I dont know exactly what to make of Tony Robbins.
But... I DID order his tapes in a moment of weakness late one night many years ago (Tony would say in a moment of "personal power"!).
At the time, Dani and I were renting a tiny house her parents owned.
It was a nice little house on Spruce street, with two big maple trees out front that turned a brilliant, glowing yellow in the fall. There were two neighborhood cats who came calling regularly at our front door; Tux and Popeye we called them. Tux was this large, black and white Sylvester sort of cat, and Popeye was a little brown cat with one eye. On muggy, summer evenings, there they would be, these two little heads popping up in the screen-door window, like Mutt & Jeff.
We didnt have any kids at the time, just the two of us, and our cat Pye (or The Gray Thing, as we called him mostly).
I was still standing by my claim to be a writer and illustrator - even though there was no tangible evidence to be convicted by.
So, of course, having no real job to have to be up for early the next morning, I could wile away the late-night hours watching infomercials and bemoaning the sorry state of my career.
Then Tony comes on around 2:00 one morning, parading all these successful people who had endorsed his program.
Well, hes got you.
The only reason you are watching his show is because you know you are a loser.
Youre not a loser! he says.
Youre right, Im not!
Then DO something about it. Have the courage to take that first step! Take control of your life! Order the tapes!
And so, of course, you have to prove you're NOT a loser, and a loser would just sit like a bump on the couch and do nothing. So I had to order the tapes.
There is just a touch of irony in shelling out $180 for a set of tapes when your main problem is you dont have any money.
A week or so later, the tapes came in the mail. 30 Days to Personal Power, or something like that (theyre somewhere down in the basement, covered in cobwebs and dust). I listened to them faithfully every day. Well, most of them anyway. I think I got to Day 25.
Now, here it is, some ten years later, and we have a bigger house, five kids, and an unruly dog. Ive had a bone marrow transplant - and still no discernible career!
My problem with Tony is reconciling what he says with what I believe.
The way I see it, I have no real personal power apart from God. If he were to forget me for a moment, I would vanish from existence. It seems to me that all I do, I can only do through Gods power, and only as he directs and allows. The power is in him, not me.
And its not good enough to talk just about some Higher Power. Jesus and the statue of a cat are not the same thing. To say that God is anything you make him to be, is pretty much to say he isnt anything at all.
There must be one, specific God, and any other notion of who he is has to be wrong.
So my goal ought to be, before anything else, to find out who that God is. It ought to be not to look for some personal power inside of me, but to seek to know the one true God and HIS will for me. Learn what HE wants me to do, and he will surely give me success.
He would hardly call me to do something, and then not give me the power to do it!
But then again...
There may be things in me - in the way I think and approach things - that get in the way of doing even what God wants me to do. And maybe some of the things Tony has discovered can help.
Or maybe it is the wrong path altogether.
I just dont know.
But he does have some interesting things to say. And I kind of like the guy.
So a week or so ago my sister and I are heading home after a trip into Chicago to see my doctor.
That pesky graft vs. host disease has flared up again, and they had to bump up my medications again. Rats. But there was talk of having my cataracts operated on sometime this spring (sort of a good news - bad news thing. Good news at the possibility of being able to see again, bad news at the prospect of having my eyeballs sliced into, something I have always tried to avoid).
I have discovered when it comes to impulse buying, my sister is as bad as I am! Maybe even worse, if thats possible (dont send us into Best Buy together!). So, of course, she has the latest series of Tonys tapes - well, they are on CD now - and she brought the first one with her.
We are driving into the sunset on I88 on a cold winter day, after a stop at Arbys, listening to Tony. We are getting all pumped up! Yes! We CAN take control of our lives! Yes! We CAN take action!
And then Tony gave us an assignment. We were to list three personal goals - and take action on them. Right now.
Well, we were sitting in the front seat of her pick-up truck in the middle of a busy tollway. There wasnt exactly a whole lot we could do.
But Tony gets mad at you if you dont follow through.
So, after a minute or two, I said, There! My goal was to be a failure - and I did nothing! I have successfully accomplished my assignment for today! (whew!)
But wait... if I successfully accomplished my goal... then I am NOT a failure... and I have failed at being a failure!!!!
...so, then I AM a failure.
But that was my goal, so I didn't fail...
And then my head exploded.
I hate it when that happens!