On an autumn night, mid-October in a hide away lodge in Cherry Springs PA the milky way shone its brilliance upon me as stood below. I made way through the welcoming entrance, greeted by warm smiles that reflected the generous nature of those who led me to where I was to interview Gregory. I quickly found myself nestled in the oversized sofa that felt like a strong but gentle cloud and an eager but innocent curiosity rose throughout my mind. I have traveled the world and performed before millions of people, my band Pearl Jam is considered one of Rock n’ Roll’s great contributors, but having this chance to interview Greg was unique, and for me, it was of a personal interest. As my attention focused on the fire in front of us, I took notice that each crackle took its own form and the sound and offering it produced felt like an offering to the above all its own. The walls of aged and weathered wood cemented every sense of value in the slow but persistent growth that trees make on their journey up into the heavens and I felt an ease often underappreciated. As Greg entered the room and sat on the sofa next to me not a drop of my disposition altered, the sense of comfort I was just experiencing alone remained, our brotherhood was affirmed but unspoken. I was not perplexed by the root message of which Greg took and furthered outward by contributing to the broadcasting of the 180-degree way, for I knew it in myself as well, but I was certainly interested in his path upon the journey up to today.
So my first question was “ Greg, tell me, who or what was your greatest influence?” Without a blink, he stated what I have heard many men of wisdom say before. “Pain.” He continued saying “ Eddie I answer you as I do because it is an experience we all share and everything I am doing is based on showing the commonalities between us and not our differences so, truly speaking, pain was my accelerant to my path of resolution and to God who lives within us and who is our patient and merciful guide; always covering us when we can not cover ourselves. I had known as a boy that I was born into an existence of infinite wonder. I knew without understanding that there is a divinity to this gift, and that it included with it a most comforting sense of intimacy with the creator of everything I saw. I felt a close sense of fellowship with this wonder that was not of my own making, and I knew it to be God. I certainly was blessed with a Mother, Father and sisters who showered love upon me and I remember thinking that the world was a wonderfully beautiful magical place. I felt a protection of soul that carried me through a most exhilarating childhood.” He paused and gently choked on a tear and then said “ until I was about ten years old”. I leaned forward with a sense of comradery and asked for an explanation. He went on and said “ that was when I first experienced my initial feelings of separation. I have an older sister by the name of Kim and through my early years she was pure magic to me. Everything she did was just awesome, and she provided a sense of protection and excitement that was all her own. I remember it as a mid-summer Saturday and I had fallen asleep on the carpet in our living room while my mother had a work get together in our backyard. Kim was about 17 at this time and for some years had been struggling with the coming of age phenomena that I would later experience my own, but could not appreciate at that time. She walked into the living room from our open front door with shorts on and a red MSOE sweatshirt from my Dad and told me that that was the last time I would her for some time as she was moving to my Aunts in New Jersey. I remember trying to hug every ounce of love out of her I could and the sting of heartbreak that struck me was like nothing I had ever imagined or felt before. I felt ruined; out of place, that the universe had turned against me and my world crumbled from what I had known it before and my tears if they would have been gathered could have filled an ocean full. She had to wrestle herself away from me and as she left the way in which she entered I knew the way I felt about life would somehow never be the same again. “
I had a sense to break the moment and said “ Greg, I hate to tell you, but that sounds like a pretty normal childhood happening to me” and Greg with a wide smile said “ Yeah man, what a cupcake I was as a kid, hahahhahaha” I followed and said “ Ok, ok, ok but help me understand why this had such an impact on your years to follow?”
“Sure “ Greg said and went on “ its simply because that sensation of loss changed the way I encountered the world. Everything became uncertain to me. What I imagined that would last forever, did not, and I was not prepared to accept or acknowledge that life had heartbreak attached to it. The effect of the experience did not show itself outwardly right away, but I began seeking escape from life. I chased and chased the feelings of my early youth all the way into the dungeons of depravity and debauchery and by 19 I made my first resolution of heart that I didn’t have any good answers in my mind to follow. “
Looking back now I am so thankful for all those times of soul-wrenching despair that followed me as a sign that I was broken beyond repair and without a glimmer of self-sufficiency. I had to fully go down and experience the trappings of the outside world in order to remember the majesty of the infinite within I had as a child. I had to learn to put my full confidence where it truly belongs. This is what specifically granted me the opportunity to embrace and to my share in amplifying the 180-degree concept that I now share with the youth.”
