Toward the end of a drive by visit to my mother I slipped down to have a look around in the basement while she sat with my sisters finishing dinner. I needed a quick breather to take in something of the house alone. It was cool down there. The space is full of antique furniture and some of my father’s unsalable paintings on table tops and against the walls. It was a relief to poke around down there away from the noisy dinner table where they were all talking about family stuff. I am rarely around for long, so my sisters raced over when she called to inform them that I would be home for a few hours.

It has now been ten years since my father died. The summer they discovered the cancer I was in Switzerland with UG for three and a half months. It was the longest period I’d ever spent away from the world of my studio/loft. Now I have no home to speak of. I received this news over the pay phone on the street in Gstaad down the street from UG’s cave. I was instantly panicked that I’d be called back and relieved when they told me he would have the operation in September after I’d returned. By December of that year he was dead. I was away again, in Miami this time, working on the big fair of the year. Already weak, he collapsed in the front hall of my parents house on the way to a doctor’s appointment. “Would it be cheaper to die at home or in the hospital?” he asked my mother. Sensing his flair for the dramatic, she said “I don’t know, probably at home. Now come on, get up!” I can picture her trying to lift him up, fully dressed, (he was a vain dresser), when he died in her arms. His feet were pointed at the door apparently. “Probably the only practical thing he ever did in his life.” She joked later. She was not as sentimental as he was.

She very quickly took charge of her new life. She bought a new, much smaller house near by, then a new car. She downsized her organized life to downsize immediately from his extravagant tendencies. It took weeks, months, to sort through the lifetime of his obsessive collections of stuff, antiques, electric trains, ship models, hand painted toy soldiers, nautical stuff, books, maps, furniture, and his artworks, some worthless, some with minor value.

My mother sold the family house within a week of buying the new one.  The thirty-some years we’d lived in the big house evaporated into boxes, bags and then a moving van. As the truck sat in the driveway under the huge beech tree they called “The Disney Tree” I sat in my parents empty bedroom as a breeze blew the curtains inward and a slant of sunlight illuminated a slice of floor and wall. An act had come to a close. The drama was over. The character who’d occupied the main role in the plot had exited and we were wrapping up the props to move on. “I want you to live your own life.” He said to my mother before dying. “I already am.” was her revealing reply.

Ten years later I sat in my mother’s basement during a 6 hour visit from my life on the road. A big coffee table monograph of Edward Hopper’s paintings I’d given my dad for Christmas one year sat in a book stand on an antique cabinet. I flipped through the pictures to ‘Sun in an Empty Room’. A faint pencil inscription in my father’s hand was scrawled next to the title. “ALL GONE!”

I cut the image from the book and rolled it up. No one looks at that book but me. I brought it to another nearly empty room, my sublet where I’ll stay until the end of the month before moving on again. Life is sure different now from what it was when all those things happened. No more home. That’s all gone now. No more UG. No more dad. Everything comes and goes. Its all on the way out with the tides and lately that seems more than acceptable. I’ll be here until the end of the month, at which point I will continue hopping from place to place. Nothing was ever permanent, it just seemed like it at the time.


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20 Responses to

  1. peter kern says:

    Another piece of beautiful writing, a delight to read. Thanks again Louis and all the best, whatever that means………..

  2. Paul Arms says:

    Best thing you’ve ever written. A beauty!

  3. Shari says:

    Thanks Louis. That is a really beautiful post. Your dad’s words and the images/atmosphere you’ve invoked touch on something inexplicable. It’s incredibly beautiful.

  4. Ben says:

    Thanks Louis, Always enjoy reading your words. Had to share this with you.Find this on youtube “Arjuna Ardagh reads from “The Last Laugh” “. Arjuna has a very interesting take on awakening something worth looking into.

    • Ben says:

      After exploring this, it seems the same old route, someone trying to help some imaginary person out, I guess in the end there is nothing wrong with that, I guess it eventually leads to ?,he certainly has a lot of zest in trying to do so.

  5. Bruce says:

    Louis, I listened to about half of this interview you did with the gas pump buddha guy … good stuff .. you speak as well as you write … very thoughtful & eloquent .. UG would be proud … you did a good job of presenting his story

  6. peter kern says:

    Yes indeed, but Rick Archer………..OUCH……….

  7. Ben says:

    Just finished watching your talk with Rick Archer.

    Since I have come to be with UG, about three years now, I have been looking to hear someone else speak UG’s language. This interview is one of the very few presentations I have heard of someone who truly understands and can speak about who UG is.

    It was great to see you stand your ground as Rick continuously tried to maintain his fruitless search to maitain his identity.

    I say these words just as an observation, not in trying to pat you on your back. But I will say that in looking for others who have been around UG and hear what they have to say, your understanding and presence has you at the top of my list.

    It is refreshing to see your presence, and I can sense that others will be better enabled to get what UG says through you.


  8. louisbrawley says:

    Hi Ben,

    Sometimes I feel conflicted about publicly “representing” UG, as it were, with a book and a website and all this crap. I can’t help it.. the man was so remarkable that I love talking about him and as long as I keep it to that it’s ok. I’m happy when I hear from others who are interested in him. That’s the reward, to connect with the very very few other individuals who take interest in such a man!! Nice to hear from you. Would be nice to have a coffee one day and chat..

    Take care,


    • Tim says:

      Keep at Lou ! UG seemed quite the iconoclast and dialed way up to 11.It wasn’t hard for me to deconstruct JK as I struggled with his calculus. Everything about him has been book ended from birth to death..It was actually enjoyable peeling away JK’s faults.Ug was a help in that.I’m grateful to see behind the UG curtain as well.Thank you

  9. Branko says:

    it is a great interview. Rick was placing U.G. in the same basket as all the teachers he interviews..
    which is clearly not the case. Louis keeps things clean by explaining what he saw in operation and his own observations. Rick seemed to be going into a survival response with all his spiritual hopes and ideas… although he did chill out at the end and his tune did change a little.

    It has been about a decade since i have fallen out of the spiritual seeking game. Everybody is “awakening” and there are so many enlightened teachers. It all appears so messy to me now.
    what is the ‘awakening’ everybody is undergoing?

  10. anonymous says:

    Rick is a guy who believes in levels of understanding. He thinks it is possible to go from here to there, wherever there might be. There is defined in the path that he follows, an Indian model that ends with Self-Realization. If you hold up a True Self as something to be attained, then you can experience all kinds of things to uphold that image. Seeking or no seeking, we only have our own experience. Waking up to that is powerful enough. Do we need to explain it?

  11. Anonymous says:


    In a sense, you are a story-teller. For the listener, they only have their own images conjured up through your words. It’s not really possible to convey what happened to you upon meeting UG. I’m sure that is very apparent to you. I can see the inherent conflict in this. Maybe it comes with the territory, so to speak. Besides your memories, what else is there?

    • louisbrawley says:

      Anonymous I am in every sense telling stories! This is a part of what makes me hesitate to talk, (the hesitation is as brief as a blink of course as you can see), but what I saw before my own eyes was no story, so I can only hope some of that leaks through the fictions. There is something more interesting than any story or memory, and if that is in operation none of the details matter, I think something of it will have it’s way with us, despite us. If this sounds mystical or mysterious it’s utter bullshit. I think its a simple matter that the force of life is not at all concerned with my words or ideas, if it is pulsing through in the form of my enthusiasm for this strange little man I met, then it will spill like water from a leaky vessel. Yeesh… I’m getting away with murderous word play here aren’t I??? He would have a good laugh at that I bet! Thanks Anonymous.

      • Anonymous says:

        Louis, the only thing you need concern yourself with is if you are starting to believe your stories. lol. Then, you really are a goner.

        For Branko, sorry to hear that you are not free. I wouldn’t know anything about that so I’m of no use in that matter. The only question I would have is free of what?

  12. Branko says:

    Yeah, well i am still miserable and living in division. No insight or clever intellectual understanding has helped me. U.g. has clearly stated “you are either free or not.” any other kind of awakening is useless (to me) as i am still in incredible amounts of pain. Not to deny the fact that we can lose some baggage and work through trauma, religious conversion, etc
    But as a giraffe once said to Richard Pryor (after having half it’s ass ripped off by a lion) “Fuck it, I’m Alive” 🙂

    Jeez i am enjoying reading the story teller up there. 🙂 More interviews!

  13. sharbra says:

    anon – Blow it out your Keester Meester! 🙂

    You are just honing your chops anon. I swear you are francis lucille in disguise.

  14. louisbrawley says:

    I think his alarm went off.. there is some noise over there…

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