The HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Nigel West offers the following definition for the term Burn Notice– “When a Central Intelligence Agency source has proved unreliable, a warning known as a Burn Notice is distributed, alerting personnel with responsibility for the recruitment or running of sources not to have any further contact with that individual.” As the opening monologue of the old USA Network TV show BURN NOTICE related, “When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in…(y)ou rely on anyone who’s still talking to you…(b)ottom line: As long as you’re burned, you’re not going anywhere.”
Join me in a piquant thought experiment: Though you are most likely not a spy, intelligence informant, or even a breaker of law beyond that of an occasional moving violation, what would you do if you were to be the recipient of your own Burn Notice? What if you suddenly found yourSelf without credit, no access to your savings accounts, no record with any governmental, banking or business entity that you have ever existed? People that once knew you deny they have ever even met you, let alone admit to having any sort of relationship to or with you. Those hard copies you have of your birth certificate, your mortgage, your divorce decree? Well, as there is no official record of these documents anywhere, then they must be clever forgeries. If this happened to you, how would you respond? Would you exert all possible energies to convince people of who you were and to reclaim what you feel is rightfully yours? Would you, like the protagonist in the TV show, seek out the person or entity behind your burning? What would you do if, despite your best attempts, you were unable to reclaim that which was once yours? Would you flounder? Would you spend the remainder of your days sulking and bemoaning your situation? Would you start over?
Technology can fail. In today’s modern digital society, it is not so far from the realm of possibility that you might, indeed, find yourSelf on the receiving end of your own version of a Burn Notice. Though it might not be orchestrated by an unspecified shady governmental cabal or the result of some criminal enterprise out to purloin the identities of the unsuspecting, and though it might not be as total as that experienced by a burned spy, you still may one day find yourSelf in the position of having to prove who you are and exist without access to your digitally stored virtual resources until the matter can be resolved. Could you do this? Do you have sufficient liquid resources spread around and available should you require them? Do you have multiple copies of relevant important documents stored in various secure locations? Most importantly, in a worst case scenario, do have the fortitude to start over from scratch if you needed to?
Don’t get burned against your will. Against your will? An interesting concept which sets us off in an entirely new and intriguing direction. Look at your Life. Look at your tendencies. Look at the way you habitually respond to situations and circumstances. Look at the good. Look at the bad. What if…what if you were to issue your own Burn Notice…to yourSelf?
How would your Life be different if you were to burn those traits that no longer served you? What if you erased the behaviors that held you back or, worse, harmed you? While it is not possible to avoid the consequences of our prior choices, decisions, and actions by “burning” them, it IS possible to create a “new identity” for ourselves, to move toward becoming the person we want to be. Change your mind, change your approach, and you will most certainly change your Life.
Perhaps a Burn Notice is not such a scary thing after all.
©Billy Red Horse