22: All or Nothing
by Jesse Gold
Up until this year began, I really thought that people
were basically rotten inside.
Not through any fault of their own, but just because
that’s how life is. Indeed,
when I was growing up, had I heard the motto, “Life sucks and
then you die,” I would surely have adopted it as my own. My nanny had told me that other children say
their prayers before they sleep, asking Heaven to watch over
those they love. Unfortunately
I didn’t have anyone in particular to love, or to be loved by. Instead, I remember lying in bed each night,
making a tally of the day.
40% bad, 10% good and 50% blasé was typically the normal
barometric reading on an average day.
Days often swung widely into the bad range, but almost
never inched higher in the good column.
spending six months with Art, Maya, Junior and Mr. Positivity himself, well, I
really developed a different perception. I
began to see that life is largely what we make of it. Probably, objectively, it’s more like 5% good
and 5% bad with 90% of the moments that make up a day completely neutral. We can choose to make a lot of those neutral
moments good ones, if we try. Or at least
we can perceive them that way, if we want to. If we diligently try to purposely see them as
positive, we can often swing large clusters of neutral moments into the good corner.
Thanks to this change in perception, for most days that summer and early
fall I’d probably tally it as 70% in the good column.
This was a major achievement for me, especially considering that nothing
was going the way we planned it. Somehow
I convinced myself not to worry that “One Day In Peace” wasn’t the catch-phrase
that had caught on. Even though I knew
it was jeopardizing my future, which I couldn’t let on to anyone about.
Somehow I refused to be disappointed with the Peace Tour.
When we’d set off on the tour, I had envisioned stadiums full of cheering
crowds showering Art and I with love and admiration and appreciation -- all the
things I had longed to find all my life. Though we were fairly well received, we ended
up being never more than a side event. But
hearing even a few people singing along in the songs I’d made up, and just sharing
that journey with Art -- it really calmed that emptiness that had ached in me
for so long.
that things were going the way I wanted with Art, either. I mean, it was amazing to be part of a team
working for a noble and wonderful goal. But
we weren’t going anywhere. Art and I had
settled into a comfortable niche of camaraderie, and though a thousand opportunities
presented themselves to take our relationship to a whole new level, something
always held one or both of us back each and every time.
Was it that we were afraid we’d lose the partnership we’d seemed to have
forged if we allowed romance to enter the picture?
Was it our past baggage? Or was
it that we were both thinking of Samantha in New Jersey?
I’d really grown quite fond of Sam and Art’s kids, too.
Did they plot to arrange it so that I’d have to keep in close
email contact as we planned how to engage the local Kindness
Kids chapters and BetterWorld Clubs in each of the cities we
visited? But wasn’t it me that had set it up that way?
Either way the closer to them I grew, the less likely
it seemed that Art and I would ever be anything more than People
For Peace. But of course,
with my new world-view, I could only see that having a friend
like him was a valuable treasure.
My new-found positive perception was really put to the test one unseasonably
wet and chilly Thursday morning in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the beginning of September. Only two days before, we had all been floating
on a cloud. My barometer read a healthy 85% on the good side. That Tuesday had been the opening day of the
United Nations General Assembly. Every
year the delegates rise for a Moment of Silence for peace and the work that they
will be doing for the year.
years the UN begins its work in September without the world
paying attention at all. But this year there were hundreds of
simultaneous global celebrations taking place, and when the
UN Ambassadors rose in silence for peace this year, all of the
major networks -- both radio and television joined with them. It was a silence heard around the world. It was truly profound.
The next day the General Assembly unanimously adopted a Resolution declaring
January 1 as “The International Day for a Peaceful New Beginning.”
My barometer hovered uncertainly, then inched steadily lower. Art was stupefied. “But, we had the language all worked out,” he
stuttered on the phone with Junior. The
Ambassadors had formed a One Day In Peace Committee... they were going to call
it One Day In Peace...” We all tried to look on the bright side.
“It seems pretty unanimous that ‘One Day In Peace’ just isn’t going to
be,” Art sighed, “but it’s a great victory for a day of peace on January 1. Every day now it’s looking more and more hopeful.
That’s all that matters, Jess. Right?”
“Right,” I sighed.
was Wednesday. Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma
the barometer plummeted.
Wednesday night was miserably rainy and it kept me fitfully tossing and
turning in the cheap motel. My roommate,
Sandra, our troupe’s resident magician was certainly no help. Her snoring kicked in every time I started to
drift back to sleep. I was not looking
forward to the next day’s show. The crowds
would turn up, come rain or shine, and we’d have to stand out there in the rain
all day for our little spot at some inconvenient and undetermined time, as usual.
I tried to think warm, happy thoughts.
And then I heard the knocking on the motel door.
