I heard the familiar knock on the door. "0700. Time to get up." I opened my eyes and felt a sharp pain on the top of my head. Oh, no, I thought, knowing what was coming. I pulled myself unwillingly to a sitting position, feeling the familiar nausea that swept through me as the pain in my head intensified. A migraine.
Groggily, I headed for the bathroom. Maybe a cool shower would help. But I knew from past history that I was in for a rough day.
There had been a dreamlike quality to the past few days. Saving the world, I thought, was a tough job. I had been on course for three days now. For some reason, I had taken it for granted that the center would be closed on Sunday.
I had been looking forward for a break from the intense course schedule: 8:00 AM until 10:30 PM with two short breaks and an hour for lunch. Then, invariably, at 11:00 PM, after the class muster where we shared our "wins", there would be an "all hands" called, usually to assemble a mailing, and it would last until 1:00 AM or later.
When Sunday arrived, I was surprised to hear the usual knock at my door. Sunday to Scientologists, I discovered, was just another day in the week. And to make things worse, last night there had been an unusually long all hands to mail out the monthly newsletter.
I stood over the basin, waiting for the world to stop spinning. I wonder what they do in Scientology when you get sick? I had already surmised from some of the materials on the course that medicine was frowned upon except as a last resort, and after the superior remedies in Scientology had been applied. "Antonio," I held my throbbing head in both hands as I looked down at my friend seated at his desk, "What does a Scientologist do for pain?"
"Why? What's wrong?" he looked up, concerned.
"A migraine. I've had them before. I think it's from lack of sleep. Do you think maybe I could be excused from course for one day?"
"Well, to do that you would have to go through Ethics," he looked at me with narrowed eyes. "It would probably be better to try and stay on course."
"Ethics? Why?" The thought of a return visit to the teenage fuehrer in the Ethics office was intimidating.
"Because in Scientology there is a saying, `Sickness equals PTS,'" Antonio answered seriously. "Potential Trouble Source," he added seeing my confused look. "It means you might be PTS, or connected to an SP Suppressive Person," he added quickly. "Usually people only get sick when they are connected in some way to a Suppressive. And it's the job of Ethics to help you `spot the SP.' That, and some Dianetic auditing should handle it."
"I'll tell you what," he added, seeing my discouraged look, "let me talk with the Course Supervisor and I'll see if I can give you an assist. Wait here." A few minutes later he was back. "Come with me," he said. He led me to one of the offices in the back and closed the door. "We'll do a touch assist and see if it helps." He pulled a chair into the center of the room and indicated for me to sit there.
"OK, now I'm just going to give you a command, and I want you to acknowledge me each time I repeat the command. Ready?"
"Sure," I answered, not knowing what to expect.
"All right. Here we go." He pressed his finger on my forehead. "Feel my finger?" he asked gently.
"Yeah," I responded.
Then he pressed his finger into my right temple.
"Feel my finger?"
"Um-hm," I answered.
Then I felt his finger on my cheek.
"Feel my finger?"
He continued, exerting pressure with his finger at various locations of my body. There seemed to be a pattern to the way he was working. With each pressure he asked the same question.
This continued for at least a half an hour. I wondered what the effect of this was supposed to be. But I found myself becoming curiously relaxed, feeling little shivers of energy up and down my spine like one would feel with a good back rub.
As he continued I became more and more drowsy. At one point I actually dozed off into much needed sleep. As I jerked back awake to keep from falling, Antonio just continued the curious process.
I could feel my muscles relaxing in response to the contact from his finger. The energy was now flowing throughout my whole body. After what must have been at least an hour, he stopped suddenly and drew back. "Well, how do you feel?" he asked.
"I don't believe it. I feel great. The headache is gone. I can't believe you got rid of my migraine. Usually they last for at least two days." I was genuinely surprised. I could still feel the shivers all over my body.
"That's good," Antonio said modestly. "I'm glad it helped. And it probably saved you an unnecessary trip to Ethics." He looked at me and chuckled. "Now you need to go back on course while I write this up as a session."
"Thanks," I said gratefully as I opened the door.
I retrieved my study pack and took my usual seat. As I resumed my study I realized that the nausea and grogginess were gone. I even felt rested. "Strange," I thought. "Amazing."
