A Man
Overboard

 

 

An interview with Greg Baer

Brotherly Love


:If someone had told me as a kid that my older brother would some day be standing in front of throngs of people addressing them on how to find "love" in their life, I would have gone into apoplectic fits of laughter. And what was he going to teach me about being "loving?" After all, I grew up in the same family as him (and another brother) and all we knew to do was hate each other. Well, "hate" may be too strong a word. But it wasn't exactly "brotherly love" either. All that jostling and hitting ... come on, be real.

Well, lo and behold. After almost fifty years of looking, I am starting to believe there might be such a thing as real love.

And, Greg Baer has written a wonderful book with the same name Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love And Fulfilling Relationships, recently released by Gotham Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc.

I'm trying to be impartial here telling this story, but how the hell did HE get a book deal with a major publishing house? Sibling rivalry is raising its ugly head. I must move on.

"More than anything in the world we want to be genuinely happy, which is only possible when we feel enough Real Love unconditional love in our lives," Greg says on the cover of his new book which is chock full of interesting real-life stories of his experiences counseling people. Alright, there's some wisdom in it, too.

Here it is: the formula for getting this unconditional love is basically simple - tell the truth.

Is this where I get to tell the truth about him? Well, I will. I know him pretty well. He was a "Wunderkin" of a student, skipping a grade at Wiley High School in Terre Haute, Indiana and still managing to end up valedictorian of his class. He served a mission for the Mormon Church in Samoa, came back and graduated a year early from Brigham Young University and then went on to medical school. He worked a stint "doctoring" for the U.S. Navy and then landed his own ophthalmology practice in Rome, Georgia where he enjoyed the fruits of his labors. Man, did he have the toys (I loved playing at his house): fast cars, motorcycles, acres of gardens and fountains, Olympic-size swimming pool, his own private lake (where was the yacht?), gourmet foods, parties, and he traveled the world. He could afford to do whatever he wanted. Plus, he only worked three weeks out of a month. (Lesson #42: Stay in school.) This man was a bone fide success.

It's also what landed him in his own backyard one night full of despair, addictions, and a loaded pistol to his head. Fortunately, he didn't pull the trigger. " I thought that if something wasn't working, you just did it more," he tells me the day we talk on the phone. (We talk frequently now.) "I used my mind more and more and controlled the world around me. I had exercised my mind, my power, and my will 100 percent, but I was still empty and hollow."

At some point the successful doctor understood there was no way he was going to be happy with the way he was approaching life.

"When I was eight I discovered Santa Claus wasn't real because is was a simple mathematical function that convinced me there was no way he could come down all those chimney's in one night," Greg notes. "Finally, I also realized there was no way I was going to happy using just my mind."

It dawns on me in this discussion with him, how much my brother is like John Nash, the Nobel Prize winner whose life account is a novel and acclaimed movie "A Beautiful Mind."

When I mention John Nash, my brother chuckles.

"I see the movie every couple weeks," he says. "I resonate with him. I relied for most of my life on conquering things with my mind, but the victories are appallingly hollow."

After all his triumphs, he tells me he looked into his hands that fateful (almost tragic) day and discovered he was empty-handed.

"Creating in the mind is fun and entertaining, but it always blows away in the wind," he explains. "Creating in the heart is energizing and it stays with me. I have begun to know from the heart that it all comes down to feeling loved and loving others."

Greg used to give Sunday school lessons, write essays, and speak to groups of people about the subject of "love" which he said he had to eventually confess he "knew nothing about."

"Embarrassing, but there you are," he acknowledges. "But now I see little flashes of it all over the place. It's [love] like a huge tapestry where there's threads of it here and there. Even the most miserable people have a taste, a glimmer, a clue."

Unfortunately, people don't get enough of the love they need because of "delusionary appetites" like those of John Nash.

"Being in total control, having power, sex, money those things don't make us truly happy," he says. "We have to exercise a 'diet of the mind' like Nash did to find the truth. And telling the truth opens the gateway to real love."

