Introducing : Rocking Hal
Our Champion of Delight Membership is starting to grow and we felt that it would be lovely to introduce people to one another through story sharing. So, so we have decided to do regular features of our Champions as part of the weaving together of our community of beautiful souls.
Hal Taylor is our first featured Champion of Delight, an early member and a natural choice as he is quick to speak up about his passion and make his voice heard. He wrote to me immediately upon joining wanting to know more about how we were going to build this community and his natural feistiness made me laugh out loud.
Here is your invitation to meet the lovely Hal, Rocking Chair Artisan and free thinker who has had quite a journey from a kid labelled “learning disabled” to man producing works of art from presidential walnut and seats for royalty. He now shares his wisdom and craft with those who wish to bring beauty into the world at his Rocking Chair University.
Hal is 66, lives with his wife of 25 years and has 1 son and 2 daughters, 4 cats, 1 dog and 4 horses. Naturally he lives in the countryside, in Virginia USA, where he handcrafts beautiful and unique rocking chairs.
My favourite is his 4 passenger Story Time Rocking Chair, which can take one adult and three children, one to each side and one on your lap … it is wonderful and I wish that I had been able to sit one as a child!
Of course I had to ask him about storytelling and how he came to create such beautiful objects.
“When our third child, Rose was born she was certain she wanted to be part of the reading crowd at about 9 months old. Well, I did not have a lap large enough for three children so I had to come up with something!”
“I read to my children from the time they could listen to a story until they could read better than I could” My favourite story to read to my children when they were small was “Snoozeroo”
“As a child I loved Tom Sawyer, Kipling, short stories such as OHenry and I particularly enjoyed adventure stories, reading all of Jack London.”
Hal’s was left to his own devices in his younger life with precious little guidance from his parents. “I had good grandparents and my friend’s parents would pick me up, love me and help me.” His childhood had many challenges, the youngest child with two older sisters, his father left when he was just 4. “As a child I was happiest when I was fishing, in the woods or climbing rocks. I loved watching animals to see how they lived.”
There were a few shifts of home, between living with mom, then dad and eventually coming back to mom. “I tried to learn from it all and never felt a victim.” He says that he stumbled through school and had very little educational nourishment. His father re-married to a nice woman and it was her mother who was the first to reach out and show Hal he had the ability to shine and achieve. “She bought a large stack of comic books at the beginning of summer and every noon time I had to sit on the porch and read out loud, loud enough for her to hear me inside the house. I had to do this for an hour every day throughout the whole summer. By the end of the holidays, at eight years old, I was reading at high-school level. It changed my life.”
His next break came via a mishap as he lost a school book. He didn’t want anyone to know or to cause a problem for his mother who could not afford to replace it. The absence of the book meant that he had to really concentrate in class. “My grades went up and I got my first A. It felt really good.”
There were still glitches in the path, falling into the typical teenage boy track of beer and stuff. His next break came through a job as an orderly in a hospital. Another of his life’s angels took him under her wing, “The Director of Nurses, Carrie Spooner, taught me everything. I loved that job so much that I kept it throughout my senior year at school, which was something at 44 hours a week. I really had to pay attention, but it worked and my grades improved significantly.”
However, things went awry as a friend persuaded Hal to take a test for the Navy Reserve, which he had no interest in joining. Now addicted to taking tests he went along for the ride which resulted in a knock at the door a few weeks later … he had the highest score in the state. Hal declined the offer, but they were persistent and along with peer group pressure he finally accepted… “After all it was just one weekly meeting and a few beers”.
The glitch came when moved to Wichita and a very different energy requiring a weekend a month in the Reserves and no fun. “I asked for a transfer and was threatened that if I missed 3 meetings I would be guaranteed a trip to Vietnam”. “That sounds like a plan to me” he said, turned around, walked out and never went back. He went to his local draft board instead and volunteered for the draft, leaving for Fort Leonardwood the next Monday. He had the satisfaction of calling his intimidating Navy Reserve “friend” to announce he wouldn’t be there as he was with the army.
A year in Vietnam actually brought an unexpected benefit as Hal met his first Buddhist Monk there. He used to visit them frequently and was teaching some of them English. They were delightful people and invited my friend and I to all of their festivals. Hal’s commanding officer stopped the connection as he perceived it “fraternizing with the enemy”.
After Vietnam Hal started a degree in Psychology, a requirement of which was to take a course in biology. As he disliked the subject with a passion he took a special module called “Biology for People Who Hate Biology”. He found the professor to be absolutely brilliant and took more classes from him at every opportunity. Soon he had more credits in biology than any other subject so he changed to a Biology Major, but of course despite doing very well he had no desire to take a straight path and be a Biologist, instead, after he graduated he moved to working on scientific instruments and research lab equipment. The job took him to different places around the world, and on one trip to Sweden the next door opened and new chapter began.
Hal had been very interested in learning to make classical guitars. He had been searching for books on the subject, and even though he lived by the Smithsonian and frequently went searching there for such books he could not find anything. It was somewhat of a surprise when he wondered out of this hotel in Stockholm to see, in the centre of local bookstore window How to Make a Classical Guitar by Irvine Sloane. Delighted, he purchased it and spent the rest of his weekend in his room reading.
