The Boron Letters - Chapter 2


Wednesday, 6:57 p.m.

June 13, 1984

Dear Bond,   

  Today I crossed some sort of invisible mental line. It happened when I went for my initial meeting with the people who run the camp here and found out that they are total jerks. What happened as a result of that is that instead of being down and depressed I just got tougher. Perhaps I'll write more about my new "get tough" attitude in a later letter but for now I want to get right back to this road work business.

  You know Bond, I can't stress how strong I feel that doing an hour's worth of road work is perhaps the number one most valuable habit you can cultivate. You see, if you start your day this way, it will get you off to a great start and vastly improve the rest of your day since it will drain off a lot of tension and anxiety and, in general, it will clear out your mind so you can think better all day long!
  Plus, after you get into it, it will make you feel great!
  So anyway, here are some other good health habits that I think you should get into right away.

  FASTING - You are, in my opinion, too young to go on any extended fasts but I really think it would be good for you to fast one (1) full day each week.

  Currently, I am fasting every Saturday. And, I intend to keep fasting one day a week (at least) for the rest of my life. When you fast, you begin to normalize your body functions and also, you develop a certain self-discipline that will help you in most other areas of your life. I intend to write a lot more about fasting later on but, for right now, I just want to encourage you to begin immediately to fast one day every week.
  Here are some tips. First of all, I suggest you do not tell other people what you are doing. Most people don't understand fasting and all you will get from them on this subject is a lot of ignorant babble. Secondly, I feel that you should do very little (or no) athletic exercise on the days that you fast. You see, your "Fast Day" is the day you set aside to give your mind and body a rest. You don't have to stay in bed all day or anything like that but you really should take it easy both physically AND mentally.
  What I do on my fast days is sort of kick back and read and putter around and, also, I have found it a good time to take care of those nagging little chores and errands that seem to accumulate during the rest of the week.
  In other words, I think you should do road work every morning to more or less "order your day" and fast every week in order to "order your week".
  You know what, Son? I am 46 years and one day old and the two things Ihave written to you about so far are the most important things I have ever learned.
  And just think. You can start right now before you are even 16 years old. God, what a head start you will have!
  Now, let's go on. The next thing I want to talk to you about is your diet. First of all, I believe that everybody who says breakfast is the most important meal of the day is dead wrong. In my opinion all you should eat before lunch is a couple pieces of fruit. Do you remember what I said to you in yesterday's letter? I said you should eat a piece of fruit (preferably a banana) before you start your road work.
  Well, after your road work, in my judgement, what you should do is take a shower, clean up, and get dressed and get your day started. And then, some time after that, before lunch, you should eat another piece of fruit. Actually, you should eat three pieces of fruit every day (except when you fast) and I think you can't miss with a banana, an apple or an orange. This way, you will get your potassium, your vitamin (and something called pectin, all of which is very good for you!).
  Incidentally, I have read, and I believe it to be true, that fruit is the prize food of man. Also, I believe that fruit is perhaps the number one food category that Americans need to eat more of.
  Watch your Mom. Watch other people. How much fruit do they eat? Very little I'll bet, and they are missing out on something very, very important.
  One reason, of course, is that fruit contains a lot of stuff that is good for you and, another reason is fruit, along with certain other foods, acts sort of like "nature's broom" and helps keep you cleaned out and mobilating.
  Anyway, as I said yesterday, I'm just warming up right now and I intend to write more on all this at a later date. But for now, it would be an excellent idea if you would start eating three pieces of fruit everyday and start right after you get this letter.
  You know Bond, in addition to everything else, you are the best student I have ever had and it is a real joy to teach all these things to you. Boy I sure wish my Dad had been able to do this for me but that's water over the dam.
  But maybe we can start a tradition here. A new "Halbert Tradition" whereupon the father's make it a point to pass down what they have learned to teach a new generation.
  It would be nice.
  Okay, here's more info on the subject of diet. What else should you eat? Well, one thing is sure: You should definitely eat a big bowl of some "bran type" cereal. Grapenuts is probably the best you can find in an ordinary grocery store and some health food stores have cereals that are even better.
  By the way, remember yesterday when I asked you to get a copy of "The Joy Of Running"? Well, here are two other books you should look for: "The Miracle of Fasting" by Paul Bragg and "Are You Confused?" by Paulo Airola. Many health food stores will probably carry both of these books.
  By the way, I don't want you to feel like you have to write to me as much as I am writing to you. I do want to hear from you (and often) but you are not writing a book like I am so no guilt trips are necessary.
  Let's take a break and talk about something else. There's an old tomcat around here at the camp named Crackers. Crackers is an arrogant cat. There is a lot of small game around here and Crackers like to catch these little critters and plays with them.
  For example, a week or so ago, I was doing my morning road work and I spotted Crackers as I was coming down the backside of "The Hill". Crackers had a little critter in his mouth that looks just like a baby chipmunk. These little guys are cute as hell and I have since (I'm getting tired) found out that they are, in reality, Antelope Ground Squirrels.
  Anyway, Crackers had this cute little creature in his mouth and he brought it over to me and then dropped it. The critter just laid there. Then, after a little while, Crackers would bat it around a little with his front paws. After a while, the critter began to stir and then it tried to run away. Crackers caught it again in short order and began to repeat the whole process. What I mean is that he would carry it in his mouth and then drop it and then torment it until finally the poor thing had no fight left.
  In other words, Crackers just messed with this little squirrel until he tormented the life out of it. And then, after all this, do you know what else he would do? What he would do is pick up the squirrel again in his mouth and toss his head back and throw it up in the air and then bat it back and forth while it was in the air like he was playing handball with it.
  Whatever. In any case, when I told some other inmate about this he said, "Yeah, but that stupid Crackers is nothing but a stupid punk. He always takes trash from the other cats around here. There's a black cat from over at the housing area that whips him all the time!"
  What's the point of all this? Probably, there isn't one but it reminds me of something I read once in an article in "The Herald Examiner" in which someone was quoted as saying:
  "There is no justice. There is only power."
  That's it for now.
I Love You and Good Luck!
   Gary C. Halbert


In this second letter, pop begins by remarking on his new get-tough attitude and with all due respect, that is total bull. He was ALWAYS tough. I have no illusions about my father and he was not tough in all situations and certainly had his fears as we all do, but in general he has always been tough.

He grew up in an economically depressed small town, served as an MP in Germany and had five children by the time he was thirty. He got rich, went broke, got rich and blew it all again several times by this point in his life and squarely faced going to prison head on.

Oh he carried fear for sure, but he always did what he had to and he faced some tough shit.

The hidden point he might make if he re-read the letter today might be how he hates mean people. Mean people and cruelty were something he hated to his core and once he knew someone was scum, he developed a hard-core tough attitude towards that person.

This was an important survival skill for him and I. In life everyone must learn to deal with unnecessary grief from other people, but sometimes you are faced with a jerk with the balance of power in their favor and the only way to survive, especially with your pride intact, is to develop a mental toughness as a form of mental armor and it, once you do it, is always there when it is needed.

The people who ran Boron didn’t inspire a new get-tough attitude in him. No, they simply inspired his toughness to surface.

On the subject of fasting, I did do it a few times shortly after receiving the letter, but I hate fasting. I never felt good after fasting and remember counting the last hours waiting until I could eat again.

It was him and his letters that inspired me to eat more fruit than most other people of my generation and all of his nutritional advice in the letters is spot on. After he passed, the medical examiner remarked that he was in great shape, other than being dead of course. He would have loved that comment. Seriously though she did say he was in terrific shape other than his blocked artery and enlarged heart that seems to be hereditary in origin.

Before we get far from the subject of fasting, he made what I believe to be the most overlooked lesson of the letter and that was when he wrote, “don’t tell anyone.”

My dad’s favorite saying was “nothing is impossible for a man who refuses to listen to reason” and it served him well his whole life.

He did so many things that other people said couldn’t be done. This shouldn’t be an altruism where you never ever listen to reasonable people, but just because someone says you can’t do something or shouldn’t, doesn’t mean they are right, even if the whole world agrees with them.

Most of the people in the world are nay sayers. They say it is too hard to quit smoking or it is too tough to get rich or you will never make it. When it comes to accomplishing things, others fail to even try. There is no benefit in dealing with people who have nothing but negative things to say. When that someone amounts to just about everyone, just keep it to yourself.

This reminds me of the Australian doctor who discovered a non-surgical cure for ulcers. Everyone in the scientific community agreed that no viruses or anything could live in the acidic conditions inside the human stomach. He spent a LOT of time trying to convince other doctors he was right. Finally, he ignored all of them and went about his research and proved that most ulcers are caused by organisms in the stomach. He actually had to treat and cure several people before the medical community would even pay attention to him. But he sure would have saved a lot of time by not bothering to argue and just finishing his work.

All people KNEW the world was flat and the sun revolved around it, and what happened when people offered up a different idea? They were punished for heresy and ridiculed by their colleagues.

No, sometimes there is no use wasting time and energy fighting established beliefs by arguing and it is better to just silently go about proving or accomplishing your goal.

In this letter, he touches briefly on the idea that I would continue to pass on and add any wisdom to my kids’ early development. This was written 15 years before my first child Emma Rose was born. Other than in this letter I don’t recall him ever talking about me writing letters until one day I told him what I was doing. . He was very proud that I decided to write letters to my kids and that I was so appreciative of what he had done for me.

It may seem obvious that each generation should do better than the next, but these days that seems to mean money and opportunity alone. Very few people truly teach their kids anything at all and when they do it is usually something many others could teach, like sports or how to drive, but very few teach their kids what schools can’t, namely, to think outside the box, to have confidence, to move and not to fear mistakes.

Anyway the last part of the letter is about Crackers. I remember Crackers and he didn’t strike me as any more smug than most house cats, but pop really liked the ground squirrels and he hated any form of cruelty.

In the 46 years he lived before this letter, he had grown up in an economically depressed town, was a Military Policeman in the Army, stationed in Germany. He had fathered 5 kids and was divorced twice. He had also been wealthy and broke several times so it is easy to see how the line, “there is no justice, only power” really resonated with him at that moment while sitting in prison.

Heck by this point in time it resonated with me too. Maybe because I was in the prison-like Los Angeles public school system or because my dad was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Don’t let me leave you with the impression I think my dad never did anything wrong.  Even he admitted he had gotten away with a lot of things. Things maybe he should have gone to jail for like drunk driving and that is how he was able to cope with being locked up, by looking at the bigger picture and not just this one travesty of justice in his life.

            My father never ran an ad with the intention to not fulfill. He was however very capable of dropping the ball and going to lunch instead of watching his business. He had run several promotions before and after and not once did anyone ever hear him plan to cash checks and run.

            I never heard him bother to explain that to people and somehow nobody ever cared that he did go to prison.

            He was very capable of moving on.



Copyright Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.