It is better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness.

When you are lost in darkness, everything is overwhelming. Your perspective is decimated by lack of tangible visual stimuli and as a consequence you find yourself in a void of despair.

Despair is immobilizing in so many different ways, sometimes it feels like the best you can do is keep trying to put 1 foot in front of the other without any core substance to give you faith that somewhere, somehow, the light will turn back on.

40 years ago today, I was in film school and shooting photos in my photo studio in my father’s house in Woodland Hills. There was a knock at the front door and as I casually opened the front door, I was greeted by a black man and a white man both wearing women’s stocking over their heads and a gun was put into my face, a pillowcase over my head, and rope tied around my neck and I was told that they were going blow my head off in the next minute if I did not give them what they wanted.

I won’t spend time this morning sharing the details, suffice it to say they were trying to steal drugs from the wrong house. They had the wrong address. And it was all I could do to beg for my life and hope that the gun to the back of my head was not about to be my last and final feeling on planet earth at age 21.

Spoiler alert, I did not die that day. 

But I got right to the edge and knew in my brain that it was all about to end.

The post traumatic stress was unbearable. I could not sleep because I had a recurring nightmare that was beyond horrific, and every single day, I would have to live through that same nightmare. The darkness was my enemy and I hated it.

My take away from all of this beyond the tired adage: that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, is that if you are in the darkness, there must be a candle. There is always luminance to be found through some methodology or resource.

I have always celebrated April 1 as a second birthday for me and as a result of having not died on that day, I use the opportunity to treasure every aspect of my life and go to deep gratitude for all the things and all of you people who make my life feel so full, even though I am leading a solitary existence during this Covid insanity.

I found the irony that 40 years later to the day, I was suddenly eligible for a vaccination to keep me from dying from Covid. While I am certain I will sign up to get the vaccination, my fear of dying decreased considerably having already looked death in the face.

If this experience taught me anything, it taught me that I am capable of surviving if I just keep my wits together. It was not violence or self-defense that saved my life that day, it was words and logic and keeping my head in the game no matter how scared I was. And it unquestionably was a motivation for one day becoming a second-degree black belt, if for no other reason then I never wish to be a victim again. Ever.

Cursing the darkness accomplishes nothing, earning the black belt, and studying how lucid dreaming could overcome the nightmares, lights the candle. There are ways in your life to overcoming whatever darkness is oppressing you.  Don’t settle for being a victim, always take your self-respect back.

Happy April 1…. it stopped being a Fool’s Day for me 40 years ago🌈

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!