It was even more thrilling when she was very bad. Getting Away with It can be addictive. I remember racing through the streets of Manzanillo, Mexico, in a cab, minutes ahead of an angry hotel owner whom Mom and Ken had stiffed. We owed him for a week in a luxury suite. We got on our plane, breathing hard, pulses racing, and as the wheels left the runway and we knew we’d escaped, it was like being high.
There was a price for all the love and fun. Sante demanded total loyalty in return. She never ceased her mantra of family, family, family. In her mind, everything she did was for the benefit of her children, and she never let me or Kenny forget it. In later years, as her legal troubles mounted, she’d invoke the higher good of family to summon me to her aid. “Those sons of bitches are trying to kill us,” she’d insist, and she expected me as a good son to do my duty and help her.
By that time I was trying to resist her pull, but it was difficult. Mom and I had too much in common. She’d passed on to me her temper, her love of luxury, and some of her quirky tastes. Every time a new science fiction flick hit the local theater, she and I had a date, and we shared a geeky obsession with Star Trek. I’d tape episodes of the original series and The Next Generation and take them to Mom’s house. We’d watch stacks of tapes at a sitting, driving everyone else from the room.
Mindfulness, the moment of clarity
Ultimately I pulled myself free of my mother by relying on one of her virtues. Her willpower had always enabled her to outlast her foes. I’d inherited that toughness. Everyone else would back down from a fight with her, but after my early teens I never did. In the end, I was able to resist her, no matter how much it hurt. Kenny, thirteen years my junior, didn’t inherit that strength. He’s now suffering the consequences.
As I drove back from Newport Beach on the night of July 7, I had another twelve hours before I’d learn how tragic the mixture of Mom’s love and Kenny’s weakness had turned out to be. I still hadn’t heard the name Irene Silverman. But I was thinking about my mother and brother all the same. Try as I might to focus on other subjects, as I followed the highway through the empty spaces to Vegas my mind kept spinning back to Sante Kimes. I miss Mom so much, I thought, and I’m always wrestling with whether or not I’m like her, yet I don’t really know who she is. I’ll never know. My mother is a woman without a verifiable past. All I have to go on are the creation myths of her own making, and even those are constantly subject to change.
f + h = p
(fear plus hate equals power)
—Advertising copy for Eugene Burdick, The Ninth Wave, 1956
Political campaigns had begun turning to advertising agencies, too, saying, in effect, “We don’t sell candidates, we buy voters.”
Shrewd observers greeted this development with alarm. In 1951, the fearless muckraker Carey McWilliams published an explosive three-part series in the Nation, a profile of a married couple, Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter, who ran a California company called Campaigns, Inc., the first political consulting firm in the history of the world.9 They’d opened shop in 1933, chiefly running political campaigns for Republican candidates.
For a long time, they’d taken only California clients. But beginning in 1949, they’d engaged in a national campaign, and they’d won: retained by the American Medical Association, they’d defeated a national health insurance plan proposed by the Democratic president, Harry S. Truman—the last, unfinished work of the New Deal. The AMA paid Campaigns, Inc., $3.5 million. (Pg.22)2
Founded in 1959, the Simulmatics Corporation established offices in New York, Washington, Cambridge, and, eventually, Saigon before it declared bankruptcy, in 1970. The company wore a cloak of intrigue. This was, in part, unintentional. “The mystery surrounding Simulmatics started with its name,” its president once explained to the company’s stockholders. “We were a contraction of two words—‘simulation’ and ‘automatic.’ ”5 Its founders hoped the name would become a watchword, a byword, like “cybernetics.” It did not. The obscurity of the word “simulmatics” is a measure of their failure. But its meaning is a measure of their ambition: to automate the simulation of human behavior. (Pg.12)2
It’s like a boomerang: you send your data out, it gets analyzed, and it comes back at you as targeted messaging to change your behavior.”17 (Pg.329)2
In twenty-first-century Silicon Valley, the meaninglessness of the past and the uselessness of history became articles of faith, gleefully performed arrogance. “The only thing that matters is the future,” said the Google and Uber self-driving car designer Anthony Levandowski in 2018. “I don’t even know why we study history. It’s entertaining, I guess—the dinosaurs and the Neanderthals and the Industrial Revolution and stuff like that. But what already happened doesn’t really matter. You don’t need to know history to build on what they made. In technology, all that matters is tomorrow.”19
This cockeyed idea isn’t an original idea; it’s a creaky, bankrupt Cold War idea, an exhausted and discredited idea. The invention of the future has a history, decades old, dilapidated. Simulmatics is its cautionary tale, a timeworn fable, a story of yesterday. Because tomorrow is not all that matters. Nor is technology, or the next president, or the best dog food. What matters is what remains, endures, and cures. (Pg.330)2
IFS recognizes that the cultivation of mindful self-leadership is the foundation for healing from trauma. Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care. All systems—families, organizations, or nations—can operate effectively only if they have clearly defined and competent leadership. The internal family is no different: All facets of our selves need to be attended to. The internal leader must wisely distribute the resources and supply a vision for the whole that takes all the parts into account. (Pg.283)3
Most great instigators of social change have intimate personal knowledge of trauma. Oprah Winfrey comes to mind, as do Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Wiesel. Read the life history of any visionary, and you will find insights and passions that came from having dealt with devastation. The same is true of societies. Many of our most profound advances grew out of experiencing trauma: the abolition of slavery from the Civil War, Social Security in response to the Great Depression, and the GI Bill, which produced our once vast and prosperous middle class, from World War II. Trauma is now our most urgent public health issue, and we have the knowledge necessary to respond effectively. The choice is ours to act on what we know.(Pg.356)3
The idea of sitting silently in meditation can be scary if you’ve never done it before. It is helpful to understand that the word meditation refers to anytime you are putting dedicated effort forth to be mindful. This may be in a sitting practice or while you are washing dishes. Remember that mindfulness is practiced not just on a meditation cushion; you can introduce mindfulness into any daily activity.
Mindfulness may be more completely understood as being present with clarity, wisdom, and kindness. (Loc.204)5
Staying present is an ongoing practice, explains Eckhart, which can be supported in ways that include following the breath, becoming aware of sensations in the body, and by cultivating “the Observer.”
THE DELUSION OF TIME It seems almost impossible to disidentify from the mind. We are all immersed in it. How do you teach a fish to fly?
Here is the key: End the delusion of time. Time and mind are inseparable. Remove time from the mind and it stops — unless you choose to use it. To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. This creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and an unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be. The compulsion arises because the past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. Both are illusions. (Pg. 48)4
WE&P: by EZorrilla.