Dale Lewis Johnson
Interviewed by acquaintances, Matt and Kathy
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Dale Lewis Johnson
Interviewed by acquaintances
Matt and Kathy
Copyright © 2010 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Dale Lewis Johnson, an oral history by
acquaintances Matt and Kathy, July 2010,
WSU Stewart Library Oral History Program,
Special Collections, Stewart Library, Weber
State University, Ogden, UT.
Dale Lewis Johnson
Abstract: This is an interview between Dale Lewis Johnson, referred to as Lewis,
and two of his acquaintances, Matt and Kathy. The interview took place in July of
2010, just prior to his passing, and includes stories from his personal life as well
as his theories on relationships.
M: So how did you end up in Los Angeles? Maybe we should start with your
L: I’d been in a two year relationship in Salt Lake. When it ended, I basically had a
nervous breakdown. I destroyed this man’s life: I reported him to the IRS even
though he hadn’t done anything, I outed him to his family and I got him fired from
his job. I made his life so bad that he moved to Texas just to get out of here. I
was very vengeful back then.
I wanted to get out of Utah. I figured Utah was part of my problem as far
as the guilt of being gay and stuff. My sister was going down to Phoenix to
trucking school, and I went with her down there. It was at that time that I really
started drinking heavy. My sister was drinking heavy, and they couldn’t keep a
job. They’d finally had enough and decided to come back to Utah, but I refused. I
was never coming back to Utah. So they left and I found myself homeless.
I found a halfway house where I could live. You either had to go door to
door asking for money, or you had to have a job and pay. I happened to have a
job. I worked as a cocktail waiter in a bar. The guy who ran the house was a
mean guy. He dealt drugs, and had the guys that stayed in the house go out on
his drug runs for him. If you didn’t do what he said, he’d just kick you out. Well,
he made the mistake of giving me and one of the other guys in the house $900 to
go pay the mortgage on the house. We had the good idea to take that money
and get out of Phoenix. So we took that $900 and went to LA. We drank it all
away and within two days, we didn’t have any more money. We got in a fight. He
thought I was hiding the money, and I thought he was hiding the money. We just
spent it all, so we went our own ways.
That’s how I found myself homeless in LA. The only thing I had was the
clothes on my back. At that point I tried prostitution. I was still kind of a naïve
Mormon boy, so that really didn’t work well. I ended up pawning the Movado
watch I had for fifteen bucks, and that got me into a bath house, that also served
a buffet dinner. So I had a place to sleep for the night and dinner. I met a guy
who worked in there, and he offered me a place to stay. I ended up falling in love
with him. He got me a job in the movie industry, which I worked at for the next
eleven years. He is also the one who introduced me to drugs.
When I was involved in drugs, I never felt safe in the house, so I spent a
lot of time on the streets. Survival on the street has a lot to do with the image you
portray. So that’s when I really started to take on that gangster look – the shaved
head, the whatever to fit in. I was known as Dale up until that point. My family still
knows me today as Dale, not Lewis. But Dale was too “white” for Los Angeles, so
I changed my name to my middle name, which is Lewis, and started going by
that. I kept that name.
M: That’s really interesting. What did you do in the film industry?
L: I worked for a prop company that rented props to movie studios. I worked in the
drapery department, and so I made drapery and bedspreads and stuff for movies
and TV. I really enjoyed that time.
M: That’s really cool. Can you come make drapes for my house?
L: I could. When I came to Utah, I set up shop, but I was spoiled working in the
movie industry where you get paid sixty bucks an hour, and they bring you and
tell you exactly what they need. Here, people don’t know what they want, they
want you to go shopping with them for fabric, even if you make it they don’t like
it… and they don’t want to pay you anything, so I ended up selling most of my
M: What happened to the guy you fell in love with?
L: We spent two years together. Then, in 1988 is when I was diagnosed with
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. He was diagnosed at the same time. I
knew, from reading a book that was given to me by Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal
Your Life, that I needed to change my life if I wanted to live. That meant
everything. I needed to quit doing the drugs, I needed to quit the drinking – all of
that. He did not want to do that, and I could not stay living with him, with him
doing it and me not, so I left him. Within six months, he died. I had a lot of guilt
about that for a long time. I was not able to be there for him. I since then, though,
have talked to him in spirit, and everything’s okay.
M: When did you realize that the book by Louise Hay was actually working and that
Human Immunodeficiency Virus was manageable?
L: You know, when I was diagnosed, it was a death sentence. They didn’t give you
any hope. That’s why I really started to follow my intuition. I really started
becoming aware of it, and what I was getting was, do not take the drugs, do not
listen to the doctors. And so I didn’t. In my lifetime, I have been to a hundred
doctors that I have fired, because they basically told me, if you don’t do what we
say, you’re going to die. And I told them, I’m not coming back to you. I honestly
believe today that early on, the drugs they gave, which was Azidothymidine, they
gave in a high enough dose that it killed more people than the AIDS. I don’t know
if that’s true or not, but I believe that. So I really learned, as far as being sick and
that, the only time I had fear was when I went against what my intuition told me. I
was always fine if I followed what I felt inside.
