This week we go deeper down the rabbit hole and hear more about Gary’s death experience in 1986 and his conversation with God. Find out what was said and how this message changed the course of Gary’s life and everyone he comes in contact with. Also, Gary shares his experience of giving up his addictions to alcohol and drugs and becoming “Mr. AA”, If you know someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you don’t want to miss this episode, as we talk more about what happens to most people after years of sobriety. Mr. AA talks about the phenomenon known as the “Pink Cloud” and how to successfully navigate addictions by narrowing in on the real causation. This week’s podcast was done in an interview format that was conducted by Gary’s close friend, Brandon Houston.
Gary: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to another episode of It’s a good day to live. My name is Gary Ferguson. I recently wrote a book called A Good Day to Die and as a result of the feedback that I was getting from my listeners. I just started to do a podcast to start sharing some of the distinctions that I’ve learned along the way.
[00:00:29] Now before we get started, I’d like to open the session as is now my custom, by standing. and pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands one nation under God indivisible. With liberty and justice for all. Thank you. Let’s be seated. Now the reason I start every session with the Pledge of Allegiance, it reminds me of the young boy who had an attitude of gratitude in all things.
[00:01:18] Prior to my military service. And prior to all of the programming that took place in my childhood years. I found great comfort every day when I went to school. Standing and pledging Allegiance with my classmates to something greater than myself. That is part of who I am that is part of my core beliefs.
[00:01:46] So each and every episode will start this way and I would ask you my fellow listeners to stand and experience the joyfulness that comes as a result of saying and putting into the field those few simple words. So, with that I’d like to get started. And today I’m being interviewed by a very special friend of mine Brandon who’s going to ask some questions as to how this all came about and to try to give the listening audience a background of relatedness so they can better understand where A Good Day to Die came from and how it all began.
[00:02:29] Brandon: Well Gary, thanks for having me was kind of fascinated when I read the book and just hearing about your near-death experience and kind of what transpired after that and what you call the pink Cloud. So, I thought it’d be important to kind of talk about this kind of explored a little bit further and give everybody a little insight into the experience.
[00:02:52] Gary: Okay, great. Thank you, Brandon. First off. Let me clarify a particular distinction between a death experience and a near-death experience. During my tour in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive and prior to the Tet Offensive. I had multiple encounters with the Enemy that would mostly be considered near-death experiences.
[00:03:20] In the state of fight-or-flight, you’re in a sphere if you will of energy that, is really kind of remarkable. It’s kind of the ultimate high if you will and so having had many near-death experiences the experience the death experience that refer to in the book that happened on December. Second 1986.
[00:03:54] Was in fact an experience where I crossed over. And for the first time in 40 years I was at peace I was at peace in my mind. And I had a conversation with god.
[00:04:15] Prior to that experience on December first. I stopped by my bank. I stopped by the post office and I got all the money I had including my recent disability paycheck from the fire department and I decided I would go to Carson City, Nevada. And lose everything I distinctly remember looking in the rearview mirror cash in hand a bag of dope.
[00:04:51] The bag of coke couple of six packs of Michelob beer in the bottle and I was ready to go. So, I left, on a course of self-destruction. The pain on the inside had gotten so great. That I could no longer mask the symptoms through large quantities of drugs and alcohol. During the event somewhere after midnight.
[00:05:27] I was out of money out of drugs and completely out of control. I was unable to locate my car because I was now in a blackout situation. So somehow, I managed to find my way home. Which was really my girlfriend’s house and in the process of trying to find my way through the backyard and into the house.
[00:05:55] I passed out, in a blackout, in her backyard. Little did I know that it was going to snow that night. When I awoke the next morning, it was under a snowbank. When I first awoke. I couldn’t see anything. All I could see was total darkness.
[00:06:28] I thought I must be dead. Not only because of the experience I had prior to waking up which is a conversation with god, but also because I couldn’t see nor could I move I was basically paralyzed.
