• Gregory Sporleder

Part 4

Updated: Apr 14, 2018


The last element that really came to life was synchronicity and although it’s not mentioned in any of the translations of the Tao I’ve read I believe it’s the product of living the Tao.

Before leaving Hollywood to work on Andersonville the house I had been renting with two friends was sold and we had to move out. It happened fast. I put my room full of belongings into storage knowing I’d find a place when I got back. One evening in Atlanta I returned to the hotel, after a long day of filming, to find a message from one of my former roommates regarding a house he was considering renting. It had two bedrooms and he wanted to know if I would I like to hear the details. He had to make a decision within a few hours. He was at a payphone (1994 remember) and was going to have a sandwich and see if I got back to him in time, if not, he’d hop back on his motorcycle and consider it “fate” that it didn’t work out. I remember he used the word fate. I called him and he answered mid-sandwich. This friend is a writer and one of the smartest, kindest people I knew. I trusted him unconditionally. His description was gorgeous. It was a tiny gem of a house located on a quiet street in a place called Topanga Canyon. In the two years I had lived in LA I had never heard of it. Located between Santa Monica and Malibu, its main road starts down at the ocean and wiggles its way up and over the Santa Monica Mountains, through a huge state park and drops down into the San Fernando Valley. My friend had been riding his motorcycle, came across this little house, loved it but didn’t want to carry the whole rent, plus, it was 40 minutes from Hollywood and thought it would be nice to have me as a roommate again. “A paradise,” he called it. I told him if he got it I’d gladly be his roommate. When I got back from my run later that evening, he called to say he hit it off with the owners and the little gem was ours. Finding a place to live had been weighing heavy on my mind. I felt so lucky and blessed that the whole thing was handled by “fate.” Two phone calls and the deal was done. The cherry on the top was that it was a mystery. Remember, this was at a time when you couldn’t receive pictures on your phone; when you had to wait and see things with your own eyes.

Andersonville wrapped and I was stunned by the profound effect it had on me. I had never felt so alive, aware, connected. So humbled and grateful to play the part of Dick Potter. As you can well imagine my empathy for soldiers and prisoners changed drastically.

I left Atlanta a different person.

I flew back to Los Angeles and a huge black limo (Union rules at the time) whisked me from LAX and out onto the Pacific Coast Highway where the glossy ocean threatened to blind me with her beauty, then turned up into this magical Topanga Canyon. I had never seen such sharp curves and the limo kept slowing down. It was as scary as it was exciting. I rolled down the window and felt like Cinderella heading to the ball. The canyon’s huge red rocks spiked up toward the shimmering blue sky, the smell of the chaparral filled the limo as it climbed up, up, up into the mountains. I couldn’t believe this was my new neighborhood.

The little white house was tucked into the hillside and had periwinkle blue trim around the windows and doors. A tall white stucco fence surrounded the front yard, and at the end of the driveway sat an old tin mailbox with the address painted on the front. I hopped out of the limo, and opened the wooden gate to a large brick patio with a garden that clearly had been tended to by a passionate gardener. Old bamboo swayed gently, potted plants were scattered everywhere, filled with everything from flowers to huge fat cactus. In the center was a bubbling fountain that the hummingbirds would hover over and drink. I entered the tiny gem of a house and was greeted by my cat Negril and we were both completely overjoyed at reuniting in this new place. A note left on the kitchen table informed me that my roommate would be in Chicago for the rest of the month so the place was mine. I meandered through the house grateful that my roommate had had my furniture delivered and the house was clean and tidy and ready to be lived in. It had such good vibes. It was old, comfortable and well maintained. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t believe my luck.

I climbed the steps to the second floor that included two bedrooms, a little office with two desks and doors to the back porch, which ran the length of the house. A giant old Oak stood at the far end of the porch. A path underneath it that headed straight up the steep hill. Up I went, about 30 yards, to find a flat patch with two old beach chairs. I stopped, turned and was amazed by the view, laid out in front of me, the Santa Monica Mountains in all their glory.

I couldn’t believe this was my backyard. After soaking in the view, I turned, sat in one of the chairs, took a deep breath and closed my eyes....


If you look to others for fulfillment,

You will never truly be fulfilled.

If your happiness depends on money,

You will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have;

rejoice in the way things are.

When you realize there is nothing lacking,

The whole world belongs to you.

~ From Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao

Even though I had never been in Topanga, or in that house or on that hill, I felt as if I was returning to something familiar. Then it hit me, this will be my center, right here, this moment, this hill, this contented feeling. This would be where the outside met the inside. Where I would leave my human thoughts, problems and ego and let my imagination guide me. This is where I would enter and exit my meditation.

“The master observes the world

But trusts his inner vision.

He allows things to come and go.

His heart is open as the sky”

~ From Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao

And that’s what I’ve done ever since.

So that’s it, my offering, how I allowed the Tao to become a living breathing part of my everyday life. That this ancient wisdom can connect you body and mind to the universal flow and bring you back to your primal identity. That your true being is inside and can help to create a healing inner meditative world to help balance this crazy out of control outer world.

It’s easier than you think to find contentment, all you have to do is allow the Tao.




As profoundly as I was awed by the Tao that day, on that hill, that night, it reminded me that primal is primal. My cat Negril darted out the door and into the patio garden. I thought I’d let her sniff around for a minute but once she went out she was gone forever. (Coyote primal)

“Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,

You can deal with whatever life brings you,

And when death comes, you are ready.”

~ From Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao

This story is dedicated to little Negril.


© 2018 Gregory Sporleder