Alan Chadwick Lends a Book to the Apprentices
A recollection of Alan Chadwick, written from memory on October 2, 2003 by Greg Haynes. A portion of this narrative describes events which were recorded in 2012 that can be found among the collection of Greg's audio recordings on this website under the title, Alan Chadwick Lends a Rare Book to the Apprentices. The reader and listener will forgive a few minor discrepancies in memory between the two versions, separately recalled nine years apart. When one considers that these events took place over 40 years ago, it is surprising that the two accounts do not differ more than they do. In the opinion of the author, this earlier account is the more accurate one.
How Mornings Began in the Garden at Santa Cruz
The morning meeting happened every day after breakfast. The actual day began around five-thirty for those of us with responsibility for animals, but everybody else showed up by seven or so. All of the flower cutting happened early, since Alan insisted that no flower should be cut after the sun hit the plants. Work would proceed feverishly until nine-thirty, when the conch shell was blown signaling breakfast. This was a simple affair, possibly whole-grain muffins served with herb tea, or stewed rhubarb, and maybe some eggs from the poultry yard. By ten o’clock everything had to be cleared away so that the morning meeting could proceed on schedule. Alan would show up, retrieve his special chair from inside the chalet, dust it off with a handkerchief while making an exaggerated grimace of disgust meant to imply his dissatisfaction with the slovenly apprentice housekeeping practices. This was a daily ritual.
Everyone sat in a circle on wooden benches, except of course, Alan. He would often begin with some homily on a theme connected with the season, a particular plant now in bloom, or some general principal of plant or animal husbandry, occasionally touching on mythological themes or a fairy tale. These were the moments we all lived for; Alan was always in his best form, upbeat, positive, inspiring, theatrical, even sometimes transcendent. He shone with joy and exuberance, whether it was reciting a Shakespearean sonnet from memory, retelling the fairy tale of the Chinese Emperor and the Nightingale, or relating the story of how a particular flower got its name. I can recall what he said one time about the Forget-Me-Not, for example:
Helen of Troy, accompanied by her ladies-in-waiting, had been picking these flowers when the wicked Paris dragged her off to his ship. “Forget me not” were her parting words to the dear friends left behind.
After describing the events leading up to the abduction, I can remember Alan impersonating Helen, looking utterly despondent, calling out with profound pathos and despair those fateful words, “Forget me not”, gesturing faintly with his hands in baneful farewell, the doomed and tragic look of a forlorn mortal caught up in the meshes of divine rivalries, wrenched away from kith and ken, stripped of all honor and dignity, powerless to defend herself, tears welling up in agony and innocence, with the final word, “not”, trailing off until you weren’t sure if you could still hear it minutes later after everything became silent.
We apprentices sat stupefied, mouths agape, hearts bleeding with empathy for Helen, furious at her betrayal, and ready to avenge her this very moment. We were innocent lambs upon whose heartstrings Alan had free hand. Nothing had prepared us for the waves of profound feelings which he could elicit from our hearts through his dramatic art, that magic of crisis and catharsis which the ancient Greeks knew, but which had been lost on generations of bourgeois children, reared in the cultural and emotional vacuum of television. Until then we had lived only mechanically; our inner life nearly dormant with disuse and neglect, true vitality having been sapped by years of empty, spirit-crushing, public education.
It would be no exaggeration to say that, for us, Alan was an Old Testament prophet, a Homeric bard, a herald from a truer world beyond the mists sent to awaken us from the hypnotic slumber induced by all that was evil, banal, and devoid of intrinsic meaning. Let’s face it, the fifties of the last century were a cultural wasteland. Mass produced, shallow, electronic pabulum dished out to a generation of souls lamed by depravation of anything authentic. TV, radio, and stereos offered plenty to entertain, but nothing to awaken the inner genius that all human beings are born with. That most precious part of us had sat lingering in solitary confinement for so many years, like Plato’s prisoners in the cave, not knowing that there was anything better. Starved and stupefied in spirit, we no longer knew what we needed and craved; only feeling empty, depressed and alienated.
Alan was like someone distributing bread to starving victims of long famine, only it was bread of the spirit he gave, received in turn by idealistic youth having been fed on the moral equivalent of Twinkies. In his own idiosyncratic way, he was a god-send to many of us. Through his example he showed us that life could be so much more interesting and profound. Many of his students over the years later took on serious responsibilities in life, became medical doctors or presidents of land trusts. He inspired us with the conviction that hard work and commitment could open almost any door.
But Alan had a challenging side to his personality as well. When provoked, his tirades could be caustic in the extreme, and most of us would do anything possible to avoid being on the receiving end of his temper. I can recall one incident in particular…
Wickson's California Fruits
At one of the regular morning meetings, Alan informed us that a special honor had been bestowed upon the members of the garden project by Mrs. Eva Fosselius, director of the rare books department at the University Library. It seems that the library had acquired for its permanent collection a rare and valuable copy of “Wickson’s California Fruits,” possibly the most preeminent and prestigious treatise on fruit culture and production in California. It was written sometime at the end of the 1800’s when organic farming methods were still being practiced, before the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and was therefore supremely applicable to the methods used by our project.
By a special dispensation of the library (and perhaps also some bending of the rules) Mrs. Fosselius had made the risky decision to allow this precious book to be entrusted into the custodianship of Alan Chadwick so that its invaluable contents might be made available to his apprentices.
Obviously, anyone who might be allowed contact with this book must swear to guard and protect it from any wear and tear, scratches, stains, or other such blemishes which would reflect very badly indeed on our project. For it would be the absolute worst thing imaginable if Mrs. Fosselius were to form a bad opinion of us, she being so trusting as to possibly risk her career on our behalf, believing that we were worthy of her confidence and deserving to be the bearers of the knowledge which had been preserved for the world by Wickson.
Alan offered to lend the book to anyone who might have an interest in specializing in the area of fruit production, and who would be willing to absorb this great store of agricultural information for later implementation in the service of the project. While most of us were still considering this prospect, one of our numbers, a certain Howard Ruderman by name, was already raising his hand, asking for permission to be the first to borrow it. Alan seemed delighted to find someone so eager, and he gave his assent saying something like, “Very well Mr. Ruderman, but please take good care of it”.
As Howard walked over to retrieve the book, he seemed to glow with pride at being deemed worthy of this special honor. He glanced quickly around the circle to revel, if only for a fleeting second, in his present stature, so high above the rest of us. I confess that we all felt slightly passed over; each of us would like to have been chosen in Howard’s place. But the close camaraderie of our band precluded any serious rivalries.
In the succeeding days, Howard could be seen of an evening, sitting somewhat off by himself with an exaggerated attitude of self importance, perusing the immortal Wickson. Each night he would carefully place the book on a special shelf, reserved for items of high importance, where it would not be disturbed until he himself retrieved it next morning.
About a week later, Howard showed up at the daily meeting looking rather pale. After all the work projects had been allocated, questions asked and answered, fascinating stories of ancient plant lore related by Alan, there finally came the time for announcements. Howard timidly raised his hand, and with a quavering voice asked the group if anyone had seen the copy of Wickson’s Fruits, which had been put away on the top shelf the night before.
No one seemed to know anything, and for a time there was general confusion about what could possibly have happened to it. There had been no previous history of theft or vandalism that would have prepared us for such an eventuality, and we all knew and trusted each other implicitly, so there was no possibility of mutual suspicion. On seeing how matters stood, Howard looked even more hopeless. He studiously avoided looking Alan in the eye; on the contrary, he seemed to have suddenly developed an acute interest in the floorboards of the chalet deck.
As the hubbub and conversation began to die down, some of us noticed the conspicuous lack of comment on the part of Alan. Glancing over to his side of the circle, we witnessed a volcanic eruption in immanent danger of breaking out into scathing flames, destroying everything in its path. To those who knew Alan, his angry outbursts were proverbial; but in this case his outrage knew no bounds. Not only was an extremely valuable and irreplaceable resource lost, but the very dignity of our enterprise was now hopelessly compromised. How could he ever again look Mrs. Fosselius in the eye? She would never trust him again. If, in the past, our noble efforts had inspired some modicum of respect in the eyes of such an eminent ally in the University administration, all that was now cast into the gutter.
Howard said not a word during this diatribe, probably counting his lucky stars that he had escaped without physical injuries. Not that the insults didn’t hurt, but considering the enormous magnitude of his crime, he really deserved worse and probably realized it. Although Alan had exaggerated the importance of Mrs. Fosselius in the University hierarchy, she was an important political ally. Among other things she was friends with the Chancellor, the Provost, and numerous influential faculty members. Her most intriguing claim to fame was that she had contracted the bubonic plague a few years back as a result of unpacking a sealed shipment of books dating back to the fourteenth century. Apparently, the germs had remained alive and active in the crumbling parchment before discovering a new host in the person of the University librarian.
A few years later, after the garden project had left Santa Cruz for a new home at the Zen Monastery at Muir Beach, Eva Fosselius paid a visit, escorted by the very attractive Miss Christina Gibbs. Alan was as gallant as I had ever seen him, all smiles and flattering comments aimed at her Excellency. Gala lunches were planned and executed, hikes into the wild interior of Marin County, swims in the pond, tea times with extravagant goodies; in short, the royal treatment. Although I was unfortunately not present at the exact moment, I was told within the hour by Miriam that Alan had proposed a living arrangement whereby Eva would join the project and take up residence at Green Gulch Farm, ideally in the spare room of Alan’s trailer house.
That he liked her was certain. She had, by then, retired from the library, and of a Mr. Fosselius there never had been any mention, even in the old days of Santa Cruz; so there were no impediments, or so it seemed. Miriam was all abuzz with this invitation, and the thought of Alan conducting a love affair right under everyone’s nose was an absolute novelty, to be sure. I could understand his decision, though. She was a person of considerable charms, eyes that twinkled at every repartee, a quick wit but without a trace of sarcasm—not a mean bone in her body. She also knew instinctively how to handle Alan, how not to butt heads with him. She would simply make a joke out of any impending eruption and then deftly proceed to twist him around her little finger. It was lovely to watch, and I learned some valuable lessons by observing her stratagems.
But I digress. After the fireworks display surrounding Howard came to its miserable conclusion—Alan stomping out in disgust—we all plodded off to our appointed tasks for the day. Each of us leaders had our own particular areas of responsibility, and so, thus occupied, we focused our attentions on other matters. That evening Howard was nowhere to be seen, and was effectually out of sight during many of the succeeding days. It was all too bad really, not least because I myself had coveted a desire to imbibe the powerful secrets tucked away within the covers of Wickson. I had imagined a scene where, in the new farm project that was being planned, I had been delegated the responsibility of designing and implementing the orchards which were such a crucial component of the idealized farm project. Picture it: future apprentices would be sent over to my realm in order to hear about and practice the methods which would lead to the production of the most luscious and tempting sensory delights: ripe peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, pears, apples. It would be my prerogative to dispense the largess of such a cornucopia to whomever I chose. What could be better? Insulated from Alan’s temper both by my physical distance from the center of things, and also by my indispensable services to be so capably performed: my own personal paradise.
Unfortunately, that was not to be, since Howard had misplaced the means of acquiring the knowledge necessary for its accomplishment. Not that I harbored any malice or recriminations for my friend, but all the same, Mr. Ruderman had dropped a notch or two in my estimation as a result of his ineptitude.
Very soon, however, life began to go on as it had before, busy with sowing, planting, cultivating, harvesting and all the other tasks of a small working farm: waking early to feed the animals, and working till after dark when all the tools had been cleaned, animals closed up for the night, a hasty meal, brief conversations, and then staggering off exhausted to our individual woodland bowers. From then on it was a deep, dreamless sojourn in the sweet, enfolding arms of Morpheus. The nights were far too short, alas; the roosters roused us early to begin another day.
Not long after the events described above, something unexpected happened that concerned me rather personally. At another one of those morning meetings, Alan announced that when he had finally faced Mrs. Fosselius with the tragic news about the loss of Wickson’s Fruits, she had taken it very badly, but was not blaming Alan personally. She understood that some of the apprentices were just not mature enough to handle the responsibilities delegated to them. She herself claimed to have been young once and may have made a mistake or two along the way; so she did not feel at all judgmental, only grieved at the loss. Since it had been her decision to lend the book, she felt financially responsible to the University for its replacement. She had taken it upon herself to write all the dealers in rare books (for she had many such professional contacts), and had located just one additional copy. With her own money, she had replaced the lost book, so that no one at the library would be the wiser; neither the loss of University property, nor the breech in protocol would become known, so in this way, her career was rescued from the jeopardy that had been threatened by Howard’s lapse. The very astonishing fact, as Alan reported it, was that Mrs. Fosselius, possessing such a trusting soul, had offered once again to lend the book to Alan for the benefit of his apprentices; her only request was that this time perhaps someone different should be given a turn with it.
For an minute, everyone was stunned. Never had any of us encountered such generosity of spirit in a fellow human being. It seemed that we must have previously underestimated Mrs. Fosselius; although we knew her from the occasional luncheon she had attended on the Chalet deck, and had tended to confer upon her the same exaggerated deference that Alan displayed, still we had never before experienced such magnanimity. Now we understood the reason Alan treated her with such respect; he had been prescient, we had been blind.
