Archive for November, 2012

Magic Journey

November 17, 2012


November 17, 2012

By Ed Chasteen

Just an ordinary day;

Suddenly you’re on your way

To a place that cannot be

from the Walt Disney World 3-D film, Magic Journey


Any one of our 12 Greater Liberty Inner Sanctum Cafes could be our breakfast destination this glorious morning. And a glorious morning it is! Blue sky. Sun. Little wind. Near 40 degrees.

Fubbler’s Cove awaits. Flattest route around. “A few bumps in the beginning,” Doug observes, meaning to minimize the two hills on Ruth Ewing, immediately after a hard left off Birmingham Road. Across 291 to Liberty Landing Road to Old 210. Seven miles later comes a long slow climb near Missouri City on New 210. Then flat again as we ride the shoulder. Two miles this side of Orrick we climb the viaduct over the railroad tracks. Then flat again through river bottom land to the OZ intersection, where a right turn onto Z brings us soon to Fubbler’s Cove at 109 West South Front Street.

This morning Adrian turns left onto O for three miles of the steepest hills in north Missouri. Paul turns back. Toward Liberty. The others of us settle at the Fubbler’s table prepared for us. I had told Kim by bike phone yesterday to set places for a dozen of us. Kim McGinnis has welcomed us the last several times. She is assisted this morning by Kaylee. Kim is understanding when I tell her that I never really know how many riders we’ll have on a given Saturday and that this morning I’ve been less than half-right.

Kim takes our orders, and soon the five of us ( Dave Wood, Steve Hansen, Doug Regester, Bill Hessel, Ed Chasteen) are busy with pancakes, biscuits and gravy, hashbrowns sausage and eggs, coffee, ice tea and lots of water.

Steve and I were speculating back at the bike shop as our 8 o’clock launch time approached and our numbers remained small. We mentioned some we knew were having health problems. The approaching holiday. New jobs. Family obligations. Too many good things and so little time.

But now as I compose this message to you, I open the file in my email address book and scroll through the 433 names of all of you who have ridden at least once with us to breakfast. And in my mind you were there at Fubbler’s Cove this morning for breakfast.



November 17, 2012

Precious Persons

© 2012 by Ed Chasteen

Every person on the planet is precious and longs for peace, power, purpose and joy. I desperately hope this is true. But I know of no way to prove that it is. So as I see it, I have only two choices. I can act as if it is true. Or I can act as if it is not. Years ago I decided to act as if it is true. From my long ago days in grad school, I remember the Thomas Theorem: “A thing defined as real, is real in its consequences.” From church when I was even younger I learned that God loves me and God made all people in God’s image. I choose to act in this world as if every person I meet has a spark of goodness and genius inside. My action toward that person will either coax that spark to life or crush it to death. My own spark will be similarly affected by the exchange I initiate with that other person.

So in a very real sense it does not matter whether every person actually is precious and longing for peace, power, purpose and joy. By treating them as if they are, I increase the odds that they will act as if they are. And by my actions, I daily show to everyone I meet that I am. Together we catch everyone up in an ascending spiral of goodness and genius, and we make ourselves into what we thought we already were.

Don Quixote in Man of LaMancha meets a woman, the most beautiful creature he has ever seen. He falls to his knees. “My lady, what is your name?” He asks. “Off your knees, you fool. My name is Aldonza, and I’m no lady.” Indeed she’s not. She waits on the mule drivers who stop at the inn. By day and by night. “No, my lady, your name is not Aldonza. Your name is Dulcinea.” She curses him and he leaves. Several times in the story he returns, each time calling her Dulcinea and treating her as a lady. The only one who does. She responds angrily each time. Near the end of the story, she hears that Don Quixote is dying, delirious and distant from her. She makes her way to him and forces her way inside. “My lord,” she says. “Who is it?” He asks. “Why you know my name. You called me by name and changed my life.” “No, my lady. Who is it?” And she says, “It’s Dulcinea.” She now sees herself the way he has seen her all along.

I know there are Aldonzas in the world. But I will treat everyone I meet as Dulcinea until they either become who I already know them to be or they do me in. I cannot accept any other outcome.

Give Me Greater Liberty

November 15, 2012

Give Me Greater Liberty

By Ed Chasteen


Usually from my home of 46 years at the bottom of a block-long street, I pedal up to a cross street, where I must turn. A left turn will take me two miles into our town, a place that has been my home and the place of my work since grad school days, a place identified on the map as Liberty. A right turn as I top the hill from my house will take me 10 miles and over the Missouri River to the town of Independence. Living long between Liberty and Independence has lifted my vision and helped me see what I could be.

Sometimes, though, I drive from home in my bright red PT Cruiser, the HateBuster mobile, I call it, license # H8BSTR, my bicycle stowed behind my seat, to a place where other riders wait, and we ride to breakfast in a small town some distance away. For miles around in all directions for years we have ridden to small town cafes. We are known as the Greater Liberty Riders.

