The long and winding flight of the falcon
By Robert Urbanek
When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. — Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier
While pregnant, my mother, who rode the Red Cars (the old trolley cars in Los Angeles) to work, was approached by a woman who wanted to buy me. She refused. I was born on June 29, 1950. As I recall, my mother also claimed that someone tried to steal me when I was born. While these accounts may evoke images of Rosemary’s Baby, I do bear a resemblance to my father, so there does not appear to be anything directly supernatural in my parentage.
My father, a cook and, according to my mother, a homosexual, alcoholic and petty thief, left when I was about six. My mother raised me alone, working as an electronic assembler for various aerospace companies.
A defining period in my life began when I was about 12 years old. As I entered adolescence and junior high school, my desires and anxieties drove my grades down. I especially dreaded PE and had developed a horrible backache that school officials thought I had invented to get out of gym class.
In one test to determine if I had a kidney problem, a doctor shoved a tube up my penis and sent me for an x-ray. While I layed on the hard, cold table, the radiologist pumped fluid into my bladder and asked me to pee while he took x-rays. Having never urinated while lying down or while others were watching, I couldn't "perform." The technician tried pumping more fluid into my bladder in the belief this would force me to urinate. It didn't. Finally, frustrated and angry, he pulled the tube out and I was able to use the bathroom in private.
Later, a test confirmed that I had a spinal TB, which required that I wear for a few weeks a cast that extended from my chest to my hips. Later, I wore a back brace for several months.
The painful episode with the catheter seemed to intensify my shy bladder condition. I couldn't pee in high school because none of the stalls had doors. I couldn't urinate if people were waiting for me to finish; thus, I avoided any events or places where people had to wait in line to use a toilet. And my worst dread was that someone would use a catheter on me again — a fear that would someday be realized in literally mythic proportions.
I attended Lynwood High School in Lynwood, California. After a disappointing year at USC, where I majored in physics, I wound up for a few months at Compton Junior College. I then went to California State University, Long Beach and majored in journalism. Considering the incredibly small objects studied in physics and the broad nature of journalism, I went from studying everything about nothing to studying nothing about everything.
Cosmos X 3 At Cal State Long Beach, I worked part-time as the production manager of a small New Age publication, COSMOS. At the time, I believed most of the content to be rubbish. A few years later, I was more in tune with Carl Sagan's TV series, COSMOS, which offered a rational explanation of creation and the universe. Two decades later, I would merge these New Age and scientific perspectives into a "balanced" view of the cosmos.
In September 2008, I purchased Issue 19 of COSMOS, an Australian science magazine, at a bookstore in Vacaville, California. As this was the January 2008 issue, apparently the publication arrived on a slow boat from Sydney.
Besides adding a third component to my intersection with the cosmos, the magazine coincided with material on my website tonyahardingshotjfk.com. Both the magazine and the site had stories on nuclear fusion. The COSMOS article "The Real Sherlock Holmes" included the same quote "when you have eliminated all which is impossible" that introduces this essay. COSMOS included a "Weird Science" column title on page 13. My website also had a Weird Science heading.
I attribute these coincidences to common thoughts that travel the world through a collective consciousness. Since cosmos is a synonym for universe, perhaps my trek from COSMOS to COSMOS to COSMOS is evidence that parallel or multiple universes do exist and people are traveling among them. If you think these are crazy ideas, then you have to concede another meaningful coincidence: The COSMOS article on page 58 asked "Do you have to be nuts to be a genius?" The answer: No, but it could help.
I sent an e-mail to a COSMOS editor commenting on the coincidences. In the October/November 2008 issue, my e-mail appeared as a letter to the editor. However, my correspondence was rewritten to falsely state that my fusion article and the reference to Sherlock Holmes were published in the old Long Beach-based COSMOS, not on my website. Apparently, the new COSMOS did not want to give any publicity to my blog.
A dream I had in March 2009 suggested I would continue to have problems with the media filtering my message. In the dream, Nexus magazine, an Australian New Age publication, accepts my Lesbian Fusion article. I receive the magazine with the article soon after. The headline and first two paragraphs state I was inspired by some other author favored by the magazine. I am furious.