I opened my pack.
"Auditors," I read the green ink of the next policy letter on my checksheet,
have since the first session of Scientology been the only individuals on this planet in this universe capable of freeing Man.
At times some will forget or choose to ignore the fact that the auditor is not just another fellow or a guy who works in Scientology. An auditor is a highly trained specialist, no matter what level of auditor. He or she is the only one who can give Man the truth. An auditor is very important in clearing the planet, and this universe. All auditors are appreciated.
I knew that Antonio was a Class 8 auditor, meaning that he had done the highest training level in Scientology. At that time, being a Class 8 was similar to having a Ph.D. in any other subject.
After my experience this morning, I was more ready to believe that maybe what Hubbard was saying in this policy was true. I smiled to myself. It was reassuring to know that Antonio was my friend. From the beginning he had taken a fatherly interest in me. And we shared a common interest in the piano. Antonio, I soon discovered, was a brilliant concert pianist. I continued on in my reading.
Scientology is a science of life. It is the first entirely Western effort to understand life. All earlier efforts came from Asia or Eastern Europe. And they failed. None of them gave greater security. None of them could change human behavior for the better. None of them and they bragged about it could change human intelligence. Scientology is something new under the sun, but young as it is, it is still the only completely and thoroughly tested and validated science of existence.On another page I read,
Scientology can and does change human behavior for the better. Scientology can and does increase human intelligence. And Scientology can do other things. It is a science of life and it works. It adequately handles the basic rules of life and it brings order into chaos.
In all the broad universe there is no other hope for Man than ourselves.I kept reading.
Let us face the reality of this thing. The world confronts several crises. Man's inhumanity to man is gaining monuments daily. The time to bring a chaos under control is before it is well begun. We're slightly late as it is. Brutally, there is no other organization on Earth that can slow these down. Factually there is no other know-how on Earth that can plumb the problems of Man. So if we don't want all of us to be sitting amongst the charred embers, we had better get busy.
This is no alarmist statement you know. We are the people who can confront it. Past civilizations have vanished, you see. The Chaldean, Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Hindu, Greek, Roman, European they did vanish. Those little beaten down peasants you see in France were once the proud Romans. Those small brown men who sell their sisters on the streets of Cairo were once the mighty Egyptians. And it was when those societies looked richest that they had already started down. Like this one.
They all failed because they had no know-how about Man. Wisdom, real wisdom, could have salvaged any one of them. Wisdom can salvage this one. Scientology can smooth the way. But Scientology hasn't a chance unless we get groups going. You ... can do this.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was another girl on the course named Ellie. "I need someone to do TR 0," she looked at me hopefully. "Do you have time to do it?"
"Sure," I agreed. "It's not like I'm going anywhere."
We spent the rest of the morning staring blissfully into each other's eyes. I experienced the same sensations as I had the first time I did TR 0 with George. When the Supervisor called lunch break, I was again feeling the expansive serenity and blissed-out timelessness I had before. And by the looks of it, so was Ellie.
"That's it! Lunch break!"
I reluctantly came back to earth and shook myself back into more-or-less normal consciousness. As I walked back to the house for lunch, I noticed that the colors once again looked unusually bright. I felt a soaring hopefulness inside. "Oh, Aileen," I enthused, as I took my place at the table, "I'm so happy to be in Scientology. I just want everyone to know about it. Do you know what I mean?"
"Yes, dear," Aileen gazed at me fondly. "And I've been meaning to talk to you. Antonio and I have been talking and we'd like you to consider joining us in the Sea Org. That's the most effective way to make a difference in this world. We'll talk about it later." She and Antonio traded glances.
"The Sea Org," I thought excitedly. I had heard many stories in the past few days about the adventures to be had as a part of the most elite group in Scientology. I had noticed a poster on the wall at the center. There was the picture of a large ship with many smiling faces waving from the deck. "Be the elite of planet Earth, the cream of the cream. Join the Sea Org." Why not? I thought, as I served myself some vegetables. What do I have to lose? It would be an adventure.
I was still lost in fantasy when the Supervisor called "That's it!" to start the afternoon session. I turned back to my study pack and determined to keep my mind on what I was reading.