[00:06:45] Suddenly a drop of water. Went into my eye. And I realized I was alive I could feel something, so I struggled to make my way upward. And ultimately found my way out of the snow to snow drift or snowbank. And realize that I couldn’t move because I had Frozen. Apparently, I had pissed my pants. And my clothes had Frozen.
[00:07:24] That’s what we refer to. Is state of in comprehensible demoralization? I had no idea what happened. All I knew, was that I needed help. Shortly after that experience. I contacted my sister told her that I was in serious trouble and if I could come stay with her and San Jose, California. She made arrangements for me to fly to Southern, California.
[00:08:01] To San Jose during which time she told me she would get me help. So, in the state of confusion and somewhat bewildered. I humbled myself to get on the plane leaving all my worldly possessions in my car at the airport. When I got to San Jose, she started making arrangements to get me professional help.
[00:08:31] And she told me that while we were waiting to get special help. For me that she was told to take me to Alcoholics Anonymous until somebody could get to me.
[00:08:49] Brandon: Wow, that’s pretty incredible story. Can you tell us a little bit about the conversation with god and what took place and what you heard?
[00:09:02] Gary: Yeah. Well, I’ll never forget it like so many times during my combat tour of Vietnam. I would always pray to God to get me out of the situation and I would do whatever he wanted.
[00:09:14] And those Foxhole prayers basically went unfulfilled because I was constantly praying to God. Not to die only not to do what he asked. So, in that conversation I basically was relieved, and I had this overwhelming sense of peace and calm and basically remember saying, ahh. Finally, I’m home. It’s over.
[00:09:45] And a voice is clear as a bell said not so fast, son. I have worked for you to do. You’ve had your way for 40 years during which time you have been prepared for a conversation. And you will now go back. And have that conversation with those who still suffer? I had an absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
[00:10:12] Other than I had a sense of anxiety come over me because I was going to have to go back to hell, the hell that I came from. But it was as clear as a bell just like you and I are talking I have work for you to do and you will go back. And I asked how long, and he said 40 years. You’ve had it your way for 40 years now.
[00:10:42] You’ll try it my way for 40 years. And then we’ll have another conversation. So that’s pretty much how it went.
[00:10:51] Brandon: [00:10:51] Wow, incredible. So, tell us a little bit about choosing to go to AA. You said you were in San Jose?
[00:11:00] Gary: I mean, yeah by the time I got to San Jose had already got the con going on. Again. All I wanted to do is go down and get my sister to give me $10,000 so I could get on a run.
[00:11:10] I’d been here before no big deal. I’ve lost everything many times and started over only to rebuild it again. So, I basically went down there to hit her up for 10 grand. And she told me that I’d have to wait she’d have to make arrangements and I said, okay great. So, in the meantime, she suggested I go to AA, so she took me to my first AA meeting, and I remember sitting there at the back of the room and reading the 12 Steps in front of the room on the wall and.
[00:11:42] Checking them off Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 all the way through step 12. I basically checked them all off sitting there listening to other people share their story and I said, yep. I got it. I’m an alcoholic so what and. right after the meeting my sister went up to the chairperson and bought every book in The Joint if there was a book, she bought it, so we went home that night and.
[00:12:11] She gave me all the books. I went to my room and fortunately the first book I read was the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was amazed. I read the first hundred sixty-four pages of addition to of the big book and thought to myself. How is it possible that they could write a book about the Story of My Life?
[00:12:39] in such detail. That I resonated with every word every sentence on every page and when I was done with a hundred and sixty-four pages, I looked at myself in the mirror. And I said, oh my God.
[00:12:59] I knew right then in that moment. How I got the way I was I didn’t understand it. Other than that. I was an alcoholic. And that my life had become unmanageable. Little did I know what that entailed other than I was told to go to 90 meetings in 90 days and during the next 30 days. I went to three meetings everyday waiting to get to see somebody.
[00:13:33] To give me treatment because I was special and during that first 30 days. I stopped drinking and it took about two weeks to sober up and to get all the chemicals out of my body little did. I know it would take the next year before everything was out of my body because some of the substances that I took in addition to alcohol remain in your body for up to a year, but I didn’t know that at the time because I was drunk I basically had been drunk for 13 years.
