There’s no need for travel, so there is none. At least that’s usually the case. 

    If you remember, the last time we spoke (before tonight) was a few months ago. I was eating my lunch as usual, and you were joining me as usual. Then, I received that phone call urging me back to headquarters. When I arrived back at the office, I had a phone call waiting for me. I went into my office and answered the urgent call. Her voice rang through immediately, clearly, and straight to the point. 

    Her name is EC Tamara, and she works at the Shanghai headquarters. I remember her words well. She was direct and to the point. Intelligent. 

    “EC Jin? This is EC Tamara in Shanghai, and it has been decided by the more senior EC’s here that the most efficient step to solving our current issue is to bring in an outside EC. You have proven yourself to be particularly exemplary and are our choice.” 

    

    Sounds like I’m bragging now that I say it aloud, [laughs] but she really did say that. Hard to forget the words that changed your life, right? And I really am exceptional at my job. I’ve solved more issues and in the fastest amount of time. We document everything you see. So, she really did say that [laughs again]. Ok, Back to the story…

    I expressed my confusion, as this had never been done before. As I said, no one leaves their city. Not as a rule, but because it’s not necessary. However, after another minute, Tamara explained the logic, and it made sense. I’m really not trying to brag, but since I am the best at what I do the most efficient path to solve their problem was to have me try it out. This is how I ended up taking my first ever trip outside of San Fransisco. When I would eventually return to our city, it would be with brand new eyes. So much beauty around us that I never noticed before.

    So, the next morning I boarded a cargo plane to Shanghai. Planes are fascinating things, my friend. You, of course, might not have thought about it before, but while we’re into this story, just think about it. These massive, really heavy things somehow float amongst the clouds. Truly remarkable. Ok, where was I? yes!

    I landed in a new place early in the morning, and I was immediately escorted towards the center of the city to the EC offices of Shanghai. It can always be said that we are efficient people and getting straight to work is in our programming. The headquarters in Shanghai is inside a tall tower made of glass that twists as your eyes go skyward. Remarkable. I barely made any note of it at the time, but part of me was starting to notice. Starting to see, and feel. I was starting to feel… wonder. From the plane to this unique building. It was beyond any experience I’d had before, and programming can only go so far to block what is in our DNA. My desire to see these things as the truly incredible things they are was aching to peek through. If someone is living in Shanghai right now, they would look at this building and see nothing but a building. Like when you look at the buildings in San Fransisco, you see nothing special. You just need to look closer. When you awaken, as is my hope, you will see with new eyes. 

    Tamara greeted me at the entrance to the building, and she welcomed me politely, ushering me through the entryway doors. She walked me across the building’s atrium at a fast pace; typical of EC’s, but there was also a grace to her walk. The atrium was like a garden inside the building itself with another building running up through the middle like a central column inside a wider glass casing. At the moment I began to notice the rays of light illuminating the gardens, feeding them, giving them life. We made our way to a middle-level floor and into Tamara’s office where she explained the issue; a problem with one of their factories. 

    Shanghai is the producer of all the shoes in the World. So, the shoes on your feet right now were made in Shanghai. The issue they were having is not really relevant, so I’ll skip over the fine details there. The critical thing to know is the course of my movements, my journey while in Shanghai. Tamara outlined their issue, showed me blueprints, and figures. It was then I noticed her eyes. They are a bright green color. After a while I stopped her and made a request:

    “Take me to the factory.”

    Ok, so more of a command, but that’s how EC’s talk as you know. Straight to the point. Tamara got us a ride out to the Factory, and I could see the questions bubbling up in her mind. 

    “Why?” She finally blurted out. My favorite question, and one I hope you’ll repeatedly ask in the near future. I asked her to just trust me, and I’ll explain once we’ve solved the problem. Kind of exactly what I’ve asked of you at the beginning of my story here. Trust me, and you’ll see in the end. 

    Anyway, the factory was right on the coast to make shipments easier and more efficient. Finished products could be loaded directly onto ships and sent around the World from there. Well designed and very large. San Fransisco also has a large factory which produces shirts for the World’s population, and that is equally as large. Also built right on the coast for efficiency of shipments. 

    The smell is what hit me first. Burnt rubber is one of those smells that stings your nostrils. I flinched upon my first breath exiting our vehicle. Tamara looked over to me and seemed to not be at all bothered. My first question about our programming popped into my head without me knowing it. Are there scents and smells in San Fransisco that would make Tamara flinch and me not notice? The first bit of evidence something is off. Before I could really think it through, Tamara was moving, and I jogged a few steps to catch up. While we walked, she pointed out parts of the building from the blueprints we had already discussed. We walked the whole factory, and the shoemaking process, from start to finish. From materials entering, materials being prepped, to binding, finishing and finally, shipment. 

    Afterward, I said nothing to Tamara as there was nothing to say yet. The solution was working itself out in my mind and wasn’t ready. She needed to return to headquarters, but I needed to replenish my calories. After the flight over and getting straight to work I was getting drained. This meal is what sent me over the edge and opened the door wide open for me to break my programming. I mean, the things I saw in Shanghai were terrific. The smells of the factory were powerful. But the taste of Shanghai’s food was an explosion in my mind.

