Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Death of a Popular Poet

November 15, 2017

Working as an MBA candidate comes with a remarkable series of challenges and responsibilities. Most recently, one of my professors, who clearly was passionate about motivating his students, shared some deep and meaningful insights. He sent me an email in reply to mine in which he shared with me that the pessimist states death and taxes are the only two immovable objects that are a guaranteed certainty.
He then went on to share with me an optimist looks at change and time as certainties. I think he wanted to make certain that I understood the depth and value of both, and that how we launch our perception impacts the way we look at the world.

Yet my perception of the world has recently become a little hazy. Recently I have been forced to reckon with the mortal enemy that is death. In the past two weeks I have had to say goodbye to two people. The first one had given up a long time ago and tip what some might say was a brave choice and taking his own life. But the other, well he was a fighter. But even his optimism was not enough to Conquer Cancer.
Let me tell you a little bit about AJ.
I first met AJ years ago when I showed up for an interview on a radio show that he was one part of a partnership. He and Ernie, a mutual friend, invited me to come talk about a book that had just been released titled Confessions of a Transylvanian. This book, written by an old and dear friend and myself, detailed the experience of being part of a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast.
The very first thing I noticed about AJ was his energy. He possessed this smile and a genuine eagerness to laugh and share.
We laughed a lot during that interview and at the end of that hour I knew I had made another friend.
But it wasn’t until I started working at Epcot with the entertainment team that he and I really started to connect. Everywhere I would have to track him down he was always on the go, eager to chat.

It was during one of these conversations that we both discovered one of our most favorite mutually appreciated holidays, Halloween, offered us no shortage of creative Outlets. I shared with him some of the things I had done when I designed haunted houses, many decidedly low, low Tech, and he shared with me Cutting Edge high-tech things that were either of his creation or off the shelf.
We talked repeatedly about combining forces to create a haunted experience like no other on a ranch for another mutual friend, Dave.

And when, in the process of producing a fairly sizable event, it came time for a DJ, I asked him for recommendations. Instead of a recommendation he suggested he do it.
I learned about AJ that almost like a good book, every few pages there was some new and incredible facet or skill he possessed. I was always learning something new with him.
At the event venue, we took the elevator. He gestured to the walls and said “velvet. ”
He sounded like an old crotchety guy, commenting on the quality of an inferior product. And the two times we were there, for the tech scout and the event, every damn time we rode the elevator, we’d both say, “velvet.” After a while we’d just randomly say “it’s velvet,” and it carried to EPCOT where it stood proxy for a normal greeting.
But that made sense. AJ was not normal. He transcended it.
He was a class all his own, always a pleasure to be around.

I used to bleed alone, keeping my grief and pain to myself. That ended the day I lost my brother, five years ago, and was clear and present when I lost my dad a year ago.
With AJ I have no regrets. I had the good fortune of seeing him damn near every day that I was at work, if you could call what we did work. And he always had time for me and I always made time for him and I am glad for that. Because I have regrets when it comes to my brother and I have regrets when it comes to my dad.
Maybe that’s the thing to take stock of now. If there someone in your life you’ve been meaning to reach out to, don’t wait. Regret is a deceptively heavy burden to shoulder.

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to catch my breath.
It is a callous thing to say, but I can think of a few people who are probably past their expiration date on planet Earth.
AJ was not one of them. He was one heck of an individual with a lot of light, love, and life still to give.
The world is little quieter today.

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How to Live the Relevant Life

January 4, 2016

Take a look around. What do you see?
Seriously – When you drive to work, what do you see? When you drive to school, what do you see? When you’re running errands, going to the supermarket, or going to meet friends, what do you notice about your surroundings?

Are you taking in the beauty of everyday things? Are you taking delight in the little things?
If you live in a rural agricultural area, have you noticed new animals in a rancher’s field? If you live in a suburban area, have you counted the number of playgrounds?
If you live in a dense urban area, have you noticed the architecture that surrounds you with its evocative expressions and mood?

What about the people you encounter?

Look at the people in your life. Look at the ones who bring value, love, compassion, and respect. Are you reciprocating? You should be.

Take the time to look around… And this isn’t about texting and driving (although that certainly is a worthy topic for discussion, but maybe another time).

This isn’t about unnecessary distractions. It’s about life. It’s about the beauty in everyday things. It’s about noticing something for the first time. It’s about appreciating things that you’ve seen before. It’s about setting your mind, and your emotions up for the kind of supreme awareness that makes you sympathetic & empathetic to your world, to the people, and creatures of all kinds. To the plants and even the stones.

Let everyone in your life, everyone who matters, know they matter. Show them. Tell them. Share with them. Because life isn’t about how we start things, it is about how we sustain and polish things.
Take a look around.
Take the time to make your life one where quality lives in the present moment.
Do it now.

Thoughts on the Reason for the Season

December 24, 2015

The reason for the season.

