When I was a child the world was an exciting place full of mystery and adventure. I loved learning new things. I loved discovering hidden secrets and pretending that I was a grownup. I loved playing make-believe and most important — I was not afraid! Sure, I was always getting into things that I wasn’t supposed to. There were many times when I was punished and just as many times when I got away with something that I shouldn’t have. Sometimes I think that the job of children is to find out what they can get away with.

But I did fear getting caught and I did fear being punished! I couldn’t help it, my parents were bigger and stronger than I was and getting punished hurt! But most of the time they didn’t even know what I was getting into. But I still remember the time when my will was so strong and I was so determined that I didn’t care if I was punished, I was going to do it anyway! That was the day that I became bigger than the stick! Before that the stick was always bigger than I was. I think all of us can relate to this story, the day when we became bigger than the threat of punishment against us. From that moment onward we became free, at least until we became adults and became like children again afraid of the stick.

But back then, as children, we understood that our will was stronger than our fear and that we had outgrown the stick. We didn’t really think about it. It was an emotional thing that we felt. But it was powerful! For the first time the threat of punishment held no power over us. What was it that changed inside of us? It was our mind! For the first time we became aware! We no longer reacted out of emotions, but out of rational thought. We woke up!

But then we became adults and now we live in a world in which we fear punishment. Fear has become part of daily life and we fear the stick! So we no longer do our own will. We do what others demand of us, work at jobs that are not fulfilling, live in social situations that are degrading. We don’t stand up for ourselves anymore.

This past year has been a difficult one for me personally. I have had medical health issues and my wife, even though we are separated, has had multiple strokes and been forced to live in assisted living. My finances have been devastated and the bill collectors have come after me. Nothing I share here is new, the same thing is happening to people all over the world. I finally told the bill collectors that I would try to pay each one of them $50 a month till I could get back on my feet again. Now I work general labor and my weekly paycheck is about $360. That’s not very much, hardly a living wage. But one bill collector didn’t care and demanded that I pay $175 a month until what I owed was paid off. For the past three months I have made those payments but this past month I couldn’t. Something snapped inside me and I sent them $50 just like the others. I no longer feared the stick! And now my life has become a wonderful adventure, doing new things and getting to know new people. The stick no longer has power over me!