Wondering What Raccoons Have To do With Karl?
Eulogy for Karl Daniel Weikel by Lisa Weikel
Summer is Winter
Today is tomorrow, and present, past,
Nothing exists and everything will last.
There is no beginning, there was no end,
No depth to fall, no height to ascend.
There is only this moment, this flicker of light,
That illuminates nothing, but oh! So bright!
For we are the spark that flutters in space,
Consuming an eternity of a moment’s grace,
For today is tomorrow, and present, past.
Nothing exists, and everything will last.
– Jane Roberts
So many times over the past two weeks, Karl has been referred to as a flare or a meteor speeding through the sky with a white-hot intensity.
And that is how he lived his life.
It was as if he were here to live life as a giant sushi sampler – tasting absolutely delightful pieces, but not indulging in an entire platter of anything.
Karl lived a fascinating life. I must admit that for most of his 30 years, well, at least the last 20, his father and I couldn’t quite figure out his approach. On the one hand, he lived what many would call a “charmed life.”
He was great at everything he touched. Not just good. Not even just really good. He was outstanding at pretty much everything he tried:
- He was an amazing artist, winning first prize at the Tinicum Art Festival the first time he entered a piece
- He learned to DJ and then how to compose electronic music – and published a CD
- He went to Norway and easily made a semipro soccer team without even seeming to blink an eye
- And who can forget his various antics on stage? (Which eventually got him into NYU and the Tisch School of the Arts)
- Even when he left Tisch and decided to sell art on the streets of New York, he was “discovered” by a manager who also happened to be in charge of all the animation on Times Square. Times Square! And through that “chance” meeting, he was offered an animation position and signed with his manager for both modeling and acting. Months later, he was set to audition for sitcoms and meet the President of SONY – on New Year’s Eve – but consciously and deliberately walked away from it all.
Time after time, Karl stood poised on the brink of success, at the doorway to fame, and on the threshold of substantial earnings. And time after time, he turned away from it. It was quite vexing.
But this “walking away” was not the only way he made a statement. He also gave away most of what he owned – willingly, open-heartedly, and without regret. He was known to give the shirt off his back, the food out of his mouth. He was generous to a fault (and believe me, Karl and I often felt it was a fault – since most of what he gave away, we’d given to him).
But even that fact turned out to be a lesson to his father and me. It taught us, relatively early on (OK, it took a good several years, but we finally caught on) that if we are going to say that we’re giving a gift, then it really needs to be unconditional. When a gift is given with a pure heart, then the recipient’s choice of what to do with that gift is no business of yours whatsoever. That’s hard to accept, though, when you’ve given your son a coat – and you know he’s cold (again) because he gave it away to someone else.
For a long time we wondered, “Is he afraid of success? Of failure?” We wracked our brains to try to understand why he seemed to insist upon walking away from every golden opportunity that landed in his lap.
And we would scratch our heads when we contemplated the fact that Karl’s power animal, the creature whose energy seemed to make itself known to him and to us from when he was a small boy at Tinicum Township Elementary School, was the Raccoon. Some primary attributes associated with Raccoon are “Generous Protector,” and truth be told, Karl’s father and I often felt that he was living the opposite of the lessons associated with his power animal, since he couldn’t really be either generous or a protector if he kept turning his back on every opportunity to acquire an income or stature or power…
It was only just last year that we really started to see Karl in a completely different light. We’d attended a family wedding in Michigan and it was the first time we’d had an opportunity to all be together for almost a year and a half. We’d had a fantastic time together and Karl, as usual, had entertained the entire wedding party, extended family and close friends, after the rehearsal, regaling everyone with tales of his adventures and bawdy jokes, and been a hit at the reception as well.
The following day, we found ourselves in Ann Arbor, where Karl would be catching a bus back to the Pacific coast. It was going to be a three day journey, generally an unpleasant adventure, and we knew he wouldn’t have a chance to eat much of anything decent. So we had lunch at an Indian restaurant and made a point of ordering more than we needed, so he could take a couple helpings’ worth of leftovers.
We’d had such a great time being together again, and none of us wanted to say goodbye. So we walked around Ann Arbor, enjoying the summer sunshine and exploring the town together, deliberately putting off the time when we would have to say goodbye.