The dream seemed to suggest I cannot rely on other people to promote my ideas; they have their own agendas to push. I have to be in charge.
After graduating from Cal State Long Beach in 1973, I worked for three years on two community newspaper chains then attained better paying work in business communications. I moved from Southern California to an apartment in Napa in 1990 when the firm I was working for, The Doctors' Company, relocated to Napa.
Twin Peaks My spiritual awakening began in 1990 with director David Lynch's television show, Twin Peaks. Fascinated with the symbols and dreams in the program, I became convinced that I had deciphered the secrets of the show. According to my theory, Indian spirits lived in the woods surrounding the town of Twin Peaks. When the lumber mill ravaged the forest, the angry spirits were forced from their homes. One took refuge in the log of the Log Lady and spoke to her. Others occupied the all-wood Great Northern Hotel. As revenge for the destruction of their woodland home, the spirits began possessing various people in town. One spirit, "Bob," took possession of Leland Palmer, causing him to murder his daughter Laura. Another result of the spirit-induced conflicts was that the lumber mill was burned down.
Native Americans summon spirits through dancing. The dwarf in Cooper’s dream danced, Leland Palmer danced and “Bob” danced around the flames at the railroad car. The dwarf dressed in red could represent the “red man,” the American Indian. There are “Big” and “Little” men in the dreams, just as there are “Big” and “Little” in many American Indian names.
I waited for the show to eventually confirm my theory of spiritual ecoterrorism. Instead, the show devolved into a routine soap opera. Had I read into the show a meaning that wasn't there? I came to another conclusion: The spiritual world is trying to send us messages through creative artists. Writers and artists are usually unaware of this process and do not understand the messages that are symbolically represented in their movies, TV shows, songs and other creative endeavors. Twin Peaks is but one example of this phenomenon. I would subsequently discover symbolic messages in the movies Independence Day and the 1982 remake of The Thing.
Showtime revived the ABC cult classic for a nine-episode run.
In January 1991, the Gulf War began. I fantasized about various scenarios of how the war might unfold. It is always more fun to imagine what the underdog, in this case, Saddam Hussein, might do. I thought I had come up with a whopper of an idea: Saddam Hussein had built a crude nuclear reactor in Kuwait and was prepared to melt it down if forced to retreat. The resulting radiation would poison our soldiers and the oil fields.
I contacted the military regarding my idea and two days later I was interviewed by an Army Intelligence officer who said my idea was the sort of thing Saddam would do.
I began to embellish my idea of a nuclear reactor as a weapon. If Saddam were to use such a weapon, he might want to connect it somehow to Islam. I discovered that some early nuclear reactors were in the form of a black graphite cube with a core of enriched uranium. Such cubes might be compared to the dark Kaaba (or Ka’bah, Arabic meaning "cube"), the building at the mosque in Mecca, and the uranium core might be likened to the Black Stone, a small sacred rock embedded in one corner of the Kaaba.
My musings took the form of a screenplay, which I dubbed The Black Stone. I imagined that Saddam had come upon the idea of a nuclear Kaaba in a dream and reveals it to his mistress. Then the idea came to me that the mistress was a supernatural being who had placed the dream in Saddam's head. I made her a goddess and gave her three identities: Kali, the fierce Hindu goddess; Medusa, the snake-haired goddess; and al-Uzza, a pre-Islamic goddess associated with the Black Stone. I would later discover that the triple goddess was a common form in mythology and that sacred stones were associated with synchronicity (meaningful coincidences).
After my interview with the Army Intelligence officer, I shared my idea with a fellow employee, who, it turned out, had been an Army Intelligence officer in Vietnam. In another coincidence, he had a picture of Kali on his bedroom wall.
A few months later, I bought my first house. The seller was a black man and the house in Vacaville was on Peregrine Way, named after a falcon. After escrow closed, I remembered that the first car I owned was a 1961 Ford Falcon, bought from a used car dealer who was also a black man. After moving to Vacaville, I switched tax preparers. I randomly picked one from the yellow pages. When I went to his office, I discovered that he was an African-American with two pictures of falcons on his walls.
