Be who you is, not who you ain't, cause if you ain't who you is, you is who you ain't.
Those words ended every email Paul Moss wrote to friends, his smiling nudge to live authentically and bravely in a world we're visiting for just a little while. Paul completed his extraordinary visit on Saturday, November 24, 2012, surrounded by friends and Anya Kumara, his beloved partner of 31 years.
Paul was born June 23, 1938, in Brooklyn, N.Y. and since then dove into more than a lifetime's portion of ventures. He drove a San Francisco taxi and then sold cars (an Audi, he'd tell friends in one of his many good stories, to Diane Feinstein when she was San Francisco's mayor). He and Anya had a successful crystal candle business. He knit felt hats and almost always wore one; most became gifts to friends. And he loved his Ashland water business, GreenSprings Water Company. What lit him up far more were the scores of initiatory weekends he ran for men and boys seeking authentic lives, and the staunch self-acceptance he brought to countless broken men in A&D recovery groups and places like Folsom prison.
But much more than what he did was who Paul was. He recently said to Anya, "I've become the man I've always wanted to be." Asked to distill Paul's essence into a few words, a few of the many who loved him speak of a man who -
cared only about the hard truth that usually resided somewhere underneath the
"right way" to think about or do something.
spoke the truth as he knew it, and was one of the most fearless men I have ever met.
did life his way and when he couldn't, he did it anyway, and it worked.
looked over his shoulder with a mixture of east coast Mafia and west coast Zen master.
with stubborn compassion, gritty heart, and playful wisdom, made me a better man.
wore his BS meter in front so it was reflected right back at you.
was forever pushing the edges of his understanding.
was ready to love and passionate to heal wounds.
touched every life he encountered, always gifting it with wisdom and love.
was the juice of life, the sweet nectar of a true man on his journey of life and death.
showed men how to give unconditionally while maintaining one's boundaries.
always had some time for me.
burned with fierce, big, passionate, openhearted fiery LOVE!
The grateful memories kept pouring in for days. Wrote one friend:
Razor sharp insights.
River of compassion.
Silence for our warrior brother.
We bless you, Paul. We love you.