[00:14:04] So that’s how I got to AA I read the book and it was me. It was like somebody had been following me around my whole life.
[00:14:14] Brandon: And so, did you have a sense of still being addicted? Like did you have the withdrawals or you feeling or was the conversation with god powerful enough that that just all fell by the wayside?
[00:14:27] Gary: Well, it’s kind of interesting because my obsession to use drugs and alcohol was instantly removed in the moment. I was returned. Although I was suffering from the symptoms of withdrawal and there was a queasiness and an uneasiness sort of like, you know, after real bad night on the town in a blackout usually have a little bit aftermath.
[00:14:52] But I really didn’t have much there was this overwhelming sense of calm. It was like I was numb but the obsession to use drugs and alcohol along with other behaviors was instantly removed to this very day, which is almost 33 years now
[00:15:11] Brandon: And so, I know a lot of people say when they quit smoking, they use sunflower seeds. I mean, did you look to any other? Things are substances to maybe replace the void.
[00:15:22] Gary: Well, I was smoking at the time, so I hadn’t given up cigarettes yet and coffee. And then of course one of my other addictions was sex and having been a very successful in business. I was also a womanizer, so I always found relief through.
[00:15:41] Relationships and while I was looking to find my next victim I also. Found a sponsor and my sponsor made it very clear that if I did not remain celibate for one year. He would not sponsor me, and I said, what are you talking about? He goes look guys like you fix. In relationships and if you think you’re going to come in here with your Gift of Gab and line of bullshit and take advantage of these women who are hurting because you’ve got the Gift of Gab.
[00:16:19] Forget it. And I said wow, so it took me a couple of weeks before I finally committed to being abstinent for a year. It was the best thing I ever did because it was in fact, I was not only addicted to drugs and alcohol, but sex gambling I was addicted to anything. That could provide me relief from the pain on the inside from the outside.
[00:16:46] I was hopelessly lost both spiritually and morally and I had become quite broken.
[00:16:57] Brandon: And so, refraining from Sex I mean was that would you say that was harder than. The absence of drugs and alcohol based on you know.
[00:17:07] Gary: I thought it would be difficult. But the reality is I found that if I actually by being absent I was actually able to have real relationships with the opposite sex because I wasn’t looking to sleep with them.
[00:17:20] So no I wasn’t difficult at all. It was it was unusual but. The reality is I went on about getting sober. I took on the 12 steps. I took on my sponsor. I became Mr. AA with velocity. I went to three meetings a day. Every day, I worked with countless others that were suffering. I used to go out at two in the morning and pick up drunks from bars and stay with them all night where they puked all over my car and my shoes and I basically went into service.
[00:17:57] I figured that I was going to do the best I could if I put my focus on getting sober and doing the 12 steps that perhaps. I would never drink again because that was the promise made that if I did the 12 steps to the best of my ability, I would never drink again. And I thought that would be a pretty good trade.
[00:18:20] So when I can tell you is that what I was told came to be true because I haven’t had a drink drug or practice unusual behavior and nearly 33 years.
[00:18:31] Brandon: Wow. And so as far as being Mr. AA, what did that look like? I mean were you. Leading meetings, are you?
[00:18:39] Gary: Oh, yeah. I had a new coverage meeting every Monday night.
[00:18:43] I got to give the newcomers or chip. So, I got not only a hug, but I got to give him a chip whether it was one day or 30 days or 5 years. It was a newcomers meeting. I in order to be Mr. AA of course I had to get into the big book. I went to studies a big step study. I went to all the conventions.
[00:19:04] I got on the boards. I was in service. I remodeled the building that they were in I did all everything I could do was all about AA that’s all I did. I didn’t work because I had a pension. So, all I did was go to meetings and help others. Go to meetings and help others and that lasted for about six months and then I started to Branch out and do a lot of speaking because I would go to meetings where you could get in front of the podium and talk about your story.