The falcon coincidences escalated. Two or three times a week, I would see a Ford Falcon in traffic, which seemed unusual since Ford had stopped making the car in the early 1970s. Falcons would appear seconds after I would turn on my TV. In one incident, I turned on an episode of Connections, the PBS series which showed the sometimes unusual circumstances that led to inventions (similar to the strange coincidences that would lead to my innovative ideas). A few seconds after turning on the show, a Kuwaiti falconer appeared.
One of the more compelling coincidences came after I had developed my ideas regarding the sexuality of nuclear energy. My theories regarding the "maleness" of the nuclear bomb and the "femaleness" of the nuclear reactor seemed obvious. I wondered if someone had thought of them before. I bought The Tao of Physics, whose yin/yang cover hinted at a male/female approach to physics. However, the author, Fritjof Capra, mostly addressed physics on the subatomic level. My original ideas were still original.
Shirley MacLaine Then, on a trip to Southern California to visit my mother, I stopped at a bookstore in a mall and saw a stack of Shirley MacLaine's Going Within on sale. I had some interest in the book only because I had read that MacLaine had interviewed physicist Stephen Hawking, whose last name is a synonym for falconry. I picked up a copy from the stack and randomly opened it to page 177. On the right page was a quote from The Tao of Physics, the book I had just finished reading. On the left was an account of a seance in which the participants had contacted a character on the "other side" who kept peregrine falcons.
When I arrived at my mother's house, she was sitting in front of the TV, watching the movie Oh God!, which starred John Denver as a reluctant prophet of God, played by George Burns. I wondered if a similar role was being thrust on me. Several days later, while driving back to Northern California, I was nearly sideswiped by a Ford Falcon.
My work at The Doctors' Company had begun to suffer. My obsession with my screenplay played a part but it also seemed that I couldn't do anything right. I sought the help of a counselor, whose last name began with a U and had the same number of letters as Urbanek. While waiting in his office, I noticed a nature magazine with a photo of a falcon on the cover. I mentioned this and the other coincidences to the counselor. He said my experiences seemed very Jungian; I should look into the works of Carl Jung. Meanwhile, he suggested I try to draw firm boundaries between my work and my creative obsession. I tried, but nothing seemed to help. I resigned from the company in November 1992.
In my research, I had looked up falcons in an encyclopedia devoted to religion and mythology. According to one article, falcons are an omen of great political and social change. I recall finding a reference to falcons in Egyptian mythology but, for some reason, the information did not seem compelling at the time. The falcon is a symbol of the sun gods Horus and Re, though some reference works list the hawk as the symbol of Re.
Meanwhile, I had completed my screenplay of The Black Stone. While I had received some encouragement from one Hollywood "insider," I was unable to sell the script. I decided to turn my idea into a novel. I completed the book in 1993 and found a legitimate agent, but he was unable to interest a publisher in the book.
Self-publishing In June 1994 I began a job in San Rafael editing a managed care newsletter for CCH Incorporated. Flush with new money, I flirted with the idea of soliciting a "vanity" publisher. Then I bought a copy of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross (1994). A few pages into the book, I discovered this passage regarding how to conduct research on the Internet: "Don't request a printout on 'birds' if all you want to know are the nesting habits of the peregrine falcon."
Encouraged by this coincidence, I created my book, The Black Stone, on PageMaker. After getting an estimate from a printer for 3,000 copies of my 198-page manuscript, I went to the bank and closed out a maturing CD to acquire the necessary funds. As I waited for the paperwork to be completed, I gazed out the bank window and saw a Ford Falcon passing by.
Person of the Year In 2005, I replaced the handicapped license plate on my car with a new plate, which include the letters POY. Always alert for coincidences impacting my life, I googled POY but only came up with such listings as "Photos of the Year" and "polyester yarn," which seemed unrelated to my personal mythology. Then, on November 29, 2006, while leafing through a copy of Time after donating blood, I saw the magazine refer to its upcoming Person of the Year as POY. I thought, it's too late for me to be named Person of the Year for 2006.
Well, the joke's on me. I was named TIME Person of the Year for 2006, along with everybody else, for, as TIME stated, "seizing the reins of global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game."
