63. Leading the blind
The first time I had heard about IOD was in a radio commercial. IOD stood for Information Overload Disorder. Was I suffering from this illness? Is it for real or was it invented to advertise a product or service?
My brain seemed to be constantly floating information, which often stirred it into action. As I opened the bible to certain passages I could see parallels to what I had written in my story. There were some awesome moments, which left me wondering what it was all about. If I first had searched for scriptures and then shaped my stories around these to create a clever little plot, I would be a charlatan. But I knew the words were born on the inspiration of the moment. If there were peculiarities, these were true God-incidences.
I leave it up to the reader to find the passages in Revelation and to make up their own mind. To answer the question left open in the last chapter let’s look at Revelations 10, Verse 5: “And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land, lifted up his hand* to heaven.” The asterisk in my authorized version of the bible refers to footnote 50: *NU-text and M-text read right hand. The index-page of my website shows hands, many hands. At first glance it would be hard to pick if it was the right or left hand.
The hand represents the number five. It is the hand of peace and goodwill. It is impossible to fight with an open hand. You raise a fist to symbolize physical power. Christ’s power is beyond the physical. His weapon is love. In Roman numerals five equals V, for victory. Spiritual power overcomes physical force. The hands on my webpage are all right hands. When I later stumbled across the scripture in Rev. 10.5, it filled me with a holy fear. Were I to minimize it as just another co-incident I would not be facing facts. I longed for a non-judgemental, theological person to discuss these issues.
The code pro 35 plus had been born during crash seven. It was a simple reference to Proverbs 3, Verses 5 and 6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your path.
In late March 2003 I was to experience this principle in a dramatic way. To ignore your human logic seemed a crazy notion. Did not God give us brains and HIS spirit to see us through life’s journey? Why are we encouraged to lay aside our own thinking and blindly follow wherever we feel HE directs us?
The following chapters are an account of such a journey. I embarked on it honestly, trying to follow above principle through blind trust. It started with an invitation to visit Melbourne, but captured my imagination that led me many miles away across an ocean. My biggest test of faith ever was about to begin.
In 1993 I had met a driving instructor who was visiting my hometown Adelaide, South Australia from Melbourne, Victoria. It was a chance encounter on Adelaide’s North Terrace. Garry saw the sign writing of the MCA vehicle after I had parked nearby. He was picnicking with his family and I ran over to introduce himself. We had kept in touch on and off via email. When my online business expanded into Victoria, Garry was my main interstate contact.
At the end of March 2003 Garry’s Lion’s Club planned for their annual “In the driver’s seat” to take place at Sandown Raceway on Sunday 30th March. For the past seven years the club had arranged a fleet of driving instructors to volunteer their vehicles to give visually impaired people the experience of driving a motor car. I was invited by the club to attend this unique event with the view of bringing the program to South Australia.
Originally, Garry had said that 130 VIP’s were to attend the gathering. I accepted without any hesitation. Only later did he let on what VIP meant: visually impaired people. I looked forward to the chance for a short break away. I planned to take a day off on either side of the weekend and enjoy a short tour through the pretty Victorian countryside in late autumn. Unfortunately Isobel did not want to come. Nothing persuaded her, even the Lion Club’s special invitation to her and Jon.
As the event drew closer I asked some friends, if they would join me for the short break. Nobody showed any interest. My mate Geoff would jump at such an opportunity, but his work situation did not allow him to have a day off. With only days to go to departure I decided to take a plane and forget the excursion. On my own it would not be much fun driving 1000 kilometers to Melbourne.
On Friday 28th March, the day before departure, I received a spam-email with the words – Hide-away safe – printed in bold letters. I had reached a stage of thinking beyond messages via emails and ignored the strange email. But a specific article in the newspaper, plus an in depth interview on radio about the same story, made me sit up and start considering my position. I will not reveal details at this point, as they are rather complex. The way I interpreted the article revealed that I could get hurt and it was best if I flew away for a time.
Had I explained this to anybody, no one would believe me; I hated being mocked. Isobel would be in a panic, possibly calling on the doctors and I would end up in the mental hospital again. It was in a rather bizarre situation. I had a choice of following my urging spirit or to act rationally. Since I was a whistleblower, on a grand scale with more dynamite waiting to explode, I had reason to believe that certain people would like to see the last of me. Just because I was not paranoid did not mean no one was after me. Sounds like a joke, but this was the reality of my life as I saw it at the time.
Friday was taken up mainly with finishing chapters 60 – 62 of this story and packing a small overnight bag. Something inside told me to pack extra underwear and socks etc. and to carry my passport. As I said good-bye to Isobel at the airport the next morning I had an uneasy feeling. When would I see her again? Saturday 29th of March was the beginning of new chapter of the weird and wonderful faith-walk into the unknown.
Right from the beginning at Adelaide airport my thoughts were filled with the impression that there was a master plan and I was the robot that executed it. The first strange incident happened at check-in. I recognized a famous face just ahead of me. (My difficulty here is to maintain people’s privacy and still show credibility when connecting the pieces). The person was mentioned in an earlier part of my story, as the one who suggested letting incurably ill, young people end their life, if they wished to do so. He was booked to sit right next to me in seat 13 D. I was in 13 C. Was I to make conversation with this VIP for an hour? Fortunately he never took his seat on that plane.
