Gregg is a writer and philosopher who describes himself as a “cultural Christian and Stoic thinker”. He values critical thinking and open speech above all else. While admiring the togetherness that people of faith share, he has always been turned off by organized religion and dogma. However, Gregg acknowledges that relying on ethics and reasoning alone will provide only a cold comfort when faced with a severe loss or tragedy. Turning 50 this year, Gregg decided it was a good time to look for a deeper spirituality so he reached out to Drew Marshall to enter the Soul SURVIVOR contest.
As a Stoic thinker, Gregg’s interest in this philosophy was sparked as a young man when he read The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. The author was a Roman Emperor and follower of Stoicism whose work is still being translated and published today. While practicing tolerance and compassion, Stoics are advised to rely on perseverance and hard work to achieve their goals. Complaining is discouraged.
Raised in a single parent home in Kitchener, Ontario, Gregg is the youngest of four boys. His mother was vehemently anti-theist so Gregg rarely attended church. However, he did have some religious training through the novels of T. Lobsang Rampa, a fraudulent Tibetan monk who was actually a plumber’s son from England. Rampa’s stories were completely fabricated but he did accurately describe the basics of Tibetan Buddhism. From this experience, Gregg learned how to extract the truth from fiction; a skill that has proved invaluable in his lifelong study of religion.
Gregg left home when he was 15 and supported himself through high school and first year university. He had at one time planned to study philosophy in India but had to turn back while en route in Cairo due to severe dysentery. Discontinuing university for financial reasons, Gregg has never stopped pursuing his passion for thoughtful knowledge and useful information.
At 18 and hardly yet a man, Gregg met the love of his life. Jo Anne was a beautiful lifeguard and he was the head cook at a Unitarian church camp near Shelburne, Ontario. When Jo Anne first met Gregg, he bared his soul and literally everything else: Jo Anne was guarding the camp’s nude beach.
Promising that their life together would never be boring, Gregg has delivered in spades. The last 30 years saw Gregg and Jo Anne hitchhike across southern Europe; get married in a Spiritualist church and raise two beautiful children. The couple has lived in downtown Toronto, suburban Kitchener; on a large hobby farm; and in small town Nova Scotia.
Gregg has been a cook, a hobby farmer and a chocolate maker. A call centre IT specialist for 13 years, he has also been an art gallery owner and antique buyer. He even found the time to restore 3 older homes and a vintage houseboat that he kept moored on the Toronto Islands. There are few stones that Gregg has left unturned as he pursues a life of new challenges and hard won lessons.
With his beard going gray and his children now young adults, Gregg feels that he finally has some fleeting wisdom to share with the world. For the first time in his life, he is taking the time to stop and question the roses. Empty nesting in downtown Burlington with his (still) beautiful wife, Gregg spends his time writing, blogging and sandwalking on the shores of Lake Ontario.
I was born in Romania 38 years ago, in Moldavia’s cultural capital Piatra Neamt, in a modest family. Life was really hard in communist Romania. I remember we didn’t have much food on the table but we had a piano in the living room. My mother made sure that me and my sister stayed very close to culture and art. Very soon the theatre became my playground. Because of the imposed political implication in the system, my mom was a teacher and both my parents had to be members of the party, as all of us at the time (forced to be anyway), religion/spirituality in any form was forbidden. The only religious exposure we had was through our grandparents in the countryside.
However, without much external input or education on the subject I have discovered my connection with the Divine and death at the age of 10.
All my childhood years were marked by the realization that one day I will not be there anymore. Being a child I didn’t really know what to do with the information I was holding. The sadness of that discovery made me very introverted and luckily pushed me into opening myself to the creative world even more. Painting and drawing provided a relief and later on became the path of my career.
I have moved to the capital, Bucharest, at the age of 18 for university studies (stage design for theatre and film) and luck stroke my way. Without any expectations, on a movie set where I was helping as a costume design assistant, I was offered the main role in a French/Romanian coproduction ‘Asfalt Tango’. The biggest surprise of my life!
I was walking on a cloud; they named me the ‘Cinderella of Romanian cinema’. I still hold to the memory of that time like a treasure.
It felt good. It seemed to me that God was watching over me, secretly I had always dreamt of the opportunity to act, flirting with the idea of the craft since very young. Soon after the production was over I was asked in marriage and moved to France. A long life lesson was starting for me. I believe to this day that by taken that path I had somehow given up my soul for a futile, earthly happiness. Away from myself, my heart/soul was closing, shutting down slowly. That of course turned into self-turmoil. I was letting myself go farther and farther from who I was, away from my path that I knew I was destined. It felt as if I was living someone else’s life.
However, only now I know that by taking that path I was actually allowing myself to experience self-discovery and rebirth.
The descent to that ‘Hell’ brought me much closer to the Creator.
Once moved to Canada 14 years ago I knew I was in great need of help. Luckily, this land and the people here allowed me to see a new direction, very available and easy to reach, my new spiritual path.
It was again, as if God was watching over me, spiritual people were coming into my life from everywhere.
I was advised to start a Buddhist meditation practice and with that my new teachings. I exposed myself to understand the brain and its emotions through Gestalt technics and through Carl Young’s texts.
The path of self-discovery took long and it was a very painful but well worth it.
My professional direction changed as well. I realized in the process that I was interested in building to last, so I switched around my stage design experience and went back to school to study and started to work in interior construction and design field. Now my focus is to create healing environments, healthy spaces for people.
Over the past 14 years I have discovered the Buddhist way, the Shamanic way, the Vedic way….rediscovered the Christian way. I have embraced them all allowing myself and my soul to submerge into the ‘painful’ bliss of the opening of the heart.
The work is not all done and I think it will take me my entire life, but what a blessing to be on the love path.
From ashes to whole once again.