M: That’s interesting. That’s always an interesting process, that kind of finding out,
you know, how your intuition guides you and that type of stuff. Can you think of
any very specific things that happened during that period of time, besides the
doctors, where you realized the power of that intuition?
L: Nothing I can really think of right off. That was really where my focus was at the
time. To answer another part of your question though, it wasn’t until I’d been HIV
positive for ten years that I...I spent the first ten years of being HIV positive
waiting to die. After ten years I kind of realized I just wasted ten years waiting to
die. It was time to start living.
M: It’s something weird when you feel that, ‘Oh really? There is life?’ you know, kind
L: Yeah it doesn’t end.
M: I’ve noticed that with forgiveness, which you’ve talked about before, usually with
that, in realizing that it is an illusion. Usually there’s a point where you start to
feel, not only intuition, but love flowing through you. When did you first start
L: You know, that really happened slowly over time. I’ll tell you my biggest
breakthroughs with that were when I’d come back to Utah. I’d gotten sober and
I’d gotten really sick at the time. They’d actually come out to LA and brought me
back to die. Never thought I’d live for a month because of the drugs and the
alcohol. (I had got back into that.) I’d started going to Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings and I watched people at these meetings and I saw people that seemed
to genuinely care about other people and I didn’t. I didn’t care about anybody but
myself, honestly. But I liked that and I wanted to be that way, so I started asking
in my prayers to care more about other people.
What happened was that I started to notice the newcomers in meetings
come in. They’d be scared and they’d be hurting and then you’d only see them
maybe once or twice and then you wouldn’t see them again. It was actually
Dawn, who came into a meeting as a newcomer and I still was so introverted and
quiet I couldn’t reach out to help even though it was really starting to pull on my
heart. I tried to introduce myself to her and did the best I could. She came into a
meeting one time and she really reached out for help and I couldn’t do anything
because I was so self-conscious about myself. She left and I didn’t see her again
for like three months. It was at that point that I just said to myself, I cannot,
cannot allow my being unsure about myself get in the way anymore with helping
people. Almost instantly that being introverted and quiet, that I prayed to be taken
away my entire life, was gone. My whole life opened up and changed because I
first stopped worrying about me and my focus changed towards other people.
That changed everything in my life.
M: Wow. That’s cool. Kind of brings me to the next one which was: what’s the most
beautiful thing you’ve experienced so far? What’s the most beautiful experience
L: I can’t really think of one particular thing, but overall I would just simply have to
say the love that I have for people is the most beautiful thing there is. It’s the
most important thing for me.
M: That’s the most important for everybody.
L: What’s that?
M: I said it’s the most important for everybody.
M: What do you experience, and I know you can’t really put it into words. I know
there’s been several times when I’ve been with you and when other people have
been with you where that experience of the body drops away. I know it can’t be
described, but can you try? What’s it like?
L: I’ve had a lot of that in almost two years, simply because again the body’s not
been put in place to be here. I don’t know. I would describe it as a freedom of
certainly not being tied down to the body or the restraints of the body or the pain
of the body. In a way it’s a relief. It’s freedom.
M: Do you go any place?
L: No, I know I do, but I don’t really remember a lot of where I go. I’ve had a few
instances. I had one instance, and this was a couple years ago, where I had
gotten pneumonia and was in the hospital, really sick. I saw my mom and my
sister who passed away and I also had the experience of people on the other
side and the absolute joy and bliss of those who were there. The only way I can
relate it is it’s like little kids playing ring around the rosie, just happy and innocent
and pure. Then I also got the feeling, that grand admiration they have for us who
chose to come here and what we’re doing. I really thought that, since not
everyone had the courage to come here and so a great, just, admiration for what
we do. At that same time I had the impression of standing in front of the Creator
and Him asking me if I was ready to come home.
M: But you decided to stick around for a little bit longer?
L: I did. At the time I was not in a good place mentally and I didn’t really give an
answer. I didn’t know. I guess I decided to stick around.
M: I wanted to know your take on relationships, especially romantic and just what
you learned from them--having relationships. I know you’ve been in love a couple
of times, we’ve talked before. I kind of wanted to know since it’s a thing that it
seems like we’re all concerned with all the time, at least some of us. What’s your
take on that kind of refrain from this other context?
L: It’s concerned me, not any different than anyone else. I long to be in a
relationship, though I do understand, today, that is simply symbolic of my wanting
to be home with my Creator. My relationship with Robert, when it ended, he
basically came to me and told me he wanted out. It was a surprise to me. By that
point in my life I understood that it wasn’t all about me, and I realized that even
though he was the one that wanted out, after eighteen years, it was going to be
just as hard for him as it was for me. So I put all of my effort into how I could help
him transition out of this easily. I’ll tell you, that made all the difference in the
world. We are still best friends today. With me being sick, he calls me every day,
he comes and sees me. We never had one single fight or argument in our
breakup, not over anything. I mean the breakup was the truly beautiful thing.
So, I guess what that taught me about relationships, and I believed this
even before, is that relationships are the perfect place to work on our defects of
character because they bring it right to the surface. The person we live with is the
person that we’re the most who we are, that we put up one of those fronts for. So
that is the best place to fine tune who we want to be.