At the front of the plane sat a junior (under 12’s) national baseball team. They were on the way to competing against 14 teams from Japan and the US, if I remember correctly. I never knew an under 12’s national baseball team existed in Australia. (Later a baseball team would play a major role in my story). A bald-headed man, who had attended the same church as us for many years, exchanged a few words with me as we boarded.
The names of the people sitting beside me were Dianne and Brendan. She was reading lecture notes about old people’s health. She must have been a keen student to study in the plane on the way to a long weekend with her husband. A girl across the isle was reading the South Australian road code book; another eager student, one in my field of expertise. Garry met me at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, holding up a sign with my name written on it. I would have recognized him without it. Garry’s surname is interesting; it is another word for hints.
Garry suggested he would like to show me around Melbourne during the morning, which I readily agreed to. Firstly we drove around the port. I couldn’t help noticing the signs, my numbers 3 or 5 etc. seemed to jump at me. I ignored it. I also noticed bus stop advertising was identical to that in Adelaide. I viewed certain ones as interesting (e.g. Claudia Schiffer’s twin-sister) but, of course, never mentioned anything to Garry.
The big day at Sandown (own sand?) was on the Sunday, 30/03/03 perhaps another reason why my mind was on a heightened state of alert. Garry’s wife and family normally came to this event, but they had to work. We got there very early. I tried to be useful in setting up, the banners, the food stall, chairs etc. Visually impaired people were booked ½ hour time slots. They and their carers started arriving at around 8.30 am. Garry gave a debriefing and introduced me to the group of driving instructors. Many I knew by name from the listing on my website, but I had never met any personally.
One blind man had arrived by taxi. I noticed him and took the initiative, introduced myself and offered to lead him around. He had an appointment for the first session at 9 am. It was quite an experience to sit silently in the back of a car, moving at speeds up to 100 km/hour, and knowing the driver is totally blind. The standard joke is to remind the driver to check the mirror frequently and to just follow the white line. Garry said he had reached a speed of 146 km/h with a driver one year. I found that hard to believe and suggested a fresh category for the Guinness Book of Records – the fastest speed reached by a blind driver.
The crowds started to swell at lunch time, whole families enjoyed a day out. The Lions Club provided a free BBQ, a Motorcycle club as well as vintage car club took visitors for free rides. The fine weather, the food and entertainment created a carnival-like atmosphere. An army Jazz band played catchy tunes: When the saints go marching in, American Patrol, Battle hymn of the republic, Washington Swing. To know the name of this last tune I had a sneaky look at the sheet music. Another tune was played – Who’s sorry now? My imagination started to get stirred hearing this music and thinking of the lyrics.
The names of some of the participants and visitors (most wore nametags) were a further source for increased bewilderment. There was a Dieter, who volunteered on the registration desk. My tired mind and body reached a point of exhaustion, so I slept for a while on the back seat of Garry’s car. As I dozed I wondered what it all meant. Especially the songs Washington Swing and American patrol gnawed at me. I had received an email from the group of business people in Washington only the day before. The concluding line was: if you ever need to contact us please phone 800…. I had emailed back, thanking them and advising that I probably will need to phone them soneday (misspelling intended). How prophetic this turned out to be.
The thought that had been churning over in my subconscious mind, came to the fore. I became convinced that I would be visiting Washington DC. On the way home to Garry’s house I struggled with the decision of telling him my line of thinking. On the one hand I knew that my thoughts and behaviour looked very much like another “manic episode”, possibly a recurrence of my previous condition. On the other hand I was convinced that because of my serious whistle blowing in Adelaide, I was a hated man to some. To move away, far away to the US for a time, may be necessary.
I took the risk and filled Garry in on my plans to travel to the US for a while. He seemed shocked and concerned about my wife. I explained that Isobel would not understand and probably have me admitted into a mental hospital if I told her. This had occurred before. He appeared more puzzled and confused. I recalled an email I had sent to him just a month prior, saying – do you really know me, Garry?
The next morning after breakfast I phoned a relative, Jane, (not her real name) in Sydney. I asked her to please phone Isobel to say I would not be on the 5 pm plane, but would be away for a few more days and to not worry. She seemed embarrassed and handed the telephone over to another close relative, who lives at the same address. Neither must have taken me seriously. The message never arrived.
Gary drove me to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, repeatedly questioning me about my reasons for such drastic action. I could only say that I felt unsafe to return to Adelaide at this time, because of my outspokenness in certain matters. I thanked him for his hospitality. “If things don’t work out, I may even roll up on your doorstep this evening”, I mentioned in parting.
Just as Garry dropped me at the airport a tall man with long, blond hair walked by. I could have sworn it was Richard Branson, the owner of the Virgin Empire. It wasn’t, but over the next 10 days, I would spot another half dozen or so look-alikes.
Isobel told me to take some extra cash. l had less than one hundred dollars on me. I made a deal with God: I only will travel if you provide the transport in an extra-ordinary way. I had to involve HIM here; this was a journey I had started by trusting HIM. How could I suddenly leave HIM behind and take charge myself? This was one of the most testing times in my life – I needed HIM more than ever. I kept reminding HIM that it would be totally unfair to bring me this far and then let me down. This was not HIS nature.
What would the booking clerk at the airline desk say to a request for a flight to the US, paid for by blind faith?
Autobiography - Dieter Fischer
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves