Aside from proofreading (which I've been sharing a bit the last couple of entries), and one more research expedition, my book, "Mathew Franklin Whittier in his own words," appears to be completed. Nevermind my other claims, this claim is quite suspicious, given that I have been announcing this same fact for some years, now. Of course, one discovery leads to another, and you never know what will show up on Ebay. And I'm convinced my astral wife, Abby, brings things to my attention by mysterious means (essentially the same means used by loved ones, on the other side, to create "signs").
But it seemed a good time to organize my computer drives, including the ones I pulled from previous computers, or used as external drives with those computers (I used to edit on a Mac, but can't afford one, now). A couple of weeks ago, I organized and backed up everything related to my MFW project. I temporarily set aside all the other files, and ordered a separate external drive for them. Day before yesterday that drive came in the mail, and I organized the rest, which amounted to my own personal legacy going back quite some years.
So, I thought I might talk about that...
I don't feel that I have accomplished much in this lifetime, but Mathew Franklin Whittier felt the same way (I know, because I have a symbolic retrospective written shortly before his death--symbolic, because, it's simply an account of an excursion he took during his last illness, as a tourist--but like everything else he wrote, it's an allegory). The truth is that I don't seem to have accomplished much because I have had no social recognition for it. Same song, second verse.
And that may be best, I don't know. But anyway, here are some of the things I archived, in roughly chronological order:
The earliest, I suppose, would be my photography. In 1986, for the very first time, as a recently-divorced man in my 30's, I had just a little disposable income (however briefly), so I began taking jazz piano lessons from a fellow named Ted Howe. It so happens that one of the photographs I archived was of Ted, so I can show you what he looked like playing at a concert at Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, around this time. Very cool guy, but, I didn't have much aptitude. Just about this time I happened to buy an Instamatic at a garage sale, and found that I was a natural in photography. This is interesting, inasmuch as I am pretty sure I was a very accomplished organist in the 16th or early 17th century, whereas I don't know where experience in photography might have come in. I know that, as Mathew, I was very interested in it, but I don't have any evidence suggesting he took it up as a hobby. However, I'm pretty sure there has been another lifetime intervening between Mathew, and myself--a female reporter/photographer. I just haven't been able to identify her, yet.
I went very deeply into photography, converting my bedroom into a black-and-white darkroom, framing some of my best work, and joining a photography club, the "Alpine Camera Club." There, I had my work regularly critiqued in their contests, which was humbling but edifying. At some point you begin shooting to win contests, and to follow all the rules--so once you know the rules, you have to forget the contests, go back to your early, naive enthusiasm, and start breaking them--this time, intentionally. I didn't get all avant garde and break them for show, however. I just knew that I could break them for a particular effect, if necessary.
I really was in love with photography for some years; eventually, I would begin to feel that putting one's vision in a 4x3 box was limiting, somehow, and inferior to simply seeing. Meanwhile, I had borrowed a video camera from a friend, and realized that photography could have sight and sound. I had been struggling in what was supposed to have been a temporary career in typesetting--that entire field was being transformed (and essentially destroyed) by the Macintosh computer. So I decided to follow my heart and enter the field of video and television production.
My next-earliest set of files had to do with my erstwhile video production company, Gold Threat Video Productions. My original idea was to do demo tapes, which would double as little biographical documentaries, for artists, musicians, etc. I would only charge them a nominal, affordable fee. I did a few of these--one for a musician who played glass harp (glasses filled with water), and for a magician. I remember one gig at the zoo, at which he playfully asked a little girl, about three years old, if she was married. She got a very far-away, sad expression on her face, and after some seconds, replied, softly, "Yes." It seemed to me that she was remembering her past life, as all children do at that age, and called it to the magician's attention, but he laughed it off.
