"The Power Portal -The Structure and Design of Long-Lasting Success"
My Story - Chapter 1
The Moral of the Story . . .
One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the fine weather. The day was so nice that she became careless and a fox sneaked up behind her and caught her.
"I am going to eat you for lunch!” said the fox.
"Wait!" replied the rabbit; "You should at least wait a few days."
"Oh yeah? Why should I wait?"
"Well, I am just finishing my thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’."
"Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit."
"Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come into my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch."
"You really are crazy!" However, since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit. The fox never came out. A few days later the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to set upon her.
"Wait!" yelled the rabbit; "you can't eat me right now."
"And why might that be, my furry appetizer?"
"I am almost finished writing my thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves'."
The wolf laughed so hard it almost lost its grip on the rabbit. "Maybe I shouldn't eat you. You really are sick--in the head. You might have something contagious."
"Come and read it for yourself. You can eat me afterward if you disagree with my conclusions."
So the wolf went down into the rabbit's hole and never came out. The rabbit finished her thesis and was out celebrating in the local lettuce patch. Another rabbit came along and asked, "What's up? You seem very happy."
"Yup, I just finished my thesis."
"Congratulations. What's it about?"
"The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’."
"Are you sure? That doesn't sound right."
"Oh yes. Come and read it for yourself."
So together, they went down into the rabbit's hole. As they entered, the friend saw the typical graduate abode -- albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial work was in one corner. In addition, to the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left a pile of wolf bones. Moreover, in the middle was a large, well-fed lion.
The moral of the story:
The title of your thesis doesn't matter.
The subject doesn't matter.
The research doesn't matter.
All that matters is who your advisor is.
Hello, my name is Houston. I wasn’t always called Houston though. It is one of four names I was given at birth. In fact, although I have three names plus a last name of “Vetter” on my birth certificate somehow I guess that still wasn’t enough of a choice or flexibility.
For the first 17 to 18 years of my life I went by the nickname “Buddy," that does not appear on my birth certificate. I have the impression that the nickname came from my Grandmother, she being of Scotch, Irish, Dutch and Anglo heritage and my father being a full-blooded German named Adolf. I inherited that name as one of the three names besides Houston on my birth certificate without the name Buddy anywhere on that sheet of paper.
Anyway, I don’t know about you but in this world I started out as a child and I was born naked. They say I was born in a place called Petoskey, Michigan. I lived there three weeks. I remember it well.
So well in fact that as I was typing this into the word processor I had to go look in my file and find my birth certificate so I could spell Petoskey right. By the way, does your birth certificate have an expiration date on it?
From there, we moved (my mother, half-brother and I) to Shelbyville, Tennessee. Shelbyville has two distinctions. At that time it was the walking horse capitol of the world and where they make the #2 lead pencils that are needed for all those tests and forms.
Who makes the #1 lead pencils and how can they be number 1?
We moved in with my Grandparents on my mother’s side or else we would have been in a different country, my father being German and all.
The story I heard, because I don’t remember, was that my father, my dad whatever titles one wants to use, anyway my male parental unit was sitting at a card table and I crawled over and grabbed his pant leg. He picked me up and threw me across the room. I hit the wall and slid down. He got up, walked out of the house and never returned.
Anyway, we lived at my Grandparents until one day when I was about 3. I was at the babysitter’s playing in the sandbox. This reminds me of what Steven Wright the comedian once said as a child when we played in a quicksand box. I was an only child eventually.
My mother came to pick me up and told me we’re going for a ride. Like any excited 3 year old, I wanted to go. In addition, like any 3 year old I kept asking, “Are we there yet?”
Are we there yet?
Well, the next thing you know we drive into this area that looks like a college campus. You know lots of buildings and dorms. Being 3 years old and not knowing what a college campus looked like made it all strange and fascinating to me.
We went to the dining hall and they seated me at a square table with seven other little boys between the ages of 3 and 6, two per side. Afterwards, I walked with the boys to their dormitory. I don’t remember my mom telling me I was going to live here.
Me live here?