M: I think I’ll let Kathy ask you some of the other questions that are up on the board.
I think she might be, she doesn’t really look antsy, but she might be antsy to get
to talk to you a little bit.
K: Have I told you lately that I love you?
L: Yes, you have.
L: Have I told you, I love you?
K: Yes, you have. A little bit louder. We’re having a moment right now. Alright, there
are a couple of things. When I ask you about this taping I’m sure there’s some
common statements that you could make to all four million people that want to
come see you, and want to hear what you have to say, and they’re hungry to
have that information and you know that that’s true. So are there some common
things that are coming up for you as you think about what you want to say today?
L: Well, first, I want everyone to know that I am okay. I am perfectly at peace with
what’s going on for me today. You know I’ve already been telling some people
some things to try to help them. One of them is, it’s time to take responsibility for
your own feelings and stop blaming other people for how you feel. One thing is,
you guys are throwing this party for me, and as I’m thinking about people to
invite, one problem I ran across is there are several people I’m going to invite
who don’t get along. So for a minute I had this conflict, do I invite both of them or
not? I’m going to invite them and not worry about it, but the thing that is sad is
that we carry those kinds of feelings about people and may not want to be in the
same room with them. That’s not what life is about, at all. I would just like to see
everyone just love each other and get along. Take responsibility for yourself and
then you won’t hate anyone--you won’t be angry at anyone.
K: That’s an interesting statement. Take responsibility for yourself. So you’re
suggesting then that I have some freedom of choice and some decision making
about what it is I think I feel and the meaning I give to that. Is that what I hear you
L: You have all of it. It is all up to you.
K: So if I get my feelings hurt, it’s because of a meaning I gave to somebody, is that
what I’m hearing?
L: Exactly. Exactly.
K: So in taking responsibility, what would that look like? Because you got a lot of
folks here that are gonna hear that but they don’t know how to do that. What
would be the process that you found to be…
L: You know, one thing is, I have worked with some people to help them through
this process. One of them is first letting them understand perception, and usually
I go to the internet, and I go to YouTube, and there’s a piece that is on
perception. You count people playing basketball, and with each team, how many
times they pass the ball. In the middle of this they have a moon-walking bear that
goes across the stage. Nobody sees that because they’re counting the ball. And
so as I point that out to them, it’s that we see what we’re looking for. It’s our
perception, and so with that in mind, we can never think that what we believe to
be true is true. Our perception is very faulty.
K: So, in a world this complex, people are confused. Some people are ornery, some
people are selfish, some people are all of those things. We’re all gonna run in to
those things. What’s your counsel?
L: Again, what my experience is, what I find for me, as I approach that today in my
life, is when I return it with love, it dissolves any conflict. I don’t have conflicts
with people and I even have been asked to come in as a mediator between two
people who want to kill each other. I simply bring love into the situation and they
end up giving each other a hug afterwards, because that’s all it needs is love. I
don’t, it’s funny, people purposely do not swear around me just because they, I
don’t know, they instinctively know that I don’t swear. People don’t gossip in front
of me and so simply by approaching my life with love that stuff disappears. Even
if it is there, I don’t see it.
K: Yeah, because some of us actually do swear like sailors in front of you.
L: I don’t, I never, I don’t even know. It’s not my perception.
K: Bringing it that way, when we’re worried about…you know, in Christian Miracles,
it says that fear of God is the most insane belief mankind ever created. And our
Older Brother says that God does not see our weaknesses, our sins, or
whatever. How would you relate that to your experience?
L: Well, you know, I don’t have to do as much anymore. For about a year, I
practiced recognizing that when I come in contact with somebody the mind
automatically starts to run down this list of judgments about that person. What I
would do first is, I would watch how my mind worked when I was out in nature
because it doesn’t do that, it doesn’t judge a tree, it doesn’t judge a stream, other
than seeing it as beautiful. I simply took the way I looked at nature and put that in
the way I saw people. I cut out the judgment. Then you could see just the beauty
that is there.
K: So if I heard you right, what you’re saying is, when I allow everything just to be
what it is without my projecting on to it, then I get to see the beauty of what it can
be or who they can be? Right? Is that what I’m hearing you say?
K: That’s kind of cool. One of the comments you made to me a long time ago, not
too long after we first met, you talked about when we first met that there was a
response in you that caused you to feel uncomfortable. We all have times where
we run into situations and people that we think are not where we are or living on
a different level that we can’t relate to, or all of those things, and so we tend to
withdraw from that. What I heard you say earlier was talking about when I bring
love to it. What happens when you bring love to it, no matter who you meet--who
they are, where they are, what position in life they have, whatever. How do you
L: I experience it--I think, the same thing back. Whatever I put out is what I get
K: And it doesn’t matter who it’s with, right? So, what I thought I heard you say
when you were talking to Matt was, it overcomes every objection, every block
that I have about communing with someone else--regardless of whether they
make me feel insecure or whether I wonder if I’m good enough or whether I
wonder if they’re good enough.
K: So, just bring love to it?