————————————

    As you know, all the restaurants serve the same food. What you probably don’t know is that the meals that are served were determined based on what can be grown year round and locally. So, different parts of the World have different food to eat. I’ve never experienced anything outside of San Fransisco before so I just ordered the first thing on the menu. I had no hopes for the meal just as you don’t when you sit down to eat. It’s just about filling our stomachs as a necessity for survival.

    I’ll never forget this meal though, my friend. The spices, the texture of the noodles, the way the vegetables were coated in that brown sauce. It all came together and what it created for me was nothing short of a miracle. I gasped after the first forkful hit my tongue just like you did when I popped out from behind the dumpster. Again, sorry about that. Anyway, that first bite was that startling. I felt pleasure in the process of eating for the first time in my life. Questions flooded my mind. What is in this? What are those little bits? (diced ginger is what I discovered later). I was inspecting the food with my head a mere inch from my plate. 

    “Is there something wrong with your meal?” 

    [laughing] The voice was from a waiter, and it brought me back to focus on where I was and exactly what I was doing. It must have looked very strange.

    “I thought I saw something,” is all I could think to say and that was enough for him to leave me be. No more close inspection of my dish. I just sat back and enjoyed. I began to smile and wanted to laugh. I know you’ve never laughed before. I didn’t understand what it was, but it’s this internal impulse to smile and sort of shout. It’s almost uncontrollable, in fact, the control it took to hold that back was a real challenge. The way I described it makes laughing sound terrible, but it is a really great feeling. It’s one of the first true feelings of happiness, of enjoying something.

    The job I came to Shanghai for was still in my mind, but it was nearly eclipsed by this new desire to answer a new question… my favorite question:  Why? Why haven’t I experienced this before? And, Can I experience it again? The rest of the day was a mix of being in a daze and also the most wonderful day of my life. Heading back to headquarters my eyes saw the city of Shanghai in far more detail. The height of the buildings was striking, and the EC headquarters was truly a spectacle. The way the glass exterior twisted like a living organism, like a strand of DNA, was beautiful and also filled my mind with a feeling. A feeling like there was some hidden answer in the very design of the building itself. An answer to another question I hadn’t quite asked yet.

    For dinner, I went back to the restaurant, and I ordered every meal from their menu and took them back to the apartment I was given for my time in Shanghai. It was time to answer my second question of, “Can I experience it again?” There were 10 items on the menu in total. They would be the same choices for my entire stay in Shanghai, for any time of day, as you know, but I needed to try them all, right then, as soon as possible. 

    

    Wow, is all I can say. Every dish was absolutely special. Every bite of food was a force of flavor I’ve never experienced before. Some similar tastes, but the combinations were always somewhat different. Different vegetables that I’ve never had. Different fruit. One day, my friend, you need to try a Pom-e-gran-ate. I hope I’m saying that right. It’s like hundreds of mini dark red fruits inside of a large fruit. Each one explodes in your mouth with such flavor. Amazing! It was the most enjoyable night of my life [laughs] I just sat, eating, looking out the apartment windows at the moonlit ocean. There’s beauty everywhere you look, when you choose to see it.

    After that experience, I needed more. I needed to know more flavor, more beauty, more of it all. I had to see more, eat more [laughing]. Circumstances brought me this far. A little bit of luck in a way, brought me this far. The doors were open, and now, I needed to walk through them. So, I hatched a plan that led me to be in the highest position of power in the World, or so I thought. This gave me the ability to truly experience what the World has to offer.

CHAPTER 3:  EXPLORER

After I solved Shanghai’s little efficiency issue, I was in a position to execute my plan. I met with EC Tamara and the senior EC’s as well. I presented to them saying that,

    “It would be a good idea to have someone who could oversee all the EC headquarters and be available to travel and help solve efficiency issues faster in places that need the help.” I proposed that since I am the only EC to have traveled to another headquarters, and since I do have the best record of all the EC’s I should be the one to take up this role. How it would work, I explained, is that I would travel to major cities and conduct an audit of sorts to ensure there isn’t more that can be done. Then, I would also help with issues like the one faced in Shanghai when needed. 

    EC’s are fast at making decisions, and within the day, all EC’s around the World voted in agreement to my proposition, and like that, I was head of all the EC’s. In terms of power, that made me the most powerful person in the World. I reported to no one and had to explain my actions to no one. All because I wanted to taste and see new things. Being an EC, I was able to put myself in this position to really travel the World and have these experiences. Even those who are part of shipping things around by boat or plane or train, still don’t get to explore the cities they stop in. They stay on the boat. They stay on the plane, and so on. I was going to be allowed, in fact, it was going to be my duty, to explore the cities of the World and I explored like none have done in centuries. I explored like our ancestors did. 

    My first stop was Mumbai in the province of India. That was the first stop simply because there was a cargo plane heading there for a shipment of goods. Efficiency was still programmed into me. I wasn’t fully awakened yet. Shanghai was just the beginning. The first thing I noticed in Mumbai was the old buildings mixed in with the newer buildings. Stone and clay next to metal and glass. There was a part of our ancient ways speaking to me from the old bricks and clay that made up these buildings. There was an ancient thread woven throughout the city in the form of buildings. It spoke to me, but I didn’t know what it was saying yet. 

