Dr. Wayne Dyer was fond of referring to his life as a parenthesis in eternity. The parenthesis opens and we are born; it closes and we die. It seems only fitting that fourteen years ago I started writing haiku as a kind of therapy, a response to seeing Wayne Dyer’s special There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem on PBS, trying to pull myself back from a very dark place. And now on the eve of publishing my second book of poetry, a book that is very much inspired by the influence he has had on my life, his parenthesis has closed. On August 29, 2015, sometime in the middle of the night in his sleep, Dr. Wayne Walter Dyer left his body.
It’s personally hard for me to imagine a world without Wayne. He has been unquestionably the major spiritual influence on my life for the last fourteen years. I have read every book he has published since the mid-nineties, watched all his PBS specials, listened to his taped conversations, seen his movies, and been in his presence at least three times. I’d never met the man, but that was more a product of star-struck insecurity at meeting your admired, rather than never having had the opportunity. I could’ve met him. I should’ve. I didn’t, and now the moment has passed. One more regret, one more lesson. As Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.” But sometimes we don’t.
On September 3, 2001, one year to the day on the anniversary of my father’s death, I started working at a Catholic school outside of Philadelphia. I was good at my job, I built the program, my students liked me and I them, and I was miserable inside. I knew being a high school teacher wasn’t my calling, but I’d taken the job out of financial necessity. Over the first few weeks of employment I sunk into the most abject despair. I would call my mother in Reading, PA and tell her that I was praying that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. I felt trapped, alone, lost, and, frankly, suicidal. And again I feel the need to reiterate it wasn’t the job or the students; it was me being out of sync with my calling as an artist. And it was destroying me from within.
At some point that fall, Dr. Wayne Dyer’s special There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem aired on PBS and I happened to catch a piece of it one evening. His simple anecdotes regarding self-reliance, following one’s calling, trusting one’s intuition, and loving the universe without reserve captivated me over the next few days of the pledge break. Within the week I had bought his book and was reading it in study hall. And then a thought struck me – I was artistically unfulfilled, but I could do something about it even in study hall, in a small way. I started writing haiku during study hall, about my feelings, my passions, my frustrations, and little by little the pressure that had built up started to subside. Here is the first haiku I wrote dated November 11, 2001:
If I ruled the world…
But wait! Life is perception.
Where did I go wrong?
I believe firmly that had I not discovered Wayne, and not started writing as a result, that the depression would’ve consumed me. Whether it would’ve been suicide or just the stress of willing oneself to die overcoming me, the result would’ve been the same: I would be dead. So you see, over the last fourteen years when I’ve quipped to friends that Wayne Dyer saved my life I really wasn’t kidding. I really believe he saved me, just by being himself. Given all that I have now – my beautiful wife and son, a terminal degree, wonderful in-laws, and a supportive community of church and theatre friends – it’s a debt I can never repay.
That said, now that Wayne has passed on the real work can begin. There will be no more new books, movies, lectures and the like, but what is now possible is serious study into the life and philosophy of a man whom I hold dear. Over the years I’ve exposed myself to his work, but there’s always been something new to distract from what has come before. That time is now gone. But what’s left is an exhaustive body of work that outlines living one’s best life. I have not mastered manifesting. I have not lived the Tao. I have not affirmed “I Am God” with a belief and authority that transcends doubt. I have not forgiven. I have not spoken the language of butterflies. I have not gotten all of my music out. In each case and in so many more Wayne left us with a road map for living our best, most loving life. At 44, in a high stress career, I have a long way to go before I can sit on the beaches of Maui, picking mangoes by my pool, enjoying the fruits of a life well-lived. But at least he’s left me a light in the darkness, a body of work to draw strength and knowledge from, and a beautiful example of a man and a life to strive for and live up to. And for that I am forever grateful.
Thank you, Wayne, for being there when I needed you most, for lighting the way, and for saving my life.
May you now be at peace among the other ascended masters. Namaste.