Yet this is interesting and fascinating because we go into this room we have to sit in three rows (there are about 12 of us) and we watch TV. The only challenge is that the show we get to watch is Perry Mason, which our houseparent enjoys.
I don’t know about you but at 3 years old, I really wasn’t into Perry Mason. Where were the funny looking characters, the falls, the talking mouse and duck and of course Foghorn-Leghorn and the little chicken hawk, “I say, I say look at me boy when I’m talking to ya son!”
That night I slept in a new bed in a room with 12 other boys. This was my introduction and first experience with orphanage life.
The pattern became one of my mother visiting every Friday evening through Sunday noon. During the week, I would live the life of an orphan. It was regimented and structured. There were rules, lots of rules. It is also fun.
One Friday afternoon I was on the concrete porch waiting for my mom. I waited and waited and waited. After a while I started getting that feeling in my stomach of not getting what I wanted, that feeling of loss, that feeling of fear.
As it grew and compounded upon itself, feeling upon feeling, it moved into blame, shame, guilt and fear. The dreaded why question came up, why me? What have I done to deserve this? I began to feel hopeless and lost.
I began to cry.
I stood on that porch crying, bawling and feeling worthless until it was dark and I was made to go to bed. It is interesting that there was a part of me that stayed on that porch hope against hope that she would show up.
The next morning before they rang the big bell in the middle of the campus that signaled we had thirty minutes to go to the dining hall for breakfast. I was back on that little 3x4 concrete porch pacing, looking and waiting with hope.
After breakfast, which I did not eat, I was back on the porch feeling the hopelessness starting to creep back upon me. I don’t know how long it took, maybe 10 minutes, maybe 30 minutes or an hour. All I know is that by lunch I was bawling and completely hopeless again.
This continued all day Saturday and all day Sunday.
When Monday rolled around, my unconscious already knew that my mother was normally never there on Monday. I went into that mode of being the little boy living in this place with 175 other kids ranging from the age of 3 months to 18 years of age. They call it an orphanage.
The next Friday about the same time I was back out on that porch pacing, waiting and hoping! This weekend wasn’t as bad as the weekend before and by the next weekend I barely noticed she wasn’t there. In fact, I didn’t notice she did not come.
Later in life, one of the possible meanings I gave to this episode was that the orphanage administrators had asked my mother not to come. Maybe I wasn’t adjusting to orphanage life well enough.
Whether it was true or not wasn’t important. It was just a way that I used to cope, justify, honor my mother and take the responsibility for what was going on. This gave me more power and control over me.
What are you thinking and believing that gives
you more power and control over you?
After the porch escapade, my mother came and visited me about twice a year during those early years and I would get to go home (Grandma’s house) for about a week once a year. At those times, I would spend time with my mom, my brother, my Grandma and John-Daddy (my grandfather).
In later years my Grandma would tell me that she had raised my brother, who was ten years older than me, and had not wanted to raise another child. That’s how I happened to end up in the orphanage.
Almost every time I tell my story (and this is just the beginning) I usually throw in a few jokes and humor. My story, my entire story is about empowerment. I have very rarely told it as a tearjerker. On the few occasions, where I just really made people feel sad it was because they were talking about how bad their past had been.
My Grampa Vetter said we have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that you’re the only problem you have and the good news is...
You are the solution.
I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian orphanage. Although they didn’t realize it, and they didn’t intend it to be, it was fantastic. I grew up believing that we had it right and that if others just believed it the way we did, they would be all right, too. Except the words and actions just did not line up together.
They keep talking about knowing the truth and the truth setting you free. Except that the truth or what we were calling the truth, our interpretation of truth puts people in bondage.
Anyway, I grew up, went to college and seminary got two Piled Higher and Deepers (PhD's -Comparative Religion and Psychology) and became a pastor—which was blasphemy to the Christian group I was raised in. They had a problem with the word “pastor", not the job description of what one does, just the title.
One day someone asked me why I was a pastor, since what I did as a pastor, my job description was not in the book (Bible), so I searched it out. What I did was in the book, but no one person did it. So for me, I just became a believer again and started giving responsibility back to others.
Looking up the word RESPONSIBILITY was a fun endeavor.