L: See, I think the hardest part with that is we get so concerned with how we look,
or how we appear, or people are going to judge us, that that’s when we put up
the walls. If I feel inferior to you then I’m going to find ways to make you look
inferior. But if we let all that go, if we just approach it with love…I had to get to a
point in my life where I just had to say, it doesn’t matter how I look. It doesn’t
matter how I appear in front of other people. That doesn’t matter. What matters is
how I treat other people and what I do to help other people.
K: So it’s kind of a new twist on the Popeye principle?
L: What’s the Popeye principle?
K: “I am one of them.” [quoting Popeye]
L: “I am one of them.” [quoting Popeye]
K: And just bringing them up assuming that everyone else is Popeye too.
K: Cool. I kind of like that. But we may call it the Lewis Popeye Principle. Okay, so,
you have gone through almost all the kinds of experiences that most people
would fear. I could never do that. That would be awful. How do you come back?
There is a resiliency and an aspect of you that as you know, in the beginning,
you undermined yourself and sabotaged yourself so you experienced some of
those kinds of things. But then there was the comeback, and the comeback, and
the comeback, and then dealing with having the courage to say goodbye to
someone you really love, choosing to love yourself more. Those are some of the
principles that I’d like you to talk about--where you found that courage, that
resiliency to deal with things that most of us will never ever have to.
L: Well, you know, at first I’d have to say, and I think this is true for all of us, that if
we knew what we were going to experience ahead of time, we wouldn’t be able
to fathom being able to do it. But we simply take each day as it comes and one
day at a time we can walk through it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t cry. It doesn’t
mean that we don’t back away from life at times. I’ve certainly had times where I
just needed to isolate away because I just couldn’t deal with what was going on.
There have been times where I’ve been done with life. I’ve said this is enough.
But overall, I think I love life. I’m grateful for every experience that I’ve had. Later
on in life, going through hard times, I’m able to realize that early life, I’m grateful
for those experiences, even though at the moment I may not see the positive in
it. If I wait around long enough, I will.
K: So taking it one day at a time, sometimes we don’t see the big picture. There’s
always a big picture for us?
L: Yes. That’s the other thing--realizing that as bad as something may look, we’re
not seeing the whole picture. We’re not getting it all.
K: I like what you said but I still want to go back to this idea. When you were hitting
those walls, being diagnosed with the death sentence at the time, and that’s what
everybody considered it at the time, having long term relationships end, those
big, big things, what do you think the trigger was to go from being upset, or
fearing or not wanting to do this anymore--those statements that go through your
head. What was that trigger, do you think, for you?
L: Part of it is the fact that I’m very, very stubborn. I’m never wrong. Those two
things really play a huge part. It’s like when I was homeless. I never saw being
homeless as being a fault of mine. I was proud that I could take care of myself on
the street. Today, I see how absurd that is, but with my ego and my
stubbornness, I was able to block out any responsibility. I blamed my
circumstances on the world and everyone in it and would be proud of myself for
going through it. I don’t know if that answers it.
K: Sure. Were there any moments in all of those experiences where you thought to
yourself, there’s got to be another way?
L: Certainly. Yes. I think as a kid from as early as I can remember up to age twenty-two,
I pleaded and cried, I literally cried, every night for God to change my world,
for God to change me, to change who I was. It never happened. At twenty-two I
gave up that my prayers were ever going to be answered. I always wanted
something better, but it just didn’t seem like anything better would be possible. Of
course, it did all change. But again, it only changed when it became useful for me
to help other people, like being introverted and quiet. That’s when it made sense
to plead with God to change, and it never did, but when I needed it to change so I
could help other people, it happened almost automatically.
K: Now would you say that part of that went from pleading and maybe you meant it
and maybe you didn’t, to in the moment with Dawn, when you were blowing it, to
change? You were willing to deal with a better way to express yourself?
K: So there’s a little bit of willingness and I guess that happens when you’re
stubborn, willingness comes a little harder than when you’re not. That willingness
to accept what may be available to us. I spent some time…oh, I remember what I
want to say. I want to ask you about your book.
K: I want to ask you what made you decide to write a book?
L: Well, I actually have three books I’m writing. One is a fiction, and one is a self-help
book and then the autobiography. The autobiography is the last one that I
started, but probably is going to be the first one that I finish. The reason that I
started writing that was, I wanted to give hope to people who maybe were in a
place in their life where they think that things can’t be better. I could say that this
was what my life was like and this is how that changed. Basically it’s a book
about giving hope to other people.
K: Nice. So tell me about your other two books.
L: One is a fiction and it’s a…the first part of it is based around a true thing that
happened. It takes place up at the monastery in Huntsville. I was staying up there
a couple days overnight. Just me, and I’d taken up two other guys with me. We
were the only ones in the building except for this one man who was dressed all in
black, very sunken in eyes, sunken in cheeks and not friendly at all. So we’re
sitting down in the library like eleven o’clock at night and we hear these
footsteps. We stopped talking and the footsteps stopped. So we start talking
again and the footsteps start. We stopped and the footsteps stopped. So that
was kind of freaking us out. This guy dressed in black, we finally went in to the
kitchen to get some coffee and he’s standing in there, it’s eleven o’clock at night,
with the small kitchen light on, reading a book. So he was really freaking us out
now. So that fiction book, that’s kind of how it starts. It’s about me being up at the
monastery and running in to this man. It goes on to where this man ends up.