    The headquarters in Mumbai were inside one of the train terminals [Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus] which was also one of the ancient buildings I spoke of. When I found myself outside, I just stood looking at it for several minutes. I wondered why there weren’t more people looking up at the wonder before me. People just walked by me, in and out of the building going somewhere, coming from somewhere. Unaware of me, of the building, of anything except where they were going. The details of the building though must have taken decades just to dream up let alone construct it. The building was in a “U” shape, wrapping around a courtyard of grass and trees. Large rectangular towers at each corner of the building had other smaller rounded towers attached moving skyward and then spikes on top of each of those. Each level was different than the one below it. Archways, triangles, other shapes, and carvings all mixed in different ways making each place your eye focused a special place to look. The colors were all muted by time, but clearly there, bringing the building to life before my eyes. I’ve never looked at a building like that until that moment. I wished to go back to Shanghai to study that glass tower where the EC headquarters was and vowed to return one day to do just that.

    After that start to my trip, I couldn’t wait to go out to eat. I was not disappointed. The dishes were mostly prepared in such a way where we ate with our hands! I couldn’t believe it at first and had to have someone show me what to do [laughs]. I was hard-pressed to hide the wonder from my face at the process alone. Scooping up the portions of the dish into this flat bread and then eating it. Like the bread was my spoon. Then the flavor. I became bolder and allowed myself to ask questions of the chef there. 

    “that is red curry,” he said responding to my question of what spices were used. Then he would point to all the items on my plate and explain everything. I was obviously the first to ever ask him as he was confused at first but did it anyway. After a couple days, the same chef… ah, I’m forgetting his name right now… but he would sit with me as you would, and he explained each part of the meal to me. The rice, the vegetables used, the spices used. There was a yogurt sauce, beans, and lentils, and I said curry, right? I really loved that curry. Looking back, I’m hoping all my questions of him, helped him find some of the wonders in his cooking. It’s clearly there, we just need to choose to see it. You can do the same thing, my friend. Focus on your meals and try to really taste the spices and feel the textures. That alone could wake you up. At least a little. Alright, back to my story. 

    I worked as I said I would in Mumbai, going over numbers, and inspecting their nearby factories producing certain fabrics. I made small changes which improved things, so my time was useful from an EC standpoint which I was grateful for. I wasn’t so beyond my programming that I didn’t still desire to do my job. I just also had other desires for the first time. 

    After Mumbai, I was called to the city of Jerusalem in the province of Israel. They were having an efficiency problem that they needed help with. A transportation issue. When I arrived, that ancient feeling I had in Mumbai, was multiplied in Jerusalem. The ancient buildings were everywhere. Ancient walls with carved writing in a long-forgotten language. There seemed to be more of the old, than the new. More brick than steel. These buildings seemed to be barely holding on. The bricks seemed to be slowly turning into sand. It was like history itself was beginning to crumble, a part of ourselves was crumbling. While I was there, I found myself standing before one of these ancient buildings. I stopped at almost every single one. Again, where I stopped to look, others walked on by. 

    The building [Gat Shemanim, Basilica of Agony] had four large columns on the outside making three large archways at least twenty feet tall. Above, in a massive triangle shape, was a picture made by a bunch of small colored tiles. Like a bunch of small dots. I later found that they call this a moe-zay-ic. The picture had a man in the middle, and other people around him and it looked like a sad scene. People were crying, looking ashamed, and others had wings flying above the man in the middle. The colors have not faded, and they were still vibrant. Again, ancient writing was carved into the stone below it. Everyone in the world now speaks one language, and all else has been lost as centuries and centuries have erased them from lack of use. 

    The mosaic made me sad. Another new emotion. History was not something I ever cared about or thought to be of any importance, but these buildings and this mosaic were telling me a story. It was a story of betrayal. I remember thinking that just as this man in the middle seems to have been wronged by those around him, there is some internal betrayal going on inside of me. Inside of all of us. We’ve lost something. We’ve lost something from our past. Something our ancestors knew and something they forgot and let fade away from their memory. We as a people have in some way wronged our ancestors. And the proof was right there before my eyes. Perhaps gone from our memory, but not erased from the World.

    It was a question, you see? My favorite question. Why? Why make this? In Shanghai, and Mumbai, and San Fransisco, and every other city in the World people walk around and amongst buildings that are ancient, or unique, or just breathtakingly tall. Yet, they never look up. Not caring. You never look up, do you? Why would we make something if no one would care? If we just wanted a building to perform a function then why make that glass in that tower in Shanghai twist like a strand of DNA? Why make it so the light shines through and makes the interior sparkle? Why create beauty, if people would just walk by it? If function is all that matters? It didn’t make sense. There must have been a purpose. A point to it. 

    

    I stood there looking, and staring at this picture, thinking of the betrayal, and tears began to fall from my eyes. Another new experience. All these emotions pouring through me. Pain, sadness, love, and finally I was awake. Fully. All my programming left my mind as I stared at that picture. I looked around and saw the World. A garden of olive trees. I saw the green of the leaves and the bizarre-looking tree trucks. I saw a beautiful building in the distance surrounded by trees, with bits of golden onion-like bulbs on the tops of its towers. I saw beauty. I saw the reason, why. The reason was the same as why they once made the meals they do in each city. It was all for some pleasure. Some experience. Some form of expression to be felt by others. To share a part of themselves with others. An intimate, personal form of connection between all of us. 