[00:19:34] So for about seven or eight months, I shared my story with others that were suffering. I didn’t share anything about Vietnam. I shared very little about being a fireman. I basically shared about my drinking Behavior, which was I was a maintenance Drinker for the vast majority of my career. I drank a quart a day.
[00:19:58] Along with drugs and other substances that kept me numb to everything.
[00:20:07] Brandon: And so, is there a point where you thought maybe that you were addicted to AA?
[00:20:13] Gary: Oh, absolutely. I became addicted day for first five years. It was all a it wasn’t until I had about three years that I actually decided to start working.
[00:20:23] So I opened up a small construction company in a very exclusive area in Los Gatos and a friend of mine and I went into business together and within a very short time. I became a workaholic. So, I traded all of my other addictions to start making money and then of course I had about a year and two months when I met my soon-to-be second wife at a convention and decided that it was time for me to get married and settle down.
[00:20:55] She was in sobriety. I had about 14 months and so we decided to get married, so I found myself married in my first. 14 months of being sober and within six months of that she became pregnant. So here I was married with a kid on the way, so I decided a better go start getting a job because somebody’s got to pay for it.
[00:21:25] Yeah, kind of interesting.
[00:21:28] Brandon: So, you’re obviously Pro-am so for maybe some of your listeners that may have a drug and alcohol problem that don’t maybe have the luxury if you will of a death experience. What would you say to them as far as using the vehicle of a to help them overcome their addictions?
[00:21:50] Gary: Well, it’s real simple AA is if you have a desire only met requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. I had a desire to stop drinking. And I thought all of my problems were result of my drinking. And what I soon realized about my third year. Was that my problem wasn’t drinking or taking drugs or having sex?
[00:22:21] My problem was I had a thinking disorder. And nobody likes to think that they have mental illness, but I had a mental disorder. Because I did not have our true and authentic relationship with me. Everything was being generated by others from the outside. So, I had no idea. I had three years three years in sobriety before I finally realized that I had a thinking problem.
[00:22:52] It was everything was about me mine and mine that was it. So, until I realized that then my sponsor told me go back now that you’ve got, I think had four years of sobriety says go back and read the big book. And take out the word drinking and substitute the word thinking so I went back and read the first hundred sixty-four pages and wherever they had to were drinking.
[00:23:17] I put in the word thinking and I’ll be damned. If I didn’t have a drinking and a thinking disorder. It was amazing. It was like wow, where do they get all this information? Anyway, I was pretty interesting.
[00:23:32] Brandon: Well also in the book you talk about or use the phrase pink Cloud, which is interesting. I never heard that before. What is the pink Cloud?
[00:23:41] Gary: Well, the pink cloud is after you sober up. Most people find Jesus, or some sort of religious figure that they attach themselves to and they want to share it with everybody and tell everybody how they’ve been saved and yadee, yadee, we call it the pink Cloud because you’re sober and maybe for the first time in years, you’re actually having the experience of being alive because you’re not, you know, you’re not numb or medicated.
[00:24:08] So we call it the pink Cloud because in the first three four years you’re in this bubble. You start getting everything back all the stuff you lost your relationships your finances, you know, you’re clean up your wreckage whether its Financial wreckage or getting complete with your legal problems or relationship problems.
[00:24:31] So you start cleaning up your act if you well and getting rid of all of the collateral damage and you’re given the keys to the kingdom once again, So you’re on this cloud of invincibility and it’s interesting because the solution for me was service. I learned how to be in service and that was my insurance policy and remains my insurance policy today because I know that if I don’t do service work and have a relationship with you rather than me.
[00:25:07] Then I’ll revert right back to the old Behavior. That’s just wired in My DNA. So, I have a daily reprieve from all of the isms that I’ve experienced in my life by serving others. That is my Saving Grace if you will and I get access to that through this attitude of gratitude. Like I started off the podcast with it puts me in a vibrational state of authenticity that allows me to help others before helping myself and it just seems to work for me.