What I do is I turn this book into a thing where the monks actually have more
power. They’re able to live five hundred years, six hundred years. They’re able to
walk on water, all that stuff. To keep away from persecution, that’s how
monasteries were started, where they could be out and away. So it goes along
K: Nice. I like it.
K: Will this be ready?
L: I don’t know. I have to finish the other one first, which I am working on, so.
K: Alright, so tell me about the self-help book. I’m going to need that, you know.
L: You know, it’s funny, I started that long before I ever started going to the course.
The chapters I have written go right along with the course.
K: Interesting how that works, huh?
L: It’s really...one chapter is really about perception. It’s really about, I’ve been
blessed to be able to work with literally hundreds of people to overcome addiction
and help them in their lives and that. So it’s based on what I’ve learned in helping
other people. It’s about perception, how we see the world, taking responsibility
for ourselves. I learned early on, first part of my life I was a victim, but as long as
you’re a victim, you give up all your rights and you give up all your power. You
are a victim, but that’s your choice. So it’s a matter of simply choosing not to be a
K: Now that victim word is a big word.
K: What do you see in your life as the primary perpetrator of your victimizing.
K: Really? You think a lot of people would be surprised at that answer?
L: I’m sure they would. I used to say to, like with Dawn, I used to tell Dawn this
when I was working with her. She’s the one, the woman that I worked with. I
would tell her that if you’re angry, you’re wrong and it would make her so mad. I
met a lot of people that I would say that to, and they would just get very frustrated
and mad. If you’re angry, you’re wrong.
K: So, let’s see. I get mad and that should tell me I’m wrong, because when I’m mad
I’m really wrong. I could see that that was a problem. What did you do when they
reacted to this?
L: I just chuckle. I’ve certainly been there. I understand where they’re coming from
but it certainly left them thinking too, to try and figure out what I meant by that.
K: You’re an incredible example to so many. What simply is my job in this place?
L: To forgive and love.
K: Every day?
L: Yes. The way I look at it is, we can learn as much as we want to learn. We can
learn by studying the course. We can learn all of that. But if we can’t forgive and
love then it will never do us any good. We can have healing powers, all the
intuition in the world, but if we can’t forgive and love, it’s meaningless.
K: So, my job is to forgive. Who am I forgiving?
L: Everything that you see as being wrong, or that upsets you, or that makes you
K: Okay, I can do that except for that one thing.
L: That’s probably the most important thing you’re working with.
K: Okay, so there’s no withholding, is there?
K: When you started practicing that, see I find it pretty remarkable that an eighteen
year relationship, a partner that I love and want to spend the rest of my life with,
walks in the door and says I can’t do this anymore. What triggered your
paradigm, everything you expected to have happen, with that one change,
changed everything. What was the trigger for you, the moment, the process that
took you to a place of I am just going to love them?
L: I think it started before that moment. Over the last eleven years, I had started to
not just see my side of what’s happening, but try to see the other person’s side.
To realize that in any story there’s two sides. Two people are getting divorced,
there’s two very different sides. It’s really a matter of okay, I know what my
beliefs are, but what is the other person thinking? What is the other person going
through? I started to learn that before the eighteen year relationship ended. That
doesn’t mean that I didn’t have moments where I didn’t feel some anger that you
know, I was twenty-seven when I got into this relationship and now I’m forty-eight,
and now because you want out, I’m alone, and I expected to be with
someone the rest of my life. I did have some of that, but at the same time, I
admired him for having the courage. Our relationship wasn’t that good. We’d
grown somewhat apart and I admired him for having the courage.
I wouldn’t, because I had made a commitment that I was in the
relationship for life. I don’t care how bad it would have gotten. I would have never
left it. So he did us both a favor. He had the courage to do that. I admire him
because the first part of the relationship he never had that self-esteem. I walked
all over him in that relationship and I hurt him really bad, and he would never
have been able to say enough. For him to come to a place where he could say I
don’t want this anymore, good for him. Good for him, and that his self-esteem
has grown that much.
K: You hear me rail about nice people all the time. Part of nice people is that
sometimes, what you’re talking about, really is the most loving way to deal with
that situation. A lot of people would have thought, just out of the blue, that’s not
nice. Nice would have been any variety of things that we go through in terms of
inside out and over, to try to come up with a story to justify what we do. Tell me
about your idea of what it is to be an authentic human being rather than a nice
L: I would tell you that I have been a nice human being, the kind you’re talking
about. I’ve done that. My nature is to be nice so that people will like me. I admit
that. One of the things I learned a few years ago was, because I used to have
such resentments against people and what I finally figured out was part of my
resentment was simply because I felt like I was being forced to do things that I
didn’t want to. The fact was, I didn’t have the courage to say no. Once I learned
how to say no, then I didn’t have resentments with people. If I don’t want to do
something, I just tell them ‘no I don’t want to.’ That kind of helped me get away
from being a nice person. I can be more honest with what I’m thinking. I’ve said
no to people and they’d be like, “Well, why? Are you mad at me?” I’d say simply,
‘no, I just don’t want to. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether I like you or
not. I just don’t want to do what you’re asking me to do.’