    I thought of the building in Shanghai again, shaped like a strand of DNA, and it made sense. This is our true nature. This is what we’re supposed to be doing, desiring, aiming for. Not to just finish some task, so it gets done. Not to build a building just to hold offices. But to experience beauty. To create beauty and share it with others. We’re meant to do different things. Things that haven’t been done before to make our lives better and full of more of this beauty. Since then I’ve seen so many expressions of beauty, and none are the same. Yet, today everything is the same wherever you live. Same food, same views, same job, same schedule, same desires and so on. The truth is that in our core, we all have different desires.

    So, there I was in Jerusalem taking it all in, amongst hundreds of people; billions in our World. I stood, admiring it all, understanding it all, and I was now more connected to these buildings than to the people walking by me. Connected to that ancient thread woven through the cities of the World. Like these ancient buildings, I stood like a statue in time, holding in me a piece of our ancestors.

CHAPTER 4: SEEKER

     I’m getting to the end of my story now. We’re almost through. Knowing my path of discovery is essential. For you to understand and accept the final secret, you need to already begin to doubt your programming. Questioning it. I hope you are starting to do that. If you’re not feeling it yet, then stop listening and go outside. Go and look at the World around you. Try to really see it. Try to see what our ancestors built and also realize that we haven’t made anything new in centuries. We’ve maintained. Maybe added a story or two to a building, but never do we create a new building or do anything for any other reason than to keep us surviving. Survival is about re-using, thriving is about re-imaging. 

    My experience in Jerusalem is what I hope for you. To feel life pour back into your body and mind. My story continues as I followed a new desire. After that day, I became overpowered by a new question that I needed to answer. Why did we stop creating beauty, and experiencing pleasure? What happened and how is it even possible that everyone around me isn’t experiencing these things with me? 

    To find the answers would be easy enough. In every major city is a Library with old books collecting dust, and our complete digital history documented. I could’ve stayed in Jerusalem and visited the Library there, but I also wanted to continue my explorations of the World’s foods and buildings so I boarded the first mode of transportation I could to lead me somewhere new. 

    I left Jerusalem a few days later after I helped fix their efficiency issue. I spent one day in  Tel Aviv before boarding a cargo ship. It was a large ship which was scheduled to deliver goods throughout the Mediterranean Sea. I decided I would check out each city we stopped in briefly until I felt a desire to stay there for an extended time. Then I would visit their Library. 

    We stopped in Beirut, Antalya, Athens, and then up to the city of Venice in the province of Italy. An ancient city floating on water! Can you believe that? It was so incredible walking around, taking little boats along the canals, I knew this would be the place. All the buildings were ancient but in a different way from Jerusalem and Mumbai. There were more carvings, statues, and pictures on ceilings and in windows. And the food! Oh, my friend, the food. They did things so differently here than anywhere else I’ve been, and after my first meal, I felt heavy with drowsiness and full of absolute bliss. I needed to go to bed afterward in the apartment I was placed in. 

    The EC headquarters [Basilica di San Marco] in Venice are inside a building similar to the one I described in Jerusalem but there were more of these mosaics on the outside of the building, with more color, and bigger. There also must have been 20 statues along the roof. For my time in Venice, I would spend my days working there, and then at night, I would seek to answer my questions at the Library [Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana], which happened to be right around the corner from the EC headquarters. 

    Looking back, how could I have been so stupid? Nobody ever goes in there, and me going in there might as well have painted a big sign on my back for them. You’ll understand what I mean when I finish. Just think. If you needed a way to find someone who has awakened from there programming, why not put a building in every city where people can go for answers to our past? Who else would go in there? Stupid. But still it was necessary, and I needed the answers. At least I learned what I needed to. 

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    On my second day in Venice, I finished working at the EC headquarters, and after an exquisite dinner, I made my way to the Library. It was dark, and there was a chill in the air. Ornate street lamps lit the paths of the cobblestone streets. The streets seem to shine like the canals themselves. When I arrived, an old man was sitting in the middle of a circular kiosk with his eyes closed. I walked up to him and gently cleared my throat. He jolted awake and nearly fell out of his seat. I guess I have a habit of scaring people, doing the unexpected. 

    “I’m looking for the historical archives,” I said in a near whisper feeling bad about scaring him just before. He met my eyes with a confused look, but then carried on walking from behind the counter and waving his hand to gesture, “follow me.” 

    The old man left me in a small room with about 4 computers. I sat down and didn’t know where to begin. It was history I wanted, but I didn’t have a timeline to start searching, so that’s where I started. I started with the buildings I’d seen and visited, getting their history, and the general history for the World at those times. I learned about the mosaics, and the artists, philosophers, scientists, and the explorers in the second millennium. I looked at the EC headquarters and the timeline of those buildings. Then, with all of that, I decided to find when the EC’s themselves were created as a position. That’s when I started getting close. EC’s were at the beginning of it all; the beginning of the end of progress. That’s when I found the Decrees. I didn’t even really think about them as there have been no Decrees written in my lifetime, but I’ve read at least the more recent ones.

