Show 'n Telling

The sixth month anniversary of the last time I was gainfully employed was just around the corner, the calendar had encroached into the pre-holiday season, and both me and my credit cards were approaching their limits. Y2K was all over the news, and while ultimately, very few computer failures were reported when the clocks finally did roll over into 2000, in the meantime, I was scared shitless about the near future. The Year 2000 problem was equally my own, and even though many experts argued that the coverage of the problem was nothing more than scaremongering, it was only the safe passing of the main event itself, that calmed people's nerves in the end. I had everything riding on that upcoming audition, which I began to train and groom for as if I were a boxer about to enter the ring of my own main event. Back at the mall, past the Zany Brainy, straight to the global cosmetic store, Sephora, where I spent a couple of hours familiarizing myself with the current market products in personal care, beauty, and all things perfume - women's and men’s. After close to eight years of doing creative for my marketing friends in the fragrance industry, I considered myself to be at an intermediate level of fluency in the language of smell. It was in marketing itself that I felt inadequate, and even though my fire walk experience had all but eliminated my fear of success, imposter syndrome was now flooding my psyche.

"Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center.” Joseph Campbell's wisdom, as such, had become a guiding light for me after first being captivated by his lectures in "The Power of Myth" series of interviews he did with Bill Moyers, that I first caught on PBS just after my Money & You experience. I had never even heard of him before, and upon hearing him speak on the topics of religion, ritual, and mythology, I knew this was a guy that would be able to not only understand and explain my awakening, but also validate it for me. My heart was broken, first when I learned that the series on PBS was a re-run being aired as yet another fundraiser for the network, offering their canvas tote bag and the entire six-VHS set for my hundred-dollar donation, and second when I discovered that Joseph Campbell had been dead since 1987.

With both Dr. Serrano and Joseph Campbell gone, I knew I was on my own to make sense of it all. The sense I chose to make was, for the first time in my life, to be comfortable in my own skin. Up to that point, I was the shy, quiet, classically introverted kid. Drawing, coloring, building meticulously detailed model cars, and imaginative play with my action figures and Hot Wheels, were all means of escapism so much as early childhood development. Gym, Math, Science, and Reading - anything other than Mad magazine or National Geographic - were of no interest to me, and subsequently harrowing subjects in school. There was no greater fear for me than having to do an oral book report, having not read enough of the book to know anything about it would have been bad enough, but I was dreadfully afraid of getting up in front of the class. The silent worrying and diarrhea for days before, the praying there would be a snow day, that the teacher would be absent, or that the school would burn down, anything for some reprieve. All I was asking was, please, please, don't call on me. Inevitably humiliated, I would walk home alone after school, curl up on the couch and suck my thumb while watching Batman and Gilligan's Island reruns until supper. It was all I could do to disappear into my own cocoon and wait for the metamorphosis to transpire.


  • Michael Katz

    Sounds familiar especially the book report. I am as slow and still am at reading and could never keep up the the pace of the class. Daily class prep was painful but survived thanks to the discovery of “Cliff Notes”😉

  • Stuart Kaffee

    I think we all had that fear of being called on to get up in front of the class. How low could we sink into our seats to avoid eye contact ?

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