A couple of days ago I learned that a good friend, Vernon, moved on to a new life. The news hit me hard; Today I spent some time thinking about him and his impact on my life.
There are many people who have entered my life and made a difference. Sooz and Adam Reid taught me that it is possible to be outlandish and outgoing without horrible consequences, negating one of the lessons drilled into me by my parents when I was a child. Marjhani introduced me to the world of bellydance and accepted me for what I am, and Adalaide (one of the Shimmy Sisters) introduced me to styles of art that I would would not have appreciated in my past. I could go on and on as many wonderful people have accepted me as their friend, as a good photographer, and as a companion.
Vernon was in a league of his own. He was a good man, a good friend, a great drummer and a valued part of the belly dance community. Vernon was my friend.
My late wife Claudia was extremely sick for over a decade. She had several lung problems, including asthma and COPD, and her problems were made worse by any negative energy in her surroundings. I learned to consder every litle word, every thought, every action, least she get upset and thus become ill with asthma. If she had asthma, I would have to start her breathing treatment, give her a shot or get her to the hospital.I became an expert at shoving all the emotion into the pit of my stomach so as not to let anything upset her.
When I met Vernon Claudia’s passing was still very fresh, and my personal life energy was so balled up into a solid mass deep in my spirit that I had some difficult communicating with anyone. I was still operating under the mindset that any negativity could result in extreme illness or even death.
Vernon taught me, quite simply, that it is acceptable to remain calm, and it is possible to be calm without suppressing the emotions. He was always so relaxed, so nonjudgmental that he seemed to bring calmness to whatever environment he entered. He had a way of just remaining calm, of not getting upset yet not suppressing that upset into himself.
I learned, just by watching him deal with other people, that I could be calm without shoving the negative energy down into myself. Instead of forcing myself to keep my emotions hidden, suppressed, I could just stay serene and collected in spite of whatever was going on around me.
This was not something he and I ever discussed. It was something I just observed in him, and something that I emulated and found that it worked for me.
Vernon was the emcee for about half a dozen of the Bellydance Kaleidoscope showcases that I produced. We drove together to and from the venue, and had many long talks about life, the dance community and philosophy.
I learned much from my friend Vernon, and I will miss him greatly. I wish him well on his new journey to another life.