The obvious question, however, was who should be the next recipient of Mrs. Fosselius’ generosity? The risks were high, as witnessed by the humiliation of poor Mr. Ruderman, but the potential returns were considerable. My own inner mood at that moment was something like I have experienced later in life, but in a very different context. In a card game, after one is dealt a good solid hand, say a full-house, there is always a moment of hesitation, a furtive glance around the circle of other players to scrutinize their faces and estimate their holdings, and then again a moment of hesitation and doubt. But then there arrives a moment where the psychic restraints break loose, and one’s hands, almost of their own accord, push the chips into the center to make the bet. The die is irretrievably cast; one’s future is placed squarely into the fickle hands of fate.
Something like that must have caused my mouth to utter those fateful words that morning. I heard my own voice softly asking, “May I have it, Alan?.” Suddenly I felt that all eyes were on me, and that I had perhaps made a terrible mistake, that I must have been delirious for a moment. Alan looked back at me calmly, but with a slight hint of skepticism as if to question whether I was up to the magnitude of the responsibility involved. Was I really, his glance asked me, better prepared than Mr. Ruderman at shouldering the weight of the confidence extended by the good Mrs. Fosselius, whose patience was great, but also probably finite?
On a few occasions in my life, usually at some decisive moment, I have found that time can stop; that deep reflection and self examination of the kind that usually takes days or weeks, can well-up and carry me along its tide, seemingly involving minutes or possibly a quarter of an hour, and yielding moments of clarity which transcend the ordinary avenues of knowledge acquisition. This includes a heightened ability to look into the mind and soul of other people, and to understand their deeper motivations and intentions. All inner dialogue stops, thoughts and feelings stop, all that is left is a kind of merging with the other, and through this merging, a powerful knowing.These moments are rare, believe me, but the most surprising part is that after all this illumination, presto, the spell is broken and I realize that not a split second has passed, that all these ruminations have occurred in the twinkling of an eye, and that nobody else involved but myself is aware that a time-warp has just occurred. Something like this happened at that moment, and through these subtle auguries, I somehow felt that it was safe to proceed. So I repeated my request to borrow the book, adding that I would look after it well.
Alan seemed to make a gesture, almost a shrug, as if to say that if I felt up to it, I may as well be given a chance. There was a look in his eye though, possibly reluctance, or it may have been some other equivocal emotion which I did not understand; but whatever it was, it was not particularly encouraging. I wondered if maybe he had intended the book for someone else, but his expression was not at all transparent, and so I let it be.
Taking the book in hand was actually thrilling. I can remember the sensation, perhaps something like an altar-boy must experience when he brings out the holy wafers and carries them to the priest; as if a part of the worth of the substance transfers to the bearer. I probably looked a lot like Howard did, back when, as he retrieved another such book from Alan’s hand. I vowed to myself that I would care for this relic as if my life depended on it; nothing would allow me to fail in the responsibility of caring for it and returning it unharmed.
So, then I began reading the chapters: the Culture of the Olive in California, the Culture of the Orange, the Avocado, the Grape, the Peach, the Apple, and so on. I was delirious, overwhelmed by the breadth, the depth, of Wickson’s knowledge of the subject. It really was as good as Alan had described it; every aspect of fruit culture was treated masterfully: novel and effective methods for keeping gophers out of the orchard, pruning techniques, fertilization, cultivation, and all using organic methods. These were methods perfected over centuries, even millennia, which had been rejected by modern chemical farming practices as outdated, but destined to be revived again now and carried into the future by my efforts. It was heady, and it was solemn.
True to my vow, I jealously stashed the book in a drawer of the plotting table, a heretofore sacred, off-limits place reserved exclusively for Alan himself. No one, positively no one would dare to mess with anything there. I could even see the anxiety in the faces of my companions each evening when I presumed to open the drawer and return it to its place. This was like hiding Laban’s idols under the menstruating Rachel in the Book of Genesis; you just don’t go there.
One morning soon after that, however, I was destined for a surprise. I had finished reading Wickson the night before, had placed it safely in its usual place intending to return it at the following day’s meeting. First thing the next morning I had checked on it, and all was well. Flower cutting had proceeded uneventfully, morning watering done, glasshouse plants attended to, seed beds in good order. These were my tasks, and when finished I could go in for breakfast. Afterward I went to fetch Wickson so that I would have it for the meeting, but it was not there.
