Yesterday, we lost Gene Wilder. He was 83 years old when he passed away.
For many people, he brought laughter and many smiles that reached down deep into the very heart of mankind. He touched our souls and filled it with happiness. His character, Willy Wonka, became a part of that very fond story every child remembers from their childhood.
Depending on when you were born and your first Wilder movie, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The World’s Greatest Lover, or Stir Crazy, they became the movies you fondly remember of Gene Wilder. Whichever movie is the movie that made you laugh in wonder for the very first time, that laughter and happiness is what he carries with him as his soul goes forward.
Gene Wilder’s movies, just like Robin Williams’ movies, were very much a part of my childhood. They created movies in a new way, creating fond memories that people still hold close to their hearts. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were my modern day childhood version of Bing Crosby and Jerry Lewis and the legendary team of Abbott and Costello (and yes, I saw all of these films as a kid).
Losing Gene Wilder brings great sorrow to my heart. I plan on binging on his movies after I finish my current binge.
[For those with DirecTV and cable, you’ll find many of his movies available for free On Demand. Movie channels are also notorious for changing their programming to allow people to binge watch an actor’s movies after they have passed away (and on the anniversary of their death if they were popular and missed – like Robin Williams). You can also binge watch his films on Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you can’t find it there, dust off your library card and check the movies out for free at your local library.]
I’m In Heaven
While I was walking to the library last night, I was thinking about Gene Wilder and how sad I was that he was no longer with us. Then I heard Louis Armstrong singing “I’m in heaven.” I could envision Wilder singing and dancing around, happy as a lamb in that tuxedo from Young Frankenstein. It made me smile. He’s in a very happy place, so no one should be sad for him.
On the way home from the library, I heard the song again. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald singing “I’m in heaven,” from “Cheek to Cheek.” Those were the only lyrics that kept playing over and over again: “I’m in heaven.” There were no other words from the song, just “I’m in heaven” again and again.
Knowing how strange that was and for it to happen twice, I brought it up in my meditation last night. What was explained was this…this is how you do life correctly. If you want to make a lasting impact on your own life and be rewarded in the afterlife, you create happiness for others. You want people speaking wonderful things about you when you die, so give them something to be happy about. Impact their lives with happiness. That is the goal everyone should have: to create everlasting happiness in the world.
That is what Gene Wilder did. In the letter his nephew wrote, he spoke of when Gene was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, he did not want the world to know so that when children would see Willy Wonka, it would not be filled with sadness when parents had to explain what had happened to him. He wanted that pure innocence and joy of seeing Willy Wonka to be something amazing for the children and not marked with sadness by his illness. He did not want to scar this incredible moment for the child because a parent would have to explain to them about the illness, thus creating a sad moment instead of a happy moment.
He wanted the kids to be happy when they saw him.
That is the most important thing about life: to make others happy. Make them laugh. Let your legacy be about the happiness you brought to others so that when it is your time to depart this life, the world will be speaking wonders of how happy you made them.
What Gene Wilder brought to the world was laughter and happiness. That’s the way the world sent him off, with happy blessings for all of the happiness he brought to them. That is the key ingredient to having a blissful afterlife. Ask yourself: How did you make the world feel about your existence here?
Making People Happy Long After You Are Gone
The Moroccans tell a tale from 1927 of an American woman who loved animals. She was appalled at the working conditions of the animals there, so she created an animal hospital (called the American Fondouk (fondouk means ‘inn’)) in Fez, Morocco. There, any working animal can be treated for its ailments for free. For those with pets, they have to pay a fee for their care. [Since donkeys and horses are essential to the work people do in Morocco, to lose an animal could mean loss of income. If you can afford to have a pet, then you should be able to pay for its care.] MORE ON THAT STORY.
It is her kindness, that decades after her death, is still remembered. They still speak praises of her and what she did for the people there. Her good works continue long after her passing. Her family may have forgotten her, but the people of Morocco remember her for the good she brought to them and continues to bring to them.
Live Life Miraculously
You want to live life miraculously? Make your life story about what you did for others. Let the world remember you for the great things you did to uplift them.
For Gene Wilder, he brought the world happiness. He left this world hearing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I’m sure he’s happily dancing and singing his way through the corridors of heaven. The world remembers how happy he made them. That’s the way we should all leave this world, letting the world remember how happy we made them. Our world is better for it. That is the obligation we owe to this gift called life. Repay the kindness of this gift of life by doing something extraordinarily good for the world.
How are you changing the world? Oftentimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to care about anything else around us that doesn’t affect us. Then one day, time stands still for a moment and we are forced to stop. We are forced to watch an atrocity taking place. Then we ask ourselves how this could happen. How could evil like this be born into this world? What can we do to help the victims? How can we stop the evil from growing? How can we stop it from happening again?
