I have been on an epic rollercoaster, known as my life. Let me delved into a Zen Buddhist koan about a person walking through the jungle and he see a ferocious tiger bounding after the man. Suddenly, he trip and falls over the edge of the ravine. He grabs a root as he free-falls. There are sharp rocks on the floor. The tiger waits. And, a black & white bug begin to gnaw at the root. The man foolishly smiles at himself. He guffaw at the scene.
Towards the end of 1994, I crumbled on the blue oriental rug of my girlfriend’s apartment. I lay there for hours. I was totally depressed. Nothing had gone right for me. My independent movie sunk without a trace. My producer was a delusional heroin-addict. My chronic depressed ex-ex-ex-girlfriend moved back to Central Philly. She couldn’t handle Stanford. I was alone. My parents were angry with me (no wonder!)
Following my girlfriend’s suggestion, I began to write screenplays. I walked around downtown. Woolworths became my temple-ancient forest (I love big block stores). I cooked extravagant meals. I offered up my morning prayers. I ate lunch with Peter, a college friend. At night, I bugged Alberto who was designing architecture at U. of Penn. I shopped at the Italian Market. My girlfriend and I prayed at different synagogues. We had Shabbat dinner on Friday evening. I practiced aikido and attended writer lessons.
From 1996-2004, I was a Hollywood screenwriter and perfected my elevator pitching skills to Dreamworks, Disney, Sony, WB, Miramax and lessor-known studio executives. Most of my thirty-plus screenplays failed.
I used my precise survivor skills to conquer my post-catastrophic massive stroke in 2009. The right-side of my body was numb, my brain’s right motor map had vanished. I was mute & I couldn’t spell. And, yet, I looked forward
s to playing with my children and walking with my friends. I learned to drive, to cook, to wash myself and my giggling children.
A year after my stroke, when I was still aphasic, my ex took away my daughters and abandoned me in our dilapidated house. During the following three years I fought her three times in court for custody of my daughters.
In 2012, the judge of the Asheville family court ordered my children to go with my narcissistic ex-wife 1200 miles away to San Antonio, Texas. I flew and drove to see my daughters eight times a year in San Antonio where I rented an apartment and car. Twice a year I flew to San Antonio to bring my daughters to Asheville, their hometown during their vacations. I took them to Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, Georgia, Los Angeles, to see their relatives, friends and summer camps. Although these efforts depleted my emotional, health and financial resources, it was extremely important for me to be in their lives as their father. I love my beautiful daughters, miss them, and am proud of their achievements.
During this Wuhan virus episode, I have perfected my survival skills and… I’m flourishing. Today, is a wonderful day. I drink my tea. Pat my Manx cat. Read the horrendous news. Listen to the music on Pandora. Exercise the muscle groups of my fingers and thumbs using my AlonTree products. I chat with my neighborhood friends and video chat with my family. I nap. I design prototypes. I garden. I write stroke warrior essays. I cook and eat by myself. But I am not alone. I clean and repair my home. My bonds with my sister Michele and my parents have deepened and strengthened and I have taken a keen interest in my niece, Aria.
I have survived many, many, many, many upsets as well as a catastrophic illness. And, you have an encyclopedic knowledge of your failures and victory, too.
To be a person hanging by a root, dangling his whole body, the tiger waiting for the person on the ledge, the sharp rock waiting for the person’s flesh and, the bored bug chewing on the root.
We are that person! Reading my essay. Looking at TikTok, Netflix & social media. Playing with our children board games or playing with our puppies. Gardening. Napping. Cooking. We pretend that our video-classes are interesting. Being here.