NewDayNews Recovery Forum
est part 4: More of the 1st day
Date: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, at 9:12 p.m.
The training had started. We were learning that we were all assholes who’s lives didn’t work. It was also made obvious that we could leave the training, or even be thrown out of the training. Our Trainer, Lon, explained to us that he didn’t care:
Lon: What you people have to get is that I don’t care. I don’t care, and the rules don’t care. The rules are the rules. They don’t care. They are what is. Get it, assholes. I DON’T CARE. You could tell me that this training was the single most important thing that ever happened to you in your life, and I wouldn’t care. You could tell me that this training was the single biggest waste of time you ever experienced, and I wouldn’t care.
The reading of the rules continued for hours. People objected, and Lon would say, “I got it” and seem to ignore them. We learned that “I got it” in est meant that you just heard what someone had to say without adding any judgment or evaluation to it. The communication was received and the receiver simply heard it.
Suddenly Lon looked around the room.
Lon: Now which one of you assholes has the hidden watch?
One of the agreements we were told about ahead of time was not to bring watches into the training room. There were no clocks in the room, and none of the est people had them on.
I had a terrible secret burning in my pocket. When I parked my truck that morning, I waked a couple of blocks before I realized I still had my watch on. Rather than turn around and walk back, I just stuck it in my pocket.
Someone raised their hand. Lon walked over and held his out, and the person put the watch in his hand. Lon gave it to an assistant.
Lon: Good! Who else?
I thought, “Fuck him. I’m not giving him my watch”, and I didn’t. But it sat there heavy. It was one of those digital watches that had an alarm, and I hoped that it didn’t start beeping and give me up.
Lon told us that in order to get the training, we must choose it. Suddenly he told a woman in the front row to stand up. Lon made two fists like he was holding two invisible ice cream cones, one in each hand.
Lon: Chocolate or Vanilla? Which do you choose?
Lon: Why did you choose chocolate?
Woman: Because I like chocolate.
Lon: Wrong. Sit down. You people are assholes, because you don’t know how to choose. You get stuck in the pathetic bullshit stories, trading them for your lives.
Lon picked a man this time and told him to stand up.
Lon: Chocolate or vanilla? Which do you choose.
Lon: Why did you choose Vanilla?
Man: Because chocolate is the wrong answer?
Lon: WRONG! More fucking story. Sit down.
I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that this went on for hours. Over and over and over again. Of course, I wouldn’t know, because there were no clocks. But, it was terrible. Finally someone got it:
Lon: Chocolate or vanilla? Which do you chose.
Lon: Why did you choose Chocolate?
Lady: Because that is was my choice.
Lon: I got that!
There was applause in the room.
Lon: Who else wants to try?
A young man raised his hand, Lon told him to stand up.
Lon: Chocolate or vanilla. Which do you choose?
Lon: Why did you choose vanilla?
Man: Because vanilla is the right choice!
The trainees groaned. And so it started again, until everyone in the room got that we choose because we choose, and everything else is just a story about it.
During this era of est, what most people remembered about being in the training was the infrequent breaks. After a while you really did have to pee. You were thirsty. You were hungry. At the time I was a smoker, and I really wanted to pee and smoke in that order.
As Lon droned on about the nature of choice, I began to worry that the break wouldn’t be long enough to both pee and smoke, and I began to wonder which was more important.
Then I got something that actually changed my life forever.
I could choose not to smoke.
Now, I had smoked since I was about fourteen years old, and had maybe quit ten times. Once for two years, because my high school girlfriend couldn’t tolerate it. But, as soon as we broke up, I started to smoke again in college.
I began to contemplate a choice not to smoke simply to choose not smoking. I thought, “But it will be hard to do this very stressful training and not smoke”. Then I realized that this was the story about the choice not to smoke. I could make a choice not to smoke.
If I made a choice to smoke, that choice would eventually kill me. Did I choose to die?
Suddenly it began to dawn on me that something about the training had just worked.
Lon looked at Nami, who came up to the platform. Nami looked center. She looked left. She looked right. She stopped center. We were all on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what she might say.
Nami: WE WILL NOW TAKE A BREAK! THIS BREAK WILL LAST FIFTEEN MINUTES. IT IS NOW 2:16PM. BE BACK IN YOUR SEAT AT 2:31.
I finally got to pee, and for twenty-six years, I still haven’t chosen to smoke that cigarette.