The first event, in 1988, found me smack in the middle of the stage, performing in a choir with what turned out to be one of the world's most insidious religious cults. While I regard my membership in the group as the biggest mistake of my life to date, I also realize that the experience was an entirely necessary step into 1991. That's the year that the inestimable Wayne Dyer stood on the exact same spot I'd occupied onstage, the keynote speaker in a self-help seminar that put those ill-advised cultist underpinnings to universal shame.
Dyer, a professor of counselor education and private therapist, died at 75 on Aug. 29 at his home in Maui County, Hawai'i, where the Pacific Ocean doubled as his front yard. In many circles, the Detroit native is best remembered for his 1976 book “Your Erroneous Zones,” designed as a user-friendly manual on successful living and present-moment fulfillment. He'd go on to write more than 40 books (half of them New York Times bestsellers) and appear on numerous public radio and TV specials, all of which seemed designed to chart his path toward personal and spiritual enlightenment. He last visited San Diego in 2013, taping a segment of his public TV special “I Can See Clearly Now,” which traced his placement in an orphanage at age 10 to his emergence as one of the most formidable spiritual masters of the age.
No cause of death was reported, although Dyer was diagnosed with a non-life-threatening form of leukemia in 2009.
Dyer was a funny and masterful showman, but his wit was relentlessly on point. Relationships, money, work, business, family, faith, illness, recovery, death: Without exception, all are part of a divine plan and herald our future development as surely as our innate and unbreakable bond.
“Not only is everything connected to everything else,” he once said, “but no one is excluded from the universal Source called intention. And genius, since it’s a characteristic of the universal Source, must be universal, which means that it’s in no way restricted. It’s available to every single human being. It certainly can and does show up differently in every single one of us... There is no such thing as luck or accidents in this purposeful universe.”
That means that – oh, my God! – Wayne Dyer and I occupied that solitary square foot on the Schnitzer stage by design. I literally shared time and space with a font of human greatness – and even as that might sound a little flip, it's also a concept Dyer would surely have eschewed amid his singular modesty. I didn't have a chance to bring it up as we exchanged embraces after his talk, but no matter. His modest message on oneness that day was loud and clear, and it would remain so (its peripheral refinements notwithstanding) until his dying day.
I'm not one-tenth the man Wayne Dyer was, at least in terms of earthly accomplishment – but when you're talking time and space, “earthly” is a decidedly relative concept. For him, our brush with one another was a matter of destiny, one I'll especially covet as he embarks on the latest installment in a singularly remarkable journey.
Godspeed, Wayne, and thanks for everything.