Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On Love...

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation ... Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world for himself for another's sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.
Rainer Maria Rilke

I don't experience love as an emotion.

Romantic love springs from the euphoria of encountering someone who stimulates us with their physical appearance, their sexual prowess, their voice, their scent, the outward projections of their personality, their money, business success, their social clout, etc., etc., all of which is temporal. I think that what we most often perceive as romantic love IS an emotion. Like all other emotions that spring from the primordial fear of survival, that kind of love has an element of fear in it––one or the other is going to leave, find another lover, lose interest, or die.

I've no idea if there is any science to back me up, but I think that emotions spring from something pre-human, from the fight-or-flight response of animals whence our egos evolved. And the most primordial emotion might be what we call "fear," but even though that's not quite it.

Maybe it's fear plus the remembrance of pain. Fear of pain, fear of loss, desertion, guilt, self-loathing, self-pity, resentment, anger, hatred, greed, depression––to better identify the base emotion whence all the others spring is pointless because the mind that is trying to describe these emotions is the source of them all.

Romantic love IS an emotion and, because it springs from the dualistic mind, it is subject to the law of opposites. The same drug that makes one feel euphoric can also make one feel absolutely rotten, especially when one "fears" that the drug might be withdrawn. Romantic love is like a drug, briefly dissolving egos in a euphoric state, and couples spend the rest of their days together trying to sustain and even resurrect that euphoria... with date nights, exotic vacations, mutual (or separate) activities, social connections, the acquisition of more outward expressions of their love... and THERAPY.

True love, however, is not an emotion. It's a state of being, and the only work it requires is that one remains in a state of mindfulness, not attaching too much significance to our ever-changing emotions, understanding that those emotions are essentially thoughts, and thoughts are not who we are. Moreover, true love is total, unconditional acceptance of another being in their entirety, even those characteristics that challenge our fragile egos.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't express the emotions we are feeling. I think that emotions must be openly and immediately discussed, but with a mutual understanding that we're only talking about ego fears. Ego fears are real only in that they are one facet of the human incarnation, only real to us because we experience them, but only briefly if we can learn to live only in the moment.

In every word and deed, we can either choose love––which is our natural state––or we choose fear. To choose love, however, one must learn to identify, acknowledge and articulate the pain that precipitates fear, anxiety and anger. That task requires mindfulness, conscious awareness, practiced recognition of our fear and pain and, in response, to offer that pain to whatever higher power we perceive––God, the Divine Oneness, the Universe.

Someone recently said to me that our years are short and precious and that we should move on. I disagree. I've come very, very close to dying a couple years back, and I can tell you that it's completely safe. When we've done all we're meant to do in this life, we drop the body and begin again. Yes, we have work to do in this incarnation, but we do not ourselves set the schedule. It's perfectly okay to trust the Universe that wherever we are, whatever we are experiencing, even the pain of it, is perfectly okay.

All of us are exactly where we need to be in every moment, even the moments which we can hardly bear. We just have to learn the skills to rest in each moment, embracing it... and to choose love.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Into the Senyas Ashrama

As a writer, producer and director with eighteen years in an advertising agency environment, as well as at least as many years in film and video production and the performing arts, I chose to depart from traditional consumer product marketing.

While there will always be a place for conscientious and creative marketing of useful products, I was burned out on trying to sell more stuff to people who neither needed nor could afford more stuff, stuff that seldom made any contribution to anyone's quality of life. Instead, I committed my talents, vision and mindfulness to working with people and organizations involved in the products, practices and services that enrich the human experience, and perhaps help save us from extinction.

While I don't pretend to be enlightened, I have awakened to the knowledge that we humans are the conscious expression of Creation, the Universe becoming aware of its self. We stand upon a mountaintop of evolution and from this lofty place in the middle of eternity, we have the sole purpose of kindling a light in the darkness of mere being.

Being drawn to wide, wild, windswept and mountainous places, in 2011, I sought and accepted an assignment with the National Outdoor Leadership School, the largest outdoor education institution in the world. NOLS' classroom is the wilderness and it is committed to sustainable practices, both in the field and throughout the organization.
In my work for NOLS, I attained a CDL with passenger and air brake endorsements, and I drove over 10,000 miles, safely transporting students, provisions and gear over dusty desert roads, winding mountain passes and rocky one-lane tracks sometimes above the tree line to wilderness trail heads, all while acting as a servant leader to NOLS students. Through that experience––combined with my lifelong work as a marketing strategist, producer of major video productions and live events, and as a voice and on-camera talent––I now possess a singularly unique marketing, transportation logistics and outdoor education skills set.

What I do...

 I am a voice and on-camera talent with exceptional professional representation and an international clientele.

 I conceive, write and execute award-winning, strategic marketing campaigns for organizations involved in environmental preservation, outdoor education, adventure travel and self-exploration.

 I write, produce and direct video and film projects, particularly those which focus on environmental preservation, sustainable products and practices, and tourism.

 I am an outdoor photographer and writer of indefatigable energy and adventurous spirit. My work has been purchased and published by Kodak and licensed by National Geographic.