[00:25:40] Now. Most people that experience the pink Cloud we call it the pink Cloud because what happens after about three and a half four years all of a sudden, you’re sober. You’re not taking drugs. You’re not doing weird shit, but you’re still thinking so what you do have now is around four to five years.
[00:25:56] You have this new and improved you all of the antithetic bullshit that ran your life is still present. You just not drunk or loaded or being distracted and relationships. So, you show up as a new and improved you or. Kind of a better ego if you will so you go out and you start Reinventing yourself, I went back from being basically nothing to building a business and within a very short period of time.
[00:26:31] I was back in college. I was selling real estate. I was generating huge amounts of money. Because I figured that you know as a family man, you know, I soon I think I had six it was a four and a half four years. I had my second child a girl. So, it was all about being responsible being a family member of their we have a saying that you become responsible when anyone anywhere reaches out for help.
[00:26:59] That you’re there. You know, that’s the first time for 40 years. I was irresponsible. And then I got sober and I was given the tools and techniques. To make a difference and for me, it’s what works most people there are very few people out there today that have 33 years of sobriety and the ones that do are what we refer to as dry drunk.
[00:27:27] Because they never stop thinking they just stop taking booze and drugs and weird Behavior, but they’re still miserable. And the reality is that we’re human beings and if we’re in a state of consciousness where we’re not awake then we’re humans doing this in order to have that. And unfortunately, they don’t talk about it.
[00:27:47] The mortality rate after about four years is probably about 70%. 70% of the people go back to drinking or go to jail or die and that’s it’s AA is designed to help you. Stop drinking. That’s it. That’s the only promise they make if you do the 12 steps, you’ll stop drinking. The rest is up to you to have a spiritual awakening and when you have that Awakening if you don’t practice the principles and all your Affairs and or reach out and help someone you will revert back to the old Behavior.
[00:28:22] It’s just a matter of time. We don’t talk about those that after three or four years if you want to know what I speak to be true go to a world convention where there’s 5,000 drug addicts or alcoholics in the room and do what’s called a sobriety countdown and you’ll find that after about seven or eight years very few.
[00:28:42] People are standing because the mortality rate is so high. We suffer on this planet from a thinking disorder based upon the illusion of self and self-interest driven by our ego in order to survive and unless you find a way to create a sense of authenticity within yourself. You’ll find some distraction whether it’s booze drugs alcohol sex gambling work.
[00:29:08] It’s all the same. We’re all addicted to something.
[00:29:12] Brandon: Wow, that’s a lot to take in. So, I know you work with veterans personally and then with your nonprofit Pathways for veterans. So, when you’re working with veterans, are you focusing on the AA side of it or more of the thinking disorder?
[00:29:31] Gary: Well, it’s a combination of both most veterans when they come to me have addiction problems.
[00:29:37] Usually it has to do with substance abuse alcohol or relationships a few get caught up in the world of gambling. But for the most part they’re their problems are associated not only with their military service and what we call learned helplessness the military mindset, but they really were never given the tools to cope.
[00:30:02] Outside the military in a civilian world, so they’re pretty much doomed. So, I meet them wherever they’re at. Our online programs designed as an assessment tool so that if they do the work that’s provided at no charge online. That is an assessment tool that we use to determine whether they’re willing and able to go through the program and transform their life from being victim.
[00:30:31] To being responsible. And the reality is a very simple program that my ego would love to take credit for. But the reality is the program that’s been created at Pathways for veterans is a combination of a lot of great minds over many years that I’ve cobbled together in a new chicken noodle soup.
[00:30:54] If you weld that most veterans can understand because it’s in veteran speak. It’s not in civilian talk. It’s how veterans talk and because I have. Healed myself. I’m able through my generous listening of them and their stories. To ask the questions to open Pandora’s Box and once opened I can guide them through the questions into a conversation of self-examination that allows him to look in the mirror and see their greatness not all their fault.