As we walked past the park in the center of town, there were a couple of people sleeping on benches and otherwise giving the appearance of being homeless. One guy, however, seemed to spot us from afar – or rather, spotted Karl – and I noticed him make a beeline in our direction. As he approached Karl and Karl, who were walking together, ahead of Sage and me, an invisible signal or an energetic recognition seemed to occur between Karl and the guy, who mumbled, “Hey man, I’m really hungry. Ya got anything for a brother?”
Immediately, and without even seeming to think twice about it, Karl reached into his backpack, where he’d carefully placed the leftovers, took them out, and offered them to the man. “Here ya go, bra. Enjoy.”
Karl, Sage and I just looked at each other. Something clicked when we witnessed that interaction. It was in that moment that we realized that there truly was something more – a lot more – going on with Karl and the way he was choosing to live his life than we’d been giving him credit for.
As Ed Ruisz, Karl’s social studies teacher and first track coach in high school said many a time, “To Karl, rules were just a suggestion.”
It’s a basic rule in our society that if you have a natural talent, you exploit it. If you have natural beauty or handsomeness, you exploit it. If you’re gifted at making people laugh or creating art that runs across the page, you exploit it.
If you live in the Wild West where most people make up the rules as you go along, you “live and let live,” you don’t get involved in other people’s business. You look away when someone smacks his girlfriend around and she’s too “dumb” or powerless to leave him. Nor do you call the police when people are assholes.
Days before he died, Karl didn’t accept those rules. So he stepped in. He got right into the thick of it. And he got bitten for his trouble.
Now, he didn’t die from his bite. But he was freaked out by the prospect of getting HIV or Hep C and not having the power to compel the guy to get tested – to simply get tested – unless Karl pressed charges, which he wouldn’t do. It wasn’t right. It didn’t feel just. But it was the way it was.
Karl was an idealist. He always landed on his feet. He always seemed to manage to get enough to survive – and was happy with that. So when we learned of his death, heard the tales of his last selfless acts, and read the attributes of Raccoon yet again, we suddenly realized – much to our discomfort – that he’d been living true to his nature all along.
Protector of the underdog,
Provider for those who have none.
Do you wear the bandit’s mask
To hide the good deeds that you’ve done?
Teach me to turn away from
Rich rewards or worldly acclaim,
Knowing that my generosity allows
My warrior spirit to be reclaimed.
My son – our son – Maximus and Sage’s brother – was a warrior. He masked his generosity and sweet, soulful spirit with a façade of playfulness and irreverence, and sometimes quite the “attitude.” But ultimately, he was a protector – and a generous one at that.
I am proud to call myself “Karl Weikel’s mother.” And I will miss him forever.
We’ve received an amazing array of original pieces of artwork, prose, and other creations by Karl’s friends. Here is a musical tribute to Karl that was composed by his friend Ben Rafferty.
Ros Cahill wrote the folllowing poem, dedicated to Karl:
Karl, as you moved in the light with joy,
the love you received lifted you.
As you touched this world so dynamically,
you lifted us.
Your energy and spirit brought wonder to our lives.
You were witty and spontaneous and we thank you!
You will be missed.
~ Ros Cahill
A Gathering to Honor Karl’s Life and Spirit
On 26th November, 2011, the family and friends of Karl Daniel Weikel held a Gathering at Tinicum Park, Bucks County, PA, to honor Karl’s life and spirit. Those who attended helped prepare an “Aya” Despacho in honor of Karl. An Aya Despacho, or “Despacho for the Dead,” is a collection of prayers and reminiscences prepared specifically to bring closure energetically to Karl’s time here on Earth. The prayers and intentions placed into an Aya Despacho fuel the continuation of life and help propel the departed to the Other Side. I would like to thank Michael Kadjeski for videoing the Gathering and saving it for posterity.
The despacho ceremony is the core of the ceremonial practices and healing interventions of the Andes. The word “despacho” means either (as a verb) to dispatch, or (as a noun) a message of great importance sent with haste. Despachos can be done as offerings of thanksgiving or atonement, or as petitions for assistance or guidance. The ceremony is done from the heart and is seen as an act of love and a reminder of how we are connected to all things. Read more…
To order a copy of Karl’s CD "CrazyMaker" (published under his DJ name of RayJookie) use the Paypal button below.
CrazyMaker CD $14.99