We are the only people and the only organization on Earth which have the technology and the ambition to attempt a clarification of situations which in other hands are considered entirely out of control, to wit, the atomic bomb and the decay and confusion of societies.I turned another page.
Scientology is today around the world, represented on every continent on Earth. As you read this, this very book is being translated into many non-English tongues and is being distributed to nations whose thronging multi-millions have never before been touched by Anglo-American thought.I turned another page and continued to read.
The use or neglect of this material may well determine the use or neglect of the atomic bomb by Man. Scientology is already winning in this field. In the same period in history, two of the most sweeping forces Man has known have come to fruition: a knowledge of himself and others with Scientology, and a means of destroying himself and all others by atomic fission. Which force wins depends in a large measure on your use of Scientology.
There is not much Earth time. We must work.
The mission of Scientology is not conquest it is civilization. It is a war upon stupidity, the stupidity which leads us toward the Last War of All.
With Scientology man can prevent insanity, criminality and war. It is for man to use. It is for the betterment of man. The primary race of Earth is not between one nation and another today. The only race that matters at this moment is the one being run between Scientology and the atomic bomb. The history of man, as has been said by well-known authorities, may well depend upon which one wins.
Where Earth pursues her gentle way in her orbit about the sun today there will be a black orb seared, scorched and defaced with ruin, its air polluted with radiation, its surface gouged by pocks, the skeletons of its cities standing black and ruined against a sun which was allowed to set upon the Anglo-American civilization. Perhaps there are other planets, perhaps there will be other times, but here we are right now, our urgings and our strivings ought to carry forward the civilization which we have about us. Perhaps it would be better to start all over and make another one. I do not happen to think so. I think that we can and will continue to create this civilization and continue to bring Man through despite his folly. We know how and we can do it. It is up to us. It is up to you and only then we can say with honesty that it is up to Man.
Later on, if we make it, what will be your answer to this question: "Did you help?"
I sat there for a few minutes, lost in thought. I thought back to my life at the university. What was I doing, I wondered. Where was I going? Was there any purpose to my life? The answer was no. Here was something important that I could do to make a difference in the world. What was my dream before? Becoming a music teacher? But here I could help save the world from a possible nuclear disaster. Which was more important?
The answer was already in my mind. It was not a choice. Music could wait. The decision was made. I would join the Sea Org!
I couldn't wait for the break so I could tell Antonio and Aileen. I knew they would be happy. For me it would almost be like having a family. Antonio and Aileen were already closer to me than my real parents had been. They were my spiritual parents. I felt happy and secure. Joining the Sea Org would be like joining a family. Signing the papers would just be a formality. Because the reality was, that in my soul, I already was a part of the family. I belonged.
"That's it! Break! Fifteen minutes!" The usual sounds of chairs scraping the floor as everyone headed outside.
"Antonio," I approached him with a smile. "I've decided. I'm joining the Sea Org!"
"That's wonderful," he was sincere. "Let's go share the good news with Aileen." We headed toward the office in the back.
Aileen looked up with surprise. "Aileen," I said breathlessly, "I'm joining. I want to join the Sea Org. I want to help."
Aileen clapped her hands and came over and hugged me. "My dear, that's wonderful," she said warmly. "And I guarantee that you will never be sorry. You have made a very good decision. And we're delighted to have you. Antonio and I were both hoping that you would come to this decision, but we didn't think it would be so soon! Congratulations!"
"So what do I have to do to join?" I asked eagerly.
"Well, there are just a few things we have to take care of." Aileen pulled some papers from her desk. "We have to go over this questionnaire just to make sure that you don't have any incomplete cycles anywhere out in the world." And she started asking me questions.
Did I have any debts? No, I answered truthfully.
Any legal problems? No.
Would anyone in my family oppose my decision? I thought about my parents. They might not be happy about this latest turn of events, but I knew they would never try to prevent me from doing something I really wanted to do. No, I said to Aileen.
Did I own any property? Did I have children? No. No.
Was there anything at all that would interfere with me becoming a full time Scientology staff person? No, none whatever, I said, brimming with eagerness. "Well, all right, everything seems to be fine." Aileen signed the questionnaire and pulled out another paper from her desk.