[00:31:32] So the only thing that veterans are not broken what is broken is our relationship from a civilian point of view, to the veteran. There’s nothing wrong with veterans other than they don’t get the experience of being heard. You know, my 13-year-old daughter gave me some of that advice early on she said dad.
[00:31:53] You don’t listen I said, what are you talking about? She goes dad. You just listen long enough to have something clever to say. And then you’re giving me advice. You don’t hear what’s going on the inside. You’re too busy trying to fix it from the outside. And unfortunately, that’s what we do as a society.
[00:32:11] We think all our veterans are broken and they must be helped and medicated. Well, that’s great. If you’re making payroll at the VA and it keeps the money coming in, but the reality is that not would veterans need with veteran’s need is a safe space. Where they can have an experience of being heard that are given the tools to repurpose them self in mind body and spirit.
[00:32:35] That isn’t something you give them. It’s something you give them access to through your generous listening without an opinion. Most people can’t listen long enough without an opinion. They listen just long enough to give you advice. I don’t give it I don’t I have no advice to give at 73 years old.
[00:32:59] I pretty much figured it out, you know and the generosity that I have to share with another human being comes from my heart and I give it freely and willingly with no expectations of anything in return because that in my definition is what’s called unconditional love and that’s what we do at Pathways.
[00:33:19] We provide unconditional love. Whether you’re a veteran family member spouse, it doesn’t matter. We’re all veterans.
[00:33:27] Brandon: I’ve heard the saying the worst Vice is advice. So, I think that goes right along.
[00:33:32] Gary: Oh, yeah everybody. I remember I’m rated at a hundred percent disabled for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury and yet I couldn’t get into the programs at the VA.
[00:33:45] Kind of interesting. I would go in and talk to the people that were supposed to be my mentors or providing me therapy and they couldn’t answer the simple questions that I would ask without some mumbo jumbo and you know, I got the nickname 5150 Ferguson because I don’t speak language that they understand I speak the language of the heart.
[00:34:10] which is your perfect and whole. In every given moment of every given day. And most people don’t understand that they’re too busy passing judgment or giving advice. So that’s pretty much the way it works for me my conversation with god nearly 33 years ago has given me access to a new way of being that does not require information.
[00:34:40] So with that, I’d like to thank you Brandon for stopping in it’s always good to be in a conversation with folks like yourself that are supporting Pathways not only from a technical standpoint, but making it possible and I’ll look forward to interviewing you soon regarding some of the treatment protocols that you’re personally experiencing because.
[00:35:06] How this all lands for you because we do a lot of a lot of Pathways. We have some of the most cutting-edge Technologies in mind body and spirit is healing that is twenty years down the road. Most people can’t even imagine what we do, you know where we’re into alternative healing modalities that are Cutting Edge.
[00:35:28] We have the science and the technology today that nobody should suffer who has a desire to be pain free. Until the entire world is pain free will keep doing what we’re doing.
[00:35:40] Brandon: I appreciate you having me and so anybody that’s interested in finding this information. Where could they find some information about some of the programs that you have?
[00:35:48] Gary: Well the pathways for veterans.com website. Provide you access to information. If you fill out the contact information, you will get access to a password that allows you access to our website and all the back end and that’s probably the best you can go to a good day to die because the book itself if you want to read the first three chapters and find out a little bit about my.
[00:36:14] Following quote military story you can do that. There’s the first three chapters or downloaded at no cost. It’s a good day Good Day to Die.com. Or you can reach out through Pathways to purpose which is another website where we have a lot of different modalities including the scalar wave technology the halotherapy.
[00:36:38] We also have Viber Acoustic sound a whole host of services and modalities that all complement one another in wholeness because you know this. Wholeness of mind body and spirit is a is it’s not only what you eat. What you think? What you become it all works in conjunction with one another. So, to have a state of happiness and joyful life through service.
[00:37:13] Is really what we do. We put smiles on people’s face that used to have friends and we do. With Grace and ease. So, with that I’d like to thank the listeners for listening up any questions. Please feel free to reach out to us and look forward to our next session.
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