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Archive for July, 2011

One of Those Moments

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Everyone knows the saying “one of those moments that changes your life,” but tragically and ironically you don’t realize you’ve just had one of these beautiful experiences until years, or most likely decades later.  I’ve had my share of these of course, and a crucially important one occurred when I met one of my best friends… but I didn’t even begin to comprehend it until more than 15 years later.

Jack was just one of those unique kinds of guys that you wished you could be more like.  Effortlessly he possessed this wondrous carefree attitude, which was exquisitely complemented by a soothing calm demeanor that was utterly magnetic.  I’m not sure if I’m using this expression right, but to me it seemed like Jack walked between the raindrops.  He had a limitless array of friends; people were naturally drawn to him.  While my entire existence was fraught with the harsh realities of constantly striving to achieve career goals, his was filled with excitement, experience, and a charmingly seductive thirst for life.

As I got to know Jack more and more he taught me a great many things, but he didn’t do so like someone older with the wisdom of years would’ve.  We were essentially the same age but he seemed to understand so much more about life than I did.  I was still young during this time and my fragile ego didn’t want to let him know how much I admired him, or just how much he was beginning to shape my outlook.  He had such a thorough awareness of who he was, and those enlightened eyes with which he viewed the world saw things that I simply couldn’t.  At the time he was nowhere near as accomplished as I was though.  I made more money than he did, had a better looking girlfriend and drove a more expensive car—none of which aroused even the slightest hint of envy outta Jack.

Back then this irritated me far more than I’ll ever admit.

Jack’s contentment with life and overall happiness was something I’d never be able to buy.  I wanted to have what he did and I spent a great deal of time analyzing his life and his attitude, but I was never able to learn his secret until after that one cold winter night when he passed away.

It took a long time for me to accept how much of an impact this remarkable man had on my life, and it was only after his passing that I was able to truly appreciate all that he taught me.  As I grieved for him I remembered one of the many times when he had shared with me a dazzling bit of brilliance.  He told me that my entire attitude each day was nothing more than a representation of my overall perspective, and that it’d never change for the better until I grew and allowed it to.  Jack wasn’t being pedantic nor was he lecturing me, he was simply letting me know something that he felt and knew to be true.

I’ve always been able to feel the warmth of his happiness shining down upon me.  When I make decisions these days I always ask myself what he would do given my situation.  Even though he’s gone I still find myself wanting to impress him.  I want him to see that I really did finally get to that place in my life where he’d always been.

Meeting Jack was one of those moments in my life where everything started to change.

When your time comes to leave this world you’re not going to be able to take your superficial trinkets with you, nor will you be able to line the casket with your money.  It’s crucially important you come to understand and accept the fact that each and every one of the decisions you make every single day either lays the foundation for or chips away at happiness.  The memories of these moments will be all you can take with you to the other side.

Ask yourself who has made an impact on your life…

And don’t wait until it’s too late to tell them how much their guidance has meant to you.

A Lasting Presence

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I’ve built my life and made a career by inspiring those around me, but there are times when I find myself getting so caught up in the beauty of the moments I help create that I often neglect my own needs.  Then there are of course my various business ventures, the management of which requires incredible amounts of hard work.  Always I’m striving to be the best father and boyfriend that I can possibly be, but there are only so many hours in the day.  Amidst all of my important responsibilities, though noble and rewarding as they may be, I’m still only human and at times it’s really easy to lose sight of what truly matters.

There are times when I don’t have all the answers… It use to be that whenever I’d find myself in need of motivation, guidance and wisdom, I could go straight to my dad.

Earlier today I barreled out of a tough long meeting.  I stepped out onto the street to get some air and let the shining sun hit my face, then I took a few moments to gather myself.  Though I’m always juggling an array of projects these last few weeks have been particularly chaotic, but as I stood there watching the cars go by I grew rather calm.  For some subconscious reason I started thinking about Christmas of ’05.

That wondrous December 25th I’d had the privilege of hosting holiday dinner.  The love and cheerful warmth of that particular evening will always hold a special place in my heart.  The house was filled with family and friends.  All of us shared stories of the past year’s experiences, we laughed, and even a joyful tear or two was shed.  There was great food and fine drink, all of which was accentuated brilliantly by the dazzling colored lights.  The whole night was like a scene out of some marvelous play that I would never tire of seeing.

It was also one of the last times my dad was able to take part in a celebration like this.  Shortly thereafter this magical evening he passed on.

