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continued to relax, other ideas began to surface. I was amazed at how these ideas seemed to be related. I was
excited to have the opportunity to begin to piece the puzzle together. It was even more exciting to realize this
was my life I was piecing together, a real life experience, and not just some idea that had little or no bearing on
my walk.
Slowly, the excitement began to dissipate because I was getting tired. My unconscious thoughts were fading,
and my conscious fatigue was taking over. I wanted to lie down and take a nap. I was interrupted by someone
pounding on my door. I jumped to my feet.
“McGowan! There’s a telephone call for you! Make it quickthe operator says it’s from France!”
Chapter Four: The Real World?
Sometimes Out There isn’t where you think it is!
Summer, 1971
My senior year at Wake Forest was one of the best years of my life. Our football team won the Atlantic
Coast Conference Championship for the first time in the history of the university. I would carry that
accomplishment with me for the rest of my life, along with the honor of being one of the captains of that squad.
There were many teams in the history of the school that were far more talented than our team, but in the end we
brought home a trophy our school had not seen since football began there in 1888.
But now things had changed, and my time at Wake Forest had come to an end. I found myself in the same
position as Ronan after he left school. Living at home after college was pretty much everything he predicted it
would be. The free ride was over, and now I was faced with the decision about what I wanted to do with the rest
of my life.
I hadn’t been home a week when the inquisition began. It was something right out of the 1600s, and it wasn’t
just about work, either.
“So, where were you last night?” my mother would inquire, not really sure if she wanted to know.
“Any luck finding work?” my father asked.
I found myself shrinking back to a quiet retreat under the table, looking for a place to get out of the line of
fire, but their pursuit was relentless! My room became the only place I could go to find sanctuary. During this
time I began to watch a television series called “Kung Fu.” It was the first show of its kind. It addressed simple
thingstruth, compassion, peace of mind, and disciplineall wrapped up in a tale about Buddhist monks in
China in the late 1800s.
The story began when Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) was orphaned and taken in to a monastery run
by Shaolin monks. The series moved quickly through the lessons he learned as he grew up within the walls of
that monastery: martial arts, discipline, truth, and the art of becoming a man. Each episode taught a different
lesson about life, and it was presented in a way that resonated strongly within me.
Caine was on a pilgrimage with a teacher who had been blind since birth. They had an altercation with the
nephew of a prince, and the nephew lashed out in anger and killed the blind monk. Caine, in his anger, took the
life of the nephew. Now a hunted fugitive, he would have to leave the country. He had learned all he could from
the monks. If he remained in China he would face certain death, so he left for America. His father was an
American who had married an oriental woman, so he quickly set out to find his relatives in the New World.
When he arrived in America, he came to realize how different the Old West was from China. There was
gunfighting and cattle rustling and all the other activities that marked the times as a primitive part of the
ongoing development of the United States. The times were being captured in the paintings and photographs by
such notables as Russell, Remington, and Curtis before they were lost forever.
Like the monk, I too was looking for something, and I had no concrete idea as to what that was. The only
thing I kept coming back to was the incident at the lake with Bob. There was something very similar about the
truth I found in the TV show and my experience with Bob. Although I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it
was, I knew the answer would come soon enough.