Today is Father’s Day. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than tell you for a moment about the the bad-assery of the OG Duane. Some of you may know that Duane is not my last name, it’s my middle name, my father’s first name. I go by “Paul Duane” for a couple of reasons, one of which, is to pay tribute to my Dad with my work.
It’s been nearly one year since my father passed away, and during this time, I’ve developed a profound appreciation for who he was.
Death is like a photograph: it freezes a person in time, putting them on display to be examined in depth without the distraction of the movements of the current moment.
Here are a few things my Dad has taught me, both while he was alive, and even in death:
The sweet spot
“The way of the superior man is about giving. It’s about giving who you are to the world, and it’s about giving yourself more and more deeply to the world, to your woman, to your family, to everyone.” – David Deida, “The Way Of The Superior Man”
My Dad silently but certainly showed me one of the secrets of life that only superior men know:
There’s this sweet spot you can hit in life where one’s amusement and one’s service to the world become one in the same. By living in his bliss, he was simply amusing himself AND bringing happiness to countless other people.
My Dad was a real life Santa: he loved woodworking, and spent all of his free time making gifts for people. Of the countless thousands of gifts he made over the years, he loved to make wooden toys. He loved to make children happy. My Dad has made innumerable wooden toys and sent them to schools, hospitals, nurseries, etc, around the world. He was like Santa and an Elf in one person.
That’s some kind of superior man Zen you’ve got going on there, Dad.
You’ll see one of his toy trucks along with his photo in my Burning Man 2017 video around the 3:52 mark.
No fear, no guile, no regrets. Only gratitude.
My Dad shouldn’t even be alive. Before I was born, he had a horrible motorcycle accident that left him severely speech disabled. For all intents and purposes, he couldn’t speak. His injuries changed the trajectory of his life and shaped everything about our family culture.
“Your dad was always so grateful to even be alive. He knew his life was a gift”, my mom has often told me.
My dad never looked that gift horse in the mouth. Not once.
One afternoon I was driving my parents around town. A guy on a noisy Harley pulled up next to us. My Dad looked over at the big, loud motorcycle. His face lit up, a smile spread across his face and he nodded a few times, as if to say,
“I’m fully aware of what a motorcycle did to me… and if I could get on that bike and ride away right now, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I regret NOTHING.”
Even though he actually was handicapped, he refused the label of “disabled” or “handicapped” at all times. He didn’t see himself that way. He had no shame. He loved his life.
In that intersection moment, a switch quietly flipped inside me: I KNEW, someday, I would get a bike and take up motorcycling.
The only person in my immediate and extended family who would approve of such a thing would be my Dad. Ironically, he was the only person that wasn’t absolutely terrified of them.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” – Steve Jobs
The Power of The Word
My father had a certain relationship with The Word.
As a kid, he was fascinated with the technology of sending words over the airwaves – he was well known for building his own AM radios from scratch. As an adult, he became a HAM radio operator. Because he could’t speak, he learned Morse code.
There are two sounds that will always represent life at home with Dad: the sounds of his saws I the woodshed, and the dit dit dah dah of morse code, emanating from his bedroom.
As a kid I was mystified at the way my Dad could communicate with people on the other side of the country in a series of rapid fire “dit-dit-dah-dit-dah-dah-dit-dit-dah-dah-dah-dit-dah” beeping sounds, which often emanated through the living room from his adjacent bedroom.
One of my more distinct childhood memories: one day I was taking apart a broken old radio and he explained to me the the workings of AM (amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) radio. It was a massive struggle to have simple conversations with him about simple things. To this day I have no idea how he communicated these complex concepts to my kid brain, but he did.
I never would have imagined that some day, I would make my life’s work in the world of words.
Between my experiences as a daytime talk radio host, a podcaster, and comedian, my voice and my words have been broadcast via satellite, radio tower, cell phone, and internet to every corner of the planet.
For whatever reason, The Word has called to me and I answered.
Working with The Word forces me into self examination in a way no therapist could ever hope to. It is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.
I see those dots, Steve.
Whether or not there was some divine design in the placement of those dots is a topic for another day. Regardless, those dots sure do make a pretty picture.
I’m in the middle of making more dots, this time placing them in front of me.
Currently I’m preparing to take my podcast on the road via motorcycle. I’ll do a series of long journeys, and will share the conversations and stories that ensue via podcast and written word . stories.
My Dad made his gifts out of wood. I make mine with words. Creating words while on wheels is the best way I can think of to pay tribute to my father and to make good on whatever deal he made with God in order to have a family.
Aside from that – it’s so much fun!
I love conversations with fascinating people.
If some string of words happens to make you me laugh along the way, all the better.
This journey has begun –
Not long after my Dad passed away last year, a dear friend, Cody, dropped off an old classic of a bike for me to fix up and take over – a 1979 Suzuki GS1000.
It’s the most obvious thing in the world to me that I should be writing about this story as it unfolds. I have been. I’ve been writing chapters and publishing them in my blog. Every week when one comes out, I notify my readers via my email list (join the list here) I’d love to share it with you. On the surface, this might look like a motorcycle story, but really, it’s a story about living with
My Dad, the O.G. Duane, was a walking embodiment of what Marianne Williamson taught:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Thank you, Dad.
Let’s go ride.
Much love –