Tales of a Golden Heart, Chapter 20: The Little Boy Who Ran

–It’s time to stop running. __Peddar Zaskq

Mom’s weekly letter arrived. In it, she stated, “I went out to feed the cats today and Tangerine came out of the other building meowing like a little kitten. I told him, That’s a pretty small meow for a tomcat, and he gave me one deep-throated MEROWR! Honest.”

Tangerine’s meow has nothing at all to do with this chapter; it was simply too good to pass up.

While running a group home for teenagers in Huron, South Dakota, in 1975, I met Marty. He came to us straight from jail, having found an interesting way to spice up a less than idyllic home life. At the age of thirteen, he had already stolen eleven vehicles in two states. The most recent had been a pickup truck he’d run into the ditch in the face of a county sheriff’s roadblock and several oversized revolvers aimed at his windshield.

In appearance, he resembled nothing more than a slim, youthful version of singer Paul Williams. Marty also had a temper. Once, to let him get some of that out before his emotions resulted in a fistfight he couldn’t win or a runaway from the group home, we encouraged him to pound as hard as he could on a battered sofa cushion. Since the cushion was not on a couch but in my hands as he bashed it, he got rid of a good deal of hostility while one houseparent acquired a pair of tired arms. The kid was quick.

We understood one another. He seemed to grasp the concept of reincarnation and the law of cause and effect as obvious and natural. He didn’t ignore the consequences of his actions as do many youngsters; he knew they would come, yet remained willing to pay the price. He also knew I related well to his efforts to run away from life. For years, I had moved on restlessly, town after town, job after job.

Less than a year before Marty came to the group home, an Eck Master had advised me on that very subject. It happened during a nap one afternoon in Rapid City, South Dakota. The dream state experience was vivid.

I found myself running from unseen pursuers. Unseen, but real. Loping across open countryside, I turned from time to time to scan my backtrail, wary of those that followed. As I crossed a rough wash and leveled out again on an easy-running section of prairie, a lone traveler clad all in blue angled to intercept me. I recognized him as Peddar Zaskq, known to the Earth world as Paul Twitchell, the first American to hold the Rod of Eck Power. He had relinquished that position and left the physical body in 1971.

Peddar closed within easy hailing distance and spoke five words: “It’s time to stop running.”

An important dream without a doubt, but how to implement its message? Sooner or later, all would surely become clear. In the meantime, Marty had arrived to serve as a model “runner.” He stayed around until we regular houseparents took a weekend off. Unimpressed with the substitutes, he ran. We took off, he took off. The other kids in the home found him and dragged him back by the time we returned.

Eventually, Marty knew he had to leave for another place, ours being a short term facility with a maximum ninety day stay. Since he wanted to remain with us–possibly the first adults he had ever trusted–he ran. With impeccable style. One winter afternoon, he dropped his clothes down the laundry chute, walked past both houseparents and his social worker as they huddled over cups of chamomile tea in kid-related conversation. From there, he simply proceeded to the washing machine area in the basement, picked up his “laundry,” and headed out the back door.

It was a class act, the “laundry” consisting of his winter coat and nothing else. Tracks showed crisp and clear in the snow where he’d cut through the back yard and over the fence, heading out through a section of residential neighborhood comprised of older private homes. This added up to a fifteen minute head start, enough to garner the teenager four full hours of freedom before a call came in from Earl.

Earl was a streetwise fifteen year old with no real home. He’d become a friend of sorts, despite being a negative influence on other youths that had once resulted in his being blacklisted from the group home grounds. Our relationship included a degree of mutual respect. His friend, Danny, a much less sophisticated seventeen year old, often walked the streets with him, but Earl remained always the leader, the canny survivor who continued to beat the Social Services system that had never been able to corral or contain him in any way.

By the time the phone rang, police had already been advised Marty was wanted for stealing yet another car.

“Fred?”

“Speaking.”

“This is Earl.”

“Yeah, Earl; what’s up?”

“I’m at the bowling alley. Marty is here–”

“He’s there with you?”

“Danny’s keeping him busy while I call you. He stole a car.”

“I heard that.”

“He wants me and Danny to get him gas money and a gun and take off with him.”

“He wants a gun?”

“Yeah. I don’t wanna do that, so I called you.”

“Good, Earl. Thanks. A lot. Can you and Danny keep stalling him for a few minutes?”

“Yeah. He thinks I’m in here calling to get him a gun.”