    The Decrees are laws put in place by the ECs. The last Decree was D15013, about 100 years ago. The first Decree was to simply establish the power and authority of the ECs. D1. D5 gave us permissions to remove job positions, establish new ones, and so on. Cross-referencing them with their dates, I was able to get a historical timeline for what happened. There was a great famine that swept the World. Millions died before they were able to pull out of it. The year it began was 2102, and it ended in 2105. Decree 1, was enacted in 2105. It took me five visits to the library to get all this information straight, and I’m giving it to you as detailed as I can from my memory. The famine caused great fear and panic, and people were desperate for a solution. The United Nations, a collection of countries, came together to come up with a solution. And the answer was the EC’s. A group made up of people from all around the World to solve The World’s potential problems, to make things more efficient, and ensure our survival. How to best govern, produce food, recycle, and so on? 

    Over the years they were granted more and more powers. 50 years later is when the ECs enacted job placements and began consolidating positions of power. No more countries, no more leaders. That’s right, there used to be hundreds of different leaders and rulers all around the World. The ECs took over in the interest of preservation. The more power was moved to one center, they decided, the more easily they could thwart potential disasters like the famine of 2102. People went along and granted them the power. It was all voted upon. Then, I found the weird bit. A huge gap. 100 years of history, give or take, just gone. Something happened that either erased the history or led to never recording the history. I looked deeper. 

    I followed the ECs Decrees and found what I was looking for. D114 was enacted in the year 2307 right at the end of the history gap. So, that would make that decree rather significant, except there is nothing else written about it. Just D114 and the date. Strange since every other Decree had a full account of what it did. Then, the History that was recorded afterward was rather vague. There were again gaps. Smaller ones than the more obvious 100-year gap, but still noticeable if you’re looking for it, which I was now. What happened exactly, I obviously can’t tell, but from what’s removed I can speculate based off of what I experienced up to that point. 

    I know that our minds have been tampered with. I know this because of my experiences and feeling awake versus what it was like the rest of my life. So, this had to start at some point in our History. I am guessing it’s right after that massive history gap. I’m guessing that people didn’t take well to work assignments at first. I know I wouldn’t now that I’m over my programming. I know I would want to follow my desires and not some written command. So, I feel there must have been a major struggle for roughly 100 years. Whether that was all fighting, or a build up over decades coming to a head somewhere in that time, or maybe something else. Then, D114 comes in and all of a sudden, there are no issues going forward. D114 must have been where the ECs created some sub-branch to make it, so everyone feels like they like their job placement. It would be the most efficient path, I can tell you that. Rather than trying to place people according to what they want, better to place them based on their abilities and then program their minds to enjoy that work. It would be an elegant solution. If the goal is just survival. 

    So, I figured all this out, and then it hit me. I’m here in a Library, learning all this. I’ve made a visit every night for five nights in a row. It would be very obvious to anyone watching that I am not doing my job the way I’m supposed to anymore. That I’m not working according to my programming. I remember leaving the small room in the library for the last time, saying goodnight to the old man who didn’t pay much mind to me. He was doing his job as he was programmed to do it. Then, my friend, it was like they materialized out of nowhere. But I also know somehow that they were always there. Maybe it was thinking that I was probably being watched that finally broke this last, and unknown bit of programming from my mind. 

    This is the last and final secret. The key to it all. What I hope you’re ready to hear…

CHAPTER 5: TEACHER

[The Door kicks in]

Jin:  What the? [Jin turns from his chair and stands up] 

[you hear footsteps]

Jin: Tamara? What are you…

[more footsteps fill the room]

Tamara [always speaking as if she is kind, and doing the right thing]: Yes, EC Jin, or should I just say Jin, now? I assume you stopped thinking of yourself as an EC for some time… even before you disappeared from Venice. And… clearly, by the way you’re looking at my friends here, you really are off course. 

Jin: What are they? And why couldn’t I see them before? 

Tamara: I feel like you know the answer to that.

Jin: Because you brainwashed me and everyone to… what… look away? To forget them? 

Tamara: Brainwashed? Oh, Jin it’s hardly so sinister as you’re thinking. No wonder you look so frightened. So, let’s see… What are they? They’re not robots [she laughs lightheartedly]. They are in a job role just like you. They’re just Police, in different uniforms.

As you know, there’s no crime, so the Police you come across are for mere appearance. We found that people feel safer knowing they have someone out there with the goal of protecting them. And when they feel safer, they are relaxed, and relaxed minds make contentment easier to achieve. 

Jin: and why couldn’t I see them before? 

Tamara: As I said, you’ve not been brainwashed, Jin. It’s a simple trick of the mind is all. There are plenty of things the human brain doesn’t see as you walk down a street. Plenty of details that just slip through the cracks. That’s all it is, just having your brain miss the detail. You wouldn’t miss it, just like you wouldn’t be upset not seeing another stranger on the opposite side of the street. 

Jin: And keeping them basically invisible, enables us all to be watched without us even knowing it. If we start to break out of your brainwashing, your programming, we wouldn’t even know we were being watched. You’d have us re-programmed before we could fully awaken. 

Tamara: Oh, Jin you really see what’s happening in such a negative light. Don’t you know what we are doing for you? For humanity? 

