You're all here today because my father was the kind of guy that made everyone feel happy and welcome, and I don't think he would have wanted us to sit here sad or crying. However he would like to know how many people showed up.
He's been sick before, off and on again for the past 20 years or so and he said to me a week ago yesterday as we celebrated his 60th birthday in the hospital, "I didn't think I'd make it". 60 years old and he didn't think he'd make it.
He knew people wherever he went. I'll give you an example:
Years ago he took a trip to Moscow and had to cash some travelers cheques, so he got directions from the concierge and walked through these old narrow street to find the place.. once there he had to show his passport and the cheques to get in the door.. once inside and waiting in line he heard "Bill Wadman?" And to his right was a girl sitting at a desk who had worked for him at his record store when she was a teenager. He bumps into someone he knows in Moscow.. only my dad.
And he met people there too:
He was standing in line at Lenin's tomb and he turns around and says to this little british woman behind him. "Hi, so we go in there and we get to see Lenin?" and she says "yes, son" He says, "Lenin is actually in a glass coffin in there? We can really see him?" and she say, "yes, I do believe so" And he says " I just have one question... did they bury his guitar with him?"
Last year my dad and I took a trip all over the western united states, and on my website travel log of the trip I kept statistics: states visited, national parks, miles traveled, gallons of gas, etc. I should have kept a tally of how many friend's he made along the way, but thinking back on it today I lost count. Sometimes I can't believe we made it 4960 miles in 14 days considering all the talking he did.
This trip came about because of a copy of a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig which I gave my dad the previous christmas which he actually read. My sister suggested that I choose a passage or two to read you today.
My father had anything but a cliché life, and I think these words are appropriate.
Mountains like these and travelers in the mountains and events that happen to them here are found not only in Zen literature but in the tales of every major religion. The allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal is an easy and natural one to make. Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships. Some travel into the mountains accompanied by experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own routes. Few of these are successful, but occasionally some, by sheer will and luck and grace, do make it. Once there they become more aware than any of the others that there's no single or fixed number of routes. There are as many routes as there are individual souls.
Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow. But of course, without the top you can't have any sides. It's the top that defines the sides. So on we go -- we have a long way -- no hurry -- just one step after the next
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