A feeling of dread washed over me, that sickening aura of fear that creeps up from your stomach and strangles your breathing, draining the blood from your head, leaving you feeling faint. Although there is noise all around, suddenly you can’t hear anything because foreboding images are flooding your mind with variations of the doom you are about to suffer. A kind of paralyzed stupor brought about because you can’t accept that the dreaded thing really has happened; the classic form of denial. But because another part of you knows it’s true, the two jockey back and forth for supremacy, and the result is immobility.
Slowly, my wits returned. I began to look around for the book, thinking somebody may have temporarily taken it out of its place and left it lying about. Having seen it so recently led me to think that perhaps, if stolen, the thief was still around, and that maybe I would find it under someone’s jacket or in another such hiding place. I started rummaging around the chalet like a madman, but quietly so as not to attract attention, but I found nothing. I felt myself start to panic again, and stopped to breathe. Calming myself, I summoned up every ounce of intuition available in my limited psyche, and felt my senses refocus. Then clarity dawned.
My eye turned to a basket perched up on the highest shelf next to the plotting table. It seemed to be whispering in a subtle yet persistent voice, “Look in me.” The light color of the wicker and its arching handle stood out against the darkness of the corner, emphasizing its plaintive call. Glancing around the room, I ascertained that it was empty, and realized that the morning meeting had already begun. It would never do to be caught probing in Alan’s personal basket; all hell would break out, and I would surely be crucified. Carefully, I slipped it down off the shelf and removed the colored scarf that covered the contents. Right on top was Wickson.
Replacing the basket onto its shelf, I stood there, starring out the window, feeling alternating waves of relief, gratitude, confusion, and apprehension in that order. Relief for having escaped the horrible consequences of losing the book, gratitude for the guidance of my guardian angel in locating it, confusion as to why Alan had done this, and apprehension about what the final outcome of this business may hold in store for me. It occurred to me that probably Alan had confiscated the book intending to dress me down at the meeting for keeping it too long. That was the only explanation that made any sense, even though it seemed entirely unjust. Why wouldn’t he simply ask for it back, rather than taking it without saying anything? The feelings of confusion and apprehension intensified with my inability to clearly understand my predicament.
Slipping out, I took a place at the end of the last bench, and paid little attention to the proceedings of the meeting. My mind tends to be slow in comprehending new situations, and I was trying to speed up the process. Often it will be several days after a series of events when understanding finally dawns on me, and so I’ve learned to give myself time to process whenever possible. As I pondered, it slowly dawned on me that I was involved in a very serious chess game with a highly formidable opponent. The thing to do was keep calm, and stay alert.
After a while I heard Alan say something about Wickson’s Fruits, and I began to pay closer attention. He said that one of our members had borrowed Wickson, and had kept it way too long. He was requesting that it be returned immediately, right now, so that someone else could have a chance to read it. Looking over at me, he waited for a response.
I calmly replied that I no longer had it in my possession because it had been taken from the place where I kept it.
Gazes of disbelief turned in my direction. Utter silence. By and by, Alan began to stutter with rage, accusing me of dereliction of duty, incompetence, stupidity, and a whole litany of unflattering epithets. Everyone present always cringed under Alan’s tirades, understandably so, and the usual tendency was to blame the one who set him off. I began to feel the animosity of my fellow apprentices, especially as Alan was increasing the intensity of his raging to the degree that he perceived that I was not responding with the appropriate wincing and groveling. For my part, I just let him go on and on till he finally ran out of air. He ended by asking if I didn’t have anything to say for myself.
I quietly asked him why he had taken the book and put it into his basket.
He looked a bit startled at that, and at first his face assumed a posture of denial, but he quickly changed tack, and flew into a further rage against the unconscionable practice of prying into other people’s belongings, and that he wouldn’t put up with that sort of thing anymore. Apprentices should bloody well keep their hands off his property, and that he had had enough of the sniveling incompetence of so many idiots; and with much swearing and accusing looks he stomped off and went about his work.
As I said, I’m slow. It took me a few days to realize that the copy of Wickson I lost must have been the same copy that Howard had lost before me. Even after I understood these things, I didn’t discuss them with anyone and not a soul ever said a word to me on the subject, nor did it ever come up again between Alan and myself. The only outcome was that Alan never again seriously yelled at me as long as we both knew each other after that.
Readers should not form the mistaken impression that Alan Chadwick took perverse pleasure in tormenting his innocent apprentices. For clarification, it would be well to listen to my audio recording entitled, "Alan Chadwick Takes Pity on a Poor Apprentice." I describe there the method to Alan's madness, the reason he was continually testing, prodding, challenging, and even baiting his students.