“ Ok, so lets talk about that the 180 program, what is it based on and how are you helping the youth understand it and get engaged?”
Greg, with another wide smile formed it into the words that follow “ Simply put, for us older ones it’s the Costanza lololol. I am sure you recall the show Sienfield and when George had the epiphany that if he just did the opposite of his first instinct magical things would unfold. That’s all It is. Mankind as a whole is suffering greatly, and I attribute it to the pervasive and dominating forces that explode on our conscious and are glorified. The me first mentality at all costs, and so if we as a species can come together and walk in the opposite mentality, I am certain we can make this planet over and share the bounty of its riches sustainably and peacefully. The program for the youth is all about securing the fact within them that the infinite is within and is to be trusted. That the mainstreams glorification of fleshly gratification and material desires over all principles are ultimately soul defeating. I do not know of a human who in his core does not desire peace, love, and security but the ways we are suggested to go about it are counter to its actual attainment. At 180 we concentrate on the need for each individual to uncover, sustain, explore, and advance their own unique connection to the infinite and buttress that by instilling the confidence to let it shine without any fear of rejection or failure and the joy of working together. We do this by peering into the beauty and perfect detail in nature that proves intelligent composition. Look at the beauty the Earth possesses, it’s a perfect home and has everything for our unlimited enjoyment. We appreciate that each is his own master, but we try to provide an experience and truths that will indelibly be written upon their hearts and its all based on doing a 180 to the current modus operandi of greed, division, and self-seeking. “
I mustered up the courage to pivot and said “ Talk to me about how this is sustainable, how does it get financed ? “
“ Here is the beauty Eddie and the golden nugget of truth that makes it so; it’s the way and nature of the creator. Its all about manifesting and remaining in the inspirational air of true love. We have no authority to hold to one sacred text, but in the Bible, the word Love has 4 connotations and the scripture that magnifies the one used the most says God is Love. Vines expository defines that usage of love as Gods unceasing quest to bring benefit and good. So if God is Love and that is what God is always doing all we had to do was a line our motives to that sentiment and simply sought ways to bring good to others in all our affairs the heavens just opened up and abundant bounty just follows us around and we have the incredible gift of being able to share it with others. It gives us exquisite joy to glorify and prove the existence of the greatest giver of all. We respect every individual’s freedom of thought or definition of what the creator is to them, for each has their own unique relation, but we never stop or hesitate to broadcast the eternal beauty of love and unity. Since we are all ultimately a part of the one we are certainly provided for beyond our most wonderful dreams and the best gift of all is seeing the children and young adults smile with an innocent beauty that the greatest of all sunsets could not touch. “ Greg finished by saying “ The future is our children and now is the time to continuously educate them of their connection to infinity and incalculable worth within it as unique individuals.”
As I fell further into the warmth of the room and the cozy capsule that was the sofa, I now recalled why each crackle of the fire was its own offering, because it was. Each moment, each thing, each happening is all its own and yet part of one grand applause to this thing we call life and the one that makes it all possible. We rose, embraced, knocked back a couple of cold ones and went on to stare up into the milky way in utter awe as the innocent evolving children we all actually are in eternity’s reflection.
I love how you connected an event from childhood to how you perceived your world as an adult. Most, if not all, of our deep rooted beliefs and outlooks are formed in childhood and I think people forget those traumatic events on some level and wonder why they do things a certain way. When they look back and can pinpoint those pivotal moments, we can see clearly how they have affected us and start to heal.
Thank you Gregory, this part “trying to hug every ounce of love out of her” brought tears to my eyes.
Wow, Gregory, that is a wonderful interview, how fun! Great imagery and such a great message!
Wow! What a heartfelt outpouring, Greg! It was a privilege to read it and your vision. I’m imagining it was cathartic to write as well…. Cheering you on to activating all you see!