I’ve spent my life learning how to communicate better and to rally people, places and things toward common goals and objectives. I’ve had that experience in aerospace, construction, education, events, music, theater and even in ufology. Throughout them all, the basic principles of critical thinking, pattern recognition and sense-making have led groups and teams toward peak performance.
in 2019, 61 years and six months after being given up for adoption at birth, I met my birth mother through Ancestry.com and my half-sister’s attempt to find me. I was the last item on ‘Mom’s’ bucket list accompanied with so many years of internal strife and regrets. Our meeting was spectacular, though, and probably in the 3rd Standard Deviation range of the overall experiences of adoptees meeting their birth parents. In the process, oddly enough, I found out I’d actually met my birth father in the late 80s as well. I got to know him as a man, not an absent father. I liked him, too.
Now I was informed of my adoption by very loving parents a few months after my fourth birthday, just after they brought my adopted sister home. Their love for me edified through their explanation, I already knew of its depth. It left me with serious and yet simple questions as a young boy. “Who are my ‘real’ parents and why did they really give me up?” was one of the first.
For some reason I went deeper, “Do I have a father and mother in heaven, too, and can I talk to them?” Now that might seem very naïve and innocent, yet the answer that came was life-changing. My quest, a prayer even, was to find out. A few months later, the first event of a lifetime of engagement occurred.
My Introduction to Other Worlds
One evening after dark I was standing on the landing of our stairway looking out the small window over our front porch. My elbows were on the window sill with my hands clasped and my chin resting on them, waiting for Dad to come home from the store. Out of nowhere I hear, “Hey You!” in this booming deep voice that reverberated in my head, yet for some reason didn’t ‘spook’ me at all.
I spun around and immediately asked Mom, who was sitting near the base of the stairs on our couch watching TV, if she heard the voice. She didn’t, kind of sluffed it off as a potential ‘peeping tom’ and returned to her program. I KNEW different. That voice touched the very core of my being, even at that age I recognized it.
Over the years I developed a relationship with that voice, never asking his name, as it felt too close to even need a name. It was just ‘there’ as a wise advisor, inquisitor and reflector. I’ve often been curious of this same operational component in others and found it’s there, just not given the credence it deserves. It seems the intellect and outer world reality too often becomes a distraction and the intention of ‘living in spirit,’ so to speak, is thwarted by the subtle and sometimes exacerbated fears of the individual regarding the outer life and the perception of safety in it.
I was fearless in my curiosity as a youth, asking questions that often didn’t have answers yet. I’ve maintained that attitude as an adult, with some challenges one might expect with a boat rocker. Growing up in a small town with amazingly astute parents gave me opportunities I might not have had otherwise. They empowered and encouraged my curiosity and engagement. I was a stellar athlete, student and social butterfly who also got into more than his fair share of shenanigans.
I was a Master Councilor in DeMolay at 15 and co-captain of our varsity football team, a defensive safety with a 4.3 40-yard dash time. I was also medalist on our gold team my senior year. I was a lifeguard for three summers and enjoyed performing high dives with twists and somersaults during breaks. I performed a trampoline feat for a half-time circus act during a basketball game, too.
Entering a Pre-Med program at Ball State University, I’d tested out of 5 quarters of general education credits through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to be yet, though I admired our town doctor, my uncle Fred. His humor, wit and skill with people was an inspiration and path I wanted to explore. I wasn’t prepared for what was to come.
Rite of Passage – Coming of Age
I had a profound event happen at the beginning of my second quarter in college, at 18, living in the honors dorm; what many would call a near-death experience. It didn’t come from any trauma, other than my emotional state of feeling empty and alone. I returned to school after break and knelt in prayer, asking to know what truth was and I was willing to die for it if necessary. Be careful what you ask for indeed. On 11/22/75 I got my answer during a mid-afternoon meditation to music between classes and ‘home work.’ “Bruce, are you willing to die for what you believe in?” came the question from that voice I’d known for over a decade now. What happened over the next few minutes gave my life direction; mission and purpose. I was told of trials and tribulations to come that would last a lifetime.
Of course I shared my experience with my parents as soon as I was able, who had me see a psychiatrist (which I found out later my half-sister had been to as well) that listened intently and offered a reflection I certainly didn’t expect, yet hoped for to a degree. After several visits he shared that I’d had the classic signs of going through a spiritual awakening, though my age was extremely uncommon for it. He stated that most folks don’t go through it until their mid-40s, if they ever do. He was quite rare and unique as well, including a tarot card reading, and offering that his best advice was to keep quiet; that no one would understand the wisdom I carried. Admittedly, I’m predisposed to talk a lot, regardless.
