Never Forget to laugh is a biography of Bill Thetford written by Carol M. Howe, a close friend of the co-scribe of A Course in Miracles in his later years. It is essentially the counterpart of Kenneth Wapnick’s book, Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles, only that it focuses primarily on Bill.
I knew Bill Thetford was a professor of psychology at University of Columbia. But it was only from Never Forget to Laugh that I realise how much more remarkable his career actually was. Helen and Bill were basically among the who’s who of the psychology academia. My respect for them is even more profound since the both of them had greatly risk their reputation in working secretly on A Course in Miracles before it was finally published. Yet, the biography is also clear that the two of them did not waver from their life mission in any way. Although they often did not see eye-to-eye and projected their own issues onto each other, they could switch off their differences at will when it came to materialising the Course.
Testimonials and accounts by the interviewees have also unequivocally stated that A Course in Miracles would never have become a reality without either one of them. Although the Author dictated the Course through Helen, Bill’s participation was just as instrumental in bringing about the Course. At that point, Helen was simply too skeptical and fearful to have brought the Course into reality by herself. Bill’s energy, support and encouragement was just as crucial.
Also not commonly known was the fact that Bill had a very difficult childhood, having lost both his sisters early and being bedridden due to an illness for almost 2 years when he was just a young boy. Throughout his life, Bill had his issues and challenges, just like anyone of us. However, his growing up and life path was also clearly orchestrated by fate and coincidences that finally led him to Helen. As the Course says “Those who are to meet, will meet (M-3.1)”.
Little was also known about Bill’s life after the Course was published. Thanks to Carol Howe and her biography, we now have a much better picture of what happened to Bill and a great lesson to learn from his remaining life.
Essentially, Bill retired and felt guided to move to California with Judith Skutch Whitson, the publisher of the Course. He was to begin the next phase of his life, by embodying the principles of the Course. The Course is clear that “Teaching is done in many ways, above all by example (T-5.IV.5)”. Bill knew intuitively that his next step was to teach by example, thus practising forgiveness on a full-time basis.
Bearing in mind that the Course’s forgiveness process is not the same as the ego’s version of forgiving others for what they have perpetuated, Bill did not isolate himself but strove to see himself in others, knowing that the only way to enlightenment is seeing others as whole and innocent. As Pursah pointed out in Gary Renard’s third book, Love has Forgotten No One, “That’s why everything you think about others is really a message from you, to you, about you. If you see them as being all of it, nothing less than God, then that’s how you’ll eventually come to experience yourself.”
Slowly but surely, Bill managed to dissolve his ego gradually and shortly before his transition, he proclaimed he was finally free. Many of his closest friends who were with him during his final days could attest to that and shared their observations in the book. Nevertheless, even years before he was awakened, people around him had already taken notice of his transformation. He had an abundance of humour and he certainly did not take life too seriously. Many felt his loving energy just by being in his presence.
Carol M. Howe has done a tremendous job in chronicling Bill Thetford’s life and she is certainly a teacher of A Course in Miracles who truly understood its principles. The biography cannot be more appropriately titled than Never Forget to Laugh. If Bill is still around, he will surely remind us about that.
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