In a word, it was simply to make them stronger. Essentially, it was not that different from the training an athlete receives who wants to achieve the highest level in his or her sport. The aspiring athlete seeks out opponents who are more adept than he is, who can beat him at the game, and by pitting himself against them, being beaten by them, learns the necessary technique. There is no other way to advance.
A virtuoso music instructor will demand perfection in ever more difficult pieces, and will not suffer lightly those who do not measure up. A martial arts teacher will do his best to throw the student to the ground every time. Although this is painful for the learner, through perseverence sooner or later he "gets it." None of this suffering would be necessary if it were possible to learn a martial art by reading books or listening to lectures by college professors. Unfortunately, that just doesn't work.
A chess master will do his best to out-think his student, bait him to take a gambit, and them annihilate him as a result. In this way, the student learns not to blindly accept at face value every easy capture. No, he must always be on the look-out for a trap, an ulterior motive, a manipulation of his mental state. Perhaps more than anything else, he must learn to maintain his mental equilibrium despite setbacks and threats, for if he gets upset, looses his cool, then he will not be able to think straight and will almost surely lose the game.
It is only by maintaining a calm, balanced, well-centered mind that our intuition can function effectively. If we become angry, jealous, embarrassed, over-confident, or fearful, then we are doomed to failure in whatever we attempt.
Alan Chadwick was a grandmaster in the great chess game of life, in the mastery of the petty emotions, in the overcoming of fear. He had learned, for example, to recognize the truth and to see through lies; to the degree that it was very difficult to deceive him.
Once I went with him into Mill Valley, the nearest town to the gardens at Green Gulch, to do some shopping at an organic foods market. Alan was an extravagant shopper, and it did not take him long to fill his basket to the brim. He bought all manner of delicacies: fruits, meats, chocolates, whole grain breads, ice creams made from the highest quality ingredients, imported coffees, cheeses from England and France, and much more. After paying for the purchases, he pushed his cart out to the parking lot and left it next to the car. He wanted something from another shop, and said that the basket of groceries would be fine until we returned.
We left his things in the cart, did our other errands, and came back about twenty minutes later only to discover that the cart was missing. One of the other customers had obviously made off with Alan's groceries, I thought, and we would have to repurchase everything.
Alan, however, had other ideas. He did not believe in theft, he said, and insisted that the cart was nearby. He strode back into the store and asked concerning the whereabouts of his cart. When the clerk claimed to know nothing about it, Alan demanded to speak with the owner. The proprietor emerged from the back room, and at Alan's question about his cart, said he hadn't seen it. It must have been stolen, he guessed.
Alan told him, point blank, that he did not believe him and repeated his demand that the cart full of groceries be returned to him immediately. The owner, for his part, insisted that items left unattended in the parking lot were not his responsibility, and that Alan would have to buy what he wanted a second time since he had been careless in protecting his property.
When Alan began to speak in a threatening tone, I became somewhat alarmed. I suggested that we just buy a few of the most important necessities, and come back another day for the rest. But Alan was adamant. He approached the shop keeper to within a few inches of his face, and demanded in no uncertain terms, and for the last time, to show him where the cart was located.
At this, the man became unnerved. He stuttered out that he would look in the back room one more time, just to make sure that no one had put it inside. He disappeared for a few brief moments, then reappeared pushing Alan's heavily laden cart in front of him, blurting out that, lo and behold, someone must have seen the cart outside and put it in the storeroom for safe keeping.
Alan kept his opinion to himself, but it was obvious to me that he considered the store owner to be nothing more than a cheat and a liar. Without looking at the man, he retrieved his cart and pushed it a second time out to the car. We loaded everything inside and drove back to Green Gulch with hardly a word.
Alan Chadwick relied heavily upon his intuition; he employed it often and had trained it well. It seldom failed him in anything important. This was because he had disciplined himself to maintain his inner calmness so that he could always hear the promptings of that intuitive faculty. Most people are too full of inner dialogue, pretense, pride, fear, or other negative emotions to even be aware of that still, small voice within that always speaks the truth.
It was Alan's methodology to test his students to their limits and a little beyond. When he saw their pretense, he would call them on it. When he saw their fears, he would become what they feared most, so that they could confront the bogey-man head-on. When he witnessed their false pride, he would humble them mercilessly. In this way, they learned to get beyond it. He would consistantly knock them off balance until he could no longer do so. It was then, he said, that they had achieved their "classic stance." They no longer needed this gardener of souls.
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