Better World Team story fragment, reflection or sketch...

The Better World Team
Is Born

For the first time in a long while, I was filled with hope again. The future was wide open! And it had all changed in an instant. 20 years of failed attempts to manifest a dream were suddenly redeemed. All because of a single email and follow up phone call. Finally the life I was meant to live was about to begin!

Okay, I know I've felt like this before… But this time it was going to be different. This time, everything was falling into place!

The last time I was anywhere near this much excited about anything, Artie was the one I had reached out to. And of course, he was the first one I wanted to reach out to now. Only I hadn't spoken to him in two years.

Two years… it'd been a doozy of an argument… Seemed to happen in regular cycles with us over the years. But each time, I kept reaching out again. And again. And again. Some friendships are just like that. You share something at a pivotal point in your life, and you never give up on them, no matter how much you both change, or how far apart your lives lead you, or how many hurtful words are said. But two years was definitely the longest we'd ever gone.

But now that a life-changing fork in the road had come up, of course Artie was the one I had to turn to, one more time. Amazingly he was online and he picked up my Skype call.

"Hey, Bob," he said carefully. I could tell from his expression that the pain of our last two-year old conversation hadn't gone away for him either. But the history of the friendship we'd shared also shone through. Enough so that he'd picked up my call, and now that he had, I could tell that he was hesitantly eager to patch things up again; at least enough to listen to what it was I'd broken our mutual silence to discuss. He knew it would be something 'monumentally important' - when I called it always was. At least to me. For Artie, actually, usually not so much.

Looking back, I remembered that each time I'd reached out with something for us to work on together again, he'd seemed interested, at least at first. But, come to think of it, it did always seem to turn out that he was only humoring me for a while. And then he'd seemingly go out of his way to crush my enthusiasm.

How had I forgotten this obvious pattern?

Suddenly I felt my nerve slipping away. Maybe I should have moved forward a little bit further on the idea before reaching out this time… make it a little more solid first…

But Artie did seem genuinely glad I called, and eager to hear what I had to say, so I took another leap of faith.

"Hey Artie. Sorry it's been so long…" I said. I wanted to apologize for the way things were left between us, but I couldn't really remember what I should be sorry about. Being sorry that we'd been out of touch for so long would have to suffice.

"Yeah, it's been a while…" We launched into some idle banter for a moment or so; both of us were apparently fine with ignoring the impetus of our two-year lapse in communication and simply moving onto the next long-distance encounter of once-upon-a-time friends.

Actually, of course, some of our chatter wasn't that idle. I mean a lot had happened for me in those two years, after all. Being divorced after 30 years was definitely a huge milestone that had indeed turned my life upside down for a while. But it had been a few months and I was over it by then. Well, sort of.

Anyway, that news did warrant a few words of sympathy, and a little annoyance on Artie's part was probably justified. How come I didn't say anything about the divorce sooner was surely what he thought. But gratefully he didn't say it. But then again, my divorce wasn't that big of a surprise. After going through the tragedy that Samantha and I went through, well, I'm sure most people expected our 30-year marriage to fall apart. It was pretty clear that's where Sam and I were heading the last time Artie and I spoke two years ago.

Actually, that might have been what started that fight in the first place. Huh. Suddenly it all came back to me. He'd been telling me to let Sam go, and I had been upset because none of my friends, especially him, had told me that I was right to want to fight for her. Well, I guess Artie had been right, after all. Maybe I did owe him an apology.

But I was trying to move on from all that, so as quickly as etiquette would allow, I launched into the news I had to share. "So you remember The Better World Show I've been talking about for the past fifteen years or so," I finally burst out.

Of course he remembered. Artie couldn't help roll his eyes a little. I mean, I did bring it up just about every time we spoke. And he wasn't really that interested last time, two years ago, or the ten times before that. But maybe, just maybe the timing was right this time. Certainly the circumstances had changed so that it might not seem so pie-in-the-sky now. At least after I told him what had just happened.

Before he could zone out and change the topic, I got right down to the bottom line. "I just got off the phone with a woman who wants to do the Show with us…"

I could tell he was about to roll his eyes again. "And she's going to finance the whole thing…" I quickly added.


Artie's eyes widened a little. I mean he had always liked the idea, sort of, except of course that we had very different ideas about what direction the Show would go, and of course, who'd be the one heading the project. But the real and final stumbling block each time was that neither one of us had the money to do it. If that hurdle wasn't an obstacle anymore … "Go on…" his eyes begged; "Oh," he said hesitantly, afraid to be sucked into my enthusiasm, at least just yet.

I had him hooked and I knew it. But a wave of guilt suddenly swept over me. Because I wasn't being totally honest.

"She doesn't have a lot of money," I confessed, unwilling to hook him this time with half-truths.

His enthusiasm was diminishing fast. He was beginning to roll his eyes again. "But she's got some funds…" I quickly added. "And a big house she wants us to stay at while we develop the Show together…" Whew. I could tell I hadn't lost him completely.

"Well, that's something," he admitted, noncommittally. "So who is this woman and how do you know her?" We'd met a lot of nuts doing the kind of work we'd done together over the years, so I totally understood that he was definitely going to be doing due diligence here before he committed himself.

"Well," I swallowed. "I don't really know her…" I admitted. "She found me… and emailed me this morning… and then we skyped for a couple hours."

"Okay…" Artie said with a sigh.

I knew I'd have to choose my words carefully, and quickly to keep him interested, because, well, now that I was hearing myself speak, I could see how it might all sound a little over-enthusiastically optimistic.

"Well, actually, I kind of, sort of approached her, first," I started, deciding I'd proceed with total and full-disclosure. "I saw her profile on OKCupid…" Uh, oh, Artie didn't even attempt to hide his smirk.

"No it's not like that… I'm not on the site to hook up - my profile makes it clear that even though it's a dating site, I'm looking for a creative collaborator…"

"That's kind of a strange pick up line," Artie muttered. "I take it you don't get too many responses."

"No," I had to agree. "But her profile was different than any others I'd come across -- She had a link to her youtube channel, and I was kind of impressed. She's a part of this huge international intercultural-interfaith organization and travels all around the world for them as an interfaith minister speaking to groups and organizing events…"

"Another 'spiritual' holy-roller…" Artie sighed.

"She's got a really important message - it's very uplifting and inspiring… very respectful of others' points-of-view… She has a very gentle and charismatic presence…"

"Yeah, but not exactly the right mix for your Better World Show concept …" he pointed out.

"Well, the message is basically the same…" I countered.

"Yeah, but isn't your whole concept to 'inspire and empower through humor' as you put it one time…"

Wow, maybe he was listening all those years. I almost smiled. "Yeah, I agree, but there was something about her in those videos. Well, I just had to at least reach out. So I sent her a message that I really enjoyed her videos, and gave her links to some of my projects."

"So she sent you an instant message and it was love at first sight?" Artie snickered.

"Well, no. I actually didn't hear anything for two weeks. And when she did finally respond in her OKcupid-message this morning, she started off by making it clear that she had no interest whatsoever in a romantic relationship with me…"


"But she had checked out a whole bunch of my projects before she finally reached out to me and now she wants to work with us…"

"Really…" Artie said. He seemed surprised. "So which aspect of what you've done convinced her?"

"I think she had seen an extensive-excerpt from my 'In Search of Utopia' book first …" I said casually.

I watched his eyes. He knew that I knew he hadn't read it, even though I'd sent him a copy a long time ago. (But then again, Artie wasn't alone in ignoring my magnum opus. In five years the book had sold exactly 12 copies - and they were the ones that I had ordered to give away.)

"Well, no, she said she wasn't very impressed with it…" I admitted. "But it piqued her interest a little, and she checked out some of the other free stuff I have posted online. She read some of the daydream-stories on my website about The Team I've been hoping we could bring together to work on The Better World Show…"

"So, they're what convinced her to be a part of it?" he inquired a little unbelievingly; he had read some of them over the years and, although he never actually came out and said it, exactly, well, it wasn't hard to read between the lines to know that he wasn't very impressed.

"No, actually, she found them a little … well, she used the words 'tedious and redundant' …"

Artie couldn't help a little sardonic half-smile, which he politely kept mostly in check. "Um, okay. Well, what else did she find when she googled you?"

"Yeah, well, she did watch some of my 'Better World Bob' videos…"

This time Artie couldn't help it - he actually cringed. I sighed. "Yeah I know you hated them…"

"I…" Artie stammered. "Hey I told you, I thought it was great you stuck with it and made so many of them. Definitely admirable. What do you have like 20 or so now?"

I sighed again. "I quit making them after the 97th one," I mumbled. "Don't worry, she only made it through the first couple and she hated them, too…" I quickly put in, in case he came to the conclusion that she must be a nut to have enjoyed that particular project I was kind of proud of, but which no one else on the planet seemed to get.

Artie looked confused. "So what hooked her?"

I opened my mouth but wasn't sure what to say because, now that I thought about it, I saw that what I was going to tell him did sound a bit weird. Oh well, here goes, I thought.

"Well, she was doing her daily meditation and she had this really clear vision of working with us on making The Better World Show happen. She tried and tried to put it out of her head, because she was convinced that the whole project was childish and naïve, and absolutely not the kind of thing she wanted to be a part of, even if she were an actress, but not only did it come to her every time she meditated, but she kept daydreaming about being the star of The Better World Show all day long, for the next week. And she's just happens to have a lull in her travel schedule coming up now, so we'd have a solid eight weeks to set up and launch the show at her place, and then we'd take it on a Roadtrip, filming her as she travels to her events and conferences…"

"Oh great, another housewife bitten by the 'I wannabe a star' bug …" Artie muttered under his breath.