The other thing that I really tried to do later on in my life is to be as
transparent as possible. I have no secrets. I would tell you anything at all that you
want to know about me. I try to live that way so that what you see is what you
get. If I do that, then again, it’s not about getting people to like me. It’s just the
way I am. How can I help you?
K: So Popeye had it right after all? Eat your vegetables and be honest.
K: That’s a good thing. Let’s talk about this graduation thing.
K: That’s the ultimate fear for most people. Obviously a lot people do it with grace.
There’s a difference though in how I watched you. It’s that you look it straight in
the face. I find that courageous--to be able to look it straight in the face and ask
your higher-self the truth about things. Would you tell us how that feels? I would
like, you know me, I’m a big person about wanting to throw closet doors open
and let’s bring these subjects out into the light. Let’s talk about that.
L: You know, I have to tell you that early on, when I was diagnosed, I did have
some periods of some real fear. I’ve had enough time to talk to my higher-self
and the spirit, and to work all that out. I have such strong conviction that it
doesn’t end here, that there’s more than just this. In some ways I’m actually
excited to be experiencing what is coming up. The only downside to that is the
people around me. I can see they’re really struggling and hurting because of it.
K: I know you said what I want them to know is, “I’m okay.”
K: That’s important. The honesty, if we’re going to be genuine, the honesty about
how we feel is, I’ll speak for me because that’s more true, ‘what in the hell am I
supposed to do without you?’
L: I hear that. I hear that. My partner, Robert, just yesterday he was on the phone
with me and he was crying. He still calls me for advice. He called me yesterday
morning and he’s been fighting with a mechanic who supposedly fixed his car for
five hundred bucks and it didn’t get fixed. He’s been thinking of taking him to
court and all this other stuff. He called me yesterday morning and said what
should I do? I told him, I said you know, if it was me, I would let it go. I said it’s
just not worth the anxiety, the stress, and the anger that it brings you. And so he
did. He agreed to do that. He had been holding on to a tool that they left in his
truck as hostage or whatever. He said, “should I take that back?” I said yeah,
that’s what you should do is take that back. So he did all of that and yesterday he
ended up, his four wheel drive that he needed to get fixed would have been six
hundred dollars only cost eighty-five dollars, his truck passed inspection and a
couple of other things. He called me up and he’s like, “You can’t leave. What am
I going do without you? Who am I going to turn to for answers? Who’s going help
me? I’ll be all alone if you leave.” I hear that from my sister, and I hear that from
Dawn and I hear that from other people.
K: There’s a whole bunch more around you thinking that, but they don’t say it. What
can you say to them?
L: I have a nephew and niece who were having a hard time also and I had my sister
tell them to come over so that I could talk to them. Basically what I told them was
why I’m okay. For them to experience this experience, be aware of it, and to find
the joy in my life rather than the pain of me dying. I told them, ‘I won’t be gone.
You just won’t be able to see me. I’ll still be around.’
K: They may see you once they understand the end.
L: Yes. That’s true. My sister Lori, she says that she wanted a sign. What she wants
is a triple rainbow. I said, ‘couldn’t you make it any easier?’
K: Okay, that’s fair enough. I may come up with one or two myself. I had a friend
that we said when we get to the other side, call us and about six or eight hours
after she passed, one of things we all discovered, at her service was, every
single one of our cell phones went off from her number, all at about the same
time. It’s so true and she was so joyous about it. She came to see, before she’d
actually absolutely left her body, she came in and plopped down on the couch
and my granddaughter could see her and was looking at her. Her response to me
was, “I am released. I am so happy.” Then she said, “Don’t be too long.” You
hook up with her. She is one party animal.
L: What’s her name?
L: Jeannie. Okay, you’ve talked about her before.
K: Yeah. I’ve already told her to meet you.
K: So, what are we supposed to do without you? I mean, let’s deal with this. It’s
L: Well, okay. What I would say is, I understand the loss and I understand the
longing and the hurt, but that doesn’t mean that everything in your life stops. It
only stops if you decide it’s going to stop. You still can go on. You still can…you
know, Robert who goes, “What am I gonna do without you?” Well, you know
what, you lived twenty-seven years before you ever met me and it was fine. It’s
been fine the last two years that we’ve been separated.
K: So there will be some who use your moving on as an excuse to drink again, as
an excuse to be depressed. What do you want them to know and how can they
honor you? Because the truth is, sometimes we feel like our grief, and our pain,
and our self-sabotage has to be, we measure it with how much we love you.
Look in the camera and tell them how they can honor you.
L: If you love me, you will remember me for who I am and you’ll smile and you’ll
laugh and you’ll have joy. You’ll remember the funny times and the good times, if
you love me. It’s not about being sad. It’s not about beating yourself up and
thinking you have to live on daily with the pain. If you love me, you’ll embrace life
and joy. You’ll take whatever lessons I may have been able to help you learn and
you’ll use them to be happy.
K: When in doubt they can say “What would Lewis say?” Right?
K: What would Lewis say and what does Lewis usually say when they’re in doubt?
L: I don’t know.
K: You don’t know? You don’t say I love you if you do this?
L: Oh yeah.
K: Buck up. Take responsibility.
