Give It All Up To Get It–Who Me?
With Bill Fannin’s address in my hand, I knocked at the door of a large house.
A beautiful Hawaiian girl answered. Bill Fannin wasn’t home, but the
girl expected him back shortly. After we went inside, and I explained
to her why I had come to see Bill, she began telling me about the time
when she first met him. Because she was so friendly (and honest) I
perhaps got a little more information than I needed.
She met Bill while living on the street. “He saved my life,” she said.
After he took her in, she became one of many that he saved, or tried
to save. Bill ran a ranch for displaced kids. Apparently, he took a
special liking to her because she was, with his help, in the final
stages of graduating from university with a counseling degree. As
might be expected, she was grateful to Bill, but she was ready to move
on. She had worked at the ranch mentoring youth for years. Now she was
looking forward to making money in a real job. She was more than ready
to live on her own, and I could understand that. Of course, Bill had
helped her, but she had never made more than minimum wage. She felt
that she had earned a better life, a “normal one.”
In the few moments of silence that I had before Bill returned, I
started to have doubts as to whether I really could give up my
apartment, stereo, color TV, and steady paycheck, and then take up
residence in dormitory austerity. Then I took a deep breath and tried
to relax. I hadn’t come here to give all that up. I had come here to
check out this guy Bill Fannin, and that’s what I planned to do. But
even with that somewhat comforting thought, I still couldn’t relax.
When Bill finally did show up it was like meeting an old friend. We
went into the dinning room, and he fixed us a pot of tea. At first,
our conversation was somewhat strained. I couldn’t let on that I was
aspiring to be a more spiritual person, even though that’s exactly
what I wanted to talk about; that said, however, he was very easy to
talk to. In fact, it was almost as if he could read my mind. Whenever
I would tense up or become tongue-tied he would move the conversation
in another direction. While we were talking, another fellow came into
the room, an architect who was donating his time to help build a new
section on the Nyingma Institute (In addition to helping kids, Bill
was also legal consultant to the Buddhist Nyingma Institute). John,
the architect, was apologizing for not being able to get the project
done on time. After Bill’s pep talk, John was ready to try harder. It
was amazing how in those few brief moments Bill was able to turn this
fellow’s attitude completely around, from a “no can do,” to a “can do