In moving into this senyas ashrama of life, I believe that our best hope of survival as a species begins, not only with practical skills, but with mindfulness and personal awareness. Toward enhancing that awareness and accompanying others on the path toward enlightenment is where I wish to focus whatever light I may kindle.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hard Core Brands - Commercial Voice Over

While I'm not a hunter myself, I am not opposed to conscientious hunting practices. In fact, hunters and hunting organizations have been routinely instrumental in protecting the endangered wildlife and natural environments that are of special interest to me. I'm honored to have my voice associated with several of the finest companies and organizations in hunting, HARD CORE BRANDS foremost among them.

This 30-second commercial was produced and directed by Joshua Dahlstrom, Graphic Design/Video Production – Hard Core Brands Int. LLC & Bone Collector, LLC. – http://www.hardcore-brands.comVoice over recorded at Rock Studio, Brunswick, Georgia, Anthony Stubelek, Engineer.

(Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

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Friday, November 28, 2014

John Drew - A Little Variety

An example of some relatively recent voice work.

John Drew - A Little Variety - Voice Demo


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Voice in the Wilderness

Link to A Line in the Sand on Vimeo

Sometimes, You Get to Play One of Your Personal Heroes.
A Line in the Sand, an animated film featuring quotes from beloved and irreverent environmentalist Edward Abbey, was produced and directed by Justin Clifton for Our Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon Trust in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act by President Lyndon Johnson. In the film, I represent the voice of the late Edward Abbey whose works helped formulate my own environmental perspectivesThe film, which draws attention to imminent threats to the fragile beauty of public lands in the Canyonlands of Utah, the Colorado Plateau and the Desert Southwest as well as the elemental place of wilderness in the American psyche, personifies the kind of work on which I focus my talents.

(Edward Abbey was noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views. His best-known works include the novels The Monkey Wrench Gang and Heyduke Lives, which have been cited as inspiration by radical environmental groups, and the non-fiction work Desert Solitaire.)

Credits: My audition for the role came through my dear friend and voice talent agent Carol Rathe of Go Voices in Denver. The audition was recorded by Anthony Stubelek of Rock Studio Recording and Mastering in Brunswick, Georgia, and the final recording session took place at PRC Digital Media in Jacksonville, Florida, Chris Linke recording engineer. The session was remotely directed from Flagstaff, Arizona by the film's producer/director, Justin Clifton, and co-director, Chris Cresci.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The MED - "Baby" - 30-Second TV Voice Over

 Link to The Med "Baby" Commercial on Vimeo
Link to The Med "Baby" Commercial on my Vimeo Channel.

There's a link in the right-hand side bar to my Vimeo and YouTube channels, but this one deserves some attention. This commercial is for The MED (Regional Medical Center) of Memphis and is one element of a three-part campaign.

I especially like that, even though it was not part of the original project, the producer wanted to try to keep my voice for the sake of continuity, so he requested that I retain the gravely quality of my delivery, but with a warmer, more gentle approach. This was the result.

It's always a pleasure to be part of excellent production, and these spots produced by Peter Zavadil of Taillight TV are exquisite. My thanks to Peter for his excellent direction, to Anthony Stubelek of Rock Studio in Brunswick, Georgia for his thoughtful expertise in recording the voice overs, and to my good friend and agent Carol Rathe of Go Voices in Denver.

If it's true that "you're only as good as your most recent work," then I'm kind of proud of this and the other spots for The MED, but I'm always up for the next opportunity.

(You can click on the mother and baby image to view the video.)

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Sunday, October 6, 2013


The sharp sound of shattering ceramic echoes through the room. A spinning shard comes to rest. Then all is silent. I close my eyes and drop my head forward for a few breathless moments, allowing the memories to sweep over me.

Even in a whisper, my voice echoes, “Do you want to kiss her good-bye?”

The tow-headed, eight-year-old boy, his blue eyes open wide, remains silent, bowing his head to one side and slightly shaking it “no."

“This may be our last time alone with her.”

He remains motionless.

The young woman lying before us in the soft light is peaceful in her repose. Crisp, white sheet pulled up under her arms, golden-brown hair spilling away from her serene, unmade face. Eyes softly closed, arms at her sides, palms open, slender, ringless fingers relaxed.

I stroke her hair, then lean over and kiss her. Though my lips linger on hers, she does not respond. I touch her cheek. It is cold, as cold as the ceramic tile walls, as cold as the stainless steel IV pole with its dangling, disconnected tubes, as cold as the now-silent vital signs machine and the crash cart carrying the deactivated defibrillator.

I slowly step back, take a deep breath and close my eyes. I hear my own heartbeat.

With my hand on his shoulder, I lead the little boy beyond the blue surgical curtain and into the doorway where a nurse is silently waiting. She whispers that she is so terribly sorry.

I ask if my son can have a lock of his mother’s hair. We sit on the blue plastic seats of the sad, square metal frame waiting room chairs until she returns with a white envelope. Inside is a long, golden-brown swirl of hair. I thank her. We leave. Just the two of us.

