I have been thinking that I have spent so much time and energy on a special group I formed which comes to its first anniversary on Tuesday, and that we should follow the school year as do The Gurdjeff Foundations and Societies – this allows people time to go on retreat also known as Work Periods, where between seventy and 120 people may gather on secluded property in order to live and Work together for whatever designated time there might be. I have gone on a number of these retreats.
The most significant thing that I can report about the very first work period was that after it was over and I had been driven back to the Toronto international Airport I experienced an incredible culture shock to a degree that I never thought possible. For the ten previous days I had been with my people, those who follow the teachings and ideas and practices of G I Gurdjieff, and as I was preparing to leave a phrase came into my head about what I had experienced there – that I had been in a place "Where the Truth Abides and Negativity Dies".
When I entered the terminal are immediately ran into human beings who were consistently suspicious, tightly guarded and verging on hostile as they jostled through the terminal. I saw this through new eyes that could barely stand to see what are thought of as ordinary people so defensive that each one was a stranger to anyone else, and the culture shock was such that I was for past tears and truly felt that odd sense that I had when I was yet a baby and looked up at adults and saw them mistreat each other and as I put it that – "how can it be that they are not nice to each other?" I really had no idea except that I was terrified and all my life I have been terrified of becoming like them. And what had happened? I arrived at the airport and was driven two hours to the property and a week later I was driven back to the airport having regained my sanity – that I did not know that I had lost. I held onto this state through several days and through the complaints of my wife (who was not in the work) that I seemed almost robotic – with no reactions to warp or twist my face. In a quality of voice that was calm but that my wife had learned to hate, because it meant that I was dropping out of the fight – and though she hated it also she needed me to be the grumpy Richard that she knew.
I understood better about the trance states that we live our lives continuously moving from one trance state to another depending upon whom we are with, and while I knew that I could hold against this pressure I recognized it as a selfishness, and so I put it away and returned to acting the role that had been written for me in my relationship as a husband and father – but as something akin to the shock of exhaling embryonic fluid and inhaling air which contains oxygen and which originally will sting the lungs until the newborn gets used to it, the pain subsides and the infant has become an air breathing creature. No matter what I tried I could not hold on while playing the role demanded of me, complete with outbursts of anger and foolish laziness. Things had… Things had returned to ordinary, but I now knew once again that ordinary was a diseased state.