Though by this point in his life health issues were commonplace, dad always had a smile on his face, beaming with positivity.  I on the other hand was always so caught up with building my empire and making sure my personal relationships were as strong as they could be.  But whenever things began to falter as they inevitably did, it was always my dad that I’d run to for advice.  This stalwart man never complained about how he felt—never wanted to trouble you with his mounting list of ailments.  Even after Alzheimer’s robbed him of his memories, those deep blue caring eyes lit up like flares every time I entered the room.

This impeccable man, my dad, never forgot me.  When I was there you could just see that he felt better.  Though at times I believed that I was being consumed by unyielding “problems,” he quietly listened without interruption to everything I vented about.

During these anxiety ridden rants I honestly can’t remember if I ever asked how he was doing.

There’re monumental amounts of stress in all of our lives.  Adult responsibilities can seem like they’re overtaking you at times, but this memory of my dad and how I couldn’t see past my own daily issues will always be a painful reminder that I must never again forget what truly matters in life.

These days when I need to talk with him I pick up my mom and we visit his resting spot.  I use this time to tell him about everything that’s going on in my life.  And though I still do vent a bit from time to time, which draws strange looks from my mom, I never forget to ask him how he’s doing…

And he tells me…

I can feel him there…

Just as this beautiful man did at every important step of my life, he left a lasting presence that I will never forget.

A Breathtaking Vision

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The 4th of July has always meant a great many things to me throughout the course of my life.  In my younger days it signified summer and all that was most rich about it: sunshine, barbecues, pretty girls and the promise of a future bound by nothing… As I got older and started to see my business grow, which never would’ve happened without the lessons instilled in me by my incredibly wise Uncle Moe, I acquired a deeper appreciation for what Independence Day actually meant.  But no prior year’s celebration could hold a candle to the one that just passed.  Last week I stood before one of the most breathtaking visions that I have ever had the pleasure to see.

I knew this year’s fourth was going to be inspiringly memorable.  Back when I was living in Hollywood, barely scraping by and subsisting on McDonald’s Happy Meals, I befriended a charming girl at the Bullock’s department store where I worked.  She had a warm yet radiant personality and an infectious smile; she was just the kind of person who made your day brighter if you saw her.  We never dated, which I’ve always regretted, but as the months passed we grew rather close.  We kept in touch over the years as best we could, but life inevitably took us in different directions.  She got quite a kick out of the fact that I made a recognizable name for myself, so every so often I’d get an e-mail or a call.  I enjoyed these immensely and I could feel my face light up as I wrote her back or heard her voice, but earlier this year when she told me that she had been diagnosed with cancer it crushed me completely.

I’ll always be able to hear the fear in her voice from that call and if I think about it too long my eyes still well up.  Though we’d only been a part of each other’s life for a short amount of time, we’d both made an indelible impression on one another.  She wanted me to know.  She wanted me to visit if it was possible.  When I finally came to see her she was in the throes of her chemotherapy treatment.  Her hair was gone and she was clearly in agony.  I gave her all the comforting words I could muster, but I couldn’t understand why such a vibrant soul would want anyone to see her this way.  As her husband walked me to my car he explained that she wanted to see those who had meant something to her one last time, just in case she didn’t pull through.

This made sense to me as I thought about it while I drove up to her house that afternoon.  Several weeks prior I had received an impassioned letter from her, thanking me for making time to see her and inviting me to their celebration.  Her cancer had responded well to the treatment and she was now in good spirits.  I arrived to find their home full of family and friends.  The grownups were telling stories, kids were swimming in the pool, and there she was, right there in the center of it all.  I couldn’t believe how much better she looked; she had that same bounce in her step I noticed the very first day I met her and her hair was already growing back.  We spoke at length and she told me that for the time being she had fought off the cancer, but the chemo had damaged her heart, which she would have to work vigorously to strengthen.  Immediately I noticed the plate of fruit and vegetables she was snacking from.

As the day wore on I saw my friend regale her guests with entertaining stories, sharing tender moments with relatives and she even took a dip in the pool with the kids.  She lit the whole party up brighter than the burning California sun, which was exactly how I’d always remembered her.  But it was at night with the fireworks exploding in the sky that my confidence in her resolve to live was truly affirmed.  During the grand finale, which thundered harder than any fireworks display in recent memory, my eyes were drawn only to the fiery glow from my dear friend’s sparkling face.  Surrounded by that those she loved, she gazed up at that bursting sky with all the wonderment of a child.  She even caught me looking at her, then in that fine subtle style of hers, she fired a reassuring wink at me.

One of the most breathtaking visions I’ve ever seen was what that was.