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23 February, 2014

moments with murray



Born on March 23rd, 1925, at 88 years old, Murray is my oldest friend. New York born and bred with a sharp wit and an endearingly gentle manner – I had the honour of sharing my last month or so in New York in the Upper Westside apartment of this dear soul.  Murray is the Father in Law for Jeff, the Founder of The Dream Flag Project, which is how we met and we quickly found a kindship in our shared love for nature, photography and poetry.

Murray has his quirks, his incredibly warm apartment with the radiators tuned to the hottest reminded me of the Bikram studio and his likeness for classical music was a wonderful soundtrack to our time shared. Murray lost his wife last year that he’d been married to for 53 years. While I’m sure he knew how to deal with his loss, as a now retired psychotherapist, I sensed the weight of his loss while I was there. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her” he said to me once as I admired all the stunning pictures of the life they shared together on display in his apartment. Heartbreak and grief had weighed down his spirit and I hope at the least my bouncing optimism and poetry recitals may have lightened the days we shared. I know the night I transformed his living room in to a movie theatre is marked high in the box of beautiful memories on the road while we enjoyed The Princess Bride together and it concluded with "You know what's funny, for a moment then, I thought I was at the movies" in his beautiful New York accent.

Given his background, I wanted to ask Murray some questions on life. I knew someone who'd had countless people lying in the proverbial horizontal position recounting their life stories probably enlightened him muchly to the human condition. 
So I asked my very grounded and rational friend “Murray, do you believe in God?”
His response was a flat-out “No”.
So then I asked… “So what do you believe in?”
To which he responded so eloquently in silence using only his fingertip as he drew on the dinner table a big giant question mark.

His faith in the mystery of life is something so simple and yet in this day so distant to what many ideas people conform to. We have created so many stories that we cling on to and many people follow them blindly without experiencing the mystery (or for me the magic)… These ideas that have been cause for war and social disharmony while also leveraged by politicians in powerful places to manipulate its people.

I have no issue with faith. It’s powerful and at times all that's been left. But perhaps faith in something that is silent, that just is, that doesn’t have a word nor rules that can be modified to manipulate its subjects, perhaps faith in the question mark may be a safer exploration in wisdom than anything written and translated by man. Yoga, among many other philosophical teachings has been a wonderful teacher to me but it'll never close my mind to the thoughts, ideas and inspirations of others; especially this wise and wonderful gentleman.

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