"Are you ready to sign your contract?" she smiled at me proudly as she handed me the official looking form printed on white bond legal paper. At the top was the Sea Org symbol of two olive branches surrounding a star, printed in gold. Then in very large letters: "Flag Service Org, SEA ORGANIZATION, Contract of Employment."
Beneath that were two seahorses printed in gold flanking a paragraph which read:
I, ___________________, DO HEREBY AGREE to enter into employment with the SEA ORGANIZATION and, being of sound mind, do fully realize and agree to abide by its purpose which is to get ETHICS IN on this PLANET AND UNIVERSE and, fully and without reservation, subscribe to the discipline, mores and conditions of this group and pledge to abide by them.
THEREFORE, I CONTRACT MYSELF TO THE SEA ORGANIZATION FOR THE NEXT BILLION YEARS.
Then there were lines for signatures.
I looked at it again. I wasn't seeing things. I looked up at Antonio and Aileen, perplexed.
"A billion years?" I asked. "Why a billion years?"
Antonio looked across at Aileen. "That's because Ron thinks it will take at least that long to clear the entire universe. After this planet is clear, there are hundreds of thousands of other planets to clear as well. He just wants to be sure that your loyalty is certain. If you're not ready to commit to a billion years, then you're probably not ready to join the Sea Org," he looked at me seriously.
"I think what it is also," Aileen interrupted, "is that being a Sea Org member is not an easy life. There can be some tough times. If you're not with us 100%, if you're not ready to make a life and death commitment, then you won't succeed as a Sea Org member. This is a big decision."
I swallowed. I thought again about Michigan and school. I thought about my family.
"Well," I said, starting to laugh, "I've never thought this far into the future before. I'm not used to thinking in terms of a billion years. You don't have any shorter contracts? Like maybe just a few thousand years for a start?"
Neither Antonio nor Aileen smiled. "At the regular Orgs," Antonio explained, "like the L.A. Org, there are shorter contracts. You can sign up for either two and a half or five years. But in the Sea Org there's just one contract. This is it."
I sat silently for a minute, then slowly picked up the pen on the desk. "Well, here goes," I signed on the blue line. I tried to comprehend a billion years, but my mind got lost after the first few million. "I'm in."
"Splendid," Aileen signed her name on the line below. Then Antonio signed as the second witness.
"It's official," Aileen gave a satisfied sigh. "Welcome to the Sea Org, dear. We're glad to have you aboard." Antonio shook my hand. "Let's all go have lunch," he suggested. "At a real restaurant. To celebrate."
It was hard to think clearly that afternoon, my mind trying to comprehend the enormity of the contract I had just signed. A week ago, I realized with a shock of surprise, I was sitting in class in Ann Arbor worried about my grades. For a minute I wondered if maybe I had died and progressed to an entirely new life. That couldn't possibly be any stranger than my life now. Aileen had given me a packet of materials to read, to begin the indoctrination process into the Sea Org. I turned to the page on top.
"YOUR POST," it was titled.
A post in a Scientology organization isn't a job. It's a trust and a crusade.
We're free men and women probably the last free men and women on Earth. Remember, we'll have to come back to Earth some day no matter what happens to us.
If we don't do a good job now we may never get another chance.
Yes, I'm sure that's the way it is.
So we have an organization, we have a field we must support, we have a chance.
That's more than we had last time night's curtain began to fall on freedom.
So we're using that chance.
An organization such as ours is our best chance to get the most done. So we're doing it!!
Signed, L. Ron Hubbard.
Just before dinner break, there was a surprise announcement by the Supervisor. "There will be no class tonight," she said, giving no explanation. "Class dismissed."
Antonio came up to me as I was packing up my things. "Why don't you come over for dinner," he invited. "We have a surprise for you tonight."
"And you're not going to tell me what it is, right?" I looked at him mischieviously.
"I'm afraid you're just going to have to wait," his eyes were twinkling. I walked across Alvarado Park with Antonio and Aileen. I was appalled to find that the beautiful park was populated by hundreds of alcoholics, many sleeping on benches or sprawled on the ground.
Antonio and Aileen shared a small apartment on the other side of the park. As we entered I was surprised to see a concert size grand piano in the living room. "Oh, Antonio," I begged, "play something."
