Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Own Human Experience

One thing has been on my mind. If we really are eternal spiritual beings having temporary human experiences then what did I do to deserve such a good one? I could have been born in Burundi and grown up an orphan looking for food in the garbage dump. (God bless all those who are having that experience.)

Instead I came into this life at the end of WWII in the greatest country in the world at the beginning of what has been the most peaceful and prosperous era in modern history. I was born to good Catholic parents who loved me and taught me about God, and I grew up in the booming metropolis of Southern California, in North Hollywood. Somehow, though my sister was famous for having the brains in the family, I excelled in school. I was named Valedictorian of my grammar school class and won Science and Religion awards in high school without even knowing. Even in those early years it occurred to me that I must have favor with someone bigger than me. Father Harris told me to get to know Jesus and I undertook to read the bible for the first time in my freshman year of high school. 

In the 10th grade I had a friend who aspired to be a professional baseball pitcher who made me practice with him every day. I didn’t care much for baseball but working with him all that time made me a pretty good hitter, good enough to be selected to the All-Star team in my junior and senior year. All of a sudden I became known as an athlete and began moving in the best social circles. I got good grades and had the coolest car. My yearbook used one word to describe me when I graduated from high school: Popular. What more could a teenager ask for? Meanwhile my desire to know God was increasing and I began to study other faiths - including the eastern religions.

In college my friends and I started our own fraternity and it soon became the most popular fraternity in the school (see Animal House). I envisioned myself in a band performing at our parties but I didn’t know how to play a musical instrument, and I had no money. One day I was awarded $1,000 after a car accident and, against the advice of my father, used it to buy guitars and drums for me and some selected friends. The band we started not only played at fraternity parties, we auditioned and got booked for a week at a major nightclub on the famous Sunset Strip. It was there that we were discovered by '50s crooner Pat Boone. He got us a contract and we recorded a song that became a number one hit in California. The blessings were coming fast now. I went on to join the Turtles and then Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, touring the world several times with big hit records, appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, even playing at the White House. The Beatles came to see us play in London and Paul McCartney told me he liked my music. Not bad for someone who didn’t know how to play an instrument five years before. But how did it happen? I continued to seek to know the source of my good fortune so that I might thank him appropriately, maybe repay him, or worship him - whatever it was he required.    

After about 10 years it occurred to me that I wasn’t limited to life on the road with a rock and roll band. It wasn't reality and it didn't make sense to be attached to it. Better to change my experience and do something completely different.  Once more against the advice of family and friends and without any definite idea of what I would do I left the music industry and moved to New York City. I knew two people there. One offered me a place to live in Greenwich Village and the other a temporary job with the New York Jets Football Club - if I didn't mind mailing Joe Namath posters and polishing the Super Bowl trophy. I didn't mind. Six months after touring the world as a rock star with Alice Cooper I was now commuting by subway in Manhattan to and from my job as a $100 a week office boy - and I loved it. One day I was called into the office of Weeb Ewbank, the head coach and general manager. He had heard that I was from Hollywood and wanted to talk to me about developing a film department for the Jets. I didn’t know the first thing about film-making but I told him I could do the job. Somehow I learned how to shoot, develop, print and edit 16mm movie film and did the job for 27 years, traveling with the team and filming all their games and practice sessions. Years later we transitioned from film to videotape and finally to non-linear digital imaging - none of which I knew anything about, yet the films were always the highest quality. I had three file drawers full of applications for the job as my assistant, all from people much more educated and qualified than myself. Whoever God was, it appeared I still had his favor in my life.

During my New York experience I practiced Transcendental Meditation, took courses in Scientology, and finally became a born-again Christian. I served in the local church and it was there I met my wife - the most wonderful gift of them all. Actually I've been married to wonderful women twice in my life. The first blessed me with a son and raised him almost by herself when I was on the road with the band. He grew up and served his country in the Air Force, then graduated with honors from the University of Washington. Now he too has a beautiful wife and I have my first grandson. For the past 23 years I've been married to a highly motivated professional woman (a doctor) and we're raising two more excellent boys. Does God’s favor ever end?

A few years ago I was ready for another new experience and moved my family to Jacksonville, Florida, where my spiritual hunger and search for God continues. After having careers in two glamorous entertainment industries I really don't remember "working" a day in my life. It's all been so interesting. We've also founded a center for children with Autism, done medical missionary work in Central America (I'm the pharmacist) and opened a growing pediatric practice in St. Augustine, Florida. My spiritual hunger and search for God continues but all I can see is his goodness. The blessings in my human experience continue to this day - none of which I planned, none of which I was qualified for, and none of which I take credit for. The only thing I’ve really made an effort to do in my life was know Him. The rest of this stuff is just happening to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment