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About

2 Lives in 3 Acts: 

Universes of Pixels and Dreams and Jesus

Introduction

The significance and meaning of this book’s title and subtitle will not be clear until its end. Please bear with me as I take you through my life’s journey. When you get to the end of this story, you will understand all.
In 1957, I had a vision of what is now called the multiverse. I did not understand fully what the multiverse was about until about ten years ago. I did not learn about pixels until 1983, when I worked in digital-image processing. I did not understand their relevance to the multiverse until 2016.  
In the last twenty years, I have had powerful, realistic, and recurrent dreams.
 I read the Holy Bible cover to cover in 2000. In 2004, I became aware of the significance of several of its passages when I referenced them in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

Young Adulthood

In the fall of 1981, I managed to get a promotion to the operations department to be a shift breaker. My job was to fill in for anyone in operations or transportation who was absent or sick. In my spare time, I wrote an operations training manual about how the refinery ran, starting from the laboratory, going over to the operations, and then on to transportation. I drew my own piping diagrams. I loved working there. I later self-published this as Texas Refinery Primer.

While at the refinery my eyesight worsened. I was diagnosed with Keratoconus which is a thinning of the outer parts of my eyes: their corneas. I was told that eventually I would need cornea transplants in either my left or right eye or both.

Things went well at the refinery until there was a dramatic drop in the oil price as a result of Saudi Arabia’s move to flood the world market with cheap oil. The refinery had to shut down because the price for future barrels of oil that its traders had bid for on the world market was too high compared to what we could sell JP-4 jet fuel to the US government for. It was only a matter time before the refinery went bankrupt in January 1982.

Fran and I owned two new cars and a new house, and I was out of a job, so there was a lot of pressure on us. In January 1981, I got a new position as the research assistant at Baylor College of Medicine’s Internal Medicine Department in Houston, and Fran stayed at Transco. However, Fran became very depressed and spent one month in the hospital. After that, her supervisors did not want her to come back. But I called a friend of Fran’s in Transco’s human resources department, and she smoothed things over, allowing for Fran to return. 

During this time she got a job at the Menil Collection in Houston as Librarian and Office Manager at the Image of the Black in Western Art research project and photo archive. In 1983 we became friends with Phil and Jan Heage from Fran’s work at the Menil.

***

While I was working at Baylor College of Medicine, I was assigned to document all the software that had been written for the digital image processing microscopy system. This is where I learned about pixels long before digital imaging was being done with cameras and smart phones. Pixels are “picture elements,” the tiny color dots on a computer screen that compose an image. There were, for example, 640 x 480 pixels on a color monitor in 1983. Years later I would learn more about pixels and their relationship to the universe, comprising the multiverse that I had thought about at the start of my life. Over time I documented all the software. My next task was to help graduate student Ann Plant with our Professor Smith’s research.

***

In the summer of 1983, I was very depressed and Fran was worried. She was seeing Dr. Jose Gutierrez for her psychiatric care. She asked if she could find a psychiatrist for me. I begged her to do so. I started seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Jorge Raichman, a partner of Dr. Gutierrez, and received medication for major depression.

It was time to move on again because I was finally fired from my research assistant job for what I never knew. I answered a newspaper Help Wanted ad and got a job as a property analyst at the Houston law firm of Vincent & Elkins. I was not well paid initially. I was making the same amount as I had earned at the Baylor College of Medicine—but this job had opportunities for growth. I started out doing due diligence, which means doing a detailed analysis of the assets of a client’s or company’s ownership rights, whether the property it is acquiring or selling is intellectual property or real property. I learned how to identify and interpret the language in deeds of trust, warranty deeds in general, quitclaim deeds, easements, operating agreements, and leases. I worked closely with Associate Attorney, Ellen Macklin, and Property Analysts Penny Milbauer and Perry Steele.

The Wilderness Years

As I was convalescing, I applied for and was accepted as a Senior Personnel Specialist in the classified testing division in the personnel department at the City of Houston, Texas, where I had been a part-time item writer. I worked for Diana Rathjen, PhD, who was great! 

I went back to writing test questions again, as well as doing other tasks. For example, I was able to figure out how to use the division’s existing portable computers and scanning machines software to grade the onsite promotion exams that we were administering to the police and fire department candidates. Diana Rathjen guided me to begin writing my four-part multiple-choice questions at an eighth- or ninth-grade level like magazines and newspapers are written at. I did this, and it completely eliminated racial bias in the exam questions that I wrote.  

***  

In May 1993 I had another nervous breakdown. This time, however, it led to me getting the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder and receiving the medications that I needed from Dr. Carlos Guerra: lithium, Wellbutrin, and Risperdal. Diana suggested that I do cognitive therapy so I started psychotherapy with a graduate student, Susan Costin, a student of Professor Collins. They were both great!  

Susan got her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She told me that she was going into private practice and would have to stop seeing me as a patient. I broke down and cried. Susan promised to try and get to see me as a patient. She was later able to do this.

The Third Act

In 2006 I wrote to my long-term clinical psychologist (7 years), Susan Costin, PhD, to thank her once again for helping me get to where I was then mentally and getting the right diagnosis for me. I told her I would never forget when she told me that “anyone else would have given up long ago.”