I jumped out of bed, and quickly pulled on my robe. Inching my way through the dark, I peeked out
the peep-hole. It was Junior.
“What are you doing here?” I stormed as I eased the door open.
“Shhh... come with me, Jesse, we’ve got to talk.”
“In the rain?!!!”
“We’ll go to that diner, across the street... looks like it’s open for
the earlybirds... Sorry, I didn’t call, or email ... it’s about, you know...”
“Hang on, let me put on my sweats,” I sighed and left the door slightly
ajar while I pulled on some clothes in the dark.
Sandra stopped snoring. “What is
it?” she snorted.
“Go back to sleep, I’ll be right back,” I whispered.
A second later, she was snoring again.
The coffee was awful, but I was drenched and it was hot, so I forced it
sure you don’t want anything to eat, Jesse?” the
Kid asked as he bit off a huge bite of his toast and dug into his eggs.
They didn’t look very appetizing.
“I’m not up yet,” I moaned.
“Okay, Junior. Tell me the bad news. I’m all out of money, right? We’ve gone through a hundred million dollars.”
He looked down, avoiding my eyes and played with his scrambled eggs. “Well, actually, yes. The money that was allotted in the probate to
complete the campaign is entirely gone.”
“Think positive,” I told myself. “May
peace prevail on earth,” I muttered. Merle
had told me that thinking those words would help to calm me down. I whispered it slower to myself and took a deep
breath. Amazingly I wasn’t too upset.
“Okay. What do we do now? Are we supposed to throw the towel in?”
Jimmy sighed. “Well, Jesse. We can still go on with our campaign -- see
it through to the end, if we... well, we can use the rest of your Uncle’s personal
assets for the campaign if you want. But
then you wouldn’t have anything to inherit if we succeeded in bringing One Day
In Peace. Except, of course, the 61% share
of stock in Global Missiles, which you aren’t ever allowed to sell.”
Global Missiles was the last thing I wanted at that point. It almost wouldn’t be so bad to fail just so
Global Missiles would go away. Slowly
it was starting to seem a little clearer about what to do. But I had some more sounding out to do.
“So, with all the different January 1 campaigns going
on, things are looking fairly hopeful for a day of peace on
earth. If you’re right
about it having to be called ‘One Day In Peace,’ I’d lose everything if we just let it run its
course. And even if we
used the remaining $100 million it probably wouldn’t be called
One Day In Peace even if there were a day of peace.
So I would have lost the money anyway.
But Global Missiles would disappear. That would be something.”
Junior was nodding as he followed along in my circular reasoning. Now, if we just throw in the towel, and hope
that everyone else will get the job done, I lose all the money anyway. Right?”
Jimmy nodded. “Yeah...
if we fail or you don’t complete the campaign we have to make
$1 available to each of the first one-hundred million people
that request it.”
almost had to laugh at my uncle’s sense of humor. “But then,
maybe we need that extra $100 million to make a day of peace
work out. We still have
so far to go -- it’s a big world! There’s still so much injustice,
discontent and outright wars going on, people still go hungry,
and there’s only three and a half months to go.”
“A day of peace is certainly not a sure thing, yet!” Junior agreed.
“With more funds thrown in we could help get some more teams of negotiators
into the war zones,” I suggested, as I mentally went over our wish-lists that
had been cast aside. “Maybe we can create some economic programs to provide incentives
for both sides to come to terms with each other. And we’ve been wanting to get
some more funding to the Global Mothers peace and sharing efforts to make sure
everyone has food on January 1, and to get programs in place to make sure people
can continue to meet their own food needs. And it would be great to get the Peace Arts
Center back up and running and... we’ve lost most of the Peace Centers around
the world ... most of them have gone to the Peace Day or Day One campaigns or
just disappeared because of lack of funding.”
My head was spinning but it seemed obvious that we had
to do it. “It’s all or nothing, or sort of nothing or
nothing, or everything or everything...” I rambled not exactly
sure what the tally sides were, but pretty sure we had to use
the money and push on with all we could, and keep hopeful.
“100 million seems like a lot of money, but I know it’s
a big world and the money goes out so fast.
Jimmy, will we be able to make a big enough splash and
make it through the rest of the year on it?”
Jimmy was smiling. He looked proud
of me. “Yes, Jesse.
It would be just enough to be able to make some nice One Day In Peace waves.”
“Well, what do we have to lose?” I laughed.
“We’ll just go for broke.” Suddenly
I felt hungry for breakfast after all.
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7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 |Ch
10 | Ch 11 |
Ch 12 | Ch
13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch
16 | Ch 17 |
Ch 18 | Ch
19 | Ch 20 | Ch 21 | Ch
22 | Ch 23 |
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25 | Ch 26 | Ch 27 | Ch
28 | Ch 29