Monk and the ill-fitting suit As "Re at noon," how much would my possible reign resemble that of Franklin Roosevelt and Adolph Hitler, the previous incarnations of the falcon god?
A dream I had on August 4, 2004 may provide an answer. In the dream, TV detective Adrian Monk is summoned to court. He doesn't want to go. Nevertheless, he shows up and takes a seat on a bench at the front of the courtroom. I am not sure if he is a witness or defendant; perhaps he is both.
Monk is wearing World War II era clothes: drab green coat and pants. While the suit does not have any medals or stripes, the outfit seems to suggest both a civilian and military role. He is scrunched up and squirming on the bench because the clothes are too tight. There is a rip and/or stain on the front of the pants or the bottom section of the coat.
Monk represents me, an obsessive spiritual detective. The ill-fitting clothes are the 1940s "costumes" worn by Roosevelt and Hitler and the rip and stain are their flaws. Since the clothes are too small for me, I should be playing a larger character than either leader. Indeed, if I can think and act in bigger terms than Roosevelt and Hitler, I might avoid the judgment (courtroom appearance) warranted by small and petty aspirations.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one In September 2008 I received an e-mail that revealed I was not the only person who had experienced both falcon synchronicity and urination issues. This person, who I will refer to as Re2, had come across my website while searching for connections between Hitler and Jesus. “While I don’t agree with all details of your analysis of omens and symbols, I have found a kindred spirit in essence and share many of your personal issues,” he wrote.
Re2 had experienced urination problems, including some degree of paruresis and bladder infections, and had dreamed of “pissing blood in weird places.” He reported, “During the time of bladder difficulties I was also constantly followed by falcons, in particular a white falcon . . . that would follow me on my walk to work every day. I was also reading lots of [Carlos] Castaneda at the time (Journey to Ixtlan) and doing my own writing about a prophet named Robert!”
Re2 also read the books of Aleister Crowley, but only those works which delved into Egyptian symbolism (Book of Thoth, 777) seemed to be of any real interest to him. When he stopped reading other peoples’ works and focused on his own philosophy of the Universe and Life, the falcon visitations and bladder problems ended. He also recommended pissing outside to become “grounded” with the Earth. “I believe now that I broke the curse of Horus or Ra, whichever, but maintain the incarnation of the essence of all his incarnations (Jesus, Hitler, Allah), without the obvious disadvantages of being superhuman, like being persecuted and hunted down by hostile parties . . .”
Unlike this kindred spirit, I have not become “grounded.” Indeed, the persistence of the falcon coincidences has kept me “in the clouds.”
I wonder now about my role as an incarnation of Re. If there are other falcon mystics, am I but one of many Re equals? Or am I the chief Re and prophet, a kind of pharaoh to a class of high priests who have experienced lesser degrees of Re-ness? Perhaps higher beings on the “other side” had lost confidence in my abilities as Re and had tried to recruit Re2 as my replacement. Still, the message that Re2 had been “writing about a prophet named Robert” gave me confidence that I still have a unique place in history.
Filling in the blanks The weekend version of the Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle is usually the hardest to solve but I was able to breeze through the June 20, 2009 edition without seeking answers on the Internet.
MALTESE FALCON, 1 across, and ASSOCIATE EDITOR, 55 across, were particularly meaningful, as falcons have played a role in my divine awakening, the Bogart film led to an alternative reality, and I served as an associate editor for a former employer. Perhaps these are signs that I am close to solving the puzzle of my life.
If I should encounter Winona Ryder, the star of 14 across, GIRL INTERRUPTED, perhaps I can woo her with 16 across, ROMANCE LANGUAGE, and rise to the occasion with hard wood from 60 across, PETRIFIED FOREST.
Above the crossword puzzle, my sign headlined the Eugenia Last horoscope: “Cancer looks to make changes at home” and the forecast stated, “You can make a powerful impact on others if you are true to yourself and put your experience to the test.”
Images COSMOS © 2008 Luna Media Pty. Ltd., fair use; Twin Peaks dream dwarf, Lynch/Frost Productions, fair use; Ford Falcon advertisement © Ford Motor Co., fair use; The Black Stone © Robert Urbanek; Re on barque, public domain; Time magazine, Time Inc., fair use
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