When I first joined NOW Productions as video editor, the crew gathered for one of its seasonal parties as crews do who need to work together in close cooperation and patience. J-R often attended the gatherings. As we were all departing, J-R came over and walked out with me. He said he had heard I had a lot of experience in a number of areas. He went on to say to me that he, himself, could do a lot of things and he had found a good way to proceed was to do something, then teach someone else to do that thing while he moved on to doing the next thing that he would then teach to someone….and so on. That conversation took place thirty-six years ago and I live by it today.
I was new to J-R and NOW Productions when, after many years of TV and film work, I found myself in the Mandeville house basement editing videos in the video bay. I usually knew where J-R was in his Mandeville home because I worked directly beneath his main floor bedroom.
The video bay was at one end of the basement and was connected to the audio bay by a corridor filled with cassette duping equipment. Remember cassettes? SAT seminars used to be distributed on them! There was a long work bench next to a big red cabinet of many drawers holding tools. It was necessary to walk through another doorway to
enter the audio bay which was filled with editing equipment. At the very back of that room was shelving where letterhead paper, pens, labels and other such items were stored.
One evening I needed some labels, so I walked out of the video bay and through the door into the long corridor where I was surprised to find J-R speaking to one of the staff of the time. My experience was that J-R, with sharp double-edged sword of truth in hand, was communicating something firmly and clearly to the other person!
I hesitated, but J-R waved me through. So I picked up my labels from the audio room and passed a second time through the corridor. As I walked, I realized that, while he was engaged in delivering what would ordinarily have translated as a scolding, in my mind the picture had formed of jewels dropping from J-R’s lips. Jewels!
I am forever grateful for that experience. From it I learned it is OK to be pointed with another person if it is warranted, but that being pointed does not need to be accompanied by judgment.
Of the many stories I could share, another one comes forward at this time. I had a small counseling practice at Baraka, MSIA’s multi-disciplinary health center in Santa Monica. J-R would occasionally be asked to join the staff for lunch, and one day at the end of lunch, I found myself walking in the atrium with him. I had just slimmed down a bit and he congratulated me on that. Then he told me that every day after showering, it would be good if I brushed my face with the palms of my open hands or a towel for just a minute or so, starting at the chin line and ending at the top of the cheek bones. That was it, a quick suggestion with no explanation, and off he went to his next thing.
I’ve done that exercise every day since J-R suggested it all those many years ago. In this year, at over 80 years of age, someone else would have to evaluate the success of his “face lift” counsel, but to my eyes, my skin looks pretty good.
My role in NOW Productions has been as event producer, among many other tasks. In 1994, an earthquake knocked into the MSIA property in Santa Monica and almost sent part of the building into the street. Extensive work took place in the following year to restore and strengthen the building. As the work was nearing its end, a decision was made to hold a big holiday event in the building. At the time, most of the NOW personnel were busy with the restoration, so I set about creating a program for the event.
One of the MSIA staffers who had no idea of my background objected to my participation and offered substitutes of other, good-hearted but less experienced people to produce the event. The staffer kept up the pressure until I felt it as a great deal of negativity and by the day before the event, I was feeling pretty low.
We had scheduled a rehearsal for that evening, and as I was waiting for the parti- cipants, J-R walked into the room. I made my way to his side and he began to ask questions about the event, how it was working out for me, whether the moon would rise and the price of tea. All that is to say that we had a conversation that lasted twenty or thirty minutes.
Eventually, J-R left the room. By then, I experienced the sweet energy he had left behind. It was the most uplifted I had felt in quite a while. J-R had stayed long enough to clear the energy and prepare the room for all who attended the event.
This was perhaps the first time of many that I experienced J-R stepping quietly into a situation. Always by the time he withdrew, healing, peace and smooth energy would have taken place. As I write this, tears of gratitude are in my eyes. How very blessed we are, those of us who had the blessing of a direct relationship with J-R. I take it as my job to pass along that sweetness to those with whom I come in contact.