“Okay. I’ll be right there; sit on him if you have to.”

We hung up. I dialed the local police, told an officer how it was. We pulled up outside the bowling alley simultaneously and went in together. Marty just stared, unable to comprehend Earl’s betrayal. How could he? The master tough from the streets, turn him in to the establishment?

Under the circumstances, Marty’s departure for the treatment ranch north of Sioux Falls was moved up; a deputy drove him out of our lives that same afternoon.

Meanwhile, I began to wonder: What does it mean to stop running, and how is it done? Could it be as simple as the Marty-inspired poem that surfaced?

THE LITTLE BOY WHO RAN
Copyright 1975 by Fred Baker

Once upon a time in a far-off land.
There lived a little boy–a boy who ran.
He ran from the snakes by the slimy green marsh.
He ran from the school ’cause the teachers were harsh.
He ran from his home when his parents got rough,
And he ran from the world ’cause the world was tough.
He ran through the mountains, and he ran through the sea.
He ran past you, and he ran past me.
He ran by the moon, never seeing the sun.
He ran and he ran till his life was done.
Then he did it all over, again and again.
He ran never knowing where it was he had been,
Till one moment he tired.
Being actually still, there burst a great light and he saw his own tracks,
Crissing and crossing universes and back,
Wound in a maze that had covered no space,
He grew up and knew he had traveled…no place.

It’s not easy to stop running, Mary. I know. I tried. In Glendive, Montana, I finally made my stand…I thought. Driving eighteen wheelers for a major oil well servicing company (Halliburton), determined to stick with the job no matter what happened. Will power, however, is never enough by itself. The company soon faced a major slump in the oil industry and endured mass layoffs for the first time in its six-decade history. More quizzical than concerned, I scratched my head, shrugged my shoulders, and went on looking for answers.

If I couldn’t stop running by willing it, perhaps I simply wasn’t ready yet.

How could I know running was getting confused with growth and movement? The Eck and/or my own restless, boredom hating nature continued to shift me along from place to place, experience to experience. In the meantime….

1986, twelve years and fifteen changes of residence after the dream with Peddar. There exists in the insurance industry a designation called C.P.C.U., short for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. The C.P.C.U. is awarded to those candidates actively employed in insurance who have successfully completed its ten semesters of study and passed the ten national examinations, one for each part. Becoming a C.P.C.U. is equivalent to obtaining a PhD in property and casualty insurance, lacking only the doctoral thesis.

In and out of the industry several times, I had between 1970 and 1978 passed five exams and failed one–on Economics–through lack of study. Fooey on it. On that exam, I wrote in, I don’t believe in the stupid insurance business anyway. Needless to say, the people who scored the exams were not impressed with that answer in place of the usual two or three hours of intensive essay responses covering eight to ten pages.

Completing cycles of action had long been a bit of a problem. It took three times in and out of college to acquire a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, an achievement more or less forced upon me by several potential employers indicating their lack of interest in a quitter. It seemed a bit like the well known motivational statement: There are no losers, only people who quite before they win.

On the other hand, the warrior who never retreats is soon dead, so where is the middle ground?

C.P.C.U. aspirations did not die easily despite my flippant, frustrated response to the Economics exam. In 1985, edging back into the insurance industry in San Diego as a clerical worker at low pay, I met a remarkable boss. She soon decided I might be “a little different” but was not a total flake. In fact, Leslie’s sense of humor once resulted in her introducing me to a visiting agent as “a good underwriter and social deviant.” That constituted a compliment. To Leslie, if you ain’t a social deviant, you ain’t got no real class. She had proved the worth of her convictions by attaining her own C.P.C.U. designation and company executive status in an industry noted for its suppression of female talent.

Leslie, seeing my potential, insisted on my once again taking up C.P.C.U. studies as a way to establish my professionalism in the eyes of San Diego insurance people. More to stay in good with her than anything else–and because the Eck tapped me inwardly to confirm that it must be done–I signed up.

What a discouraging situation, thought the roving rebel part of me. The Eck, I figured, probably wouldn’t push me to get the C.P.C.U. designation just to abandon the field immediately thereafter. Was insurance, then, forever? Ew-w-w!! Still, one part of me felt it might be fun to succeed, to jump back into the race, to compete.