During the second quarter of my second year I made some foolish choices, buying not one but two sets of drums and put them in my dorm room. I played incessantly and I’m sure irritated a lot of other students. I did get quite good though, at playing along with albums of my favorite bands like Chicago, Journey, Moody Blues, REO Speedwagon, Rush, Starcastle and Yes. Only thing was I had to move out during Christmas break because I’d spend my room and board money on them.
I found a house in the country several miles away, rent free but no heat or running water as pipes were frozen and fuel-oil tank was dry. A week after moving in my car was totaled in wreck trying to avoid an oncoming car in my lane on the way to school. A perfect set-up, I hitch-hiked to school on the following Monday, in -77 wind chill factor. I made it to school, went to class and with no way to get back to the house I got beat up at a frat house early the following morning.
Finding myself in the psyche ward a few hours later, and subsequently on 2,000 mg of Thorazine, I felt like I was so alone and lost in a maze of misunderstanding. I had nearly the same discussion with the Doc as I had with my previous psychiatrist and got labeled a manic-depressive paranoid schizophrenic. That was a shock as I knew I was none of those. People just weren’t listening to me well.
Oh, and I wasn’t a lump in the corner, either. I was playing a lot of ping-pong and beating the male nurses quite handily. They couldn’t figure me out as that amount of Thorazine, had it been effective for my ‘treatment,’ would have indeed made me a lump in the corner. I did, however, pay close attention to the variety of patients and personalities of both patients and staff. It wasn’t as bad as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, though it certainly hedged the edge at times.
We all have rites of passage in life, whether they are formal or informal as a process in our growth curve toward maturity and wisdom. I tended to trust people at their word and was chastised by my father often. I remember one incident clearly, “Goddammit, Bruce, do you have to trust everyone?” My response, even then, “Yes, otherwise they cannot prove themselves to be worthy of it.” We often want to believe and override our gut instincts. I did. Then I learned to trust my gut, which often felt like a similar sensation to the ‘voice’ when I was engaged with it. I later wrote a piece on discernment.
Further Trials and Tribulations
After finally ‘admitting’ to the story the Doc had wanted to hear, I had a miracle sure and reduction of medication with a release another three weeks later. I was scared to talk to anyone about my inner experiences then. When asked questions about why I was ‘in’ and my normal authentic and transparent response became present, I literally shook so bad on the inside that my body actually trembled in fear of rejection.
I was like that for about a year or so, until I married a girl who had sought to rekindle a relationship just before going to college. A couple of years later we had a one-year old daughter, pregnant with a second, and moved to Phoenix after three jobs fell through in the same number of days. The move came after throwing my hands up to the son the morning after the third drop, with an, ‘”Okay, I’m listening. Where do you want me to go?” …. “Phoenix,” the voice replied. Three weeks later we were there.
Nearly ten years later we had four children and I went through the throes of a divorce. My wife didn’t work, in order to raise our children, so I’d been working 55 to 70 hours a week as a production control coordinator for an aerospace company, was going to school two nights a week to finish a BSBA degree, and was an Elder in our church with attending duties I performed religiously. I was preparing our future.
Unfortunately it didn’t bode well for my marriage and instead of being involved with the wholesome environment of church activities with our children, my wife chose to have affairs instead, four of them, and counseling after each just didn’t work. I finally had to come to terms with letting go. There was literally nothing more I could do. I found out after our divorce that she’d told our Bishop that I was having affairs, so his attitude was that I needed to be excommunicated, even though I’d been faithful up until our divorce was final.
I’d already been demoted at work, the week our divorce was final (11/22/88), after being asked to find a consultant for interpersonal skills training as a result of my previous stellar performance and management’s inquiry as to how I was able to perform so well. I was top of the performance chart in a department of 35 people at the time. With church, school and work I thought we are on our way to the kind of life I knew I could provide, much like my father had for our family. Man, was I wrong. It seemed like everything I did in the best interests of moving forward with the consideration of others at the core of my efforts and intentions; it just wasn’t to be. I fell hard and again it took a year or so to even begin to feel whole again.
Meanwhile – A Backup Plan
Never one to play the victim, I’d started Be The Dream in January of 1988, registering the name with the State of Arizona, as a means to contribute on a larger scale with the development and implementation of combining business and spiritual best practices in the workplace. I had big dreams for it as the need was so obvious, especially in the command and control corporate environment that was nearly ubiquitously back stabbers and ladder climbers with self-interests that were often contrary to the company’s goals.
After my expulsion the following year, a few weeks after my ex moved back to Indiana with our children (and began her poisoning process), I vowed to return to the corporate world someday with practical and pragmatic process and procedures for empowering peak performance. I hadn’t considered the ‘harmony of self, others and Nature’ yet. I had a year of menial jobs, far below my capability, yet they gave me time to recover and recuperate. I found a job with developmentally disabled adults that I loved, and got the opportunity to host a TV show simultaneously.
