To travel thousands of miles, all the way to that end of the world, to a town called Dunedin, way south, the whole idea was not so appealing. However, it was a chance to see that part of the world, to say the least. Why not?
We had already been told that amongst the many activities we had to do was to attend a three day workshop with this fellow called Richard Joseph. The workshop was called the Turning Point.
To me, a person who had fifty years of living experience in this earthly world, the whole concept did not promise to be of much substance. What would it be that the Turning Point might add to my experience other than wasted time? It did not seem that encouraging at all. It sounded like a bunch of baloney, one more gimmick as the many we read about and see debated on TV. What now, was it going to be yet another Dr Phil or Dr Oz stuff on the Opera Winfrey show maybe?
But OK. We were still expected to participate in the event anyway. Within a couple of days we did meet Richard Joseph. My first impression was very skeptic. The guy looked somewhat familiar. His face was common in a strange way, as if I had met the guy before. Maybe an actor, I thought, with calm and soothing voice. This actor impression was not encouraging at all. As Richard spoke I could hear an echo in my head emphasizing my doubts and skepticism. We had to fill in some forms that enquired about our health and other stuff, only to convince me that we were to experience another round of hocus pocus. Guru talks, or mind twisters. How often had I seen documentaries on people claiming that they had a magic wand and abilities of turning people's lives around? Not so encouraging at all.
Well, we were driven the following week to this beautiful location for the start of our three days at the Turning Point. I thought that if at all, I could a least enjoy the scenery, although I could have easily considered the choice of the location as a smart distraction.
I chose to sit at the edge of the seating arrangement. Exactly what I usually do when attending a magic show, to see from close enough the so-called tricks.
We already had been given reading materials, which I had read carefully before hand. Some of the issues were interesting, to be fair, and they had already tickled my mind. Questions about past experiences, some that even dealt with relationships back at school days.
As the day commenced, and more charts were posted around the room, I got more and more involved in the topic matter. I could relate to the issues, and sometimes it felt like I could guess the next step. Maybe because I had read well and was ready.
Or maybe because I thought that the general issues were not alien to me. Being a keen follower of TV shows and documentaries probably made things not so novel, yet for the first time all those bits that I had seen, heard and read over many years were all presented in one session.
Most of all though, for the first time I was not a "passive" watcher, but rather personally involved in the experience. The activities we got involved in were real. The things I had seen on TV were materializing and happing right in front of us all. The sense of confidence and assurance was emphasized and reinforced by Richard throughout the session. Although I am sure that the session was well preplanned, every note, word and suggestion recorded on the posters was ours, or that is what Richard made us feel.
That evening, after we returned to our hotel in Dunedin, Dr Hasan Almulla and I were not sure much whether the next session would be of much substance. Amongst my own group, Hasan was the only one I had known for years. His opinion mattered. We both were wondering: what was next?
The following day commenced with physical activities and games. Somehow, we were all like kids, challenging one another and trying our best not step on each other's toes. The hardest part of our games was to manage and control our enthusiasm and work as a homogeneous group. A lesson that we all appreciated and realized that it was not easy for a bunch of so called "leaders" to handle. By then, and after an active day, a lot of my "cynical" thoughts had evaporated in the thin air. Richard Joseph had become a real "human being" with sold experiences that we all needed to share. We were all at ease and as a group, we felt close and as a whole. Richard managed to win our confidence and trust. By then, yes, he had become our Guru.
The third day was at a different location. We were, by then, hypnotized, and willing to throw ourselves from a window ledge with total faith in the group. Most of us even managed their fears and attempted climbing down a 60 meters rock, simply because Richard had encouraged them. Later on as we visited Queenstown, most of us had left their fears behind. Some did crazy stunts, bungee jumps, parachute gliding, and other crazy stuff.
Richard Joseph, the Turning Point, had done wonders. For the first time I was glad that he actually disappointed me, and turned my skepticism into trust. Richard proved to us that together we could achieve wonders, and as a group, we could develop from within. Only if there were a few more of this one of a kind human being, as calm, as trust worthy, as decent and as friendly, I guess the whole world would be different, a better place for all.