"Just for a few minutes," Antonio obliged. "We have plans tonight and we don't want to be late." He sat down and began to play a Scarlatti sonata. I had never heard Scarlatti played so lightly and effervescently.
"That's wonderful," I enthused when he had finished. "It sparkles. Please, play some more."
Antonio started into a piece that I wasn't familiar with. It sounded like Liszt, but it was a piece I hadn't heard before. It sounded like a dance, I thought, as Antonio played effortlessly through the complex and brilliant passages. "Oh, that was wonderful." I was enthralled by his playing. "I just want to stay and listen to you play all night. We don't have to go out," I pleaded.
"Oh, yes, we do," Antonio laughed. "By the way, anytime you want to come over here in your free time and use the piano you're welcome to. Julie told us that you're a very accomplished pianist yourself. Next time you come over, when we have more time, we'll listen to you play too."
"It can wait," I laughed. "There's no way I would play now after what I just heard."
We had a pleasant dinner in the tiny kitchen. Antonio was entertaining, and told funny stories about recent happenings at the center. After dinner I helped Aileen with the dishes and asked her about her life before she joined Scientology.
It turned out that Aileen was from Australia where she had been a schoolteacher before being introduced to Scientology by a friend. She had joined the Sea Org immediately, "almost the way you have," she said, as she looked at me fondly. She spent several years with "Ron" on the ship, serving as one of his closest assistants.
"What is he really like?" I asked her eagerly.
"Oh, he's just the most wonderful man you could imagine," she looked at me wistfully. "I hope you have a chance to meet him someday. He is very powerful. When you are near him, you can just feel the power he exudes. And he is so caring. He really cares about all of us. It was his idea to start Celebrity Center. He believes that artists are special, and that they should have their own center. A protected place where they can create in a safe space."
I was about to ask her another question when Antonio interrupted. "Time to be off," he announced.
Then we headed back through the park.
We reached Celebrity Center just as it was beginning to get dark. A crowd of people was thronging outside the center, slowly making their way inside. "CLEAR NIGHT," I read the sign on the door. "ONLY CLEARS AND ABOVE CAN ENTER."
I looked at Antonio questioningly. "You're with us," he assured me. "No one will ask any questions. Just act as if you belong."
Aileen had already disappeared into the crowd. Antonio maneuvered over to the far wall where there was more space. There was a ledge against the wall. I quickly climbed up. I would have a good view of the stage.
The curtain behind the classroom had been pulled back to reveal a wide stage and a large open area in which chairs had been set up. Most of the chairs were already filled. A large picture of Hubbard hung on the curtain behind the stage.
I looked around the room. Most of the people seemed to be young, in their twenties or thirties. Many of them were wearing unconventional clothing, colorful and "artsy." There was a feeling of subdued excitement in the air. There was a murmur of voices as people made their way to their seats and exchanged greetings with friends.
The air was warm and close in the room. There was the humid sensation of too many bodies in the room. I wiped beads of perspiration from my forehead. Suddenly Aileen appeared on the stage. She was greeted with riotous applause. Her popularity was very evident. The clapping went on for a long time. Finally the noise died down.
"Welcome to Clear Night," Aileen greeted the audience. "We have some exciting surprises for you tonight which I know you will enjoy. I am so delighted to see you all and so happy that each one of you could be with us tonight. This is going to be a very special night.
"Now the first thing we are going to do tonight is to introduce our new Clears, everyone who has gone Clear since our last Clear night. And here to introduce them is our special guest, John McMaster!"
There were gasps in the audience. John McMaster was the revered saint of Scientology, the first Clear. His name was well known to everyone in Scientology.
As he entered, a slim figure in a white turtleneck sweater and dark suit, complimenting his clear complexion and pearly white hair, the audience stood of one accord to their feet and began a rhythmical applause. Shouts rose from the audience.
Again, it took minutes for the applause to die down.
