Interview from 2004
Bellingham Herald: I'm curious what your childhood was like
Jerry: I grew up in a poor, mostly black neighborhood. It was the time I spent alone, that I think of as my happiest time.
BH: When you gave up your life 20 years ago, were you filled with despair, hope, fatalism, joy?
Jerry: It was a mix of feelings I experienced. I intuitively felt there was something very important that I was giving myself to-- something abstract and full of life. I also had doubts and felt some level of terror at the absurdity in trusting in something completely unseen. The struggle did not seem to be simply my own. I felt it was entwined with unspoken cultural agreements and limits existing in those areas we call life, art and what we safely call the spiritual journey. I knew I was taking a risk and the terror of the decision was knowing there was no-return. This act required every ounce of courage I had available as one small human being. After an excruciatingly difficult night, struggling with feelings of despair, indecision, and inspired new vision-I destroyed all my paintings. Then I gave away everything I owned. I lived that way for the next fifteen years. The final product of this decision (if you want to call it that) was joy and a world returned.
BH: And did these feelings change, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month?
Jerry: There were certainly moments of real doubt but the sureness of my decision grew in strength by-way of the unseen hands that held my life in the balance. It was the small miracles that I came to rely on. It was the miracle that gave me the strength and guidance I needed. If they did not carry my life in the way that they had (and still do)-- there would be no way I could have continued this strange and lonely journey. This leap of faith turned out to be the most important thing I have ever done with my life. Nothing else can compare. It has become the template for all of those moments that require appropriately timed surrender and letting go. It is this surrender that sanctifies the gifts of the Earth and infuses them with life.
BH: How does having a loving, life partner center you and help your creativity?
Jerry:The gift of a life partner is a kind of by-product, which comes from facing the inherent loneliness of the spiritual journey. Coming to terms with one's aloneness is prerequisite to any healthy relationship. I do not believe we can know how to be with another person if we do not know how to be alone--alone with our God. To fully arrive at the place where a healthy relationship becomes possible, we need to have found the holy ground where we are no longer concerned and it does not matter either way. The gift of a personal relationship becomes a free and simple choice-- we can just as easily see the gift in being alone. It is this freedom that gives us the power to trust and fully give ourselves to relationship and find grounding and creativity in it. In this light, relationship is seen as another creative expression of the divine. It is the divine that we ultimately relate to--sometimes in spite of the two small human beings trying to hammer out the details of daily life. At best, the divine and human become indistinguishable--dancing with the creative muse available to us in a life partner becomes the same as dancing with the divine.
BH: Do you hope to reach others with your message and guidance through your book? What are you "trying to sell" I'm not talking consumerism, just not quite sure how to phrase this, so go ahead and take some artistic license with this one!
Jerry:It has become clearer to me, over the years, that there is a real need for a more inner and trusting relationship with the mystery that surrounds us. I find that there are many people who seem to be experiencing an intensified new level of discontent and despair with the extremes that our mainstream society now considers "normal." Many people are being forced, through their personal suffering to rethink their priorities and find new ways of being on the planet--happier, more attentive ways. This questioning seems also to be initiating real personal transformation for many. It is creating radical changes, not just personally but collectively. My book is an exploration into the territory of transformation. It is documentation through story and insight--it stands witness to the inherent miracle couched in the everyday experience available to all of us.
BH: Do you find that your reading audience or listening audience seeks you out, just luckily happens upon you, are your readers from any particular age group, economic group, male, female, religious background.
Jerry:Since I draw on all religions for my own understanding, religious affiliation has very little to do with the people that come into my life. Age too seems not to matter when we speak in the language of personal understanding--a language that anyone can understand. The people in my life have mostly been in the context of one-on-one relationships. That has changed somewhat with the attention I have been receiving with the Parabola video and the book. I know what people seek is not necessarily me, but help in defining their own personal mythology. Most people are seeking something that might give form and meaning to their lives. What my friends find helpful, is the mapping and meaning I have established for myself in the territory where the ego perceives only loss and death. Anyone with half an eye on his or her soul-life is intuiting the need to explore this deeper meaning for themselves. There seem to be more women interested in the subtlety of the soul-life. Spiritually speaking, Maher Baba said, " All women are three days ahead of their men. " It is mostly women who are bushwhacking the badlands of new consciousness. It is also the receptive men that have explored the emerging feminine spirit in themselves. The divine expression we call " feminine " is the emerging spirit of our time for both men and women. It is coming through strongly as a natural balance in our world. It is mostly these people that are my audiences.