He smiled inwardly as his monkey mind spun and danced, trying to grab his attention, to pull him away, but he was having none of that. He could hear the gentle, soothing voice of Dr. Maxwell Maltz, the creator of PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, telling him over and over how to enter the void, to lose the distractions and find his inner self, his better self, his confident and happy self.
Then he was back in the barracks at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The record was spinning on the turntable and this new concept was being imprinted on his mind.
Dr. Maltz, the inventor of the term “cybernetics”, was a plastic surgeon. In his career, he had known many patients who, after cosmetic surgery, were unable to see the drastic changes his skill had given to them: they were consumed with their old negative images of themselves and could not accept the new reality.
Dr. Maltz discovered something basic and sad about human nature.
He invented Psycho-Cybernetics and the young man, a PFC in the army, listened, transfixed, to Maltz’ recorded voice as the doctor explained why people didn’t change and how they could change.
The old man’s head shook like a kaleidoscope and the vision changed and then disappeared. Now, he was doing it.
He visualized himself standing, pain free, in an elevator. When he was younger, and before the accident, he had pictured himself walking down a grand staircase, each downward step leading him into his psyche, into his unconscious mind, into that alpha state where he could reprogram his thoughts. But, after the accident, he had been forced to change the script: it literally hurt him to descend the steps and that fact kept him from using the old process. So now, he was in an elevator.
He heard the door close with a hiss. He held one brass rail with his right hand and steadied himself. He reached forward and touched the round frosted-glass button with 1 on it and the car began to descend.
30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, and on and on. The dim lights on the buttons glowed, each one for one complete cycle of breath. In and Out. In and Out. As the elevator descended, down into the catacombs of his mind, he felt that inexplicable peace, like a fur coat, covering him, wrapping him in silence and in peace.
When the door of the elevator opened, he knew he was home.
He stepped into the lobby of the Theatre of his Mind. There was a background noise of many voices, but no one was in sight. The rich burgundy walls with the gold accents and rails surrounded him. There was fine furniture, stately statues, Greek, up against the walls. No lights were shining, but a pure glow filled the space. He felt himself floating towards aisle 4, the center aisle of the theater, where, inside, he knew from hundreds, maybe thousands of experiences, that he would soon find his seat.
As he dreamed, he enjoyed the sight of the decorative curtains to his left, those curtains so reminiscent of the RKO Keith movie theater where he had spent so many joyful afternoons as a little boy at the movies. He recalled seeing the movie GONE WITH THE WIND in this long ago destroyed edifice. With a shake of his head, he disposed of that thought: the theater remained alive in his memory and in his Thought Castle. Those curtains, purely decorative, were eight inches tall, with gold tassels at the bottom, and hung above fine, burled maple woodwork. An Old World gentility filled this world, this world of his imagination, this better world he had discovered fifty years ago. It never changed. There was a concession stand to his right and a smiling teenaged girl behind the counter said, “Hello, Mr. Jones, it is so nice to see you again.” She wore a sparkling white blouse and her teeth were perfect.
He nodded at her and continued on.
He noticed that, in his right hand, he held onto a black carbon-fiber cane with a gold knob for a handle. He wished for a moment, a moment that nearly brought him out of his trance, that he didn’t need the cane. But he realized that he did. He didn’t remember how long he had been using the cane when he entered the Theater; but, this was his new Reality and he accepted it.
He passed a few faces that, though cloudy and submerged in the ether of his subconscious mind, he had known in the past, but they were all dead, all gone, and, with a nod, he passed them by.
Then, he was at the entrance to aisle 4. He stopped and looked behind to make certain he was not impeding anyone else from entering. There was nothing behind him. Not the girl. Not the wraiths. Not the lobby. There was nothing to do but to fold the lush, rich velvet curtains aside and to enter the spotless, classic Theatre of his mind.
So, he did.