K: You know, that whole vato scene of yours, I find that can be a pretty good
spiritual threat. The vato you will come kick their back sides. [vato is either a
Mexican word for “dude” or “man” or Chicago slang for ‘homie.’ Vato is also the
title of a song by Snoop Dogg]
L: Yeah! Except that most of them know me and so that’s not really a threat. That
vato scene is only good on people who don’t know me. I get that all the time. It’s
like, “When I first met you, I was really scared of you, but then I learned real fast
that you were just a sweetheart.”
K: I think you can be a sweetheart and get very serious.
L: Oh, if I’m serious, people usually cry. If I’m serious they know that something’s
K: You could say just because I’m not in the physical, doesn’t mean that I won’t
know if you’re lying to yourself?
K: And it doesn’t mean that I can’t come and kick your proverbial, spiritual butt and
you’ll know it, if you don’t remember who you are.
K: I think I just helped you create a threat. No, it’s not a threat, it’s a promise.
K: Let’s talk about…we talked a little bit about your niece and nephew and we’ve
talked a little bit about your sister. Is there anything specific you want to say to
other family members or to the people that have been family in the heart?
L: As far as my family, the one thing that really sticks out is, in spite of the life I’ve
had, I never ever felt judgment from them. All I ever felt was love. I never felt like
they were shaking their head, judging me doing what I was doing, whether I was
involved in drugs, or whatever. They were just always there to save me when I
needed to be saved or help me. For a large part of my life I had no self-esteem. I
think it was really their being able to see past whatever was going on and still
love me that helped me to go through those things.
K: I think it’s natural to review and wonder, have regret that maybe I didn’t do
enough, I didn’t love enough, I didn’t help enough, whatever ‘enoughs’ I didn’t do.
What would you say to your loved ones who felt that?
L: As far as for me, what I didn’t do?
K: No, no. When they’re wondering.
L: You know what, I cannot even express how blessed I am in my life for my family
and all the other people that have been in my life. I truly believe that I have got to
be one of the luckiest people in this world.
K: I think you’re right.
L: I have it all. I truly am blessed.
K: Yes, you are. I want to address your dad specifically because to a parent it feels
unnatural to outlive your child. I don’t care who you are as a parent or how old
everybody is. There is this feeling that I should have protected or there’s this
frustration that comes from what feels like an unnatural process. What do you
want your dad to know?
L: My father, he’s already said to me, he’s lost a daughter. I had a sister who
committed suicide a few years back. He’s already said to me several times, a
parent is not supposed to outlast their kid, outlive their kids. When my sister
passed away I remember looking at him. He went from being sixty-five years old
to ninety-five years old, just how hard that was for him. I think even today there’s
a little bit of denial about what’s going on. I can’t know what he’s going through.
I’m not a parent. I don’t know what that would be like. I do want him to know that I
love him and the intent was that I was going to stay here in Utah to take care of
him as he got older. It just hasn’t worked that way.
K: I have a feeling there may have been a contract between you. So let’s talk a
minute about how meaningful it’s been to you to have your dad walk this process
L: Me and my dad, I’ve been back to Utah with my father for the last eleven years,
and we have become best friends in that eleven years. We help each other.
Neither one of us have a memory, but I can fill in his memory and he can fill in
mine. So both of us together make up one person, kind of. We walk about the
same speed. He’s one of my best friends. I love him. I can’t imagine him not
being here for me at this time in my life. Even now he’s always coming into the
bedroom, “Do you need anything? Do you need anything?” All the time he’s so
concerned about can he do anything. Just knowing he’s there is enough.
K: There’s something about having that kind of fatherly…you feel safer, don’t you?
K: This process is about safer and free-er because he’s been there.
K: Well, I think I’ve about covered everything I wanted to ask. What about you? Is
there anything more you want to add? Any messages you want to send?
L: We’ve covered just about everything I can think of too. I’m getting ready to have
a new experience. I don’t want you guys to hurry to get there but I’ll be excited
when you do come.
K: I’m excited for you. I’m jealous. Grand adventure.
L: And again, for all the people that I love and care about, just love each other.
There’s nothing else that I would like to say. Just for the people that I love to love
K: And that would honor you?
K: We’ll do our best. But don’t expect us to wait too long.
L: To wait what?
K: Here too long while you’re off having a party without us.
L: I’m sure you’ll come when you’re supposed to.
K: Well, that’s probably true. I love you.
L: I love you too. I appreciate all the help that you’ve given me.
K: Are you guys satisfied with that? Is there anything you wanted? Hey, I do want to
ask you a couple of things. If when you’re there, God says he needs a lift, tell me
the funniest story that happened to you.
L: I’ll tell you one of the funniest. Me and my family were in Puerto Vallarta and we
were going to dinner at this restaurant in this old hotel. It was on the top floor.