Dr. Baer has been interviewed hundreds of times in the media, traveled extensively speaking to large and small groups of people, and written a number of other books. (He retired from medicine and works full time at this.) Baer also directs community groups around the country based on his writing.

He says that when he talks to people now he feels a responsibility that is different from the "arrogance" of his early years. (He's even convincing me at this point that some change of heart is possible even in a brother.)

"Speaking to people gives me an opportunity to reach down in myself and creatively discover a way to take a life changing message and put it in the middle of their soul," he intones, with a distinct passion in his voice. "Do you know how exciting that is? When I feel like I'm really communicating from my heart, it is the act of supreme creativity. It's so natural. At the end of a day, I'm more relaxed even energized!"

He tells of a woman who spoke up at one of his recent seminars.

"She had never shared anything personal with anyone in her life, and here she was telling her entire life story in a room full of strangers."

Men usually have a more difficult time opening up with their feelings during the discussions, Baer noted.

"In my opinion, men are born with the handicap of being physically different," he explains. "It's biology if you increase the testosterone in rats you can make them kill each other."

Now this was sounding more like what I knew around our house growing up - squabbling, punching and wrestling together as kids.

"You can chemically neuter rats and they'll be more cooperative kinder," he adds, laughing. "I'll pass on getting that treatment, doctor," I

respond.

"Men are born with an innate urge toward aggression, attacking, and not cooperating," he continues. "It's not something that draws men together with each other or to women."

So, now I am starting to go into my "mother issues" that all women are good and all men are bad. Was this such a good idea to interview my own brother for my magazine? Okay, so the whole testosterone thing can be destructive and men have to work harder at developing loving relationships. What now? I'm hoping for something positive about being a man.

"If there is a serious defect, a cancer, as in the body, or as in the spiritual body of a person, a certain aggression is required to root it out," the doctor says, speaking from years of study and professional experience.

I'm still hoping for more good news from the surgeon. Go on.

"It takes a warrior to cut the stinkin' things out," he says with a fierce (but loving) tone. "And it has to be a sword that actually has a blade on it."

Alright. Good stuff. Men can be men and still love. And maybe even do some kind of good with a sharp sword in hand.

Now the brothers start to play around and have fun.

"Like the 'ol 'sword of truth?'", I ask, almost mockingly.

"Yeah, a wound has to be cut before it can heal," he says seriously, then picks up the hint. "You can't do it with a feather, you mean?"

"Tickle your ass with a feather?"

"Like the real man who stands there wielding the sponge of truth "

This is the charm and humor he uses in his seminars. I've seen him in action.

"Visciously rubbing it around your body" I add.

"It's the loofa pad of truth," he declares, laughing non stop.

We're both snickering and giggling like brothers should. We should have done more of this when we were younger. I guess we didn't know how. We can do it now. Maybe our own individual struggles through the years have added some maturity and compassion between us. Is this real love?

I start to tear up a little.

I communicate regularly with this man, this older brother who has always been an example to me not necessarily the perfect example (Yeah, like I'm anyone's perfect example ). But he has been there for me. Most of the time he's the one that picks up the phone and calls. He's been there for me in many ways my father hasn't. I do look up to him.

I honor Dr. Greg Baer for the changes he's made in his life. He's a driving force for thousands of people who know him and have experienced his real love. I trust him like I do few others.

This story ends up a little more personal than most. So I have to pull out my sword before it all gets too loofa sentimental and tell on him "the harsh evidence" as Rumi would say.

I remember that older brother who was always bigger than me and could pin me down with his knees and torture me nearly to death.

There, I've told the truth. And even though he's my big brother, I have to tell this truth too: I have learned from him about loving and being loved maybe just a little.

It's a good thing a little love goes a long way.

For more information contact Dr. Greg Baer at www.gregbaer.com For information about seminars and media appearances, write donna@gregbaer.com

© 2005 Reid Baer

*     *     *

The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.



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