Monday, August 30, 2010


On this Monday, I posted the following on Facebook:

Jerry Gillies The start of a rare week, with absolutely nothing scheduled. Not a phone call, or deadline of any kind, or business or social meeting. A hermit-like existence sure to inspire new creative outbursts, but none are scheduled.

This got me to thinking about the value I place on creating unfilled periods of time and unfilled space in my life. When I was in Folsom State Prison, there was a one year period that I considered my best of my entire twelve years of incarceration (you can read my prison story in the Appendix of the free Moneylove Manifesto, which you can download at my other blog:
though I didn't include this particular episode.) I had bribed the housing clerk to keep my cell just for me, single cell status. It cost me $15 a month, but was more than worth it in terms of the extra privacy it gave me to write and think and meditate.

Now, I guess it goes without saying, that like most writers, I am basically a loner. I love people, and even lived in a commune from 1994-1996, and really enjoy being a part of workshops with dozens or hundreds of participants, whether I'm leading them or just one of the students. But I also love opportunities to enjoy my own company, and have even traveled cross country alone in a motorhome several times. (Well, maybe I was cheating, because I had my two cats with me.) I've also crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth II by myself, and have done extensive trips lasting months in Europe and South Africa. I'm fortunate, I think, to have a balance between liking the company of others and that of myself alone.

With so much rapid change occurring the the world at an ever-increasing pace, it's vital that we each give ourselves time and space for surprises, for those unexpected events or transitions from the way things were to the way they are going to be. Part of the current unemployment crisis is because many people so filled their lives with the work they were doing that they didn't have the time to realize the old parameters were changing. In my father's time, you worked diligently for a company and could expect to be rewarded with guaranteed job security and a generous pension. What a shock it must be to have that traditional expectation dashed to the ground in today's world. I've talked to many people who are doing well in today's economy. Most of them gave themselves time and space to explore new areas, new uses for their talents and skills, so they had an alternative when all hell broke loose.

How are you with empty time and space? The degree to which you can see these as golden opportunities may indicate whether you have room in your mind and your life for dramatic new events.

I remember a workshop my friend, Jack Canfield, did at a psychology convention some years ago. He borrowed an exercise from our mutual friend and pioneering psychologist Jack Gibb. After introducing himself to the sixty or so participants sitting around a hotel meeting room, he shut up and didn't say a word. Five minutes went by, then ten, then twenty. Grumbling among the participants started. We had all paid for the workshop, so there were some shouts demanding money back. One man stood up and said he was going to create something positive in the adjoining room, and anyone was welcome to join him. Many did. All through this experience, I was thinking to myself, "I would never have the nerve to do this in a workshop, especially one people had paid for." But Jack did, and he trusted that it would produce valuable insight, and lots of material we could all work on about two hours after the workshop began, when he began to conduct the organized part of his program.

How do you think you would have reacted in these circumstances? I once went on a thirty day Zen retreat. While in prison, one of the things that made it bearable was that it was easier than the retreat. As horrible as prison food is, it was tastier than the bland brown rice dishes the Buddhist monks served. And we had to be silent 23 hours a day, except for one hour during a class in which we could ask questions. There was no reading allowed, no phone or TV or radio. And it cost $3000! Oh, and the beds were straw mats, much less comfortable than prison bunks. Of course the big difference was that I could leave anytime I wanted, not so at Folsom. But it produced a powerful realization of the power of silence, and the rewards of inner experience. Doing that inner work is what saved my sanity in prison, and allowed me to go through the twelve years with a sense of optimism and positive creative energy.

Time now to go back to my week of empty time and space, sure to fill up with some more ideas and happy surprises.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


First of all, let me say this: There is nothing wrong with once-in-a-while wasting time, getting caught up in a completely nonsatisfying and noncreative and nonproductive waiting game.
We all do it, in business, in personal relationships, in living normal lives.

But we should also understand that there is no way to really come out ahead when you even temporarily postpone living in exchange for something you are waiting for down the road a bit. I reaffirmed this for myself in recent weeks as I discovered that I was playing my own waiting game. For one thing, I am waiting to hear from the powers that be whether I will be released one year early from my three year parole commitment--and thus free to get a passport and travel and generally get on with my life. If you a newcomer to my blog and life story, you can catch up by going to the very first posting on this blog, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS JERRY GILLIES? or by reading the Appendix in my free ebook, The Moneylove Manifesto, available at:
Then, I am waiting for two major mentions of my Moneylove Club audio subscription series in two very widely distributed newsletters. Both have been promised by the publishers, who say they are huge fans of my work, but obviously promoting my site is not one of their major priorities as this has been going on for several months now.

So how am I dealing with this? Well, for one thing, by realizing I was indeed playing a waiting game, and understanding that this is not a winning strategy for me or anyone else. Yes, all three of these events can profoundly improve my life--but giving up present time action and momentum isn't going to make them happen any faster. So instead of waiting, I am now doing, being, preparing, and affirming the results I want. I am planning some of the initial traveling I will do once I am off parole and able to get a passport. I am producing my audios as if I already have an audience of thousands, rather than the dozens of charter subscribers now enrolled. And I am exploring other ways to reaching a wider audience, writing articles, looking into affiliate arrangements, and putting myself out there more rather than waiting for others to do so.

Oh, there are still moments of frustration, even anger at being at effect of other people's decisions rather than at cause through my own efforts. But then I remind myself that other people are never responsible for our success or failure, unless we turn over that responsibility to them.
I learned a lot about waiting during 12 years in prison. Waiting a week to make the one 15 minute phone call we were allowed, waiting for mail, waiting for a quarterly package of food treats, waiting in line for a shower, and for meals. And I came out with a lot more patience, and also knowing that the waiting for anything doesn't have to be the primary event happening in that moment. It's what you are thinking and doing and feeling during those waiting times that decides your success. It's what makes you a human being rather than a lump just sitting on a shelf waiting for something to happen.
You can waste a whole life being that frog in the pond waiting for a Prince or Princess to come along and kiss you. In the meantime, you could instead be practicing kissing some cute frogs, taking a course on The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Kissing, taking vitamins to make your lips the softest, most desirable lips anyone could imagine, or think about whether life in a beautiful pond in the middle of a beautiful forest, isn't preferable to life in a cold castle with a partner who is a member of the notoriously inbred royal persuasion.
(I know, it's one of my silliest analogies ever--but I don't care!)

Sunday, August 8, 2010


So, as I realized I had no specific subject in mind for this edition of this blog, the words "random" and "rambling" popped into my head. Things popping into my head are what I usually describe as random or rambling thoughts--spontaneous. A sort of personal brainstorming done without judging or editing. It's a practice I highly recommend to anyone wanting to stir up their creative juices.

The dictionary describes "random" as occurring without definite aim, reason, purpose, or pattern.
Well, that certainly describes a lot of my creative process. I've often heard novelists talk about how they start with a character or two, set a beginning, and let the characters do the rest. And often the work I get most praised for is work done spontaneously, in the moment, just allowing stuff to pop into my head and then sharing it.

This is very similar, at least to me, to the term "rambling." The dictionary says rambling is:
"to wander around in a leisurely, aimless manner." So as I have these two terms pop up to describe how this entry is going to happen, I end up talking about these two terms. That is certainly leisurely and somewhat aimless, wouldn't you say?

Another definition for "rambling" is: to take a course with many turns or windings. And doesn't that sound like a definition of life itself?


When you go to an elegant restaurant, "free range chicken" is considered a superior version of the old cooked bird. I guess being free to roam over the range makes for a happier chicken. Of course, then there's the existential question of whether you would rather eat an animal slaughtered in the midst of its happiness or one whose slaughter put it out of its misery? I'll have to think about that, randomly and in a rambling way, of course.
But I do believe that having a free range mind, the willingness and ability to allow your mind to wander leisurely and aimlessly down all sorts of winding internal roads, will make you more able to come up with worthwhile creative thought.

Some people are not capable or comfortable with an improvisational mindstyle. They much prefer having everything they say and do scripted precisely. I guess it's like trying to compare apples and oranges. Then again, wouldn't it be better to compare two other more incompatible
items? After all, apples and oranges are quite similar--both sweet, tree grown fruits. Both vivid versions of the same primary color, and often found together in fruit bowls or on Carmen Miranda's hats (I know I date myself here). It would make much more sense to use two other items that really are rarely found together, like "frogs and screwdrivers," or "broccoli and pelicans," or even "apples and scooters."

Then again, we probably will continue to use "apples and oranges". Things don't have to make sense to make a point. Which, after all, is my point, arrived at in my random, rambling way.
And to view another side of this random thought machine known as Jerry Gillies, check out