The creation of the music and songs on this Wake Up Call album portray the spiritual journey of my life. Pinocchio represents those times in our lives when “big temptations and addictions” call to us, or we let people puppet us and pull our strings. Every one of us takes this journey underwater someday. We learn that good Geppetto, aka God, loves us even when we’re seemingly lost at sea and swallowed up – in the belly of the whale!
This literally happened to me when I was 2 years old, and I nearly drowned in the ocean. While my little body was under water, I was in another realm, experiencing only peace and overwhelming love. I felt a connection with all that is – 2 years old and 200,000 years old all at the same time. As it says in the song Listen – “Oh, Great Mystery come wave through me today. Tell me, what will I see when tears have washed away?” “Oh, my child, see only beauty. You’re the pearl I fashioned long ago. Love is more than you can fathom. Realize I’ve always loved you so… Breathe into this Love, Let it flow in and out you.” I then was pulled out of the water by a family member, and I saw my body separate from me – hanging limp in their arms, until I was suddenly back in my body again. This “Near Death Experience” was a critical experience in my life, one that left me without fear – knowing love never dies – that we are all spiritual beings connected with each other and with the Creator of our Being – all One in consciousness. It would serve me well when I lost my first daughter Sasha as a baby to a rare chromosomal disorder, and the grief led me to become a Hospice Bereavement Counselor.
After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts from Florida State University, I headed off to Berkley, CA, to the Living Love Center. There I met Ken Keyes, Jr., the happiest person I’ve ever encountered. Within the three months I stayed there, my life was again forever changed. Ken taught that “Happiness happens when your consciousness is not dominated by emotional addictions and demands – and you experience life as a Parade of Preferences.” He shared the Law of Higher Consciousness: Love Everyone Unconditionally – Including Yourself. I memorized the 12 Pathways to the Higher Consciousness Planes of Unconditional Love and Oneness. You can see these on the Healing Page on this website. I have used these 12 pathways throughout my life to free myself from limiting demands and expectations (addictions). For instance, the first pathway is: “I am freeing myself from security, sensation and power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, and thus destroy my serenity and keep me from loving myself and others.” Very powerful!
I had another life-altering occurrence at the Living Love Center - a Kundalini experience. They asked us to allow some past event to bubble up in our consciousness in an effort to release the energetic hold it had on our minds. What surfaced for me was an event I hadn’t thought about in many years, when as a young boy, my feelings were hurt, and I was determined not to cry. As I was recalling this, I felt a curious vibration about the size of a pea at the base of my spine. As I focused on it, it grew to the size of a grape and then a golf ball, and then with sudden speed and intensity it spiraled up my spine to the top of my skull and exploded in bliss! My eyes were closed, and I knew not to move. My hands flipped into what I later learned were called mudras, in which my index finger and thumbs were touching. I heard a roaring in my ears as if I were standing between two rushing subway cars and a ferocious yet beautiful energy was coursing through my body. It had a timeless and sacred quality. The aftermath was a floating sensation I compared loosely to a time I parachuted from a plane, as I slowly and peacefully re-entered my body. I had heard people calling my name, but I hadn’t wanted to move or respond. When I opened my eyes, I was being rocked in the arms of a kind man who was chanting, “Always Us Living Love.” This was another of Ken’s teachings, to use this chant and put the emphasis on each succeeding word: All Ways Us Living Love - All Ways Us Living Love - All Ways Us Living Love - All Ways Us Living Love - All Ways Us Living Love.
Down the street from the Living Love Center, I met Ram Dass, who has become another life-changing spiritual teacher. The song Remember What Ram Dass Said has many of his loving teachings: “Be here now, more and more compassionate… Love knows the way, so let’s get on with it. Watch the drama unfold but don’t get caught in it. We’ve got a front row seat to the greatest show on earth – the PLAY of the Universe. We’re all just walking each other home.” This is the title of Ram Dass’ new book: Walking Each Other Home – Conversations on Loving and Dying, written with Mirabai Bush.
The song This Healing Love was written for the passion play “Simon Peter” in which I was honored to play the part of Jesus for 27 years in Tucson. Acting as and speaking the words of faith, unconditional love, and healing that Jesus did had a profound impact on me, and has helped me to call on His teachings throughout my life. We learn through our life’s challenges to “stand up and be counted…with the poets and the children who believe Love never fails. With each one of us set free, we raise everybody up. Each heart will be an overflowing cup.” We learn we, too, are holy – “holy, this miracle here in me, feeling this healing love.”