Hal had a close friend, who at the time who had little money and a son with a desire to have a guitar. This was the perfect opportunity to try his hand so Hal made his first guitar for his son. The young boy took it to school for music lessons and as soon as he pulled the guitar from it’s case the music teacher rushed over to him asking, “Do your parents know that you have brought this guitar to school?” Hal received further confirmation that he made beautiful guitars, but felt that perhaps he had been lucky with it and so did not pursue it. His inner artisan had revealed itself and later would re-emerge.
Was this all a relatively smooth path, gracefully following each breadcrumb with ease? Not quite.
The unseen hand of the mysterious universe was at work for sure, but perhaps not yet with a deep conscious connection. “I knew that enlightenment existed, but was not sure what it was or how to get there.” Hal read his first books on Buddhism when in high school but put his pursuit of spiritual matters on hold while in the military for three years.
When he returned to civilian life he started searching. Zen Buddhism drew him, he particularly liked the koans which intrigued him. Spending weekends in bookstores, usually looking through the philosophy section, on one occasion he was pulled to another section and without thought he randomly pulled out a book by Edgar Cayce. He had heard of him and had him labelled as a kind of cook, and so put the book back and returned to the philosophy section. “Something just pulled me back and I found myself, 3 minutes later, pulling out the exact same book, which was strange as it was positioned high up out of sight and was just a small paperback. I put it back again, but when I was pulled a third time to take the book from the shelf I decided to read it, Edgar Cayce on ESP… Changed my life”.
For a year Hal practised his ‘recipe for enlightenment’ of prayer, meditation and service to others. He kept a dream journal, prayed, meditated and did yoga and he became a volunteer at an orthopaedic hospital in order to fulfil the “service” aspect. “I kept regular job but I was living like a monk in the middle of the everyday world.”
On Christmas Day, which coincided with a year of being a “monk in the city” he had decided to visit a book store, upon his return, he walked across the lawn of his condominium he was halted by a wonderful experience. “I became aware of what I could only call a radiant sky, not so much a light but a palpable energy, so I put my hands in the air and felt what seemed to be a conveyance of information.” He had been emotionally wrecked prior this year out. He had never had any success in relationships, confirmed by 3 failed marriages. After that he re-entered the world a different person knowing he had found a better way. “I must have changed as I have now lived for 25 years with the same woman. Not a difficult task for many but for me it is very significant!”
Since the turnaround in his life he has spent a great deal of time studying the religions of the world and spiritual writings. His conclusion; that most everybody is telling the same story with a slightly different flavour.
“Each individual has to take responsibility to create peace within themselves, their family and community. We can not push other people or countries into peace. It must grow from the individuals within a community. Look within! All good things come from within – happiness NEVER comes from without, although it may seem to for a short period of time.“
When two or more are gathered …
“Come together in groups for the purpose of freedom and to learn who we really are. Emphasise beauty and spirit and let those values grow throughout the world.” Hal loves beauty and has a strong sense that each of can open up to the great creator inside. “Life is like a painting and every moment of our lives we must make the best brush stroke possible.”
He feels that the “corporate structure” in most civilized countries stand directly in the way of humanity’s spiritual awakening and that it can best be overcome by peacefully taking away our belief in it, reducing our dependence on it and believing in something better.
“We should come together in self sustaining groups creating what we need and providing service to the world.”
What delights you these days?
“I love to read and visit craft shows and galleries to admire the art. Art – of all kinds – is pretty much the focus of my life now. This would include the art of cooperation!”
Coming Back to Stories
If you could have your dream storyteller in our project of A Thousand Grandparents and Bed Time Stories who would you wish for?
“It would have to be Jesus or Buddha, they must have been an amazing storyteller and Buddha. To be able to sit down with Rumi and listen to his tales would have been an absolute delight!”
What are your thoughts about the stories that we are telling our children, each other and ourselves these days, what would you like to see?
“I would have loved to have spent a year with the Essenes where they raised their children teaching them of the power of spirit and how it was the most important aspect of their being. There is a wonderful book “Essenes: Children of Light” by Stuart Wilson and Joanna Prentis which is worth a read.”
“I would love to teach children to meditate early on in life, to help them get to their true self, from which only good comes.”
Thank You Hal for being the first courageous Champion of Delight to be featured !
If you would love to build a rocking chair or have Hal craft a beautiful custom chair for you or your loved ones, you can connect with him through the following websites : www.haltaylor.com www.rockingchairuniversity.com www.rockingchairs.net
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About The Delight Makers
Our mission is to end poverty consciousness and help every person experience and know themselves as source… i.e. more than enough, priceless in fact. We do this by investing in projects that will spread this experience to increase individual and planetary happiness and well being.
Our projects are beautiful, inspiring, joyful and celebratory allowing each individual to contribute the gift of their unique essence and wisdom to the beauty of the whole. Our measurement for success is to see wealth redefined to one determined by the level of happiness and laughter in the world’s children.
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