If they have their druthers, the Total Overcomers will leave earth after being picked up by a spacecraft from the tip of the Santa Monica Pier. They will be taken to the Kingdom of Heaven, will lose their "vehicles" and be fitted with new bodies molded to the needs of a new existence. This departure should take place by February, yet the Total Overcomers understand it may not happen that way. There are other ways of transcending this Kingdom – natural death, death by accident, something in between. But 18 years of classroom, learning lesson after lesson from Do and Te, their teachers from the Evolutionary Level After Human, have left them with a heightened sense of the solar winds. They know the signs of the closing days, the prickle a soul gives when it rubs against the roof of its vehicle, dying for leaving. their time is now.
The Total Overcomers started in 1975 in Northern California, in the woods where alien life forms and off-roaders commonly gather. They were nearly 100 searchers camping on Bureau of Land Management land, entering town for rice and beans, watching television at night until the generator no longer hummed in the forest air. Discarding their names and personal histories like clothes dropped in a hamper, hey assumed single names like Glen or June. Worldly habits were dropped: coffee, cigarettes, Budweiser, lovemaking. They lost nearly three-quarters of their members.
(Photo by Anne Fishbein)In 1978 they moved as a group of 40 into the weedy outskirts of town where cults usually prosper – the suburbs. They took on jobs, but switched cities often, moving in circles across the Southwest, remaining outside the human community. Skip the Jim and Ginny donut social at the office Monday mornings. No time for a swim at the boss' ranch-style duplex. Classroom, always Classroom. The time of spade-turning, of Garden-clearing is coming. Need every moment to refine the soul, to prepare it for eternal life in a non-mammalian, non-seed-bearing body. Focus is all. False prophets were identified – Lightworkers, Pledians, Baptists. Favorite television shows were watched: Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
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The Total Overcomers show off "cult" trappings without some cults' sinister themes. They have no compound, no combat magnums or 12-year-old girls. They seek no converts. They will admit they are a casual factor of the millennium, fin-de-siecle, belonging to a series of phenomena that repeat like a genetic code every hundred years or so. This knowledge is part of a self-consciousness that still binds them to humanity; they are not a howling wilderness in suits. They understand they may sound ridiculous to others.
Total Overcomers share a consistent trope of physical aspect – stylish bowl haircuts, similar eyeglasses, crisp, brightly colored shirts of organic material buttoned to the neck. Moving outside of human time, their bodies – their vehicles – are becoming each other, falling away from natural decay, exhibiting a pink glow of otherworldly health on every face. Explaining this lasting youth they defer to the weaning of the flesh through a regime of diets – vegetarian, fruitarian – and homegrown fasts, 38 days once on lemonade.
This Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Marina International in Marina del Rey, eight Total Overcomers will present their knowledge to Los Angeles. Crews in Dallas and San Diego are doing the same. After that, they're ready to leave. "If we had known this would take 18 years," says Glen, "we never would have stuck with it. When we started, we all thought we would be going up within weeks. We were so naive."