What is it exactly? If you ask 10 people you’ll get 10 different answers. Similar to my experience as an actor and stuntman, every time I went for a new headshot session I would go through the photos and pick the top 10 I felt best represented me as me and not someone else. And I would seek out the council of my experienced actor friends and ask them their opinion. After, I would talk to a couple of casting directors and ask them theirs. Finally, I would go to my agent and let her have a look see. Would it surprise you to know that some folks like the same photo but in almost every instance every individual picked another, different picture. I would make notes who likes what and why, and then I would compare that to my own notes of what I liked. That’s how I chose my new headshot pictures. Ultimately, it had to be an honest representation Of Ron. If this somehow conflicted with my agent’s choice I never told her. And she never said word one to me when I submitted new head shots for her file.

My choice of headshots is a variation of reflectively deciding which path or fork in the road to take, ultimately making the mindful choice of what best serves you and your sphere.

So, you may be wondering how I started on the topic of holiday interpretation and got to a monologue about headshots. While it is critically important to respect the belief and values of others, it is equally important to identify your own values and be willing, through self awareness, to stand for them.
Our belief system is always evolving. As we get older we develop stronger feelings on certain subjects and in many instances abandon beliefs and sentiments we held in our youth. sometimes we make slight modifications and other times we engage in wholesale changes.

What does this mean for you? I can tell you what it means for me. I may not believe in your belief system but I’m willing to listen and learn, & adopt those rudiments as they apply to my vslue system.
Christmas is about the spirit of giving, of family, and of compassion. Hanukkah is about storytelling, light, hope, and faith that all things are possible when you believe. Ramadan is about family, religious observation, and self-reflection. Yule is about acknowledging the cycle and circle of life, and remembering why connecting with nature and each other is so important. And so it goes. See the trend in similarities? Truth is, each of these holds within its bosom a commitment to celebration, remembering, and self-reflection.

Every major religion, including many not considered “major,” celebrate the new year at a time that contradicts the Gregorian calendar. This doesn’t make one more “right,” anymore than local cultural norms that dictate you dine on the floor and eat sans utensils, or sit at a long linen-bedecked table, waiting for the next course to be served.

Here’s the thing. every one of these tenants listed is something that any single individual can get behind and adopt. In that way it’s kind of like getting advice or seeking counsel. Take what works for you, apply it, and discard the rest. Don’t forget the rest because there’s a good possibility somewhere down the road you’ll look through that pile of discards and realize, Hey that thing there just might work.

So that’s the thing to think about not just for the season, but every single day of your life. Remain true to who you are, and be open to the sort of change that is personally fulfilling and socially enriching. You’ll notice a positive change in yourself. Your ever growing circle of friends and family as well as sphere of influence will reflect this. All you have to do is be willing to share and participate.
That sense of self realized connectiveness, the concept of individual wholeness bringing value to the community?
That’s the payoff.

Yes … There IS a Santa

December 4, 2009

I have family in town this week.  The good kind.  The kind that if you had the room you’d want them and their brood to stay with you.  The kind you don’t get to spend enough time with.  That sort.  Anyway, we went to one of the holiday offerings in Orlando at one of the Theme Parks that has a special ticketed event that serves all the cookies, hot chocolate, apple juice and pre-packaged apple slices one can possibly consume, as well as parades, decor, and offerings unique to the season.  Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  This is a winter wonderland for kids of all ages.  Unlimited cookies?  What gets better than that.  And the brilliant logic as a parent is to let your child consume as many as possible and then flame out in a brilliant buzz of sugar-induced energy which ultimately results in a good night’s sleep for all.  Sometimes.

Anyway, back on point.  We had to leave early to pick up more family arriving at the airport.  On the way to the pass-through under the train station I noticed a small crowd gathered and walked over to glance past the toy soldiers.  Just beyond, seated on a plush crushed red velvet sofa-looking bench, was a guy dressed as Santa.  Something inside me said “I want to meet Santa,” even as another voice countered with, “it’s just a guy in a red suit.”  But we did.  We waited a few minutes, not long at all, until it was our turn.  The cast members were just delightful and filled with the spirit of the season.  It had cooled off to the point where, in the mid-sixties and with a slight breeze, it felt like the holiday season was upon us.  One of the cast members handed us little candy canes and admonished us not to eat them until after we met Santa.  The sticky candy gets in his beard and on his robe and had to be cleaned off and all that.  The child in me just wanted to get on with meeting Santa.  I still wasn’t really feeling it until it was our turn and we walked up to Santa.  He smiled at the two of us and patted his knees.

“Oh no,” I protested.  “I’ll sit next to you.”

He shook his head and patted his knees again as he looked at both of us.  “You’ll be fine.”  It was clear, in Santa’s domain, he was calling the shots.  He was the comforting patriarch and we were the children.