The opportunity for the show literally fell in my lap, although I was a member of the Christown Lions Club production crew for another show at the time. The last couple of years’ activity with metaphysical and new-age groups gave me a network of initial potential guests and we expanded into education, law, social programs and even politics. Bill Moyers and Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove were two interviewers I wanted to emulate, hoping some day I’d be worthy of an interview with one of them.
The show, called One World, was an exploration into what prompted folks to pursue their careers from both inner and outer perspectives, what fears they encountered and, more importantly, how they overcame them. Sharing how they reflected on the common human experience around them regarding such observations gave so many different and often insightful perspectives for our audience to engage in their own lives. It was like getting a Ph.D. in communication and practical wisdom for me.
We produced over 120 shows with 200 guests over 2 and a half years. It was public access, so ownership of tapes was an issue. A local TV station donated nearly a hundred used 3/4 inch tapes a few months into production. A commercial opportunity came up and I had to let the show go in order to move forward with it. Collecting the show tapes was a challenge, and only about 70 remained of which only a few were digitized and uploaded to YouTube.
Practical Paths of Perseverance and Persistence
I went back to school and earned an MBA, then Secondary Teaching certification and went on to teach high school for almost a decade. Near the end of my tenure I went back to school and earned a Master of Arts in Organizational Management, writing a business plan for a model school/village as my final project. After a few presentation, it was obvious it was way ahead of its time. I went another direction.
Simultaneously I had the opportunity to become a certified life coach and partnering facilitator. The former capitalized on my empathic ability, insightful questions and co-creation of structured action plans while the latter utilized my ability to facilitate people, places and things to work together better. These two professions developed into businesses that I’ve had for nearly 20 years.
That didn’t seem to be enough, though. I’d built my first computer our of government surplus spare parts in 1990 and my first website in 2000 which got over 25,000 visits by its second year. It had over a thousand pages of stories and resources on metaphysics, parapsychology, and ufology. I took it down after the fourth year as I didn’t like what I saw happening with conversations and people acting out aberrantly.
I spent a lot of my spare time crafting websites on a few different topics; all themed with ‘harmony among people and planet.’ That’s been refined to harmony with self, others and nature thanks to Dr. Robert Gilman. I eventually took the advise of a wise grandmother, Winifred Barton, and crafted a digital vitae of sorts to have an easy-access repository featuring the books, shows and websites I’ve written or developed over the last decades. Evidently that all needed to be in place for the next phase.
Wishes Do Come True
As if by magic, the last half-decade has been a cascading of causal and conscious choices culminating in a cosmic conspiracy that brought my love into my life. Twin-flame is an appropriate term. I’d given up, was comfortable with just being alone and self-centered with my activity after decades of attempting to serve others with no real partner in place. She came via St. Petersburg, Russia and perfectly fit the theme of my life, too.
We grew together wonderfully as we explored the depths of communication and relationship through resolving our cultural and language challenges. We were prepared to grow together, too, having a lifetime of experience each. I only dreamed of the possibility until we met in 2016 and married on the fall equinox of 2017 on one of the metaphysical hotspots of the world… the base of Bell Rock just outside Sedona, AZ.
Her encouragement and support ignited my soul and inspired me to expand my vision. In June of 2018, I received a voice mail message from one of the websites I built. It was Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, letting me know of an interview he’d just completed that he thought would be interesting to my audience and asked for a review and sharing. I recognized his voice before announcing his name and my heart’s pitter patter took a leap. Was it finally happening?
I watched the interview, wrote a review as a blog post and sent the links to his email, along with a .pdf of Stubbing My T.O.E. On Purpose. Three days later I received an email with a simple message, “Would you like to come talk about it.” Within a few days we scheduled a time, August 11 & 12, and we made our way to Albuquerque for the conversations. His choice of topics, “A New World Order,” “The Sociology of Ufology,” and “On Hearing Voices.”
My point in sharing all this is that we can transcend and transmute our life experiences from the devastating and tragic to the demonstrable determination of transformation and triumph. Each of us has events in our lives we can learn from, reflect on and glean an awareness of how deeply connected we are and how our reality reflects how our attitude really determines our altitude. I am blessed with such a life. I am further blessed with sharing it with my love. I am even further blessed with being able to share it with you, here, now.
And as the year is closing, what better reference can one have than this, from Robb Jarrett, host of The Uncommon Podcast:
I had the good fortune to host Zen Benefiel on my podcast recently and what a pleasant surprise it was. Zen is well versed in the art of living and is able to share and communicate experiences, thoughts, ideas and concepts at a level you would expect from a seasoned practitioner. One word that describes Zen is eclectic. If you are looking for someone to talk to or read, about the who, what, why, when, where and hows of life. I recommend you reach out to Zen Benefiel.