The call definitely didn't seem to be going well. Artie seemed to have even less interest this time than all the others.

But I could see the wheels were still turning for some reason, and he looked like he wasn't done asking questions.

"So we've got some place to live and work on it for two months, but we've got a star with NO acting experience, and limited funding…"

"Ye…ep…" I sighed. That about summed it up, and I had to admit it didn't sound like much. "But you've made three of your films with a lot less!" I offered hopefully.

"Hmm…" Artie conceded. "And I suppose as usual, you see yourself as the ringleader, the Lorne Michaels in all this - and you're going to want to produce this and micro-manage my directing."

Yikes. The same creative argument it always seemed to come down to whenever we talked about working on anything. That's the problem when creative types try to collaborate - each thinks their vision's the best course to take. Great, it's all going to derail again before it even starts, I thought sadly. Frantically, I tried to think of something, anything to say to get back onto the right track. I opened my mouth several times, but couldn't find any words at all.

"I don't know," Artie finally said, breaking the skype-cybersilence. "There's so much stuff out there already. It's going to be really hard to break through. And we're going to have so many conflicts…"

Abort. Abort, I thought. "Look, I'm sorry I brought it all up again, Artie," I sighed. The last thing I wanted was another two-year feud - after that last one, this would definitely be the end of our friendship. Even this project wasn't worth losing that. "I just thought maybe this time, the time was right."

"I sincerely doubt it," he grumbled and my heart was breaking. "But, let's do it," he said matter-of-factly.

Huh? I was completely dumfounded. But who am I to look a gift-horse in the mouth.

Artie got right down to business, and we planned out all the next-steps. He didn't seem the least bit phased at the prospect of traveling 3000 miles to Maya's place in less than a week, even though neither one of us had even met her. (We did schedule a 3-way call with Maya for the next morning, though.)

I didn't find out until weeks later that there were some things going on behind the scenes at Artie's place that had made his seemingly incongruous decision to play with me this time a little easier. Turns out his life was in freefall at the time. He'd been out of work for nearly a year and had an awful case of writer's block, to boot. But the real kicker was that things hadn't been going so well with his long-time girlfriend. She'd gone to stay with her parents, and he had a week to make alternate living arrangements before she got back.

Then again, my life wasn't so rosy at the time, either. I was still living in our house after the divorce, but only because our home of 20 years was about to be foreclosed and I had nowhere else to go. In fact, the very day I got Maya's message, I'd been given my final week to vacate notice.

But, as they say, the universe works in mysterious ways. And although the circumstances of this new beginning weren't that auspicious, this is the story of how The Better World Team was finally born after 20 years of daydreams.

© 2015 Robert Alan Silverstein
from The Better World Factory

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The Better World Show
The Reality Show That Will Change Reality

For the past 11 years, I've been wanting to create The Better World Show, a reality show that would inspire action for a better world and provide a way for millions to participate in real-time.

"The Better World Show: The Reality Show That Would Change Reality" would be an SNL-like variety show/reality show that would highlight the many efforts for a better world that are going on, often unseen, all around us, and inspire and empower action through humor, music and cutting-edge and engaging features.

I have hundreds of pages of notes on skits, next steps, a calendar of action, numerous vehicles within the Show and tons of offshoot-ideas. So, in a last ditch effort to try to make this happen before another 11 years go by, I'm putting out this call to either find a team to launch this webseries, or someone who might be interested in writing a series of novels with me based on this concept.

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The Better World Show:
The Reality Show That Will Change Reality

An SNL-like variety show/ reality show, inspiring and empowering a global movement for change in real-time.


Better World Factory
The off-beat behind the scenes exploits of a Team of dreamers, activist-actors and misfits working on The Better World Show webseries' vignettes of humorous skits, inspirational features and original music.

Better World Roadtrip: In Search of Utopia
A roadtrip across America highlighting people, places, organizations and ideas that are helping to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Better World Inc
Misadventures of employees in an Office-type setting working for a Corporation without any products or services but whose sole purpose is to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Better World 101
Sociology professor teaching from The Better World Handbook, gives his students a semester-long assignment to create a network of Better World Clubs on college campuses around the world and a webseries to inspire and empower the network they've created.

Better World News
A humorously satirical but inspiring take on current events unseen in traditional media outlets.

Better World Band
Music videos and behind the scenes exploits of musicians on tour, performing social-issue based songs.

Better World Girl
Shy dreamer has an alter-ego in her graphic novels about her hipster glasses, beret and scarf-wearing-heroine, The Better World Girl.

The Better World Couple
BetterWorldGuy and BetterWorldGirl engage in a youtube video duel to inspire action for a beter world.

Better World Heroes
A team of dreaming misfit superhero-wannabes embark on a fantastical quest of epic proportions to save the world.


© 2004-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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* Better World Team is Born
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Better World Couple
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