Monday, February 3, 2020

failure and genius are in the eye of the beholder


Yesterday’s If there is no God, that topic would never come up post at this blog drew a comment from Mike Tolbert, of Key West: 

Good news for rest of Mankind Your still a failure.

I supposed Mike’s comment referred to this part of yesterday’s post:

My physical health was poor, my spiritual health about the same. I quit practicing law and moved out west, hoping that would help. By early 1987, my sense of having failed in every way a man could fail was overwhelming. I prayed one morning, "Dear God, I do not wish to die like this, failed. Please help me." I paused, said, "I offer my life to human service."

I thought Mike had a point. I failed in every way man(and woman)kind holds dear. I also thought if I didn’t piss people off from time to time, that might be a worse failure. Further ruminating recalled something Jesus had said in the Gospels, Matthew 16:26:

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

This morning I rummaged back in time and space for a poem about failure and stumbled across an old email blast containing a post at, which site later ceased to exist - another great failure. This excerpt from that post begins with a comment about me on’s popular Coconut Telegraph public forum.

[Sloan is a genius] Perhaps compared to you, but to the rest of the world he is more like Wile E. Coyote, self professed super genius. Like Mr. Coyote, Sloan devises a plan with cunning and just like Mr. Coyote he fails every time. You almost want to feel sorry for the poor critter, but I can’t help laughing when he hits the mountain side face first. Instead of Golden Flake Sloan should have had his trust fund from Acme Products. The coyote comparison is even more apropos if you recall that he was a Looney Tunes character. That’s all, folks!

Gosh, divethekeys must really get around, speaking for the rest of the world! I never once professed to be even a run-of-the-mill genius. Quite the opposite, in fact. When I got into it with Jim Hendrick a while back, against his strong arguments otherwise, I steadfastly maintained I not only was not brilliant, I was not even smart. I said the look on my mother’s face when she received the IQ test result from the city high school I attended told me where I stood on the brain ladder. I told Jim I figured my IQ was in the low “normal” range, less than 100 probably. I also said I was so stupid that I couldn’t do much more than get up in the morning and fix my breakfast and go to the bathroom, without being told by the angels how to do and not do it. I put that into a post for all the world to see. Maybe divethekeys missed it. If so, he can inquire with Jim Hendrick about it.

I have written many times that, in early 1987, I admitted I had failed at everything I had undertaken as a man and was at the end of my rope and knew it and had no more bright ideas, and I prayed, ”Dear God, I do not want to die like this, failed. Please help me. I offer my life to human service.” About ten days passed. Then, as I lay sleeping beside my girlfriend at her home in Los Alamos, New Mexico, I awoke maybe around 2 a.m. and saw what I took to be two angels hovering above me in the darkness. First time I’d ever had anything like that happen. Then, I heard, as if spoken into my mind and not into my ears, “This will push you to your limits but we are going to give it to you.” I remembered the prayer described above. Then, I was jolted by what felt like lightning. Then, I was jolted again. And again. I was shaking, starting to sweat, as the two beings dissolved back into the darkness. That was the abduction.

Then came more failures. Serious failures. Grievous failures. No matter how hard I tried, by this world’s standard, whatever I undertook in business, love, etc. was a failure. In mid-April 2001, I was sleeping nights on cardboard boxes in a Fleming Street doorway next-door to the bookstore. One night, what sounded like the same voice I had heard in abduction event, the same voice I since had heard a number of times, said, “You will fail, but you might enter the Kingdom of God.” Later that morning, as was my custom, I went to the branch library down the street and got online. This poem burst out of me as fast as I could type it:

“I know what it is”

I know what it is to love fully,
have my heart broken by death
and by loved ones’ rejections,
Over and over again,
So I can love even more.

I know what it is to be engulfed in pain,
Awash in evil,
Terrified, enraged, despaired,
Believing God has again forsaken me,
Then be given the truth
that again makes me free.

I know what it is to doubt,
Be lost and wandering
time and time again,
Then be rescued yet again
and my faith grows deeper.

I know what it is to blindly trust,
Then be destroyed by betrayal
time and time again,
Until I trust only God.

I know what it is to have much
and be completely of this world,
Then have it all taken away
and be in the world but not of it.

I know what it is to fail in this world,
And fail and fail and fail:
The world’s greatest failure,
I can serve only God.

I know what it is to give
and give and give and give;
I cannot stop giving
because giving is receiving.

I know what it is to explain God
time after time after time again.
Something demands I keep explaining:
Maybe someone will listen,
Maybe me.


Some time passed before I connected the dots between the poem and the prayer that got me abducted in early 1987. My greatest distress and fear when I made that prayer was failure, so that was what was used to train me in the ways of God. Meanwhile, until such time as "I know what it is" is overridden by something a great deal bigger and stronger than me, my friends and my critics, failure by this world’s standards is my path to God.

While the rest of the world will say there is no way God would do anything like that to a human being, maybe the rest of the world should flash back to Job and a number of other people in the Old Testament. Then, maybe the rest of the world should flash forward to Jesus saying things like, “Steep is the way, narrow the gate, and few enter therein.” ”Many are called, but few are chosen.” “The work is great but the laborers are few.” ”If you abide in me, you will come to know the truth and the truth will make you free.” ”Except as you hate your mother and your father, and your brother and your sister, and your wife and your children, and even your own life, you cannot be my disciple.” “My mother and my brothers are those who do the will of my Father in Heaven.” “The Kingdom of God is not of this world.” “Be in the world but not of it.” “You cannot worship two masters; you cannot worship God and mammon” (things of this world). That Jesus is where I parted ways with lots of people, including my father, a number of close friends and a few wives. 

I make you Sloan-bashers an offer. Sit down with me. Ask me any questions you like. Measure me face-to-face. Anywhere you wish, including my home on Little Torch Key. I have no weapons. Bring yours, if it will make you feel safer. Bring other people, if it will make you feel safer. I will be alone, with you and the angels. You know how to reach me.

Sloan Bashinsky


(no longer a good email address for me)

Right, there were no takers.

Meanwhile, some of the undersigned's other adventures before and after the abduction are painted in this just released book available in paperback and soon in Kindle, according to the publisher.

A Southern Lawyer Who Became a Mystic

by Sloan Bashinsky | Jan 16, 2020
 Get it as soon as Sat, Feb 8
FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon

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