"And That's Only the Top!"
A Eulogy for Dan Moonhawk Alford
by Matthew C. Bronson
This was delivered on Monday, October 28, 2002 in Hayward at Machado's Hillside Chapel in Hayward, CA about three miles from Dan's home
I'd like to invite you to breathe together now for a few moments, to breathe deeply from our common purpose and humanity as we consecrate this borrowed space,
make it our own for these moments we have been given .
Please take a few moments to tune into yourself and what you have brought to this ceremony. It might help to shut your eyes and gaze downward into yourself.
What are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
Just allow these things to be you can release any need to judge or discriminate at this time.
Let go of any shoulds ought-tos, or must-bes for time, they will be waiting for you outside the door soon enough.
There is nowhere else for you to be right now, nothing more important for you to be doing.
Everyone is welcome here today whatever their thoughts and feelings.
If you are feeling anger, grief, numbness, denial, relief, regret, joy at remembering all that Dan meant to you, all or none of the above, you are welcome to breathe and become present to yourself and to all of the other people around you.
Let go of the chatter as you breathe and, breathing, call forward whatever you believe in as the highest purpose of our gathering, evoke the ancestors whom you revere, or whatever or whomever you hold as sacred as we consecrate this space.
In a few moments, and in the coming hours you will have a chance to share a story or memory about Dan. Take a moment to consider a few special moments when you were with him. What will you share? Take a moment and consider as you see sense and feel what Dan meant to you.
Now, I' invite you to come on back to this room and to the people around you and, if you'd like, turn and shake the hands of the people sitting near you, greet them and affirm their right to be here.
If you look around the room, you'll see that we are all quite different, probably with different ideas about dying and what if anything comes afterwards, and certainly with different ideas about what it means to be alive. We share, however, a common spirit and purpose in affirming the worth and humanity of our departed friend even as we affirm our own.
Good Afternoon and welcome. My name is Matthew Bronson or "Matt" as Dan called me. I am humbled by the task before me--one to which I could never be equal: to find words that bring some light not only to my loss but to all of ours.
Today is the day we have come together to honor and remember Dan Moonhawk Alford, whom we have known, all too briefly as friend, brother, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, colleague.
During an intense collaboration and friendship which has lasted half my life, I have come to know Dan in my own way and so I can only offer what is in my mind and heart in the hope that it will wake up something similar in you, help you to feel part of something bigger, a community. To understand my challenge: Just imagine Hammerstein eulogizing Rogers or Schweizer and Livingstone for a feel of what I'm getting at here. I'm not claiming to be a star or anything, just a humble earth-man who has lost a partner as well as a friend.
You'll have a chance to tell your stories in a few minutes and in the coming days, months and years. This is just a little bit of my story but I hope that it can become ours, at least for these moments that we are together.
As in many of our classes, we began today with an imagery exercise, which, if you think about it is nothing but a kind of story. Well, that's the key to my remarks today: I'm paying homage to Dan by telling some of his favorite stories, or rather, some of the punchlines since that's all we have time for. I'm also going to tell you a little about what I learned from the World According to Moonhawk and how he changed my life for the better.
-Ravins of Piutes Poet Poe poem was Dan's favorite performance.
1. And That's Only the Top
2. Glen Parry: And We are the Continuation of our Father's Work. "I saw him not take his last breath".
-Mac's work as a longshoreman allowed Dan to go to college
3. How language creates reality (meeting Dan)
4. Let's be Frank (RML Years)
5. Your unconscious mind hears every word you say
-I just can's stand to see that-Verbal Hygiene
6. You're not doing anything important unless you have detractors. In fact, to understand a field, start by looking at who they beat up on.
7. Language and nature are inwardly akin.
8. Philosophy is grammar writ large.
9. Practice respect thinking along with rightness thinking.
10. Contact your repressed childhood joy.
11. Long ago, humans, plants and animals and spirits all spoke the same language the something happened
12. Matter is gravitationally trapped light.
13. Try and imagine a world without hypothetical situations
14. I teach the courses no one ever gave me.
15. I don't expect the world to believe me because I am an expert, only because my ideas make sense
16. Never dress up for the occasion, in fact never dress for any occasion. Wear a Tuxedo tee shirt if formal attire s required
17. We are "it"ing mother earth to death.
18. Sunset as a trance: "The eyes in your head see the sun going down and the fool on the hill sees the world spinning 'round."
19. Be a good listener and people will bring out their best thoughts.
20. Those of who are out the ledge you're not alone.
21. There is no longest sentence you gotta stop to eat (Sakej Henderson).
22. Reality is a linguistically induced trance.
23. God is not a Noun in Native America.
24. Songs are alive.
-old Joe's song, the 200 songs for tobacco among the blackfoot
How many are willing to sing a song in Dan's honor now, one of his favorite songs that everyone knows and that we started our classes with?
Row, row row your boat.
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream
You've awakened from whatever dream is this world, Dan, and the waves of that vast ocean have taken you from us. We commit now to all that was the best in you, all the best that you touched in us. May you find our thoughts and prayers to be a sacaffold of light by which you find your way into the next world even as your example inspires us to find our way in this one.
25. Respect the light, you too will soon be light (Lloyd Pinkham).
-Now, too soon Dan, you are the light. And in our stories and memories your light will shine in our hearts, unending, like the very stars, even in the darkest hour of our mourning.