For a couple of months, C.P.C.U. Part Six received some honest attention. It dealt with the legal environment of insurance, and contract law had always been something I understood easily and even appreciated. Private life, however, eventually sabotaged even this modest effort. My lady and I had become involved in a hectic round of activity, personally and spiritually necessary but hard on study time. Worse, no group study classes seemed conveniently available in San Diego for Part Six. By April, self study had trailed off to nothing. By exam time in early June, not a book had been cracked in over two months.

Even so, I headed for San Diego State University’s testing center in high good humor, overflowing with relaxed optimism entirely inconsistent with the facts. Two separate incidents had convinced me I could win, odds or no odds. Just the day before, one of our Underwriting Managers had loaned me her study notes from an earlier year. Additionally, a dream some three weeks before that had shown the test to be an illusion of difficulty easily overcome. Now, whether or not this means physically passing the thing, who knows, but….

Joe owes Sam such-and-such a duty, but the situation changes in this-and-that manner. Does Joe still have any remaining responsibility to Sam under the circumstances?

“Of course. It’s obvious to me. That doesn’t alter Joe’s fiduciary to Sam in the least! Why, I can pass this test!”

That last comment is to my lady, who watches as I pace the floor, amazed at the simplicity of it all.

The most important feeling about this exam is that it has allowed me to leave work nearly half a day early, enjoying a bit of sunshine on the walkway over College Avenue, pausing to stare out over the traffic, singing a recently written song. The others passing behind me are subliminally noted, but with indifference; their existence is not important.

Several hours later, the test is behind me–and quite possibly passed…NOT! In the end, it seemed only important that some effort had been made, a balancing out of that earlier non-effort. Or perhaps I did pass it, barely, but ran into a roadblock with whoever scored the test when he (or she) saw my statement of nonbelief in the insurance industry from an earlier decade, and a score that might have squeaked by was thrown firmly under the bus.

Either way, Leslie lets me off the hook; I’m now free to get on with other things. Such as doing my utmost during the following week to be Negative Nancy and fall into a hate-the-company routine. Concerned, I press inwardly for a solution. It comes, again, in the dream state.

My department’s Vice President, John, is talking to his ex-wife while I wait in his car with his young son. They boy is hoping his parents will get back together; I am gently trying to disillusion him. John returns to the car and drives us to his home, a rather cluttered place full of belongings, yet empty because, save for his son, he lives here alone. It is late on a Sunday morning, and I am desperately tired and want only to get back to my own place for some rest. My tongue, for some reason, is swollen and lumpy, but not painful.

John indicates he will drive me home, but his woebegone, hangdog look gives him away.

“You don’t really want to be alone right now, do you?” I ask, and he acknowledges that he does not. “All right,” I tell him despite my fatigue, “I’ll stay.” He is obviously relieved.

In the office the next day, June 18, 1986, I tell John about the dream and my interpretation that I’m going to have to hang around for a while. He brightens at the news, at some level having been aware of my inner struggle and wondering whether he would have to replace one of his better underwriters during a trying expansion period. Perhaps the time has come at last to take my stand and succeed in a career sense in this place of employment where my bosses are not threatened by talk of Soul travel, dreams, past lives, and the Sound current? In how many places is such freedom of expression tolerated, let alone welcomed? Yet here John mentions his curiosity in matters esoteric, and his son has given him a book that offers a system of teaching oneself to see and read auras. Lou loans me a recent Carlos Castaneda volume, and the writings of Richard Bach are known to many throughout the department.

No, Peddar Zask didn’t suddenly manifest to congratulate me on finding the brakes for my running machine, although a dream soon after that decision did focus on someone who “…got a late start and still maintained a C average.” In actual fact, there would be many more moves, with a number likely still to come. The difference is, the moves no longer seem to wipe me out emotionally and financially (and perhaps spiritually as well at times) the way they did for so many years.

Understandably, then, thoughts return again and again to Marty, the little boy who ran. As this book is being published (first printing), he must be around thirty years of age. Still, it was the thirteen year old who taught me: Ain’t nothing wrong with running, long as you’re prepared to pay the price. Only later would I grow enough to realize that moving and running are not synonyms…it just takes a heap of experience to grasp the difference.

What else is there to say? Just this. Thanks, Peddar, for your advice. And Marty–well, when we both get this figured out, let’s meet up and swap tall tales.

We’re both bound to have some doozies.

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For our readers who may not recognize terms like Eck, Mahanta, or Eck Master, the definitions can be found in A Glossary of Eck Terms at Eckankar.org.

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