For some reason I decided to go commercial with Gold Thread Video, but getting feedback, I was talked into retaining the name. I had in mind to change it to Excellent Video Productions, which I think would have served me well. "Gold Thread Video"--named after an esoteric concept--was too new-agey sounding for commercial work, and not edgy enough. I struggled to bootstrap this business for some ten years, on credit cards, failed, and went into backruptcy. I did some work I was proud of, some of it for pay and some not. This one, which I did as a sample, I'm particularly proud of. This is another of the files I gathered up and archived, yesterday, showcasing the annual Celtic Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
On re-read, online, I just watched it again, to be sure it still plays properly. This is done on two levels, just as Mathew Franklin Whittier's work was done on two levels. It is carefully nuanced to act as a conduit for higher spiritual intuition. But only the viewer with the right "receiver" can experience it. Can you? I am sure that I had several Celtic lifetimes, and one of them as a priest. I may not have an Irish or Scottish name, but I know Celtic culture in my bones.
Another thing I archived was my digital journal, going back to the early 2000's. A great deal of it is taken up with healing from a series of nearly identical failed relationships. I used my journal to do "post-mortems" on my failures, including my business and these relationships. I'm debating with myself whether to report any of my conclusions, here. If I do, it will have to be a very brief encapsulation... As regards the business, I was trying to sell a high-ticket item without having the size and appearance which would inspire people to entrust me with that kind of money. If you want someone to spend $5,000 or more on your service, you had better look well-established. But I was trying to bootstrap. I could have charged less, but I honorably didn't want to undercut anyone else in the field (it's a small world). So I charged going prices while hoping to plow the profit back into the business. But I needed about three jobs per month just to stay afloat--and I was getting just barely enough work to maintain. I never could seem to get that extra job per month in the door, to raise myself up to that level of substantiality. Part of the problem was that I have a long-time commitment to being strictly honest--and while you can be in business and still be honest, you can't compete with dishonest people. It's the same as trying to win at any game when your opponent is cheating, or to prevail in a debate when your opponent is resorting to sophistry.
What do I mean by dishonesty in the video production business? I mean, for example, sucking a prospective client into signing a contract for a project, knowing that it will require more work than he thinks it will; or that it won't be successful for him, even though he thinks it will. I refused to do things like that--but some of my colleagues, would.
Another reason I failed is that video production, or at least, certain branches of it, simply isn't a viable business. The overhead is too great for what you can charge. But you can make a go of it by a few methods. One is the dishonest method of using interns for crew, or underpaying slightly desperate people; another is to have a second source of income, so it looks like you are supporting yourself with it, only, you aren't. A third is to have family money; and a fourth is to corner the market in a particular niche or ethnic group. I had none of these things going for me, except, maybe, the new-age consciousness group, which was typically too poor to afford such things (and was somewhat under-represented in Atlanta, relative to other parts of the country).
My participation in this field came to a crisis, when everything went high-definition. It was either retool, in a very expensive way, or drop out. That was when the recession hit, and I dropped out.
I then went into archiving, which permitted me to continue working with older formats; but I'm not there yet, I haven't talked about relationships.
I went through something like eight or ten short-lived disasters, culminating in one longer disaster, all of which were ludicrous but which left me devastated each time. I finally figured it out. I was subconsciously looking for Abby, my soul-mate from past lives. She, also, I think, was trying to warn me. I was latching on to this or that woman who reminded me of her, again, subconsciously, in some regard or other. I can see it now; and if I had comparison photographs, I could show you. It wasn't always physical; sometimes it was mental traits that triggered this sense of recognition. But I have learned how the subconscious mind works. The subconscious mind is sort of like a dog with a blind man. The dog sees, but doesn't understand; the man can't see, but understands, and relies upon the dog for sight. So the "dog" in this case sees a woman, and remembers what the original woman looked like (which the man doesn't), and starts barking, as it were. The man, relying on the dog, believes that the sought-for woman has been found. It's like that.
