How I Met Elwood
By Ann Decker
The following is extracted from a reel-to-reel tape in which Elwood and Ann talk about their lives. The original reel-to-reel tape belongs to Charlie Goodman, of Oceano. -- NRH * * *
My first impression of the Dunes was so vague I cannot remember any details. I had no intention of ever living there. It was during an overnight visit with Mrs. Varian in Halcyon. I do remember the large harp in the corner of the living room. Her daughter Sybil had married my dear friend in San Francisco, Herman Allen, an art dealer.
Another friend and I were on our way to Mexico before racing to New York. He shipped out from San Diego and I hitch-hiked and rode open and closed boxcars, mail cars, and once, a locomotive. I slept mostly in the open, once in the rain, and managed to scramble into New York before my surprised friend. When he arrived I introduced him to a lovely girl. They married and went to Italy. I never saw them again.
After eleven months, homesick for California sunshine, I hitch-hiked back to San Francisco. Two years later at the home of Preston and Helen McCrossen, I met Isona, Rudy Gerber's stepmother, and a 'Sanduner' poet Hugo Seeling, who invited me to be his guest in the Dunes. He was an intellectual like Gavin Arthur, another 'Duner.' Both were outstanding socializing influences who invited artists, writers, and dancers to the Dunes and, in a three mile stretch at least, transformed it into an amazingly Democratic, mixed society where talents destined to be nationally famous shared fish, potato, onion, and butter with chronic bindlestiffs holing up for the winter...where an ex-gunner for the Equadorian Navy, Arther Allman, discussed his deepest religious experience with a young immigrant from the Hindu Temple in San Franciso... and both would be seated in a dune grass- roofed shack on stilts where Arthur carved Geisha girls for sale.
Before meeting Elwood, I prayed for ten days and ten nights, crying for God to please send me a man who would help me to live a spiritual life. At the end of that time, as the early dawn broke through my window, I had a vision of sunrise in the Dunes which was glorious in all its splendor, and a voice clearly said, 'Go to the Dunes.'
My son was living there at that time, working at his art and meditating in a small shack. I called my maid, Ida, and asked her to get Luke, the gardener, to strap my bed on top of the car. I wished her to get dressed and drive with me to the Dunes. We were soon on our way.
After a long drive, one night in a hotel, and much searching, the next morning we found a man at the fishing wharf who knew my son and notified him of my arrival.
My son took me to Elwood's cabin. As I walked up to his front door, I saw a sign on the wall inside, through the window, 'MEDITATE CONSTANTLY.' He asked me to come in. I realized he was sitting painting a canvas. I walked over and looked at an open book and read:
'While the heart weeps for what it has lost, the soul laughs at what it has found.'
That started our lives growing together in the divine. To Elwood, sex did not belong to that growth. Only the constant expansion of our divine life into oneness with purity. It has been a great privilege and blissful experience.
He is an artist, therefore he always appreciates my looking well and keeping up. When I went to the Self Realization Fellowship church and studied Yoganandaji's lessons, I so appreciated his attitude that women should keep themselves as attractive as possible. I believe if women are able to attract men because of their wholesome appearance, they may be able to help them forget their identity with their lower nature and find the pure divine inner consciousness of their souls. This is exactly what happened in my life with Elwood. His purity has drawn us gradually into the pure bliss of divine love, and his selfless dearness has taught me much of what true love really is.