I remember the moment. August 27, 2000. Kelly Bryson was standing in front of the spiritual center where I was a minister. I looked at my watch, thinking "Oh, gag me with a spoon! I'm now going to waste two hours of my life watching a grown man play with puppets." I said this to myself while smiling to indicate that I was supporting this workshop. I didn't have a clue that I was not being authentic to myself or others! By the end of that two hour workshop I was fascinated, intrigued, inspired. I didn't know what had happened, but I was determined to find out and make it my life's work to learn and share with others, and that is what I have done. I came to every workshop with you, Marshall, that I could find a way to. An IIT in Bellingham, Washington, where we sang and I pretended to be you in a musical the participants staged. I thought I might be "fired" from CNVC! Then I heard that you almost fell out of your chair you were laughing so hard. Whew! So grateful to share the time with you that I did, and when I was not learning I was sharing with others. In 2002, I co-founded the Bay Area Safer Communities Program that began bringing NVC into San Quentin Prison that same year. We expanded into offering NVC in jails, for women and men, and for the families. Volunteers in that group left to start NVC programs in several other states, and in New Zealand. I went to Switzerland to join you, Valentina, and 60+ others in a 15 Day Experiment in Social Change in 2005. I remember the idea I had then for a book called "Tips N Tricks of NVC". We discussed it and you told me you liked the title. I asked you to co-author it with me and you agreed. I remember so well your two stipulations, one of which was "not to make it too cute". You knew me so well. I didn't keep my time agreements about sending you the rough drafts, even though Valentina rescheduled more than once with me. I just wasn't ready to let go of my own inner jackals then. I did later make a game called The Jackal Cafe & Another Way, co-created a DVD called "Living NVC" with my colleague and dear friend Carol Chase, with whom I also created a children's coloring book "Compassionate Underwear Bear".
I remember so many moments of laughter, clarity, fun and support I received from you, Marshall. I remember in Switzerland I asked you to do a role play with you playing my dad. You agreed. I said something like Don't think I am going to be all lovey dovey and hug and kiss you when the role play is over. I will hate you too. I won't be able to look at you again without seeing you as my father. With that warning, you were still willing. I am so grateful. The healing ignited for me at that time with you and Valentina has never burned out. The flame will burn as long as I live. The healing I have received, the self-understanding, and self-love and acceptance through my practice of empathy has been such a gift to me, and propelled me forward, sharing with thousands of others.
I remember once you told a group of us that when you were traveling in the South, you one night lay in a field looking at the stars and hoped that one day one hundred people would be doing what you were doing. It's not one hundred, Marshall - it's MILLIONS of people around the world; co-creating a world that works for everyone, including the care for species and the planet. What you have instigated through your intention, your presence, your work, your modeling of what it is like to practice empathy! Millions of people around the world are co-creating a world that honors compassion, empathy, and to live in alignment with that within us that animates our every action!
I remember you telling us that you wanted "to become progressively less stupid". I still use that line for myself, and people, like me, relate to the power of that intention. So many lives changed!
And your songs! I am so grateful that you began to write and sing, expressing; sometimes with humor, sometimes so tenderly. Those songs so deeply enrich my life. Many people have been touched hearing me sing them. Thank You!
So many memories, so much love, so much laughter I hold in my heart for you.