The Selected Quirks of Madjag

The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.

Actualizations Workshop with the Trust Game

One 3-day workshop of several that I attended in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s was directed by Stewart Emery, author of Actualizations, You Don’t Have To Rehearse To Be Yourself. It was my first seminar of its kind, human potential and personal growth, and my attendance required that I travel to San Francisco, stay at a hotel, and be on time for the seminar and present every day. After the first day’s introductory orientation in which the ground rules were explained and had to be agreed upon or you were asked to leave right then and there, any absence or showing up late after breaks or at starting time on the following day meant that you were not allowed to continue and could no longer attend. Your money was refunded. Stewart wanted, no, he demanded a commitment beyond the casual. It’s purpose was to discover whether or not you really wanted to be there; it measured your intention.

When you hear an attendee that showed up one minute late from lunch screaming outside the door that is locked and threatening to sue, you realize how serious Stewart’s commitment truly was to intention. They were there on purpose and expected the attendees to be there with the same level of intention. As one of the moderators said, “There is no dress rehearsal for life”.

We participated in many “games” that made us stretch beyond our usual comfort zone. These maneuvers helped us expose our inner selves to others, requiring vulnerability, thus taking off our armor. It also exposed parts of ourselves to ourselves, often parts we had disowned. Wow, what a mindtrip. I could tell within hours that it was well worth my time and money to attend and that later I must send my wife, my mom, and my sister to the workshop as a gift. I did that exactly and my sis loved it so much that she joined the Actualizations organization and worked there for 3-4 years, assisting in dozens of workshops. That first experience had changed her life so wonderfully that she dedicated her life to it.

As a little background, Stewart was the very first EST trainer selected by Werner Erhard, the creator of the world-famous Erhard Seminar Training. After several years and countless workshops, Stewart left EST to start his own personal growth seminars because he felt that EST focused too much on the cerebral and mind and not enough on feelings and emotions. He wanted to create a more balanced experience that would engender a complete holistic change. His books explain it much better than I could so if you’re interested, take a read.

On the second day there was one particularly interesting exercise that was oriented around judging other people. It was quite simple to do, yet quite uncomfortable for everyone involved. We were given 10 self-adhesive nametags and were told to walk throughout the crowd of attendees, approximately 150 people, and “tag” 10 others with our personal stickies. 5 of the tags were red and meant “Untrustworthy” and 5 tags were green and indicated “Trustworthy”.

Imagine walking up to someone, looking them in the eyes, and putting a red tag on them. It’s what we do almost unconsciously every day as we meet people in the real world, yet we get away with it because no one knows which tag we’re giving them as we share small talk or a glance at the store or on the street. We judge our world intensively with our eyes, our individual glasses with colored lenses that filter everything we look at by utilizing our personal bias and judgments about life.

The exercise ended when every last person had given out all 10 of their tags. The poor last few who had held out distributing their red tags because the exercise was so uncomfortable ended up with the rest of the workshop attendees watching them as they suffered to give out their last red tags. They no longer had the cover of the mob doing the same. They were doubly in pain since they had to walk up to the last few folks real close, eye to eye, and weren’t able to camouflage their approach as they could when 150 attendees were doing the same en masse.

We took our seats and looked around the room. A few minutes passed in silence as each person took count of how they had been tagged as well as those around them. Sort of devastating. I don’t really remember what my tag total was, but Stewart had gazed across the crowd and had noticed one old guy who looked like he was wearing a weird costume. He was covered primarily in red tags, 40, 50, who knows; so many that they were overlapping. Stewart asked if the man would be willing to come up to the podium, a slightly elevated stage maybe two feet higher than the floor, and tell us about himself.

At first glance you could see why he had won the prize of “least trustworthy” by a landslide. He was maybe 60, possibly 65 years old and had a dark demeanor, even though he had a faint smile at times. He had a look in his eyes that seemed to indicate that he was angry, or perhaps just that he had great turbulence within. If I had met him on the street and no words were exchanged, I would think he was a mafiosa, some sort of old-time gangster, or maybe a sneaky con artist.

The eyes of humans are so easily deceived……five minutes after the old man began speaking there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire room. He detailed how he had been a prisoner at Auschwitz during WWII and bit by bit lost each member of his family to the gas chambers. He had said good-bye to his wife and children under evil circumstances that I could never understand even if I could imagine them. To top it off he pulled up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal the number he had inked into his forearm. I had heard about such numbers and had even seen movies with it re-enacted, but never had I met a person who had been there, a person who had been imprisoned in Hades on earth.

The crying turned to sobbing for some participants as the man explained how wonderful his life had become; a new wife, new children, and a wonderful life in America. He explained that he was aware of the look in his eyes, how it turned people off unless he smiled and made an effort to change his persona. He knew that his experiences had changed him deeply and burned his soul such that the past was visible in his eyes no matter how hard he tried to disguise it. The only thing that really bothered him was that even though he was happy now and had accepted his past, people, especially strangers, were uncomfortable in his presence until they had the opportunity to know him for real.