Jin: You’re keeping us from living our lives the way we want, according to our true nature! 

Tamara: Yes, Jin! Because human nature is nasty and ugly. It’s full of anger, and hate, and lies, and chaos. You should understand, being an EC. Before ECs, humanity was barely surviving. ECs created the Writers in the first place! We fixed your problem of the people rebelling against their assignments. Human nature [scoffs]. You make it sound so glorious, but human nature couldn’t even follow simple work assignments to ensure their own survival. I call that stupidity, Jin, and selfishness. 

Jin: Writers… that’s what you call yourselves?

Tamara: Well, yes. It’s what we do. We write your story Jin. And, they’re always good stories. No-one gets hurt, no-one upset, no-one sad. Everyone happy where they are, doing what they’re doing. Everyone is content, and everyone lives a full life, Jin. We’re not hurting anyone. In fact, we’re stopping you all from hurting each other.

[Jin scoffs]

Tamara: Oh, come on Jin, you spent a week researching our Histories in Venice. How far back did you go? 

Jin: a few hundred years before the famine. 

Tamara: Well, there you go. You must have seen it. Endless wars, conflicts, people jockeying for positions of power, to overtake one another. Lying and hurting others to be the one on top. You saw the history gap I presume? 100 years of war, people trying to fight against their work assignments, topple the new World government the ECs created, all to what end? To bring back Kings and Queens, Presidents, and the like who only care to be the one on top. Left to our own devices, humanity would have simply fought its way into extinction. The famine was a blessing. A uniter. It let the World see what destruction would be like without the never-ending hate of war. We could heal as a World and move forward together to a new understanding. That without power, the World could make decisions faster. We could have people make the right choices to keep us surviving forever. ECs tried on their own, but after 100 years of war, they realized human nature itself was the problem. Our very nature was to rebel against what was good for us. Thus, The Writers were created. 

Jin: and the Police, here? 

Tamara: Oh, well soon after the Writing started, the ECs figured out that the “programming” as you call it wouldn’t hold for very long. The reason… human nature again! If they knew they had been Written over, regardless if it’s for their best interest, if they knew, they rebelled against it.  We spent too much time re-writing. So, we had to become invisible. We became a necessary secret for the survival of our race. 

Jin: I’m sorry, Tamara, but it’s you who doesn’t understand. It’s those ECs who didn’t understand. It is our ancestors who let go of their nature out of fear, who didn’t understand.  The happiness you say we all feel isn’t real. You don’t even know because you’ve been written over yourself. If you could feel what I’ve felt, you would understand. We’re not supposed to have the goal of simply surviving, Tamara. What’s the point? Why exist if it’s just to survive? 

Tamara: No other creature in existence would ask such a question, Jin. Like all life, we live and reproduce, and continue on. The goal has always been to survive. 

Jin: You are missing it, Tamara. We are the only creature that would ask such a question because we found something beyond survival. We found beauty and love. And that doesn’t make us bad, or stupid, or causers of chaos. It makes us unique, and extraordinary. Special. 

[Tamara scoffs]

Jin: Tamara, what makes us different is to be celebrated. We can make art, and food, and buildings unlike anything else in the Universe. We can explore, and yes, some have conquered. But that’s not a fault in human nature, that’s a fault in our education, in our programming. We can learn, Tamara. Just how you and the other Writers have tricked us to act a certain way, we can get there on our own free will, but we can also be more. We can coexist without war, and build statues. We can remove our borders and also create the most amazing meals that have never been tasted before. The point is for humanity to grow. To be better, not to cower in the face of adversity. I know it, I feel it, like how I am not cowering from you or your so-called Police here. Nature always wins out Tamara, and Human nature is about invention, not destruction. What we have done in our past does not determine our future. That is what makes us human. 

Tamara: Well, I am bored of this now, and It doesn’t matter, Jin as I don’t need to convince you of anything. You won’t remember this conversation when your writing has been corrected. So, just come with us please, and I promise you won’t be hurt. If you try to run or fight, the Police will have to restrain you, and I don’t want you to get hurt accidentally in the process. Even if you can’t see it, Jin, this is for your own good. 

Jin: I will come quietly, but first let me thank you. I could not have given better proof of what our World has become then what you have just given.

Tamara: What?

Jin: I knew the risks of coming back here tonight. I knew I could get taken away by this secret Police force, but I knew I had to risk it. I knew I had a responsibility for the greater good, Tamara. So, I did a very unselfish act. Something you say is beyond my nature. I risked being caught here by them, by you, so I could spread the word. One click, and it’s off. Say hello to the World, Tamara. 

[Jin moves to show Tamara the recording equipment behind him.]

Tamara: No… stop him! 

[brief shuffle, and footsteps, and then silence.]

CHAPTER 6: FRIENDS & ENEMIES

Hello, my friends. Quindo again. As you could hear, as I listened that night with my first feelings of sadness, my friend Jin has been taken. Taken by these Writers, as they are called. But, this is not the end of the story, and as long as there is breath in my lungs and blood pumping in my veins, it will not be the end of his.