So, emotionally, I projected all my consciously-forgotten feelings about Abby, onto each woman. That's half of it. Now, as to how the pattern could repeat? Because it was a very strange pattern. Turns out I was trying to "buy" love, as it were, by rescuing. It's fundamentally dishonest, and foolish besides, because the person you "rescue" is going to resent you for it, not reward you with appreciation, no less love. Furthermore, I was poor, but I was trying to keep a brave face regarding my business, as I attempted to bootstrap it. So more than one of these women probably thought I was an actual business owner, or a soon-to-be business owner. I presented myself that way because I believed it. You have to believe it if you are to be an entrepreneur. But most such ventures fail.
So, statistically, who is going to get involved with a poor, eccentric, spiritual-type rescuer? Only two types--the one I was looking for, or, someone with a damaged conscience who is willing--where others are not willing--to play the role for her own selfish reasons. Some of those reasons are unconscious, and have to do with revenge for prior abuse. Some of those reasons might be simply practical, because they had never been without a boyfriend of some kind, and weren't about to start, now. Whatever the reason, no healthy, worldly woman will go for a poor, unsuccessful man. Only a truly spiritual woman would do so (i.e., if he merited admiration, spiritually)--or someone with selfish motives who is willing to play along, i.e., a female player. All the women between these two extremes, will pass.
Since my true soul-mate was in the astral realm, not having incarnated since her death in 1841, that leaves all the others, whom I attracted like a magnet. Of course, I selected out all the "players" who took on a worldly persona, in favor of those who had adopted a "spiritual" persona. All, that is, except for the last one, because I decided to just find a normal, healthy, worldly woman. I simply ended up with a player who had adopted the persona of a normal, healthy, worldly woman--for the reason, again, that no actual such woman will go for a poor, unsuccessful man, in the "economy" of worldly love.
Very often it is the obvious thing you miss that kills you. Just remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
In all this, keep in mind that I was poor and unsuccessful (i.e., by worldly standards) not because I, myself, was actually substandard in any way. It was because I am on the top end of the bell curve, not on the bottom--ahead of my time, in other words--and as a result, I don't fit in. (The proof of that is the quality of the Celtic Festival video, linked above, which bears a spiritual stamp that my reader, him- or herself, may or may not be able to perceive.) On the practical level, however, this did mean that in present-day society, it is very likely that I would be a poor provider. For any practical woman, this would be a legitimate problem, even if it was society's fault, not mine. Only your soul-mate will gladly share such a fate with you--as Abby did with Mathew, when I was he in the 19th century.
Some years ago I had deleted a whole bunch of this journal-agonizing about failed relationships, but I left a few representative samples, and all that is now archived (though it is uncomfortable to read). I did use my journal to reflect on other things, so it isn't a complete waste.
The archiving I did was for the Meher Spiritual Center here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as well as for a related organization, Sheriar Foundation. I also worked for two other figures in the movement, prior to moving here. One was Don Stevens, a direct disciple of Meher Baba (who is featured in my documentary, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America"). I edited audio recordings of Don reading two of Meher Baba's works, including one that Don had published, with his commentary--the very first book I ever stumbled across about Meher Baba, "Listen, Humanity." So it was interesting that it came full circle, that way--the book that drew my eye in the Oak Feed Store in Coconut Grove as a young man, was the same book I audio-edited many years later, read by the author.
I also did video production and archiving for one Stephen Edelman, who was a cross between a king and a boy. I can't explain him--he seemed to be a worldly fellow, a businessman--and yet, the king in him recognized the King in Meher Baba. His admiration for Meher Baba was deeply sincere. Otherwise, we were opposite types. He once remarked, of me, that I was the "hardest-working, most talented poor person he knew." He also commented that I was "stupid-honest." He may have been correct on both counts. When I say Steve had a kingly presence, one particular memory comes to mind. We went to a store in Atlanta which sells video and audio tape stock, as well as a few pieces of equipment. Steve wanted a router for the archiving work I was doing, to monitor different feeds. We found one for $125, and as we brought it up to the counter, Steve casually asked, "What's your best price on this?" It was as though he had hypnotized the poor fellow. I could have rehearsed that line a thousand times, and said it with just the right tone, and they would have laughed at me. But when Steve said it, the clerk took about eight dollars off the retail price.* He just had some inner authority that people felt. And yet, ironically, he wasn't the most mature person, either. I can't explain it.