 But I found that many other have traveled the same road. I was able to look at Fran’s and my bipolar disorders and the course of my life as three stages, like a 3-act play, after reading two books: Joshua Shenk’s Lincoln’s Melancholy and Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind. Shenk describes the course of Lincoln’s life in three stages, just like a three-act play. 

Lincoln came to accept his melancholy and resolved to not give up on life. Next he struggled on with his major depression for many years not knowing exactly where his efforts were taking him and despite numerous setbacks. Finally, he applied the wisdom he gained from his struggles and failures to achieve without hope of personal gain a great success for America: implementation of the proposition that “All men are created equal” in God’s eyes. This was the basis of the Declaration of Independence and his Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln dealt with his depression, his professional and personal problems; with humor, suppression (of oppressive stimuli), anticipation (looking ahead to the good & bad that lie in the future), altruism, and sublimation (channeling passions into art). 

Psychiatrist George Vaillant ‘s studies of mentally healthy subjects show that they use these 5 adaptations or defenses that Lincoln used when confronted with problems. I told Susan that I have not successfully used these 5 adaptations in my life, but she helped me get a good start on applying them.

Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD is a tenured professor in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Professor Jamison has co-authored the standard medical text on manic depressive illness and is co-director of the Institute for Genomic Studies of the Causes of Manic Depression. Earlier in her life became a tenured professor at the UCLA Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. She established the first U.S. outpatient clinic for the treatment and study of mood disorders (depression, bipolar, dysthemia, etc.) there. The life of Professor Kay Jamison that she described in her book An Unquiet Mind follows a similar path to Lincoln’s.

 She struggled to accept her bipolar disorder, decided to continue on even though many with the illness prematurely end their own lives. Then she carried on with her personal and professional life under the weight of her bipolar disorder, accumulated important personal and professional skills and insights through her struggles. Using the transcendent wisdom she had achieved in the middle stage of her life from these struggles, she took an incredible risk of publishing her book, knowing full well that it might end her professional career. She might have lost both her hospital privileges and her professorship. 

But by publishing it in conjunction with co-authoring the standard medical text on manic depressive illness, she had offered incredible insight into mood disorders for purposes far beyond personal gain. I did not get a quick diagnosis and effective treatment for my bipolar illness as she did. Dr. Jamison’s bipolar affective disorder did become serious (as mine did at Swarthmore) right after her being appointed assistant professor of psychiatry at the psychiatry department of the UCLA medical school. By her own admission, if she hadn’t been allowed to take time off she’d have lost her job and even her career. I may have lost many jobs and have no career at all, but I believe that this serves God’s purpose. I have been working hard in spite of my failures and setbacks. All is not doom and gloom though because of the emotional pain and psychological struggles that Fran and I have had to go through. 

Fran and I have both gone through three stages in our lives. First, we struggled with the symptoms, getting the right diagnoses and medications; and decided to continue on (many take their own lives). Second, under the effects of our illnesses, we did the best we could to get our post-secondary education, work jobs, have a successful marriage, and be good friends and citizens. Of course, there were frequent disappointments and setbacks. Thirdly, we have both come to a third stage in our lives where we have been able to use the experiences and apply the wisdom we gained from our lives’ third stage to help others. It was a difficult decision for Fran and me to not have children. But it was the right one. 

We are often surprised that people who have manic depressive illness (bipolar disorder), just like Fran and I do, do not realize two major problems with their being parents. First, studies of the Amish (a good group for genetic studies) and others showed that the illness is genetically transmittable (it may be passed to one’s children just like hemophilia). Second, the illness can be quite debilitating at times, rendering the parent unable to care properly for his or her children. Dr. Jamison came to this heart-rending realization far later in her life than either of us as she describes in her book.

I believe that Shenk’s historical construct for understanding Lincoln’s life is a very healthy way for any person who has suffered a serious impairment either through injury or illness to achieve peace of mind by using it as a reference, a comparison tool for their life. It could also be used for a person to help a loved one understand and cope with such an impairment. It might help a person deal with the death of a parent, sibling, spouse, child or friend. I also believe that Lincoln’s and Jamison’s lives have been for a divine purpose. I believe that we are all here for a purpose. 

I refer you to the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus and his disciples encounter a blind man. The disciples ask if the man is blind because of his sins or those of his parents. Jesus replies for neither reason, but to show the power of God working in his life. I think of Helen Keller. The power of God may be seen working in each of our lives if we know the Holy Scriptures and examine our lives closely. Lincoln believed in a sense that he was sailing on God’s ship, not as captain, but as a sailor. He chose to work hard in that capacity. He was profoundly aware, as described in Lincoln’s Melancholy, that God’s purposes may not be at all clear and that they may stretch well beyond a person’s lifetime, but one had to persevere. He knew that God had the power to stop the Civil War from starting and could have stopped it at any time. But Lincoln believed that God was working out His purposes and very likely intended men to continue to do so long after the Civil War was over. When asked which side he thought God was on during the Civil War, he responded, “I am more concerned about if I am on God’s side.” This letter was a revelation to write. I shared it with other family members.

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