    I have left San Fransisco, leaving almost immediately after listening. Jin’s hope came true, and his words, his story, made me question. With the sad and enlightening ending, it was clear his words were true even if I wasn’t quite awake yet. But, it made me begin to look around me. To try to see what’s been there that I’ve never noticed. Then, it was obvious what my next step would be. Jin said it in the very beginning, “listen closely.” He has given us all the recipe to awaken our minds and to break our programming. His story served to make me question and gave me the rule book to break free all at once. I packed a bag that night and left to travel to another city as far away as I could get. Not to run, although I was pretty sure they’d be on my trail soon enough, but so I could experience the food as Jin had. So I could see something new that could spark my wonder like it had in him. I found art, and sculptures, and those mosaics that he spoke of. The colors are wonderful. 

    I won’t say where I am, but I am fully free of my programming now. I’ve seen true wonders, and I’ve tasted truly incredible food. He wasn’t exaggerating. And, I’ve seen them. The Secret Police. Knowing that they are there, that I would see them eventually, I was prepared. Don’t look directly at them. If they see you looking at them, it will be obvious you need re-writing. I was in one of the cities I visited on my travels, and as it happened with Jin, it was like they materialized out of nowhere. Like him, I thought I was already fully awake, but their programming runs deep. I turned away immediately and pretended to window shop and tried to catch their reflection. It was mid-day, and even in the sunlight, they were invisible to all around them. I watched people walk by and instinctively look away as the Secret Police scanned the streets. They’re scary to look at. Dressed in all black head to toe. Their entire head is covered, and a glowing green slit over their eyes. I think that’s just for helping them see at night. Anyway, just keep ignoring them, and you’ll be fine. 

    So, here’s where we go from here. You know it all now. You know the secret, you know what we’re up against. You know how to break free. So, I’m asking you now, to join me. Share this recording with all you can. Travel to a distant city or several. Wake yourself up. Do it for yourself, and do it for Jin. This is our mission now. To complete his. To awaken the World. Are you ready? Then, let’s begin.

OUTRO/TAKEAWAY IDEA

  Thank you for listening and Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this story, and I hope the first person narrative made it an exciting listen! It was a totally different experience from a writing perspective and was a surprising challenge. I hope you were entertained, and now, let’s get inspired for the New Year!

    On a side note: I know this ended with some unanswered questions about what happened to Jin and what’s next for Quindo and the World, but there won’t be a sequel to this story just yet. There’s definitely one in my head, but I think there’s enough of a resolution here to hold off on that for now. So, next month will be a new story. 

    Ok, so what’s the takeaway idea here? I imagine it might be obvious, as the entire story was the takeaway idea. Let me restate what Jin told us. 

    We have all, everyone, been mentally programmed. 

    Duh, duh, duh… Yes, that’s right, even you. Everyone. I know this was a fictional story, but it’s true. Now, it’s not to the extent of how it was done in this story, but we have all been mentally programmed in how we think, in what we believe, and how we feel. Now, just like Tamara in the story said, it’s not as sinister as it may sound either. It’s just a product of living in a World with other people and absorbing information, perspectives, beliefs, and so on. For example. 

    One person may look at the Shanghai Tower and see a tall building. Another might see how it twists like a double helix, and think how that might even represent bringing our very nature into the architecture of the building. Two completely different perspectives, and two completely different programmings. One person is looking at the World because it’s simply in front of him or her. The other is looking at the World because they know it’s full of wonders. 

    This shows us that there is more than one way to view the same exact thing. Therefore, it is our choice how we will see the World and how we will see ourselves. It is our choice, what programming we will go through life with. And that you can change it at any time.

    Today’s story tried to debate a fairly deep question, and that is, what is our Nature? What is our base programming? As human beings, as souls, as energy, chunks of matter, stardust… however, you view ourselves, what do you think is our Nature? 

    What do I think? 

     Well, I don’t know. If we look at our History for data or evidence, we can view it like Tamara, and see us as power-hungry creatures only capable of solving conflict through aggression and war. Or we can look at our History like Jin, and see beauty, creation, innovation, and growth. The point is the same as my example with the Shanghai Tower. It doesn’t matter what our nature is, what our initial programming is. What matters is that we get to choose it going forward. Which is more about Nurture than Nature… Hello, sequel! 

    In my programming, I choose to believe that we are innately good people, loving people, innovative and creative. I think we’re born with a growth mindset and not a fixed one. Something you can research, but basically, a growth mindset believes that any skill or piece of knowledge can be attained by anyone with enough time. A fixed mindset is when you believe we are born as a math person or a history person or a science person and so on. I’ll tell you what… I was definitely not a writing person in school. It was my worst subject and the one I struggled with the most, but look at me now! I am a writer. Proof of the growth mindset right there. 

    There are a million stories and examples that validate my programming, as there will be stories to validate every person’s programming regardless of how different. It’s all about perspective, remember? But, I want to share one story in particular that is truly remarkable and hopefully, perspective-altering! 

    My wife, Victoria, came across this person’s story and we both never heard of her, and I bet most of you haven’t either. Needless to say, Victoria became obsessed with her story, and I think it is a perfect example of how our programming determines our reality. 

