Life: A Field Manual

Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules.

Ashleigh Brilliant

A nonfiction book concept, Life: A Field Manual has been haunting me since 2016 (and long before). That book has been evolving, changing, and had several previous names. This year, the book concept evolved again.

In March 2020, the years-old nonfiction book appeared inside of a larger fictional story. At that moment, the final piece for this book concept fell into place.

Here’s the description of my new fictional book concept:

Time for an announcement: finally got the green light on my book. I’ve been searching for the right structure, the right paradigm, and now it’s here. 🎉🎉🎉

It’s a story about students who gain admission to a school, working name “the Academy.” The school has a core curriculum and requirements for graduation, including must learn another language, must experience other cultures, must learn about addictions and other basic life challenges. Know Thyself. Basic and Advanced Integrity. etc. etc. I have already developed most of the course outlines since I started this project in 2016, it’s the ‘book' I was calling "Life: A Field Manual.”

This Academy is a thinly veiled metaphor for the School of Life. The students will be learning the fundamentals, the core basics, of life: both practical human life, and also philosophy of life, how things work. Each student attends the Academy and is also required to attend a second school or job, their choice, where they learn a trade, to pay the bills. The students are based on different human archetypes: the warrior-activist, the hedonist-lover of life, the investigator, etc. Archetypes from the Enneagram and from the Tarot. Storylines about each character will reflect what that human archetype normally faces as challenge in life.

Each teacher is working on a specific service project. One of those service projects is to create a new board game model, to replace Monopoly and Milton Bradley’s "The Game of Life."

So, as it turns out, the book Life: A Field Manual is part of a larger story, part of a School or Academy. In this Academy, the thrill of learning and education, the wonder and awe of discovery, takes place, and also the hard work of honing the Self.

Perhaps you are one of the students in this Academy.

Perhaps the Academy is this forum, this classroom that you are now attending.

About Roland

I am a teacher

Not in the conventional sense. I have no licenses or credentials, no professional experience. No one has ever called me “Mr. __" or “Professor __". Only once or twice in my life can I recall ever teaching officially: in college in the 1970s there’s a dim memory of being a tutor and peer instructor for an engineering course, once, one semester, and at Project Place in Boston in the 1980s I co-led a peer course in crisis counseling, once. That’s it.

Teaching is my calling. Teaching is the easiest thing I ever do. Teaching is easier for me than breathing.

I could lay mystical explanations on you. My Tarot archetype is a major-arcana 5: the Hierophant, the Master Teacher, the Teacher of Life Studies. My Enneagram type, Type 5, is the Investigator, the Natural Student, and because every student is also a teacher, the Natural Teacher as well. My essence is student-teacher, teacher-student.

Imagine Ali Baba’s Cave of Treasure.

Imagine you are entering a Magical Cave: in front of you rests an enormous pile of treasure, a heaping stack of valuables, a mixed-up collection of objects made out of precious metals mixed with gemstones and crystals of every variety, of every color and size, some raw and mined straight out of the earth, some cut and faceted and finished, some set into jewelry, and some fashioned into everyday practical objects like drinking mugs and pens and chairs and tables and light switch plates and lamps and kitchen utensils and much more.

Now imagine that you are this Cave filled to overflowing with valuables. This Cave is so full of valuables that the floor of the cave is covered, there is no place to walk, you have to climb and crawl your way from point A to point B. These valuables jam the door track, so that it’s hard to open and close the door to the cave. The pile is so high you could replace the ceiling lights in the cave, when they ever to go out, just by climbing the pile.

That’s what it’s like being me.

Inside me we see unfinished gemstones of every size, color and shape. Inside me we see precious metal objects, some of them decorative, some of them practical and ready-for-use. Inside me we see valuables in raw form (picture raw ore, unrefined chunks of rock), in purified form (picture gold and silver nuggets and uncut gems), in partially-finished and finished form (picture partially-cut and finished gems). Lastly we behold finely manufactured and completed objects, available for immediate use.

Being me has been like a train wreck, a massive congestion and tangle. This forum, this “newsletter” or vehicle for writing, is for the purpose of allowing me to begin to untangle the train wreck, to begin to clear out the immense stockpile inside the Cave of Treasure. It’s unmanageable, it’s unwieldy, it’s overwhelming: it needs to be cleared out. It needs to be shared.

Join my family of friends

Are you intrigued? Want to join the Academy?

Sign up here.