“The first step to peace is to stand still in the light.” ~George Fox
A Light Journey
When you’re all alone in the dark you can either close your eyes and go to sleep or look for the light.
I entered the department store and tried my best to look like a real shopper. Something told me they were watching me. Maybe it was just my drug-induced paranoia, I told myself, half-convincingly. I picked up a pair of slacks, folding them neatly over my arm. I turned and headed down another aisle, this time deftly slipping a belt and a handful of silk ties beneath the pants. I then headed to the dressing room to do my dirty work. I entered an empty stall and wrapped the belt and ties around my waist, covering them with my shirt. I tucked the shirt in carefully and straightened out my jacket, making sure nothing was bulging or hanging out. Then I exited the dressing room and put the pants back on the rack where I had found them.
They’re watching you. Eyes piercing your soul. You’re naked for everybody to see. Don’t you know that everyone is watching you now? You can’t hide anymore. They all know. They all see you. They hear your thoughts. The sound of your pounding heart echoes over the loud speakers as all of the store employees and all of the customers stop and listen. They turn toward you and watch you with accusing eyes. Penetrating eyes burn with laser-light intensity through your naked soul. No place to run. No place to hide. It’s over now. They know what you’ve done. They know who you really are. They all see you. You’re naked.
I was in a movie watching myself play out that final scene. But I couldn’t change the script. I was trapped in this moment of destiny. I watched from the audience as two security guards tackled me just outside the front door. Like a video recorder, the action stopped and then replayed itself in slow motion. I watched as they cuffed my hands behind my back and dragged me into the security office. I saw the police officers come in and place me under arrest and haul me down to the station.
The next thing I remember was looking up at the ceiling. A white light glared down at me. The room was white. A man in white looked down at me and laughed. He put his face close to mine and stared into my eyes mockingly. He turned to his assistant and said, “Hey, you want to see what a black guy with jaundice looks like?” I couldn’t see who he was talking to at first, but I knew that someone else was in the room. I whispered, “What’s going to happen?”
“Looks like you’ll probably be dead by Christmas,” the man in white jeered. His laughter faded into sterile walls as the words echoed in my brain: “DEAD BY CHRISTMAS”… “DEAD BY CHRISTMAS”… ”DEAD BY CHRISTMAS.” This was Thanksgiving. I closed my eyes as I slipped in and out of consciousness.
You’re going to die and it matters to no one, least of all to you. At least the pain of this life would end and you will cease to destroy the lives of all whose paths you’ve crossed. You think back over the years of running through people’s lives like a wild hurricane, leaving behind only shattered glass and splinters. There is nobody left to turn to. The world will be a better place without you as your life now comes to its vile and well-deserved finality: To die. In jail. Alone.
The Three Assassins stand by your bedside: Fear, Guilt and Resentment taunt you with every sin you have ever committed.
They shout their filthy curses and accusations at you until you cover your ears with your hands and beg them to stop.
And they don’t stop.
You know you have to end it all. You are beyond hope, beyond salvation. Your grace period has run out.
I wrap the bed sheet around my neck and tie it into a hangman’s noose, fastening the end to the top of the bars. I leap into the Abyss.
The scarlet thread now wraps itself around my neck like an umbilical cord. I am drowning in an amniotic sea of primordial death. Panic pours out like water; my bones are out of joint. The cords of death entangle me. The torrents of destruction overwhelm me. The cords of the grave coil around me. The snares of death confront me.
My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? You brought me out of the womb and made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you, from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no help.
The Three Assassins stalk me. Surround me. Like roaring lions tearing their prey, they open their mouths wide against me, engulfing me. I am lost in the Abyss.
Suddenly I awaken. Sweating, screaming, gasping for breath. The sheets are wrapped around my neck like a hangman’s noose as the nightmare fades into the nothingness from whence it came. Had I been asleep, dreaming that I was awake? Or was I still dreaming? Or was I just a butterfly…?
Transformed by Writing
After spending more than half my life in and out of jails, rehabs and prisons while battling drug addiction, I was a dead dog on the road of life. Down in the darkness of death’s doorstep, in the depths of despair, the Light began to dawn. Then everything changed.
By the time I entered the recovery house, I was already a successful author, having written several books on personal finance, identity theft and consumer issues. I had appeared on hundreds of radio and television talk shows as one of the nation’s leading credit experts. Writing was an essential part of my life, but something was sorely missing – my life was a miserable mess. I needed to do something different. I needed help.
As part of my treatment plan my counselor arranged for me to write out my moral inventory in the form of a memoir. For more than an hour a day I poured out all my thoughts and memories, frightfully surprised as rivers of poetry mixed with secret crimes and lovers bubbled to the surface of my soul and spilled out onto yellow legal pads. The result of this process was a catharsis that led to emotional healing and spiritual insight, transforming my life with a deep and permanent Light.
After a brief stint in law school, I changed course and earned my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. I began writing screenplays and adapting books to film and television. I even wrote a comedy script about my experience in law school and adapted my book Identity Theft into a feature screenplay about a guy who takes the law into his own hands and goes after the person who stole his identity. But that’s another story.
Over the years, I’ve been involved in more than ten different films in a variety of roles including writer, producer, assistant director, actor and stunt driver. Known as the guy who gave legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille his close-up, my movie projects include the epic Cecil B. DeMille biopic (www.cbdemille.com) based on my novel, C.B. DeMille: The Man Who Invented Hollywood. I am also the author of the bestselling book, Ready When You Are: Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments for Success, which has transformed countless lives and careers.
I recently released my semi-autobiographical novel, The Light (New Way Press, 2013), a mystical odyssey that follows Abel Adams, a brilliant but troubled young misfit desperately seeking freedom, love and spiritual enlightenment while battling drug addiction, dark forces and strange temptations. The Light is a surrealistic adventure tale about redemption and recovery. The book’s protagonist, Abel Adams is essentially an allegorical composite of all of us who have gone astray at some point in our lives. I believe that many people will discover their deep identification with Abel’s desperate desire for deliverance from darkness.
In addition to writing books and making movies, I help others do the same through my work as a creative writing professor and literary consultant. I specialize in helping people become published authors so they can tell their stories and make a difference in the world. Writing transformed my life and I have seen it transform the lives of countless others. Stories heal. Stories change lives.
On the eve of Easter, 2013, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. granted me a full pardon. I hope my story will help others find the Light.