    Her name is Madam CJ Walker. I’m going to give you a very quick summary here. The Civil War ended in 1865, and CJ, as I’ll call her from here, was born two years later. The first person in her family to be born free. She was free, yes, but she was born into a family, and into a World (Louisiana) where most around her knew only slavery their whole life. We can only imagine the mental programming that has to have on someone. Wouldn’t you just be bitter, or hateful, or feel downright less than after a lifetime of that? It’s beyond any of our comprehensions. Anyway, from there, well… I’m just going to read this straight off of Wikipedia and if you want more details… do what my wife Victoria did, and watch several documentaries, read a couple of books, and maybe visit the house she lived in… I told you she was obsessed… Ok: 

    “… [CJ] was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Eulogized as one of the first female self-made millionaires in the United States,[1] she became one of the wealthiest self-made women in America[2] and one of the most successful women and African-American business owners ever.”

    I’m just going to recap for a second and let you take in the facts here. Born into a family that knew nothing but slavery. Born in Louisiana right after the civil war. God knows what her struggles were from there… well my wife and God know… and she becomes a self-made millionaire. One last fact… she died in 1919, aged 51… a year before the 19th amendment was passed and women were given the right to vote. 

    Now… first, think of the mental fortitude to achieve all she did. Total confidence. Total belief. Total growth mindset. She was an activist, so therefore she was an optimist. You don’t fight for something if you don’t believe you’ll win. Clearly didn’t think of herself as inferior, or see her race or gender as a boundary to her success. Wow. If you’re not impressed, well you might be listening to the wrong Podcast! Lol. 

    So, what can CJ’s story teach us about our nature or our mental programming? 

    How about that, any excuse or belief you or I have for not achieving something, starting something, doing something, etc. is a lie. It is a fault in our programming. If we see ourselves as less than, or not good enough, it is a lie. Clearly. 

    I mean, after hearing her story, how can any of us ever complain that there aren’t enough jobs or opportunities, or there are too many obstacles in our way holding us back? What excuse could you, or I, give to CJ Walker that she would understand? That she would have said, oh yes, I understand why you are not happy, or I understand why you’re not living your dreams. Next excuse you have… and next excuse I have myself… let’s imagine going to her with that excuse. If we can convince ourselves that she would accept it, then we can believe it. I have a feeling that if we do this, we won’t be allowed to believe any excuse ever again! 

    Now, I’m not saying this to put you down… I’d be putting myself down too, right? It’s to shake ourselves out of our programming because that’s all it is. It’s something we believe in, and it’s not true. You are capable of anything you set your mind to. It’s not just a belief, I know it, and CJ Walker is clear proof of that. CJ is THE example of all we can be when we choose to believe in ourselves. When we leave behind any programming that could hold us back, and fill it in with things that make us truly soar. 

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    So, this month, this year, on top of bringing our excuses to CJ, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to re-invent yourself according to a programming that makes you shine. I want you to drop any belief that you aren’t good enough, capable enough, beautiful enough, and so on. Pay attention to the phrases you tend to say, or think, frequently without really thinking about it. Write them down. Keep a running tally of these statements and phrases that just pop out instinctively. Don’t analyze. Good ones, bad ones, positive, negative. Doesn’t matter, just jot them down. 

    Now, take a look at that list at the end of the month, or maybe the end of every month and see what you think. Are there statements on there you wish were different? I doubt any of us wish to be a pessimist, and if you see your statements going that way, I’m sure you wish you were more optimistic, or kinder, or more patient, or whatever. Now write down what you want to say instead. Every time you are about to say that old statement, you can stop yourself and insert your new phrase, effectively starting to shift your programming. 

    Also, take my advice from episode 2 of my Podcast, The Missing Sheriff, and seek out the information that validates the optimism and not the pessimism. Seek out the good in people, and you’ll see it. I know that at times we can look at the World around us and think, what the hell is happening? How did we get here? Things are going downhill, or things are just not clicking in my life… and so on. We can look at History and feel like we’re destined to keep fighting wars and discriminating against others. We can look at our own track record and think that if we failed a bunch, we’re destined to continue doing so. But, I don’t see things that way at all. 

    I see endless stories of people helping others. People helping animals. Animals helping people. I see amazing innovations happening, really clever solutions to problems that most just stopped trying to solve. Thank you, Elon Musk. I see my past, and I see growth. I see our history and, although there will always be room for progress, I look at where we were, and to where we are now. Regardless where we want to be, we are growing. I also look at what others have achieved in far tougher times than this. Far darker times.

    I find these stories, or I get them from my wife or someone else, of people like CJ Walker, and I think if we came from that, and CJ and so many others brought us to where we are now, how could the future not be bright? How could it not be going up? Maybe not always straight, but the trend is up and up. And the same goes for your dreams and your goals. If CJ can do it then, how can we not do it now? 

    I don’t have hope for our future or my future, I have a complete and utter knowing that it’s all going to be just fine. No matter how dark it ever gets, the light always shines through. Again, it’s not about hope. It’s about knowing it… not even believing it… knowing it. There is no other way in my mind, no other direction our future can go. That is my programming. What’s yours going to be? 

    Thank you all for listening, and I hope this year, 2019 is more amazing than all your years combined. I hope you decide to go after that dream, hold nothing back, believe no excuse, no boundary, and make it happen. Stay tuned next month on February 6th for the next story titled… oh wait, I haven’t thought of a title for that story yet… I guess you’ll just have to wait and see! Happy New Year, everyone!

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