Hi, I’m Guy Gonyea. I suppose you could label me a rational dreamer. While I may have my head in the clouds and my feet in the mud, I bend down to tie my shoes often enough to have a pretty good view of where I’m standing. The “I” who is writing on this page came into this manifestation called life as a philosopher. I morphed into an athlete, then a businessman, then an artist. And now I have drawn the line in a circle to integrate all of them into, me.
ALL THE REQUIRED TOOLS
If you are into Astrology I was born under Saturn and Mercury. If you are into Gematria I was born a 33. If you are into personality types aka, Myers Briggs, I am an INFP. If you are into Geography I was born in Birmingham, Michigan in the USA. A late stage Baby Boomer, I came from a typical middle class dysfunctional family. My father was very intellectual, very artistic and very out of character for the life he chose. I always thought he would have been better suited to live on a remote island, creating his radical and controversial paintings and burying himself deeply in his books while sending off infrequent messages to mankind in a freshly emptied whiskey bottle. But then, I wouldn’t have come along. My mom was a dutiful well-behaved all-American Donna Reed-type wife and to this day is still a wonderful and kind human being and is the sole supplier of the strength that I have had to keep me following my dreams and my heart.
My family role was that of the peacekeeper. I was the one who stood on the corners of the carpet and made sure that what got swept under the carpet stayed under the carpet. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that I have never been much of a family man. Much of my adult life has been spent thousands of miles away from family. I never felt the urge to create a family, at least not a blood family. I have always felt somewhat a loner, a traveller that was born with the purpose to bridge cultural barriers and bring people a little closer together. To me, God gave us different skin colors, different languages and different traditions for the sole purpose of giving humans a great opportunity to get their shit together!
The notion that we choose the family we are born into with the purpose of working out issues and being trained to facilitate the evolution of human consciousness is quite comfortable to me. In this case, my own family or origin and my upbringing did a wonderful job! Life had given me all the required tools, and then some!
LAYING UNDER THE STARRY SKY
I was a bit of a strange child. Terribly shy in my early years I excelled in my first years of school being a straight A student. Indeed, I was rather extroverted when it came to school. However in my 5th and 6th years of school I encountered two teachers who really disliked smart kids. My “internment” with them turned me even more inward and made me lose all interest in being a good student, which I carried with me until the end of my high school years. Saturn went into deep hiding all those years however my Mercurial side remained quite active.
I remember, at 13 years old, laying in the grass in my front yard and staring at the night sky pondering all the stars and why they were there shining down on me. I found myself frequently consumed in “far out” thoughts. In bed I would endlessly watch the slow movement of a wooden model airplane hanging above me as it rotated in the current of air coming from my bedroom window. I tried with all my might to make it move of my own volition. I would wonder, as I turned off the bed lamp if death was just another level of waking up and turning ON the same light, on another level.
At the same time I became fascinated with motorcycles and at 14 began racing, which I would continue until 18. This was a shy kid’s way to outwardly express himself. Back in the front yard, I would feel that familiar tug of war going on inside. I so wanted to know the stars and thought endlessly of what “It” was all about yet I wanted to wake up early the next day to go race my motorcycle. The motorcycle won every time. But the struggle went on.
Back in school, they tried to convince me that I was a procrastinator and that working under pressure at the last minute was not the right way to behave. When given a week to write an essay on what security meant to me I sat down to write it the night before it was due with just one sentence….”Security is boring!” My teachers worried a lot. “This kid is not going be a good cog in the wheel!” Later, when given the assignment to create a happiness machine I was the last kid in class to bring in his creation, with overly high expectations from my teacher. Instead I showed up with a plain white painted box with a crudely cut-in flapping door. When asked to explain my long-awaited but poorly functioning contraption I answered, “We only know what made us happy yesterday. We don’t know what will make us happy tomorrow!” While I was drilled at being lazy and a procrastinator the Saturn/Mercury in me smiled and said, “You’ve got this one under control!”
GOING FASTER STAYING ALONE
Back in the “real” world I went into a pre-law program at the University of Michigan. It was time for me to change the world! But at the same time my two-wheeled passion turned towards 4 wheels. I fell in love with Formula One car racing which within a year pretty much trashed my budding future law career. Duality struck again!
Dropping out of the university and pissing off my parents to no end, I packed my bags and moved to the UK to pursue my F1 dreams. What exciting times! Racing was the ultimate in being alive. In those days (the late 70’s) it was romantic and quite dangerous. I learned how to totally live in the moment, although I wouldn’t understand that’s what it was until many years later. As it turned out it was one of the best spiritual trainings I would have in my life.
Through all these exciting times I remained an intensely private person. Very few would ever see my feelings, or my misery. One of my nicknames when I was a racer was “Iceman”. That served me very well in racing but very poorly in the rest of my life. As shutdown to life as I became, life reciprocated by shutting down to me. What I wanted always seemed to be on the other side of some wall I had painstakingly built.