Among the images that recall themselves from the summer that followed, many of them caught on home video, all bereft of a mother's touch, is a grainy video of my son standing alone on the sidewalk, sparklers sizzling and scintillating in each hand on a July Fourth night and, when they burn out, he drops them to the sidewalk and shrugs his shoulders as the scene fades to black.

In the fall, his elementary school class visits Disney World on a day trip. I have to work and am unable to chaperon, but I give him money to spend on food and souvenirs. That evening when I return from work, he hands me a small shopping bag imprinted with a Disney World logo. Inside is the black Donald Duck ceramic coffee mug. The money I have given him for himself, he has spent on me.

The cup has accompanied me ever since, for nineteen years, treasured and protected, a constant reminder of my son’s unselfish gesture.

As I am rearranging a book and some papers, the cup has fallen from the stool where it always rests as I sit drinking my morning coffee while reading. Despite my desperate attempt to grasp it in its seemingly-slow-motion fall, it has crashed to the terrazzo floor and shattered.

I weep. I weep, not for the loss of the cup. There will be others. I weep for what is irreplaceable.

Then, I raise my head, shrug my shoulders, pick up the pieces, and breathe into life's next moments.

Morning coffee about to brew in my Donald Duck cup
  on the tailgate of a 4X4 high up in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Don't let the sound of your own weasels drive you crazy.

"The Corner" in Winslow, Arizona. Photographed 08/07/2012.

When he was three years old, my son John would join his older sisters in singing every popular or obscure song they knew. Both girls were in honors choruses and choirs and musical productions from an early age and John was drawn in by the joy and exuberance of their musicality.

At the time, the Eagles must have recently reissued their first hit, Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey's Take It Easy. Perhaps the girls discovered my LP of the Eagles' Greatest Hits or Jackson Browne's album For Everyman. I just remember the song's pervasive presence in our home.

From the outset, little John was drawn in by the song's rollicking beat, and he easily learned the lyrics... except for one line which he sang with such delight and abandon that we lacked the heart to correct:

"Don't let the sound of your own weasels drive you crazy."

Little John must have unwittingly known a truth even at that early age: Sometimes the sound of your own weasels can indeed drive you crazy. We come to see our weasels as reality and we want to alter it, to fix it.

As I proceed along this figurative and literal path, I have learned that the "me" to which I object, and which I wish to transform, does not even exist. That it isn't at all real.

What is "real?" As John Lennon wrote, "Love is Real."

More on that as I stumble along. In the meantime, however, don't let the sound of your own weasels drive you crazy.

~ Sedona, Arizona - August 8, 2012

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Images from a Western Odyssey

The Rockies at Sunset - From Raton Pass on the Colorado-New Mexico Border.

In May 2011, I accepted a six-month assignment with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming and the Teton Valley of Idaho. NOLS is the largest outdoor education institution in the world, it's classroom is the wilderness, and the school is committed to sustainable practices in every aspect of its operations. I immeasurably benefited from my six-month immersion into that culture and came away with significant new skills in my armamentarium of abilities.

While driving nearly 10,000 miles across the wide, wild, windswept, mountainous places where NOLS conducts its mission, I had a few opportunities to make photos. A collection of images from my travels with NOLS, the return journey across America and images from other travels can be seen on Panoramio, the Google Earth image repository featuring over three hundred of my photos -

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Conversation with God

This still shot of me was taken during filming of the 2010 season promo for Bone Collector on the Outdoor Channel. In the promo, I played a homeless man who is taught to fend for himself with a bow and arrow. During a lull in the filming, however--in a few moments that seemed surreally suspended in time--I had an encounter with an actual homeless person that is indelibly etched in my memory.

The director and crew were across the street, discussing the next scene with the three principals of Bone Collector who were in a large, black truck with tinted windows. They were obscured by the truck and, because we were mostly using natural light, there wasn't a lot of production equipment in view.

From where I was sitting by myself on an overturned milk crate, next to my stereotypical shopping cart prop, waiting for the shooting to resume, I watched the old, bedraggled man come around the corner and make his way along the sidewalk toward me, pushing a two-wheeled cart loaded with all his belongings. I confess my discomfort that he would ask me for money or engage me in conversation. Instead, he walked past me without speaking.

Then, as he was crossing the street, he turned back and asked, "Are you hungry? I have some food that you can have." I told him that I was fine, but he persisted, "It's okay. If you're hungry, I'll feed you." Again, I told him that I would be okay. He reluctantly said, "Well, if you're sure," and started to walk away. Then, turning back again, he called out, "You need to get out of this town. They don't give a damn about homeless people here." With that said, he turned away, walked off down the street and disappeared around a corner. A moment later, the director emerged from behind the truck, the crew reappeared and shooting resumed as if nothing had happened.

What does that say? Here was the outcast, untouchable, unseen man possessing almost none of the things with which our society measures itself, yet he was prepared to share his modest food supply with me while unknowingly admonishing me for my own lack of mindfulness.

It was a conversation with God that I will never forget. It altered my perceptions and my life’s path.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
                                                                              ~ Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

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