On my very best days I have ridden about 125 miles. So I drew a 125-mile circle around Liberty and christened this place Greater Liberty. The name to me does not so much identify the place called Liberty as the condition known as liberty. It is Greater Liberty from limitations that I seek: physical limitations, mental limitations, spiritual limitations, social limitations.

            From somewhere deep within comes a still, small voice that whispers continually in my ear, telling me that I am more than other people see, more than I, myself, can ever know, something just beyond my reach or my comprehension, something pulling me onward and upward to a condition I have given a name: World Class Personhood.

A World Class Person, as I have come to understand, is one who can go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. To become such a person draws me most every day to my bicycle. Neither fast nor far on any given day does my bike take me. Individually and in small groups do I meet folks, on back roads, in small town cafes, places in fly-over country, unseen and unheard, but steeped in the basics of everyday life. Coming for a brief time into the lives of these people in these places on a child’s toy, as many see the bicycle, I am for a moment at home, at peace with myself and with the world.

My Name Is Homo Sapien

November 10, 2012


(This is another of Phillip’s visualizations that has achieved near cult status among junior learners at Sapphire.)

My name is Homo Sapien. I am every man and every woman who ever lived or will live. I am the most marvelous mind in the universe. The universe, in fact, lives in my mind. Without my mind it would not exist. I am conscious of self, the only self-aware creature in existence.

I know. And I know that I know. And among the many things I know, one of the most puzzling is this: At long range planning designed to anticipate major problems and work out solutions, I am a miserable failure. But at crisis intervention, I am a smashing success.

Tell me I have a problem 10 years from now and my mind does not register it. Put my back against the wall, a gun to my head, and your finger squeezing the trigger, and I will beat you every time. I live for these things. I am half asleep at all other times. But point me to a problem that demands an immediate solution or my death, and I am wide awake.

Why am I this way? I’ll tell you why. I am a summation of eons of survivors, thinking fast on my feet, improvising, spontaneity–these are what got me here. I cannot change. I don’t want to change. This is human behavior. Change it, and I have become something else and whatever that is, one thing it is not is Homo Sapien.

So go ahead! Tell me that things are hopeless. Tell me that population pressures or pollution or deforestation or whatever your favorite Cassandra will do in the human species. If you didn’t tell me, you no doubt would be right. Until you jump-start my mind and get my adrenaline pumping with your shrill and never-ending doomsday pronouncements, you are exactly right. But once you get my attention, I turn on you with a vengeance and a tenacity you would never believe. And I prove you wrong. For not only have you underestimated my mind, you have ignored the strength of will I possess. How do you beat someone who refuses to lose?

I see every problem as an opportunity. I never expect to lose. The more it looks like I’m losing, the stronger I get. I am Sampson. And what might appear to you as losing is only my hair growing longer. I will eat you and your pessimism alive. I will make you look foolish as I prove you wrong. But I need you. Desperately do I need you.

If you were to recognize my true character and to accept the fact that in the end I will always win, then–and only then–would I lose. Awesome though my mind and will are, they need you and your warnings to start them up. Until you create the crisis mentality in my mind with your dire pronouncements, I am helpless. Your purpose in life, then, is to scare me. Mine is to prove you wrong. By doing so, I make you look dumb. There is no way for you to win. If you don’t issue warnings, disaster will strike, and everyone will wonder why you didn’t see it coming. But your warnings always change my behavior, leaving you looking like Chicken Little. Only your willingness to tolerate self-sacrifice keeps us all alive.

Jesus said that only those who lose their lives will save them. It doesn’t speak well of us that we have confined this awesome insight to Sunday use.

So tell me that racism and hatred are endemic. Tell me there is no defense. That they will turn us against each other and doom us. Tell me that. Never stop. Convince me that the situation is hopeless. You’ve got to. Otherwise, you will be right.

Phillip of Saphire College: a Fairy Tale

November 6, 2012


Learners practice discipline of mind and body at Sapphire. But it is the eureka experience they seek. Their cosmic eggs have been cracked. Life for them has taken on a totally new perspective and dimension. They have stepped through time and space to a new place. A place where they know and are known, love and are loved without limitation or condition. Through all the shadows and valleys and fog, they have come at last to the real world of Sapphire College.
Phillip invites a small number of the committed to come with him to this magical spot. The simply curious cannot come. Your hearts, minds, and souls are not tuned to the right frequency. You would neither see nor hear. You would not catch the vision, for you have been immunized by reality. You would infect others with your doubts, for you have become too much in love with critical thinking and too little willing to lay your life on the line in the service of a cause which consumes you.
Phillip invites a small company of the committed to come with him to Sapphire College. A private interview with Phillip’s friend, Ed Chasteen, is necessary before you can be accepted into this small band. You will need to persuade Ed that you should come with us.