John McMaster began to speak in a soft and gentle, yet compelling voice. Everyone strained to hear each word. He greeted everyone, then began to speak about the ship where Ron was, where he had just come from. "Ron sends all his love and his best postulates to all of you," he said. "He wants you to know that he is very proud of what you are all doing to expedite the spread of Scientology across the globe. As artists you each have a vital function in this work, and as artists you have many unique opportunities to share this wonderful knowledge with those in the world who are ready to receive it. And Ron wants you to know that he appreciates what each and every one of you is doing to make this world a better place for everyone, and a safe space in which all men, including artists, can be free to live and to create. And he wanted me to tell you that he loves you all."
As he paused, a cheer went up from the audience. Then there was more applause.
McMaster continued with stories about life aboard the ship, and with recent "wins" that Scientology was having all over the world. "It is only a matter of time until we will achieve a Clear planet, on which to create our New Civilization. Then the aims which Hubbard laid out at the beginning of this great journey will be achieved for all mankind. A world free of illness, insanity, and war. A brave New Civilization where man is free to achieve his dreams. A world which we can proudly pass on to our children, knowing that the nightmares of the past will be dreamt no more."
He paused again for applause.
"And now," he continued, "what you have all been waiting for. We have the list of all those who have become Clear in the past month. Aileen and I will read them off one by one, and they can come forward to receive their certificates. Here we go."
Aileen came up to the mike. "And the first Clear is," she paused for effect, "Michael Ryan."
A young man in the first row bounded up on the stage. Aileen handed him his certificate and hugged him. She handed him the microphone.
"Wow, you guys," he addressed the audience. "I'm telling you, you have all got to do this. This is the most far out experience you can imagine. I knew it would be good, but it's even more than I ever imagined. I am so keyed-out. I feel like I am sitting on top of this planet. And I know that nothing, nothing is going to get me at effect ever again." He turned to the picture of Hubbard.
"Thanks, Ron, for this incredible gift." He handed the mike back to Aileen and bounded back into the audience. The audience greeted him with cheers and more rhythmic applause.
John McMaster read off the name of the next new Clear, "Nancy Stephenson." A young girl walked gracefully up to him to receive her certificate. She took the mike from him and looked shyly at the audience.
"I have been in Scientology for almost a decade," she said softly in a European accent. "It has been my privilege to work with Ron at Saint Hill and also on the ship. I knew when I found Scientology that I had found my new family. And I have seen miracles through the tech like you all have. I can't really express how it feels to be Clear. I guess if you were to imagine the best that you ever felt in your life, then you would have to imagine something ten times that good and you would have an idea of Clear. Now that I'm Clear I just want to work to bring this miraculous tech to the rest of the planet."
Several more Clear completions made their way to the stage to get their certificates. The speeches became increasingly more fantastic. One man, who looked to be in his thirties, told of the experiences he was having with exteriorization.
"You won't believe this," he told the spellbound audience, "but after I put the body to bed at night, I let the body go to sleep, then I slip out and I can go anywhere on the planet I want to. Last night I dove through the waves in the Bahamas. I went over to London and amused myself for awhile. Then I took off into space and travelled to several planets far from earth. You won't believe it until you do this for yourself. All I can tell you is that the tech is there. Ron has laid it all out for us. All we have to do is walk the road he has given us. This really is the road to total freedom." He retired to the sound of wild applause.
There were more incredible stories. One man spoke of leaving his body at night and of preventing a murder in a nearby room. He was able to telepathically disarm the killer and frighten him from the scene. Another person told about moving the clouds and making changes in the weather over the city.
And yet another Clear reported that he was able to bring about a triple expansion in his business by using the power of his "postulates." At the end of the speeches Aileen came to the stage.
"And now," she turned to the large portrait of Hubbard on the curtain serving as a backdrop to the stage, "let's give honor to the man who has made this all possible, L. Ron Hubbard."
Instantly, everyone in the audience rose to their feet.
"Hip, hip, hooray!" they shouted, raising their right arms into the air on the last syllable.
"Hip, hip, hooray!" saluting the larger than lifesized picture of Ron.
"Hip, hip, hooray!" they shouted again, then broke into wild applause.
I looked back at Antonio. "Is this for real?" I asked him.
"Yes," he smiled, "it's for real."
Aileen was signalling for quiet.
"Now," she smiled serenely at the audience, "we are going to have some group processing. And after that, a special surprise. Antonio is going to entertain us with some special music."
The crowd was quieting down.
"Now, we're going to start with some havingness processing."
I turned around to Antonio, about to ask him a question, but he motioned for me to be silent.
"OK," Aileen began, "Spot a spot in the room." Silence.
Spot a spot? I wondered if I was missing something. Just spot a spot? How do you do that?
Everyone in the audience was silent. I guess, I thought, you just pick a place in the space in the room and concentrate on it. So I tried it. Nothing happened.
"Now," Aileen gave the next command, "spot another spot in the room." More silence.
"Now spot a spot on the floor." Heads looked down at the floor.
"Spot a spot on the front wall." More silence.
She continued to give commands. The audience was silent, obeying her commands.
"Now, without turning around, spot a spot on the back wall."
"Now, spot a spot in your body."
"Spot another spot in your body."
"Spot another spot in the room."
This went on for several minutes. There was no sound from the audience. Then Aileen changed the commands.
"Now we are going to take a tour of the universe," she announced. "Here are your commands."
"First, be near the Earth." As before, the audience silently followed her commands.
"OK, now be near the moon." Several seconds of silence.
"Be near the sun." Silence.
"Be near the moon." Silence.
"Now find a rock." Silence.
"Be inside of it." Silence.
"Be outside of it." The commands continued.
"Be in the center of the earth."
"Be near Mars."
"Be at the center of Mars."
"Be on the surface of Mars."
She gave similar commands with other planets.
"Now," she continued, in a voice that was having a hypnotic effect on the audience, "close your eyes and locate an upper corner of the room behind you." There was silence.
"Now locate the other upper corner behind you."
"All right, hold on to these two corners and don't think."
"Now find the third corner behind you."
"Now find the fourth back corner."
"Now hold on to all eight corners of the room. Sit back and don't think." There was a long period of silence. I was trying to follow the commands, concentrating mentally on the corners of the room. I wanted to ask someone some questions about what we were doing, but I knew this wasn't the time to ask.
"Now," Aileen's voice sounded brighter, "find someone near you and tell them something about themselves that you like."
There was noise in the room as everyone followed the command.
I looked at Antonio. "I really like your piano playing," I told him.
"And I like your enthusiasm," he smiled back at me.
"Now, find someone else in the room and tell them something that you like about them."
More noise as the audience complied.
"Stay here," Antonio commanded me. "I have to go up front." He disappeared into the crowd in the back of the room.
The air in the room was stifling, I thought. I'm glad I'm not claustrophobic. The humidity was intense and the temperature was rising from the closeness of so many bodies packed into the room.
Aileen ended the group processing and called Antonio up onto the stage. He was greeted with enthusiastic applause.
He sat down at the piano. He played a few Scarlatti pieces, obviously I thought, a specialty of his. Then he played some Chopin pieces, some preludes and a Mazurka.
Then he stopped, and waited for silence from the audience.
He turned to the audience. "Space music," he announced with a smile. He looked back at me and winked.
Then he started to improvise. I just sat back and enjoyed the music. It was music that was unlike any I had ever heard before. It was pure sound. It was easy to let my mind wander and visualize scenes in distant space, mysterious planets, the milky hazy of galaxies, shooting stars hurtling through space. I listened admiringly to the impressionistic sounds he was getting from the piano, wondering how he was able to create such effects. Far too soon, the music was over.
The audience jumped to their feet, calling Antonio back for several curtain calls.
Aileen came back out on stage with Antonio and once more she turned to the picture of Ron on the back wall. The audience was once more clapping rhythmically.
"Hip, hip, hooray!" they shouted once more with wild applause.
"Hip, hip, hooray!"
"Hip, hip, hooray!"
The clapping went on for a long, long time. I glanced down at my watch. It was nearly midnight.
Antonio reappeared at my side.
"Well," he teased me, "how did you like it?"
"Oh, Antonio, this was really great. I loved your playing. Especially the space music. I wanted to listen to you all night."
People were beginning to filter out the narrow doorway.
I said goodbye to Antonio and walked back to the house.
Whatever the priorities had been in my life just hours ago, they were now replaced with a single driving ambition against which all other goals dwarfed in importance.
I looked up at the stars in the bright western sky.
Only one thing was important now.
I wanted to be a Clear!