The way I met Steve is an interesting example of synchronicity. I was freelancing out of a legal video office in Atlanta, and leased my own office next-door, when one day I noticed a new plaque on the door opposite mine in the hallway--"Meher Prasad." I knew of this organization, which put out videos related to Meher Baba, but I had no idea why it would be there. I left a little note stuck in the name-plate, and after a few days, Stephen's wife, Ann, contacted me. Steve was in India, but would call me when he returned. As it happened, he had recently moved to Atlanta, and had coincidentally taken that office, where he had stored editing equipment and a large number of videos having to do with Meher Baba and his followers. It took some time for Steve to get to know me well enough to trust me with his treasure (he said, "Not all followers are good people"), but eventually I began volunteering for him. My job was to back up the raw footage, which mostly consisted of interviews with Baba's "mandali," or direct followers. But when Steve and his editor had a falling out, he asked me to step up to the plate for the next commercial video. Steve was kind of like the king who acts as a patron for an artist--but still fancies himself an artist. Because he is paying, he feels he can make suggestions, as for example, "Don't you think an extra tree would look good in this corner?" And the artist has to comply--but there is tension. That was the reason the previous editor had left, and it was no different with me, but, we forged a working relationship, and completed at least two worthwhile video projects. The second one was the video which introduces newcomers to the Meher Spiritual Center, which can be seen there as of this writing. I can't share it, here, due to copyright restrictions. Too bad, because it's really my best work.
I have often wondered, which would I rather have done, the video that introduces visitors to the Smithsonian, which fifty people view in a darkened auditorium every half hour (just saying, I don't know if they have such a thing); or the video that introduces one or two people to the Meher Spiritual Center? Given that I take Meher Baba to have been the Avatar, I would unhesitatingly say, the second. So my legacy is not so shoddy--but here is where it gets eerily like Mathew Franklin Whittier's legacy. Steve was asking me what we should do about the credits. It came to me in a flash, "You know, I think it would be better not to have credits. Just let the closing scene be the lasting impression that the visitor has." And he immediately agreed. But that means that, even today, at the Center, people don't know that I created that video (because Steve gave me a very free hand with it). The ones "in the know" will tell you that it's my voice on there (because I narrated the draft, and the Center's director decided she liked it that way**); but they don't know I did the whole thing, more-or-less. Posterity will have no idea who created that video, unless they chance upon this blog, where I have mentioned it once or twice. And then, will they believe it?
I also archived material having to do with my documentary on reincarnation, "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America." Last I checked it had been seen, in its viral presentations, over half a million times on YouTube. But we don't know how many of those people watched the entire film; and I also don't know how much of the film remains intact in those versions. All of them cut my Gold Thread Video Productions logo, which is actually part of the film, setting the mood, and having its own symbolic meaning. One of them actually had the audacity to speed up the title, because the music was too slow for him, apparently. Another has some nine commercial breaks, according to a commenter. But people don't want to view the original. I've only had something like five or six thousand views on that.
Note this is a principle. People don't want the original, uncut, full-strength thing. They want it watered-down, pre-digested, popularized, plagiarized, etc. etc. This is why the manuscript that Mathew and Abby must have written is lost or buried somewhere, while the watered-down version that Charles Dickens published as "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas," became world-famous.
So, now, all of this is organized and at my fingertips on a brand-new WD Passport external hard drive. Who will ever care, I don't know. But it is interesting to go back through it.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*It could also have had something to do with the fact that Steve was buying a lot of tape stock from them for his archiving project--but see, such things don't even occur to me except as an afterthought.
**I have a natural ability to read aloud with feeling, i.e., not exaggerated or put-on feeling, but to infuse real meaning into what I'm reading. Studying Mathew's early life, I realize that he must have developed this skill as a story-teller, and in particular, when privately reading poetry and stories aloud, with Abby.
Music opening this page: "Brilliant Room"
by Eric Johnson, from the album, "Up Close"