My greatest teacher of the Power of Kindness was my daughter Monique. During her all-too-short 20 years, she exemplified and modeled the importance of kindness. After a long and difficult struggle with depression and anxiety, she took her life. Her headstone reads: “Kindness isn’t weakness; meanness isn’t strength.” The grief that followed led me to a deeper level of grieving, and understanding the pain of suicide. I found out through this and other loses in my life what it’s like to be in the Valley. Sooner or later, we come to a place where we feel “I wanna shake myself awake” to Rally in the Valley and sing, dance, praise and love again. There have been many beautiful signs from Monique of her continuing life and presence. One of the ongoing “God Winks” I regularly see are empty Newport cigarette packs everywhere I go (The article “Lost at Sea” on my Healing Page will help this make sense). It brings me comfort feeling like I am being guided by unseen angels along the path of my life to “New Ports” of joy.
As it says in The Girl on Grand Boulevard, “Thank God for those faithful invisible angels that cherish the creatures they guard – the elder that calls, the sparrow that falls and the girl on Grand Boulevard.” They are always around – giving us a Wake Up Call to help us out of the box we have gotten into with our limiting thoughts and beliefs. They remind us that “what seems real in the night is gone the second we turn on the light.” And we find “this is our destiny, this is our brand new day. This is our innocence that never went away!”
Being guided to Unity Church in Albany has provided another avenue for spiritual growth. The song Freeman’s Prayer, with words by Unity Minister James Dillet Freeman, are a great representation of Unity’s life-affirming messages. “The Love of God has blessed you, the light of God’s all around. The Power of God protects you. God’s watching over you now. Wherever you are, God is, and All is Well.”
Studying A Course In Miracles and reading the lessons from the Workbook on a daily basis has also deepened my understanding of truth: “Spirit Am I, a beloved son of God, free of all limits, whole and healed and safe, free to forgive and free to save the world.” One of ACIM’s most profound teachings is on acceptance: “What could you not accept if you but knew that everything that happens, every event, past, present and to come, is gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good?” And so “I Joyfully Accept God’s desire for my happiness now.”
Five hundred years ago, St. Teresa of Avila prayed, “May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others…” Her beautiful prayer was the inspiration for the songs Rally in the Valley and The Field of Possibility. We come to realize that there truly is a Field of Possibility – “a Wonderland where we live and learn… And so we dance, n’ open hands reach for the skies; happy ‘cause we know that Love never, ever dies.”
I’m grateful for this Field of Possibility where I was destined to be blessed with my wonderful family – my loving Mom and Dad and sister Ellen, my beloved children Sasha, Monique, Will VI, Alex, Jesse and Xander, step-children Amanda and Gina, and grandchildren Kevin and Nicky, my former partners and my loving wife and best friend Ginger – the Girl on Grand Boulevard. It means so much to me that my kind life partner created and sang the harmonies on this album, that Jesse played drums, Amanda sang, and my name-sake Will VI did the graphic design.
I’m grateful to all the dear friends in this Field of Possibility that I was destined to meet - my childhood buddy Phillip who soulfully plays sax on the album, Dale whose open circles and encouragement opened me back up to writing and playing music after a long hiatus and re-connected me to Ginger. Ruth, whose unshakable faith and knowing her Truth, as well as her belief my music, is so inspiring. James, who encouraged and provided the opportunity for me to record Remember What Ram Dass Said – the song and experience that led to recording this whole album. Mark Kelso, the owner of Muddy Angel Studio and stunning musician who masterfully recorded Wake Up Call. All the kind musicians who shared their remarkable talent and played with us on the album (see Credits), as well as the inspiration of great musicians like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. I am so grateful to these and to so many other family members, friends and angels who came into my life at the perfect time to encourage and support my journey. I love you deeply and for all time.
As Ramana Maharishi says, “Love is the only quality that brings total comprehension to the whole of existence.” I am blessed to have incredible kindness in my life – to know that God is Love, that I am Love – we all are - and as A Course in Miracles says, “Love is all there is.” We are, as spiritual beings, One with the Ocean of Love and Bliss. Ken Keyes, Jr., gives us the way to get there in his 12th Pathway: “I am perceiving everyone, including myself, as an awakening being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love and oneness.”
So, are we “Ready to roll? Well, all right! Nothin’ raises your confidence like rising up from the dead (think caterpillar) and walking through walls (butterfly)! This is our Wake Up Call.”
Believe in the Return of Joy, “dig deep, plant that seed – it’s never too early to get what you need – The Return of Joy.”