NOTE: The article below, which first appeared in the Fall '81 issue of the "SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ALUMNI NEWS" was reprinted on this blog a few months ago. Its re-appearance created a watershed moment in my life, when it prompted many of you to write to me about it. I was, of course, pleased by the number of responses, all of which were positive, but it was the deeply emotional tone of a couple of them, that caught me by surprise. And amidst all of them, one question kept showing up. You wanted to know what it was that caused that first major break with what I had always assumed was my ultimate and in every way ideal career path.
Armed as I am now with 28 years of hindsight and a couple of months of serious thinking about that question, I can, with some degree of clarity declare, that what was really being asked -- or better yet, what should have been asked, was something I have never fully been able to answer - up to till now. At the risk of over-dramatizing the situation, here's the real question that was lurking beneath the question you were asking me :
What was it that I was running away from that made me plunge myself into the lives of other people - in this case the very real struggle of two groups of Native Americans - the Traditional Elders of the Hopi and Navajo - who had come together in a last stand effort to not only prevent a mass movement of humans off their tribal lands, but to preserve a way of life whose very spiritual underpinnings were being threatened.
So, in an attempt to give you - and myself - as complete and honest answer as possible, I started writing what I call " MEMOIRS OF A MEDIATED MIND - or - There IS Life After Show Business." This entry - as the heading on the top of this page states - is Part One of the 4th Chapter of whatever it is that's been manifesting under that "MMM" title on this blog. It's only "Part One" because there's much more to the story than what Mr. Catherman's article, which he titled "FROM HOLLYWOOD TO HOPILAND" covers. Furthermore, in keeping with the full disclosure approach I am now committed to, and the aforementioned 28 years of hindsight, I am forced to admit that the framework containing the picture of what went down after I left Hollywood and went to Hopiland is a false one.
Truth be told, I was not the knight in shining armor that the article implies I was, or I may have even thought I was at the time. Meaning that's also what some of you may have been duped into thinking I was when you read the article.-- The reality of the situation was much closer to what was uncovered during a conversation I had with J. Krishnamurti, which took place not long after the events that Catherman's article describes.
I had just come back from an episode during which I had been psychologically bludgeoned into semi-oblivion by the very people I had been so deeply involved in helping -- Indians! Fortunately, Krishnamurti was staying in Malibu at the time and I needed a friend's ear, more than ever. Once again, as he often did, he responded affirmatively to my request to see him.
I told him what happened. We sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. And then:
"So what are you going to do, now... " he asked, "...find some other so-called 'cause'?"
I was stunned. But there was more.
"And then, will you just keep going from one cause to another, thinking you are helping others by doing what you seem intent on doing - which is avoiding the real problem?"
What real problem, I asked.
"You're not answering the question that's causing the real problem."
And what was the question I wasn't answering that was causing the real problem?
"Your life sir," said Krishnamurti, "What do you want to do with your life?"
So there it was, folks. The final Chinese Box within all the Chinese Boxes. And although I didn't know it at the time, what I had (wrongly!) concluded the answer to the real problem was - and, at the same time - the answer to what some of you were asking me in your recent notes to me was - was this: I couldn't do what it was I really wanted to do, while I was still in Show Business --- which was save the world!
(So many causes - so little time.)
Or could I?
And that's when the Indians showed up in my life, and my agents - I believe it was International Creative Management (ICM) at the time - came up with a way for me to stay in Show Business and still save the world - beginning with the Indians. Hindsight translation: Who was kidding who?
Keeping that in mind, here's the story again. Please notice how flushed with self-pride I am at what I told the SU reporter- which seems to contradict what I said had happened to me. Not that what I was telling him wasn't true. That's exactly how I felt at that point. Nevertheless, as beaten up and physically and financially drained as I actually still was from the 5-year experience I had just been through, apparently there was also still enough of the Hollywood animal left in me to wallow in a bit of self-deceptive bravado and bow-taking. But this was just half way through the battle. There was another six years of what I would ultimately label "My Own Personal Indian Wars" that lay ahead -- at the end of which, one wonders what, if anything, had been accomplished at all.
We'll get to that part of story, too -- and that foundation-shattering Q&A session with Krishnamurti - the one during which he asked the questions and I tried to answer them -- the operative word being "tried." But first this part of the story - again:
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