I met him in a little park in Fairfax, California. That’s in Marin County. You know, moonbeams and hot-tubs. There’s a mountain here named after a Miwok Indian chief known as Tamalpais, and it presides like a mystic watchman above storied villages where movie stars, rock musicians and tech pioneers dwell among dense hillside stands of Eucalyptus, Bay Laurel and Madrone. Stu was his name, but I later learned he was once known as the Pied Piper of Kan-Wah-Doo.
“I’m a spiritual teacher, what I do is I’ll speak to someone and find out how far I can go with them and if they start looking away or say something funny I’ll stop. But I’ll go as far as they let me. Basically I tell people that they are loved. They’re loved by the Divine.”
That’s his message. We’re all part of God. We’re all loved. And you believe it when he tells you that the Garden of Eden is not a place but a state of mind. You hear stories about angels who walk among us in disguise. I’ve met many in my travels; souls with sunlight beaming through every pore. They seem to come from all walks of life but the one thing they have in common is the look in their eyes. When a man has seen more than his share of death and horror they call it the thousand-yard stare. But people like Stu, their eyes exude the opposite of that. They’ve seen the bush aflame on Sinai and their eyes speak the eternal spark of love.
It may be the oldest self-help wisdom in the pantheon of aphorism – Act as if. That’s what they mean when they tell you you have to call in your success. It’s all in your head. It’s Norman Vincent Peale in a nutshell and it’s a big part of the 12 Steps. I’ve heard it before but never as emphatically. It was Stu’s motto, his living creed. And he handed it to me like a ruby the size of a fist.
This is my ODE to Stu, the nomad bushman of the Tamalpais watershed. I’ve travelled all over this country and met a hundred like him – people who aren’t afraid to be or give themselves fully, to any stranger who will listen and look them in the eye. And that’s where I find my faith. Because I believe that stories can save the world. I can’t hate a man if I know his story. I can only love him. As corny as that sounds I believe in this. It starts one person at a time. It starts by looking for your next Stu.