You become like the people you spend the most time with, especially during your formative years.
I grew up in the isolated backwoods of Sunland-Tujunga, California. Thankfully I found friends and influencers that were atypical of trailer trash Tujunga. Hillbilly musicians, middle class teachers and backwards individuals were the chief demographic in my little town. By the Grace of God I found the crème de la crème of my neighborhood. This is the story of how I found The Way of Zen by Alan Watts.
My high school buddy Peter’s mother, Genevieve Krueger was an internationally recognized rare book finder and dealer. Unlike my own mother, Genevieve was very well educated. Gen was a great mom. Even though she was physically challenged from childhood polio, she still drove a car. My mom had no such disabilities but my mom never drove a car. My mom always had some bullshit excuse as to why she couldn’t go to college, drive a car, or act rational. My mom was not a big reader of books.
Genevieve Krueger had a large and diverse home library that filled rooms and lined walls of the Krueger residence. Her son Martin was my age and when he found out that I was taking a class in Zen Buddhism at Cal State Northridge, he loaned me a paper back copy of The Way of Zen by Alan Watts.
It was my introduction to Watts and a major influence on my nascent meditation practice. I began voraciously reading Watts and eventually had several of his books in my own personal library.
Due to the transient nature of my Zen lifestyle my home library and books by Alan Watts are now long gone. It as if my life was made for the digital age. Last month I purchased a one month subscription to Scribd.com because I needed a copy of I am the Vine by Joel S. Goldsmith for a blog. My plan this month is to download many books on meditation and other topics. Then I will cancel the Scribd subscription before my second month payment is deducted from my debit card. Embedding my Scribd downloads to this blog functions as my Dropbox. Now I can read The Way of Zen on my phone or tablet as well as my laptop. And so can you!
SCRIBD: The Way of Zen by Alan Watts, PART ONE:
AMAZON: The Way of Zen by Alan Watts, PART TWO:
Thanks to David Iman and the Krueger girls, I am the only one from my high school clique who went to college
Peter & Martin Krueger, James Fish, Kenny Reddick and Richard May were my best friends growing up in the East San Fernando Valley during the seventies. None of them have a college degree. I am the only who pursued higher education. Pete was a drummer and he influenced me to play real rhythm guitar in bands, not just strum in my bedroom. He helped mold me into becoming a more outgoing person and a better team player. Pete had tons of raw intelligence but he never put it to use, except with girls. He was a real ladies man back then and still is to this day. In our wasted youth we all smoked way to much marijuana, which is the wrong kind of higher education. Pete still plays drums in bar bands doing cover songs but I decided that I didn’t want that kind of a musical career.
I was a very mediocre musician and so when I was thirty years old I had an epiphany. I quit writing songs and playing in original bands. There are a million other guys out there that are much better at it than I ever was. Successful musicians play the shit that people want to hear.
I began this blog by telling the story of how Martin Krueger influenced me to be read books and develop my intelligence. But Martin never went to college until later in life. I don’t think he ever kept it up or earned a degree. What Marty did was motivate me to keep up my mediocre studies at CSUN and earn my four year basket weaving degree in seven years.
If not for the Krueger’s and their cohorts, I would not have any social mobility
Thank God that the Krueger girls, Mary, Ellen and Cecelia, and our unofficial leader David Iman all attended four year universities and earned degrees. They all influenced me to do the same. My B.A. in film from California State University Northridge has taken me far in life. If it were not for older acquaintances such as Ellen Krueger and David Iman, I would never have had the motivation to formally educate myself.
Hopefully this little story proves that you become like the people that you spend the most time with. It does not matter how old you are, if you associate with people above your social class, you will raise yourself up. Your social status will rise to your cohorts level. If I had not given up music at age thirty and gone to UCLA paralegal school, I would have sold myself short. I was an imitation of a real musician and a plagiaristic songwriter. Trying to make it as a musician only provided me with a limited life of disappointment and poverty. However I excelled as a litigation paralegal and developed financial and social mobility.
Becoming a paralegal enabled me to get married and divorced. Becoming a litigation paralegal enabled me to purchase my former marital residence so that I could sell it for a windfall profit and go to an expensive drug & alcohol treatment center in Malibu when I was forty-seven years old. Becoming a paralegal enabled me to finally find a way to treat my alcoholism and celebrate a sobriety date of January 21, 2004. As of this writing I now have seventeen years of high quality recovery from the emotional disease of alcoholism.
Now that the pandemic is finally winding down I will by keeping this mantra in my heart as I venture out into the brave new world: It’s the people you know and the books you read that make life meaningful!