WAKING UP TO SEE, AND BE, THE LIGHT
While my life outwardly looked pretty interesting, inside it was a lonely mess. Then on my 30th birthday I got a hard kick in the butt from my kind-hearted strong-footed wife. It was a kidnapping carried out by my dearest friends to give me a really memorable day. That was the day I discovered how shut down I truly was. It was, to this day the best birthday of my life. I was overflowing with joy, or so I thought yet later that day I discovered that those friends to whom I had shown all my feelings of joy had to ask my wife if she thought I enjoyed the day! That was the moment I decided to change. I’ve been changing ever since.
At 30 years old I met my first real teacher. A simple and incredibly deep man from the hills of the Smokey Mountains named George Addair. He was to have more impact on my life than anyone else in the world. GA, as we would often refer to him founded a non-profit self-awareness training called Omega Vector in Phoenix, Arizona. Omega One, a four-day intense training was to be my turning point. At Omega they talked of opening new doors but for me it blew the doors right off their hinges! Every advanced training he created I attended. Every workshop, every study group he developed I signed up. I found my safe (and sometimes scary) home to do the Work, with the help of an incredibly loving and non-judgmental man. For the next 12 years Omega Vector was a huge part of my life. I joined the staff. I went through facilitator training. I staffed most every training during those 12 years.
I became an obsessive student of the teachings. I read everything I could, from Gurdjieff’s 4th Way to Alan Watts’ Zen Buddhism to Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth to De Chardin’s Omega Point. I turned passionate about life, about personal growth. I turned into someone who was said to wear his heart on his sleeve.
The change was tough, a lot of struggles, sweat and tears. It ended my marriage, changed my career, cost me some friends…and was the best thing I ever did. I walked away from my racing dreams, left a very successful real estate career and eventually traveled far away from my home and family. It even brought me to leave my most cherished teacher and Omega.
Adventure, Photos and the Artist’s Way
Then a vacation to Vietnam in the summer of 2001 opened my eyes and set me on course for the next stage of my life. Not only did a month of roaming such a beautiful and exotic country capture my heart it also created a spark in me to take a new path in life, the way of the artist.
My father was a brilliant artist. Sadly, I did not acquire his genes for painting…at all! But it did seem that I inherited his eye for beauty and composition. While I had no formal training I found out through my photo experience of Vietnam that people connected with what I photographed and started buying my work. I spent the next 2 years traveling Vietnam and building a library of fine art prints, as well as releasing another part of me I didn’t know existed.
In late 2003, as I sprawled out on the couch in front of the TV, recovering from my latest trip to Vietnam, I caught a few minutes of Bill Moyers interviewing the brilliant mythologist, Joseph Campbell. While I had watched this series several times I was about to hear something in a new way. “What is the meaning of life?” Moyers asked. “Life is not about discovering the meaning of life. Life is about experiencing life!” replied Campbell. I had spent years immersed in my intellectual search for the meaning of life. But with this one quote I put down my books and picked up experience!
2004 was the year I closed my business, sold my house, said goodbye to Omega Vector and GA, buried my 18 year old cat (after she died!) and started a new life, thoroughly burning my bridges behind me so I had no other choice but to succeed. So began my life as a professional photographer in a mysterious land 8,000 miles away.
Sharing “the work”
12 years later I can say I “made it” artistically and have built a reasonably successful business. But more than a decade of advertising photography has left me aware that making beautiful images to sell unneeded products to an enthusiastic and gullible country was not very fulfilling. I had stopped doing my fine art work. I also believed that I had stopped my spiritual journey. During a visit with George on one of my annual trips back to Arizona I spoke of my loss of doing the spiritual Work. George just smiled. He had a wise smile. What I discovered was that everything is part of the Work if we can only step away from the judgment on what we do.
During my Omega years I wrote poetry and short stories. I stopped writing when I started photography but I always held the idea to one day combine my writing with my photography. Perhaps this would be my way of expressing that which was coming through me.
Even after all the work on myself and all the help of my teachers I still often wrestle with self-doubt, which has prevented me from publishing my work. I have never wanted to sign my writing. After all, who am I? I write from my quiet moments of meditation, or my alone time when I run which is something I dearly love. I am not a person highly educated in religion, philosophy or psychology. I have learned much about many things but am scholarly at nothing.
I may be like many of you. I have an insight and put it to paper (or laptop). Then my brain kicks in and begins to analyze. “Is it important? Is it meaningful? Where did it come from?” The perfectionist’s dilemma. And after these many years of self-work what I have come to understand is this; things come to me. I have no way of knowing if they are deep or not, if they are meaningful and important to you. But it is not my responsibility to share deep and meaningful words. It is only my responsibility to share what comes to me. Or through me. Let go of the outcome as we say. As it turns out I love what comes to me and I love to write so that’s what I have decided to do, here with you.
I have nothing important to tell you. But there may be something that’s important for you to hear. And there is where you and I may just meet.