當我的筆一接觸紙面，我的腦袋立刻跳出一個思維。那思維是由一種聲音在對我說話(The thought was said to me, by a voice.)。那是一種我曾聽過最柔和、最慈愛、最溫和的聲音——除了它並不是一個聲音。它是……我只能稱之為一個無聲之聲……或者，更像……像一個被字句覆蓋的感覺(I could only call a voiceless voice…or maybe, more like…like a feeling that had words all over it.)。
你對許多事情都是「寧可下地獄」。但你何不選「寧可上天堂」呢？(You ARE “sure as hell”—about a lot of things. But wouldn’t you rather be “sure as heaven”?)
我發現自己在回答說：你他媽的是什麼意思？(What in the hell is that supposed to mean?)
The Conversations with God dialogue was not written as a book. Unlike the material I am now writing. I had no idea, when the dialogue began, that it was ever going to see print. As far as I knew, I was having a private process, to which no one else would ever be privy.
That process began on a night in February of 1992 when I was on the verge of falling into chronic depression. Nothing had been going right in my life. My relationship with my significant other was kaput, my career had hit a dead end, and even my health was failing.
Usually in my life it had been one thing or another, but now it was everything at once. The whole construction was collapsing, and I couldn't seem to do anything to stop it.
It wasn't the first time that I'd stood by helplessly, watching what I had thought would be a permanent relationship dissolve right before my eyes.
Nor was it the second, or third, or fourth.
I was becoming very angry about my inability to hold a relationship together, my apparent total lack of understanding about what it takes to do that, and the fact that nothing I tried seemed to work.
I was coming to feel that I had simply not been given the equipment to play the game of Life, and I was furious.
My career wasn't going any better. Things had pretty much dwindled to nothing, my over thirty years of hovering around the broadcasting and journalism businesses reaping pitifully meager rewards. I was forty-eight years old with nothing much to show for a half century on the planet.
Not surprisingly, my health had taken a downhill turn as well. I'd suffered a broken neck in a car accident a few years before and hadn't ever fully recovered. Prior to that in my life, I'd had a collapsed lung and suffered from ulcers, arthritis, and severe allergies. I felt at forty-eight as if my body was falling apart. And so it was that on a February night in 1992, I awoke with anger in my heart.
Tossing and turning as I tried to go back to sleep, I was a mountain of frustration. Finally, I threw back the covers and stomped out of the bedroom. I went where I always go in the middle of the night when I'm seeking wisdom—but there was nothing decent in the refrigerator, so I found myself on the couch instead.
There I sat, stewing in my own juice.
Finally, in the moonlight streaming through the window, I saw a yellow legal pad on the coffee table in front of me. I picked it up, found a pen, flicked on a lamp, and began writing an angry letter to God.
What does it take to make life WORK???? What have I done to deserve a life of such continuing struggle? And what are the rules here? Somebody tell me the RULES! I'll play, but first somebody has to tell me the rules. And after you tell me, don't change them!!!!
On and on like that I wrote, scribbling madly all over the pad—writing very large, as I do when I am angry, pressing down so hard that a person could hold a sheet five pages lower up to the light and see what I had written.
Finally, I'd emptied myself out. The anger, frustration, and near-hysteria had dissipated, and I remember thinking, I've got to tell my friends about this. A yellow legal pad in the middle of the night might be the best therapy, after all.
I held out my arm to put down the pen, but it wouldn't leave my hand. That's amazing, I thought to myself. A few minutes of intensive writing and your hand cramps so badly, you can't even let go of the pen.
I waited for my muscles to relax but was struck instead with a feeling that there was something more I needed to write. I watched as I brought pen back to paper, fascinating myself even as I did it, because I knew of nothing more that I wanted to write. Yet here I was acting as if there was more to be written.
No sooner had the pen reached the pad than my mind filled with a thought. The thought was said to me, by a voice. It was the softest, kindest, most gentle voice I had ever heard. Except that it wasn’t a voice. It was a. . . what I could only call a voiceless voice or maybe, more like.., like a feeling that had words all over it.
The words that I “heard” in this way were:
Neale, do you really want answers to all of these questions, or are you just venting?
I remember thinking, I AM venting, but if you've got answers, I'd sure as hell like to know what they are. To which I received the reply:
You ARE “sure as hell”—about a lot of things. But wouldn't you rather be “sure as heaven”?
And I found myself answering, What in the hell is that supposed to mean?
Thereafter came the most extraordinary thoughts, ideas, communications, call them what you will, that I've ever experienced. The thoughts were so stunning that I found myself writing them down—and responding to them. The ideas being given to me (through me?) were answering my questions, but they were also bringing up other questions I'd never had before. So here I was, having a pen-and-paper “dialogue.”