They just had one elevator that was really slow. I had to go to the bathroom really
bad so by the time we get up to the restaurant I decided, well, I’m in front, but I
decided that when the hostess takes us to the table, I’m just going to watch and
vere off and go, because I needed to go. So that’s what I did. I get up to the
urinal, I turn around and the whole family is standing behind me. Lori is right
behind me and she’s like “What are we doing in the bathroom?” They all followed
K: I think that’s what everybody’s worried about. We just kind of follow you wherever
L: I don’t know what the hostess thought when she turned around and there’s no
one there! [laughter from everyone in the room]
K: Oh, let’s ask some other questions then. If you had to, they said, who was the
most profound person you ever met or a meeting that you had with somebody
that was maybe one of the most profound? Is there a situation that happened to
you that was a total surprise that…?
L: I don’t know about a total surprise, but I did just recently in San Diego, I was able
to meet Louise L. Hay who wrote that book, You Can Heal Your Life, and tell her
personally what that book had meant to me.
K: How did you feel about that?
L: I felt good that I was able to let her know how her book impacted my life. It was
that book that I really believe allowed me to live twenty-two years with AIDS. It
was that book that started to change the way I thought. I stopped seeing myself
as a victim and realized that I was responsible for whatever was happening in my
K: Which, then, you turned around and taught others. That book was like the rock
on the pond that you slipped on the pond and fell over.
K: Pretty remarkable.
K: If there was one thing, and I know you’ve done a lot of work on this, and
sometimes it’s the silliest of things, but if there is one thing that you could go
back in your life and change?
L: I have the tendency to say that I wouldn’t change anything but I guess the two
things I would change are, the way I destroyed my first partner’s life. The other,
which he’s totally aware of, but Robert, cheating on him and doing it so blatantly
and openly right in front of him and hurting him. I would change that.
K: So let’s talk about that. Would you change it when you think about it because you
regretted the impact that that had on them, or now does it expand into more than
L: I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, but let me tell you, my belief and what I’ve
tried to do over that last eleven years. I spent the first thirty-eight years of my life
going through this wreckage and damage. Eleven years ago I decided to try and
clean up the damage that I’d done the best I could and start adding positive to it,
so, in that sense, yeah.
K: I guess I was fishing. Let me try that again. I think there’s a couple processes
that we go through. I would have preferred not to have caused carnage for
someone else and then it gets to that place where, I would have preferred to
have projected myself better.
L: Oh no, not the second one. It really was about, I wish I would not have hurt him.
It’s not important how that makes me look. The fact that I sit here and talk about
it. I’m not ashamed of it. I certainly regret that I caused him hurt.
K: There’s going to be people who watch this that are not going to understand the
difference between regret and shame. Right?
K: Will you talk to me just a minute about how you distinguish the difference?
L: Shame is seeing myself less than a person. Regret is simply not putting a
judgment on who I am, but wishing the circumstances would have been better.
K: How do you get to that place? For somebody who has all these things in their life
that they’re beating themselves up over?
L: I absolutely hated who I was for the better part of my life. Absolutely hated and
was ashamed of who I was and ashamed of these types of things. What I have
learned is that guilt or shame serves no purpose. It has no positive aspect at all.
It does nothing for the person to beat themselves up over something they’ve
done. It only adds to. It’s kind of like taking a bad situation and making it worse.
K: So the whole idea of penance?
L: I don’t, for me or for anyone else, I believe that we do the best that we can with
what we have. Good or bad. That’s one of the reasons that it’s easy to not judge
other people because we all are living our life the best we can with what we
have. As far as that goes and everything that we do, I think our contracts are
made ahead of time with people, even to hurt them.
K: So the process then is when you realize that maybe I did the best I could and
now I realize there was maybe a better way to do it. What’s that process for you?
L: It’s a matter of being honest with yourself and not justifying it. To take
responsibility for your life and your actions. Part of our life experience is to
experience who we are, not to get to a place where we can know who we are or
remember who we are.
K: Well, we could go on forever but I think we’ll end it there.
The following is Dale Lewis Johnson’s personal message about his party.
I have been to a lot of funerals and memorial services in my life, and I
always think how nice it would be to have had this when the person was still
alive. It seems that the only time a person can get everybody that they care
about all in one place at one time is after they have passed from this life. I know
that most of that is to help them deal with their perceived loss, and that’s okay. I
feel truly blessed that I have had some notice that my time here in a physical
body is drawing to a close, and what an honor it is for me to be able to participate
in the mourning process of those that I love and that I know love me. The intent
of my life, at least in the last eleven years, has been about helping others on their
journey through this life experience. It is a joy for me to know that I can do that up
until the end.
This party is not about saying goodbye as much as it is a celebration of
the gift we have had of being a part of each others’ lives. The time here is short
for all of us, but has more meaning than we realize most of the time. It is about
how our life affects every other life on the planet.
I don’t see death as an ending as much as I consider it to be a
continuation of life without the limitations of this life. We become free of the
limitations of the body. The body works great when it works, but when it doesn’t,
it can become one of our greatest limitations. The body is also one of the
greatest contributors that helps us to see ourselves as separate from everyone
else, and alone. It also takes almost all of our energy just to be okay in the way of
needing money, a roof over our head, clothes, and friends, and we won’t even go
into how much time we spend trying to fulfill the body’s need for intimacy.
Laying down the physical body simply frees us from all of that. I do want
you to understand though, that even with all of those limitations I have absolutely
loved this life. It is because of this that I know that once we lay the body down, it
will only continue to get better.
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