As I got closer and sat down and we both got comfortable on his knees the magic transported us.  I was a child taken back to a time that was measured in experiences and moments of joy.  I studied him carefully for a few moments as we spoke to him.  Real beard? Check.  Real mustache? Check.  His face had just the right windburned texture and even his eyelashes had a hint of white.  But his eyes.  There was delight in those eyes.  A joyful magical spark in them as he spoke to us.  Naturally he had the laugh, and the rich, basso profundo voice.  But it was the eyes.  And if the eyes are truly a window to the soul, as many a poet has declared, I saw in Santa’s eyes the hope and belief of a little magic in a sometimes-weary world.  We weren’t rushed away.  He smiled as he talked to us and I thought this must be who Santa is.  I wore a big smile the rest of the evening.

And some of you who have followed these articles know this has been an interesting year.  A year of loss, of unplanned charity of the forced kind, of the opportunity to stumble and not fall, but to recover and move forward.  I have often spoke of how we are measured by our ability to rise and overcome.  But I am beginning to believe we are also measured by our strength and faith.  It is one thing to speak of these things, but another to perform in action admirably.

If you make it out there, and I hope you do, make some time for yourself and your loved ones.  Do yourself a favor and visit Santa.  There is an infectious energy in the power to believe.  He made me believe.  There IS a Santa.  And when you visit him please tell him I said hi, and thanks.  And Merry Christmas.

Peace on Earth, or I guess I Don’t Own That Anymore

November 24, 2009

I’m relaxing this morning at the Lodge.  My escape has been 
for the time catching up on all seasons of The West Wing: intelligent, well written and a nice diversion from the real world. Although I must say it is still earily topical, on point with  a remarkable sense of prescient timing.

It’s not yet Thanksgiving and the Christmas tree is up, all six stories of it, and the holiday decor abounds.  An elegant selection of music specific to the season – currently as I write, “what child is this” plays in the background.

And I think about my computer being stolen.  It happened recently while I was visiting out of town relatives.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be a writer without a computer? I was old school once upon a time with a typewriter and a less than graceful hunt and peck method to serve me. 

Several books and scripts as well as other projects on commission later and the tool of my trade is nowhere to be found, thoughtfully misappropriated by someone who must need it more than I.

I should be really upset. It has been an interesting year.  I think this is a minor test of our ability to be measured by our ability to rise when we stumble, fall, or overcome obstacles.  Or someone’s idea of a joke.

I’m disappointed.  Myself a card holding member, I’m at a loss for words when it comes to understanding the human race.   I want to have faith in the good I believe to be out there.

White Christmas is now playing. I’ll allow the music to have its soothing effect on me, just as the good knight sir Congreve recognized it does for us, savages all.

Peace on Earth. I’d like a little of that to bless us all. Maybe compassion and tolerance and understanding might come with it, and along with these noble truths, the sense to know right from wrong, and the strength of character without tilting to make those choices. Whomever has my computer; take care of it. It was new when I got it and still has that “new car smell.”
Peace on Earth.

A Dog Has Died by Pablo Neruda

November 19, 2009

This piece is too beautiful not to share.  My thanks to Mark for the timeliness of its arrival.  We find ourselves in timeless moments of awe when something speaks to our soul and resonates with a voice all its own.  This piece does that.  Let it speak to you and let your spirit soar.

 

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair

or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter

of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.

Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer

writing, acting, flying, and focus

May 22, 2009

Much to the chagrin of a couple of my closest friends, who are also heavily skewed fans (In my opinion), I have taken on yet another sporadic writing project. The first link follows.
EzineArticles.com: http://EzineArticles.com/?id=2346834
I simply decided to share a bit of the history and experience I’ve amassed in the entertainment industry, and it made me realize how critical focus is in our lives.
I mentioned in a previous blog / article the eagerness I have in getting my private (pilot’s license) and getting my ticket punched (another way of referring to the certificate for the specific certification) and have spent time working on the writing portion, prepping for the written FAA Airmen’s exam. I realize I need to get that out of the way before I can move on unfettered to the practical aspect.
Plus, I have taken on another business enterprise, as well as begun the outlay for something that may enter the realm of the physical down the road. Sounds cryptic, I know, but until I’ve got the necessary things in place for the latter it does little good to elaborate.
The first thing I refer to is simply a business enterprise I’ve entered with a colleague with the sole purpose of creating a self-sustaining vehicle. I’ve discovered as I talk to people who areinvestors, and with my own experience, the truly successful people have several projects going at once. It’s doesn’t dilute their efforts as much as as fuel the fire to grow and create. Every person with a measure of success has their focus on several things at once; whether those things are physical, emotional, business, spiritual, or religious, direction guides decision.
I once heard a good friend talk about how pursuits are like a ladder on a wall. A goal might be beyond reach because the ladder is on the wrong wall. I put forth another possibility: why not create more than one ladder?
I truly believe dreams become goals when you touch them with your mind.
My focus on writing, flying, and the cornucopia of other things that take my attention are simply ways of direction.
For all of us, guided direction should guide decision.