Better World Team
Better World Team story fragment, reflection or sketch...
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
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
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.
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
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
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
I had him hooked and I knew it. But a wave of guilt suddenly
swept over me. Because I wasn't being totally honest.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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…"
kind of a strange pick up line," Artie muttered. "I take
it you don't get too many responses."
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…"
'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…"
but not exactly the right mix for your Better World Show
concept …" he pointed out.
the message is basically the same…" I countered.
but isn't your whole concept to 'inspire and empower through
humor' as you put it one time…"
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."
she sent you an instant message and it was love at first
sight?" Artie snickered.
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
she had checked out a whole bunch of my projects before
she finally reached out to me and now she wants to work
Artie said. He seemed surprised. "So which aspect of what
you've done convinced her?"
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.)
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 BetterWorldTeam.com
website about The Team I've been hoping we could
bring together to work on The Better World Show…"
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.
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?"
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…"
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
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,
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…"
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
But I could see the wheels were still turning for some
reason, and he looked like he wasn't done asking questions.
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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
Better World Show
Reality Show That Will Change Reality