As promised, today’s work delivers the rundown on my Scientology party and continuing shortcomings as a human being.
If you missed last week’s Where’s My Thank You? blog, please click and read so you can catch up. Please also consider your own shortcomings as a human being for missing a day of my work. How am I supposed to take over the world if nobody is paying attention?
As those of you who truly love me know, I was honored to host a cocktail party at my home a few weeks ago for writer Tony Ortega. Tony has been investigating and writing about the cult of Scientology for nearly 20 years (check out his blog at tonyortega.org).
Tony was in Portland on his book tour for The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper.
I strongly recommend this read: a riveting true story about a journalist who was harassed, hounded and nearly driven mad by the cult for the “crime” of writing a critical book about L. Ron Hubbard and the fake religion he spawned in 1954.
Our party hosted not only Tony Ortega but several local ex-Scientologists. These people were smart, friendly, open, and fun.
Archie really took to Mr. Ortega, as you can see.
(Readers who were at that party: I didn’t get any photos of the group, so please feel free to email any you may have to me and I’ll include them in this post)
The evening was a blast and I learned a great deal about how intelligent and lovely people can be drawn into a cult, but that’s not all I learned from the Scientology soiree.
I’m Still Broken
For all the work I’ve done and continue to do in my personal development, sometimes I am struck dumb by the realization that a problem I thought I’d long since fixed is not really completely resolved.
Like a broken pipe with duct tape wrapped around it, the hold only holds for so long. Sooner or later, you’ve got to replace that pipe.
But what happens when your “pipe” is an integral and unwelcome part of your personality? Swapping it out for a new one is much more difficult than calling a plumber and watching him work on fixing your problems while giggling at his butt crack and then realizing he makes twice as much money as you do.
What does this have to do with my party? I’m getting there. Be patient!
I’ve been a big Ortega fan for years; long before I began writing myself, or as Mr. Patience and Understanding calls it, “That thing you do that doesn’t make any money.”
Ortega is clever and a razor-sharp researcher and journalist. He has bravely taken on one of the most dangerous and litigious cults in history. I admire him a great deal and was thrilled when he accepted my invitation.
The question is, why?
Why did I put so much time, money, and effort into hosting a party for someone I’d never met, along with several ex-cult members I’d also never met?
Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason
I told myself (or should I say, “sold myself”) at the time my motivations were pure:
- My deep interest in the Scientology cult;
- My desire to show a weary traveler a good time (get your mind out of the gutter, sickos, that’s not what I meant); and
- My excitement at finally meeting people who had been in the cult, because for all my interest in Scientology I’d never actually met a practitioner. Real Scientolgists seemed to me as rare as unicorns, USC sorority members with intact hymens, and honest divorce lawyers.
It wasn’t until a few days after the party I was forced to come to terms with reality:
In no small part, I put together that event in hopes it would benefit me professionally.
While I knew in the back of my mind my desires for professional advancement and exposure were included in the list of reasons I organized this party, I deeply underestimated the primacy of those motivators.
How did I come to realize I was once again doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, as discussed in last week’s Where’s My Thank You?
I found myself hurt, annoyed, and angry that Tony did not mentioned the party in his blog.
Writing that sentence just now made my stomach hurt with shame and disappointment. Those three little adjectives – hurt, annoyed, and angry – betray a shallow, opportunistic, and needy side of me I despise and thought was in the past.
Ah, the lies we tell ourselves, no?
Still Broken. Still Learning. Still Trying. Still Here.
All is not lost.
A few years ago I’d still be smarting over the incident and planning my revenge with diagrams and maps and weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Ortega, no stranger to harassment given the subject of his writing, would soon find me to be a more formidable foe than any crazy cult.
Today, I can examine my reaction to what felt like a snub but was actually nothing of the sort. Tony owes me nothing and given his hectic travel schedule and demanding writing deadlines it’s a wonder he came at all.
I offered up my home and hospitality and any time I do that, especially for someone just passing through town, my reasons should be altruistic, not opportunistic. Otherwise a party is just a business transaction, not a celebration, and life needs more of the latter and less of the former.*
A very wise man lucky enough to have me as a daughter said this recently during our conversation about being disappointed by those you admire:
Maybe what’s true is that we’re all broken; that the heroes are the ones who find the core meaning of their lives in that place where the hurt is the greatest. That our meaning comes because of, not in spite of, our flaws.
I like it.
*Agents reading my blog, this does not apply to you. I look forward to many lucrative transactions with you in the near future. Judge Judy is getting a little long in the tooth…just saying!