When we say “we,” we don’t necessarily mean ourselves. We mean the government, our armies and just about everyone else out there but ourselves. Trust me when I say you’re not the only person thinking that.
That’s what needs to change. We need to change.
If we truly seek to change the world and to make it into a better place, we need to go out there and make these changes. How does one start?
It’s The Little Things
Changing the world doesn’t happen overnight. It takes small steps at first. You start by getting out of your shell and interacting with complete strangers.
After seeing the movie “Shelter,” I started carrying around extra food with me to give to any homeless person I came across. Usually, it’s an orange or a clementine. Homeless and the poor don’t always get their nutrients because they don’t have access to fruits and vegetables all of the time. With the cold days of winter settling in, they’ll need some Vitamin C to keep them from getting sick.
Since seeing the movie, I find myself walking up to sleeping homeless men and leaving them an orange beside them. I stop to talk to a drugged out homeless kid begging for money, handing him an orange with instructions that he must eat it so he doesn’t get sick. I gave one to the guy I’ve seen everyday for the last 10 years because he’s wearing a boot on one of his legs now (how he injured himself is beyond me because he’s always sitting there zenlike, minding his own business, smoking a cigarette).
When I first gave that last guy an orange, his eyes lit up at the kindness. He looked at me and thanked me for the kindness. He was genuine about it, too. You could see it in his eyes.
It was one of those moments where just that one human interaction was very important. It meant that he wasn’t invisible. Someone actually saw him, stopped and acknowledged him.
I’ve noticed over these past few weeks random people watching me stop to leave something for the homeless man at the Finding Neverland theater on Broadway. I think they’re shocked that a well dressed person carrying a bag that could pay their rent for several months, would stop to pay attention to one homeless man. In a way, I hope that by watching me doing an act of kindness, it will encourage them to do the same.
I check to see what he’s eaten while he’s sleeping. It’s apparent he’s getting a lot of his food from Carmine’s. He doesn’t eat it all, but I notice that he’s eating that orange I left him. That’s what I’m checking for. I want to make sure he’s getting his Vitamin C.
I left him another orange this morning, but this time in a Ziploc bag filled with some candy as an extra treat.
For that doped up kid I ran into last night, I checked this morning to see if he did as I asked. Sure enough, someone bought him a McDonald’s breakfast this morning. He didn’t even eat it. But that orange…he ate.
There’s a reason why I chose oranges to carry with me to give out to the homeless. First, they need their nutrients. Second, it’s a sweet treat. Third, what harm can come from an orange?
The third part is the one I want to elaborate on. When you give, you need to make sure that what you give is something that will benefit another human being in more ways than one. You are doing a good deed, so make sure that the good deed is something good for them.
McDonald’s is not conducive of a healthy place to eat. Sure, it’s a hot meal, but there’s only so much McDonald’s a poor person can take. It’s also not a place you’d want to eat every single day. It’s junk food.
When you give, you have to think about the true karmic benefits of giving. What if the person was a vegetarian or didn’t eat pork, but you handed them a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast because beggars can’t be choosers, right? WRONG.
Give them something you would eat. Give them something to eat that you enjoy. Give them something that will help them in that very moment keep up their health.
The reason why giving out fruit is a special treat for me (and for the people I give them to) is because there is a high risk of Vitamin C deficiency in the poor and homeless. That leads to sickness and scurvy. Giving them an orange is like giving someone a moment of sweetness that will benefit them and their health. [For more on the scurvy problem in the poor, click on that link.]
When you give to others, expecting nothing in return, you need to think of the good karmic benefit and how far it will go. If you gave them a meal from McDonald’s, how far does that good karma go if the meal makes them sick? I mean, it’s junk food. It’s not good for you. You know that. That’s not how you create a good karmic act.
If you hand them money, what if they take that money to buy drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and other things that are bad for them? How are you helping them? You’re not. You’re feeding into the reason why they are on the streets to begin with.
When you decide what is best to give, think of how it can benefit the person you are giving to. A bottle of water is a good thing. A can of soda is a bad thing. A cup of hot coffee or tea and a conversation is enlightening. A brand new pair of boots can be a bad thing.
For those who are aware of the police officer in Times Square that bought a homeless man a pair of brand new boots during one of the coldest winters Manhattan has seen in years, his kind deed was all over the internet and news. What wasn’t all over the news was what that homeless man did with those brand new boots.
About five days later, I was walking through Port Authority and saw that same man…without the boots. He was back to being barefoot again. I let a few of the news media outlets know about it and they headed down to Port Authority to see it for themselves. Sure enough, he wasn’t wearing them. He said he hid them. He didn’t want anyone to steal them from him. Truthfully, he probably had them stolen from him or he sold them. If they were used boots, he probably would have kept them.
He took that police officer’s good deed and shit all over it.
That’s what you need to be careful of…doing what you think is a good deed, but it ends up being cut short in the cycle of creating good karma by the person you did the kind act for. Those are the good deeds you want to avoid doing, because it doesn’t help anyone no matter how good your intent was.
