Yesterday Paco called and in the course of our phone conversation he said his girlfriend Tonja (who reads my Diary entries to him) had asked, “Why hasn’t Dan posted any pictures of Paul? He talks about Paul all the time, but I don’t know what he looks like.”
This is Paul.
Before the blog when I was distributing the Diary by e-mail as an attached document, I had responded to similar questions, posted some pictures, and told a little of the background about how Paul and I met and what the basis of our relationship has been.
I keep forgetting that so many new folks following us now have, like you, been left out of the loop.
So I’ll tell the story again now.
The way Paul sometimes tells it, I picked him up off the roadside seven years ago when he was bicycling across Texas on his way to California. This is not literally factual, although Paul is justified in remembering it this way because it is essentially true. I actually met him at the Marathon Coffee Shop, where he had come in to warm up after being stopped by cold headwinds and maybe even rain. (I can’t clearly remember the weather except that it was a very ugly day and the shop was warm and filled with the aroma of coffee and homemade soup.)
Paul and I were two strangers sitting at the large common table in the main room, and he was spouting off some very unconventional ideas. “If that’s what you’re interested in,” I said, “you should come up to the house—I’ve got a whole library of books about all that stuff.”
He took me up on my invitation, came up to the house and camped out in my guestroom, and has been with me off and on ever since.
My initial reason for being attracted to Paul was that at the time I met him I’d been researching the beliefs of a Christian youth movement of the 1920s called the Oxford Group. They believed in listening each day for instructions from God—a discipline they called Guidance—and here was Paul, a young man who was actually following this same discipline and obeying whatever the “voice” told him to do. The unlikely coincidence of Paul showing up at this particular time in such an insignificant place was so striking, I became convinced Paul had been guided to me for a purpose.
As I slowly got to know him, it began to dawn on me that Paul used to be the kind of person who would have freaked me out—or at least with whom I would have had little in common. When he was young, he was raised on an Ohio farm and hated it. In school he was an unrecognized genius and placed in classes with the “slow” kids. He didn’t read until his late teens. Later in school, he was in ROTC and loved it. He was—and is—a gun enthusiast. Paul was a hard-living party guy until he was “saved” and eventually became a member of a born-again cult run by the father of the girl who became Paul’s wife and the mother of his son. His marriage broke up because of the meddling influence of his parents-in-law, and despite having won legal custody of his son in court, Paul has been denied access to his boy for more than 11 years.
While presenting himself in the divorce proceedings, he taught himself the law and developed an understanding of the legal system under which we live that few conventional attorneys would recognize. Through his study of law he came to understand the System so that he can live outside of it. He has renounced his old identity; has no social security number, driver’s license, or passport; makes no contracts; pays no taxes; has no debts; etc. In other words, he is totally free.
I am probably the only person alive besides Paul who has met his whole family. A few years ago at Thanksgiving I accompanied Paul to Colorado to meet for the first time his birth father, his grandmother, and his half-brother Conor. Following this reunion, Paul and Conor bought a sailboat in California and sailed it from San Francisco to La Paz, Mexico at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Though neither of them had ever sailed a boat before (“You should have seen the guy’s face we bought the boat from when we asked him how to raise the sail,” Paul said.), they made it there alive and in the process became accomplished sailors. Two things I can say about Paul: he is fearless and resourceful. Paul is also absolutely honest, unselfish, and loyal. He is very protective of me. I feel I could trust him with my life if things ever came to that. When I had my heart attacks, he returned from Mexico to help me heal.
I have tried to attach several labels to him over the years, just to explain to perplexed people what Paul is all about. Even though it has a negative, bomb-throwing popular connotation, the only label that seems to work for me is “anarchist.” If you research what anarchists are really all about, you will understand. He is a peace-loving person who just wants to be free, self-responsible, and not be interfered with.
When other people tell me about Paul, they almost always say that he is a very spiritual person. I agree. He has the entire Bible—old and new testaments—virtually memorized. He has researched many ancient and eastern religions and knows about them in ways only known by saints, holy persons, and esoteric scholars. He is able to heal illness and ameliorate physical suffering with the touch of his hands. He’s a powerful intuitive and good at reading people. He can dowse for water and energy centers in the land. Plus, he’s a damned good builder, mechanic, and inventor.
Most important to me, though, we get along. Paul’s easy to live with. The only argument I can recall having with him in seven years is whether toilet paper should hang with the flap hanging down over the front or back of the roll (front-flap won). There are never any shouted words between us—our relationship is very even keel.
I do know that Paul can hold his tongue when necessary, but when he does speak, he is apt to provoke surprise and consternation in some people. He is on a totally different wave-length than most folks, and his perceptions of reality can threaten and challenge one’s cozy cocoon or comfort zone.
I would have to say that the only area where Paul and I disagree is in world economic and political affairs. The worse the news, the happier he seems to be because each world catastrophe is taking us a step closer to an Age of Enlightenment he sees on the horizon. Paul keeps saying that men, their governments, and institutions have sowed the seeds of their destruction and that those seeds must bear fruit before the world can move on to better times.
I’m more concerned with coping creatively with the world as it is now, for better or for worse. I don’t want to see the world unravel any worse than it already has. Yet I find, despite our philosophical differences, it is easier to pursue my goals with Paul’s help than without it. I couldn’t have taken on Estrella Vista if he hadn’t signed on.
He says, too, that it has been easier for him to pursue his goals because of my acceptance and support of his unique ways. Paul says he has not experienced this before; he was always his family’s black sheep. We live as father and son and Paul’s family accepts it even if they don’t completely understand.
Damned if I can understand it, either. All I know is that this family thing between us works.
Groove of the Day