The two hour drive to Philly was torture. 6:30 was not my preferred time to hop in a car and travel and on top of that, since personally, I wasn’t familiar with the drive, I was on the edge of my seat due to intense traffic. Thankfully, we arrived on time, and safely. Sustained by a Sheetz breakfast of egg, bagel, tater tots and coffee, Dave and I entered the city and the building in which the forum was held with tired smiles and nervous eyes. The windowless room was located on the third floor of a school building. In it, approximately 120 people would spend three entire days dedicated to making a major breakthrough in their lives.
9:30 sharp. “Good morning everyone!” The forum leader Denise bellowed from the front, practically bouncing with her words. Too much pep for me. Dave and I arrived literally right on time, so the room was just about full and we were split up when we took our seats. We sat on the left side of the room, Dave one row in front of me. Of course, I was a little uncomfortable sitting next to two strangers on the first day, but we were soon into meeting and then sharing with our neighbors so it wasn’t long before I was comfortable. Breaks were every three hours, and I couldn’t wait to get back with Dave and talk to him, not to mention eat and drink something. Before that though, there was a long and drawn out general intro discussing all the basics, ground rules, etc. After that, we kind of got right into what Landmark was all about. There were two large posters hung on both sides of the room. One was what you were supposed to walk away with from the forum, and the other was their own distinctions that we were to follow all throughout the weekend. They proved to be helpful, as the statements/commitments were reiterated many times all weekend. Basically, they were saying that we would be able to live our own transformed lives and be able to touch, move and inspire others with what we have done. We were to do this by sharing and “enrolling” others in the possibilities that we created for ourselves. At first, I wasn’t sure how all of this was going to go down. I mean, I had a syllabus that I had looked over for day one, but once there, that didn’t seem to matter. Topics flowed quickly, and there was transformation right away.
Since the gathering was a forum, the majority of time spent there was with people sharing their story and getting coached by the forum leader. One person after another with various topics went up, shared, cried and then was able to overcome what they were blocked by. One of the very first concepts that we went over was that with pretty much every event in our lives we create “stories” about what really happened. When someone went up in front of the room in front of the mic to speak, Denise drew two large circles on the chalk board. One represented “what happened”, the other, “Stories”. She went on to explain that these were two separate things that when collapsed into each other create a “vicious circle.”
A little confusion crept in immediately as she brought up this diagram. I couldn’t truly believe that everything that happened in life was “made up”. That wasn’t true though. Through seemingly endless examples of people sharing, I finally got that the diagram meant that we, as humans, actually DO make up stories, rather interpretations, of what happens to us. Words may be said to us, or something may actually happen, but it’s US who attach a meaning to it. Therefore forever branding that incident with a negative connotation. If we are able to let go of the meaning that we assigned to our incidences, then we are free to create in a new and empty space.
Sounds tough to grasp, I know. Believe me, this stuff makes much more sense when you’re actually sitting in that chair for over twelve hours. I certainly can’t explain everything that happened, but I’ll hit on the points that impacted me and helped me have breakthroughs.
Dinnertime was a breakthrough for me. I need a freaking break!! So, Dave and I met up with three others and we went to a local place right around the corner called Jones’. There, we got to know the others, hear their stories, and then share our own and what we were getting from the forum. That part was actually kind of fun! And at the same time still exhausting because at that point all I wanted to do was turn my brain off! Cooler yet though, was then watching our new friends have their own transformations over the weekend. By the end, we were all hugging and crying together.
After dinner, there were only three hours left. But wait! That’s not all! As if that whole day of learning and mind-bending wasn’t enough, there were homework assignments that the leader wanted us to complete for the following day. There were about three of them, and I felt they were impossible. Only because by the time Dave and I left, found our hotel, parked and got in, it was almost midnight. We had to rise and shine nice and early the following day to do it all again. So, I think that first night, I didn’t complete any of the assignments. Dave may have, but I didn’t care. The following day though, Denise asked who did them, and who didn’t. Not to make anyone wrong or right, she just wanted to know and then to lecture us about integrity.
Sleeping never felt so good that night. I know I needed it because the very next day, Saturday, was when I was going to have the biggest breakthrough that I had gone to accomplish.