Creating Good Karma
Creating good karma for yourself and for the world doesn’t end when you do the deed. You have to think of creating a kind act that will continue long after you’ve done your good deed.
For instance, in Morocco, the people there speak kindly of an American woman namedAmy Bend Bishop who visited Morocco back in 1927. She was the woman responsible for creating a free veterinary hospital in Fez, Morocco.
You may not think that’s creating anything special, but it was very special to the people.
The animals in Morocco are almost all work animals. The livelihood of the people depends mainly on those animals. If an animal needs medical attention, they can take it to this free hospital and receive free care for the animals. Although, if the animal is a pet, the owner usually has to pay for the vet bill. The reason that is that if you can afford to buy the food and care for a pet, then you should be able to afford the vet bill for your pet.
Her kind act to the people (and animals) of Morocco has helped keep the good karma flowing long after her death. The people there appreciate this act of kindness because it has helped them in so many ways. She also has people speaking kindly of her long after she’s died.
This is how you keep the good karma flowing and what we should all aim to do. Change the world one small step at a time.
There’s also a lady in Manhattan that died last week that had so many people in attendance at her funeral. Her family was astonished by how many people came. The church didn’t have enough seats to fit everyone.
The people that attended her funeral weren’t just family and friends. They were people whose lives she changed personally. For one Indian family that attended, they said that she had stayed in their home in India for one night many years ago. When one of the girls from that family came to America to attend Columbia University, the girl and her family were invited to stay with this lady for as long as it took for them to get acclimated to New York. How long was that? A month. This coming from staying with this family for one night in India. That is what we call being over generous.
That was the type of person she was.
Her manicurist…she helped her find a husband. She helped get her kids into the right schools. She really was so much a part of helping this woman and her family with all of the major things that happened in her life. Yet, she was just her manicurist.
She helped change the life of each person she came into contact with throughout her journeys around the world. Those changes were big changes in each person’s life. The amount of gratitude they have for her is the game changer.
She lived an incredible, happy life. Everyone loved her. She was wealthy and giving. She used her influence and her mind, heart and soul to change the world around her.
They may be little things to her, but they were big things for the people she helped.
This is how you change the world. You do things that will help people ALL OF THE TIME. There are problems that are BIGGER than you can imagine like how do you stop terrorists? You start by changing how you look at life, how you treat people, and by being kind.
You also have to stop being afraid. You have to stop disconnecting with life. You have to start reconnecting with the world not through your devices, but through real human interaction. The more you disconnect from the real world, the more the world becomes a stranger to you. You, just like everyone else that chooses to disconnect, becomes part of the problem, not part of the solution.
You can say you want change in this world, but you can’t change it by saying it. YOU need to be the change. YOU need to get out there and make that ripple of change. YOU can’t wait for people to change the world the way you wish to see it. YOU need to make that change the world needs. Start small, but think wisely. Think of how you can impact the world through your acts of kindness for the long run, not the short run. How can you change the world into a better place?
Now, imagine if everyone in the world was working towards this common goal of kindness to each other and making this world a better place for everyone.
Law of Karma
If you want great things to happen in your life, you need to do great things for others. When you do good all of the time for others, you are rewarded sevenfold. It’s just the way the universe works.
If you are constantly doing good and making sure that your good deeds go beyond just that one act and continues to keep going, the more you reap from the karmic benefit.
Happiness, good fortune, treasures, money, an amazing life…just about anything you could ever dream for yourself and so much more happens when you are doing good karmic acts. But it’s important that when you do good deeds, you are not looking for the karmic rewards. The universe still looks at your intent. The intent needs to come from a good place, not from a greedy place.
To change the world, you need to constantly be bestowing blessings upon the world and sharing the wealth that God gives to you. Be over generous, and the universe will be over generous to you.
The thing is, you can’t dictate what you want to the universe. I want to explain why…you need to trust that the universe (God) knows what’s best for you. You may think that you want X, but really it’s not what you need (most times it’s not necessarily good for you). God is a lot wiser than you. Trust that he’ll reward you brilliantly. You have to look beyond material possessions. Sometimes having an amazing journey in life with incredible experiences is worth more than all the money in the world. Happiness is the key factor.
Trust that God will know what will truly make you happy. If you go in with that blind faith, doing good for others all of the time without knowing what the reward will be (or caring what the reward will be), you’ll find God can be over generous, too.
Give greatly. Be over generous. Give wisely. Help everyone. Be kind.
To my fellow Americans, have a happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you’ve been given and share that gratitude with the world by sharing that wealth with everyone you come into contact with. If you have leftovers, consider packing up a few meals and delivering it to shut-ins, the elderly spending Thanksgiving alone, the homeless, or families that need a little cheering up. God has given you this feast, share it with all those around you.