Godspeed, Doctor Dyer

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In the midst of all of today’s trading tumult, I happened to see the death notice of Doctor Wayne Dyer. This wasn’t shocking news – – he was 75 years old, and he had health issues on and off over the years – – but I was still saddened to see the news and wanted to do a post about the man.

For those of you unacquainted with Dr. Dyer, he was one of the leading authors of self-help books. I doubt Dr. Dyer would want himself described that way, but that’s how I remember him, and that’s certainly how he initially became famous.

When I was a youngster – about twelve years old – I became afflicted with a mild and lingering depression (that’s not what we called it; I simply recognize it for what it is in hindsight). The book that I found most comforting during that troubled time (which persists, ummm, to this day) wasn’t the Bible, although that helped, but was instead Dyer’s first book, Your Erroneous Zones (as a little kid, I didn’t get the pun, but that’s beside the point).

I read the book over and over again. It addressed the subjects of worry, interpersonal relations, and other items from the long list of neurotic possibilities. In my teenage years, I carefully read Dyer’s new books, such as Pulling Your Own Strings and The Sky’s the Limit. I also listened (repeatedly) to the cassette tapes on which he read his books. I imagine I was one of the few teenagers in the country who was pretty much addicted to the wisdom of Wayne Dyer. As you can see from Amazon, Dr. Dyer went on to write dozens and dozens of books.

His first book, pictured above, was written nearly forty years ago, and it was one of the best-selling books of all time at 35 million copies. He did many PBS specials (featured innumerable times during pledge drives) and spoke to millions of people all over the world. Over the course of time, he morphed away from self-help psychologist toward new-age guru. I’m sure if he wanted to form a large cult, he could have done so, since many considered him essentially a prophet, but he never abused his charismatic power.

I am personally turned off by the whole hippie-dippie Deepak Chopra tea-sipping Sedona Arizona kind of scene, so more recent Dyer books and seminars were of far less interest to me than his earlier stuff. Still, I watched his seminars via YouTube from time to time (particularly during my darker moments over the past six years) and revisited his past writings. I used him as a crutch, and I doubt Dr. Dyer would resent me having done so one iota.

One poem I will never forget is due to Dr. Dyer reading it at one of his seminars. I offer it here, and it was written by famed American poet e.e. cummings:

here is little Effie’s head
whose brains are made of gingerbread
when judgment day comes
God will find six crumbs

stooping by the coffin lid
waiting for something to rise
as the other somethings did-
you imagine his surprise

bellowing through the general noise
Where is Effie who was dead?
-to God in a tiny voice,
i am may the first crumb said

whereupon its fellow five
crumbs chuckled as if they were alive
and number two took up the song
might i’m called and did no wrong

cried the third crumb, i am should
and this is my little sister could
with our big brother who is would
don’t punish us for we were good;

and the last crumb with some shame
whispered unto God, my name
is must and with the others i’ve
been Effie who isn’t alive

just imagine it I say
God amid a monstrous din
watch your step and follow me
stooping by Effie’s little, in

(want a match or can you see?)
which the six subjective crumbs
twitch like mutilated thumbs;
picture His peering biggest whey

coloured face on which a frown
puzzles, but I know the way-
(nervously Whose eyes approve
the blessed while His ears are crammed

with the strenuous music of
the innumerable capering damned)
-staring wildly up and down
the here we are now judgment day

cross the threshold have no dread
lift the sheet back in this way
here is little Effie’s head
whose brains are made of gingerbread

Rest in peace, Dr. Dyer. You helped millions of people in your life, and I hope your spirit lives on in the way you long dreamed.